catholic

Interview with Contributor Arthur Powers

apowers200x200Author Name: Arthur Powers

Contributions to Image and Likeness: “Venus If You Do,” “Claudio,” “MS,” “In the Death of Winter”

Bio: Arthur Powers went to Brazil in 1969 as a Peace Corps Volunteer and spent most his adult life there.  From 1985 to 1992, he & his wife worked with the Church in the Amazon, organizing subsistence farmers in a region of violent land conflicts.  Arthur received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, the 2008 Tom Howard award (2nd place), the 2012 Tuscany Novella Prize, the 2014 Catholic Arts & Literature Award, & many other writing honors.  He is author of three books, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines & anthologies.Find Arthur on Amazon.

About Arthur’s Contributions to Image and Likeness

How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?  

By watching my fellow human beings and myself, and pondering the rhythms and meaning of life.

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?  

I did not consciously write about the Theology of the Body.  I wrote about human beings and the way they think and live.  As the Theology of the Body admirably suits the way people really are (deep down), it also encompasses my stories.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?  

Fiction and poetry are much better than non-fiction at conveying experience, with all its nuances and ambiguities.  TOB involves intricate and intimate aspects of human nature, and these can be best captured and conveyed empathetically via fiction and poetry.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?  

I do not write my stories to be tools of any kind.  I write them to convey human experience – to tell a story.  If they are successful, they help the readers understand a little more about life, about the human condition, about the world we live in.  Anything that brings us greater understanding also brings us closer to truth, which in turn is reflected in the teachings of the Church.

Let’s first talk about your prose contributions to this project.  In “Venus if You Do,” you look at what appears at first blush to be an unlikely topic for our modern times, and that is the worship of ancient gods.  How do you think the idea of “strange gods” plays into the illustration of the complexities of human sexuality as seen through the lens of Theology of the Body?

I write all my stories because they come into my consciousness as stories.  Like all others, “Venus If You Do” was born without an agenda – it is simply a story.  However, reading it as a reader, rather than the author, I can trace out several interesting elements: 1) deviant spirits are real, and if we allow them power in our lives, we will suffer;  2) whether a deviant spirit is an old demi-god, a demon from South American folk religion, or the secular demons of our own society (greed, consumerism, internet addictions, lust) doesn’t matter much – all are able to distort us; 3) the parallel between pagan society and our own is very real – the situation of the Church today is far closer to the situation in ancient Rome than it was 50 years ago.

Then in “Claudio,” you show us what amounts to an extramarital affair that happens only within the imagination.  What do you think this story can show readers about the concept of emotional faithfulness and how that applies to forming healthy, integrated human relationships?

Again, “Claudio” was written as a story.  But, as a reader, I can see that the story tells us of the potential boredom of marriage, the lure of the romantic stranger, the recognition that real love involves hard work, sweat, daily picking up one’s cross.  In the end, Maria das Dores truly sees her husband struggling up from the field after a hard day’s work, recognizes this (semi-consciously) as love, and makes the decision.  All love is a decision.  But the husband still snores while the imaginary lover walks off quietly in the moonlight.

In your poems “MS” and “HVaughn,” you illustrate the effects of choice on the human body, specifically on the female body.  While both poems show radically different choices for their subjects, both end on a note of hope.  What can you tell us about the hope you see in the characters and images of both of these poems?

MS” is based on a real person who made that real decision – I admire her immensely and wanted to record her decision.  “In the death of winter…” is also based on a real, tragic happening – one which contrasts technical/mechanical view of life/death with the human/spiritual view.  If there is hope – cold comfort – in this poem, it is that, in the end the technical/mechanical self-destructs and the human/spiritual prevails, but much is distorted and destroyed in the process.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

Dena Hunt’s story, “Pear Trees,” is wonderfully written.  Among other things, it brings home how much the sexual revolution has hurt young women – how it has made them servile to the whims of self-absorbed men (and most of us men, when young, are pretty self-absorbed).

