Poetry Roundup

I love poetry. It’s a form that has always called to me. However, I never thought of myself as a poet, even when I first started publishing. That title has always felt unapproachable and prestigious, so it’s always somewhat dizzying to see my poems in print. This year is no different: 2023 has started out as a year of poetry with a story about a witch and mermaids in Fantasy Magazine, a piece filled with feminist rage and Greek monsters in The Future Fire, and a deeply personal poem about my experiences with domestic violence in the second showcase of women’s poetry forthcoming in Under Her Eye by Black Spot Books.

There are more markets for speculative poetry than ever before, so writing poetry is something I plan to continue. It feeds my creative soul in a way that is distinctly different than my pursuits in fiction. Best of all, I’m nearing the completion of my first poetry collection, so I suppose it’s time to accept that I might be a poet after all.

Thank you for reading!

“Carina, Carina,” Under Her Eye: A Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, Black Spot Books. Forthcoming.

Between Scylla and Charybdis,” The Future Fire. April 2023.

“The Mermaids of Magonia,” Fantasy Magazine. February 2023.

Into the Forest: Anthology Release Day!

A little over a year ago, I sat down to write a story for an anthology call seeking stories about Baba Yaga. And down the rabbit hole I went. As I followed the trail of this enigmatic witch in Slavic folklore, I was reminded that there are many versions of the cunning character. In some cases, her name is not a name at all but a babble word or a phrase that roughly translates to “iron-nosed midwife” or “forest mother.” In the end, that is the trail I followed. This also led me to the decision to incorporate the folklore of the rusalki, the restless and often malevolent spirits of undead drowned girls. And then, for the final twist, I took these characters and placed them in the Netherlands during WWII–a perfect setting to sift through themes of displacement and identity and resistance.

The end result is my story “Water Like Broken Glass,” which is intensely personal despite the distance in time and place. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve written to date, so I’m especially pleased that it found a home in Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga, edited by Lindy Ryan and published by Black Spot Books.

“Water Like Broken Glass” joins other examinations of Baba Yaga in pieces written by some of the leading women authors working in horror today including Gwendolyn Kiste, Mercedes M. Yardley, Monique Snyman, Donna Lynch, Lisa Quigley, and R. J. Joseph. Featuring 23 stories and an instroctory poem by Stephanie M. Wytovich, there’s truly something for every reader in this spectacular showcase.

Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the Baba Yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the Baba Yaga may find help, or hindrance, or horror. She is wild, she is woman, she is witch— and these are her tales.

Edited by Lindy Ryan, this collection brings together some of today’ s leading voices of women-in-horror as they pay tribute to the Baba Yaga, and go Into the Forest.

As part of the events surrounding the launch and the subsequent book tour, I’ve had the privilege of writing two different columns.

“Take A Peek At ‘Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga’” includes an excerpt from “Water Like Broken Glass” and a bit of the inspiration that led to the decision to set this story in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation of WWII. This feature also includes a short introduction by Lindy Ryan.

On December 11, a second essay is scheduled to appear at Little Miss Book Lover. This piece includes the ways in which I used sensory descriptions to enhance theme and mood. If you are a writer looking for practical tips when it comes to writing from the senses, I hope you’ll stop by when the essay goes live.

It has been fun to see this story garner several mentions, especially since it is not about the Baba Yaga but, instead, the idea that all women have the potential to become a baba yaga, one of the forest mothers. However, even then, the baba yagas exist on the margins of my story. In fact, “Water Like Broken Glass” actually centers on a rusalka and explores ideas of love and loss, revenge and retribution.

“Water Like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett…delivers a wonderfully queer update to the tale against the backdrop of WWII. Fans of folklore retellings will find plenty to enjoy. – Publishers Weekly

“Water like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett is another standout. Bissett is a folklorist and it shows, as she skillfully mixes history with myth. The writing is fantastic, harrowing and haunting. – Zach Rosenberg, Horror DNA

As part of Ryan’s truly amazing work in spreading the news of this anthology far and wide, Into the Forest has also received numerous reviews at Goodreads.

5 star reviews for “Water Like Broken Glass”

Big shocker, the guy who has read military history since middle school liked the story set in the Second World War. Still, it was a beautiful story centered around a river spirit and a resistance fighter and the changes that time and the war place on their relationship. It was only tangentially connected to Baba Yaga but I thought the themes of dual compassion and barbarism fit very well with the rest of the collection. – Melkor von Moltke, Goodreads

This is a very unique story of how Baba Yaga exists and how one can become Baba Yaga, but it’s also about love and the extent of what one will do for love. It’s a story about forgiveness. It was well written and captivating. Hands down one of my favorite reads of this collection. ” – Autumn (Chapter Malliumpkin), Goodreads

The story isn’t narrated by Baba Yaga, but by a rusalka. And I can’t say more without spoiling it big time. The ending, though! Honestly this story merits a full novel. – Marquise, Goodreads

I hope you’ll consider adding this truly fabulous anthology to your collection. It can be purchased at AmazonUS, AmazonUK, Barnes & Noble, and at Bookshop.org. Thank you for the support. Happy reading!

Dreams for a Broken World: A Book Birthday & a #Giveaway!

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, I was sitting down to read the first batch of stories that would eventually become the second book I’ve worked on with my dear friend Julie C. Day at Essential Dreams Press. There’s nothing quite like watching the magic as a book comes together. And now it’s November 1st—the day Dreams for a Broken World is released into the world. I can’t think of anything better to start off the month, as I join the editorial team in celebrating this newest achievement by Essential Dreams Press.

Edited by Julie C. Day and Ellen Meeropol, Dreams for a Broken World is the second in the Dreams series. To celebrate the book birthday of this charity anthology, Essential Dreams Press is offering a #giveaway. It doesn’t get much better than that!

So here’s the deal: If you purchase Dreams for a Broken World today (November 1) and share the news on social media with the hashtag #DreamsforaBrokenWorld, you’ll be eligible to