Look for discussion questions on Arthur’s contributions on Wednesday, February 22, 2107.

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Launch Day!

Pope St. John Paul II Feast: October 22. See his teachings on the Theology of the Body take life in ways you've never imagined. IMAGE AND LIKENESS: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body, an anthology of poetry and prose, pulls TOB beyond the realm of nonfiction and into the frame of the total human experience.Happy Feast of Pope St. John Paul the Great!

 

Image and Likeness is now available in both paperback and Kindle formats.

I like Kendra’s suggestion to further celebrate this saint’s feast by eating Polish food and going for a hike!

 

Thanks to all who’ve supported our launch efforts, most especially foreword writer Damon Owens, co-editor and publisher Ellen Gable, and all our contributing authors.

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Please consider joining us on Thursday, October 27 from 8-10pm Eastern Time for an Image and Likeness Launch Party on Facebook, hosted over at co-editor Erin McCole Cupp’s page.

Early Feedback

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensWhile we remain a few days out from our official release day on October 22, the feast of St. John Paul II, two readers have mailed in some early thoughts on Image and Likeness.

I’m about 30% in.

WOW.
This is a powerful book. Makes me want to look for more by the contributing authors.
I’ll say the same when I do my review. But meanwhile, just wanted to give you two TWO THUMBS UP.
Barbara Szyszkiewicz, blogger at Franciscan Mom, editor at Catholic Mom
I’m still working my way through the TOB collection, but I want to tell you how impressed I’ve been with the stories. Honestly, as much as I enjoy the TOB-centered books I’ve read in the last few years, I’ve always felt that parts of them come across as slightly heavy-handed. I look past it easily, but I always have a feeling that it wouldn’t go over with someone who’s not already accepting of TOB and Catholic teaching.
This bunch of stories has surprised me in ways that I hadn’t imagined! I love that so many of them leave you open to interpreting what the main characters will decide to do, and I love, too, that the characters who are not on board with Catholic teaching are presented so thoughtfully and with such depth. And very little feels like a lecture, which (sorry to say) sometimes happens when authors try a bit too hard to get that message in.
Seriously, I really am loving this book.

Christine Johnson, Domestic Vocation

Kindle preorders of Image and Likeness are available now.  If you’d like to follow along with the last days of a novena to St. John Paul II, please do so on co-editor Erin McCole Cupp’s Instagram page.

Submission Guidelines

Call for Submissions: Full Quiver Publishing's forthcoming TOB AnthologyFull Quiver Publishing is creating an anthology of short fiction and poetry under the working title Image and Likeness: Short Literature Reflective of the Theology of the Body.  The target publication date is October 22, 2016, the feast of St. John Paul II.  Contributors will receive contributor’s copy/copies in a number commensurate with the final word count of the included contribution; additional copies will be available to contributors at reduced cost.

Guidelines

Electronic submissions only: .DOC, .PDF, .RTF, .TXT or Google Doc. Please use double spacing. Please no fancy fonts, formatting or hyperlinks. Please keep reading to the bottom for submission method.

Word count: around 7500 words for prose, 3,000 for poetry. If you can make your point in fewer, do. If you need a little more room than that to make your point, we may be able to work with you, so give it a try.

Subject: Adult short fiction (sorry, no children’s or YA) and poetry reflective of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. If you don’t know what that means, this may not be the project for you (however, we do encourage you to research TOB and discover its richness).

Reprints considered, provided the author still retains all rights.

Treatment: The intended audience for this anthology is readers who want to see the Theology of the Body illustrated positively through the literary arts.  Think of your audience when considering if or how to include profanity, violence, gore, vulgarity, etc.

How to Submit: In order to avoid having your manuscript lost in the spam folder, enter a submission request through this form, and an editor will be in touch with you about where to send your file.

Deadline: November 1, 2015. We hope to respond to all submissions by January 15, 2016.

Ready to submit your story or poem? Click here to arrange for your submission.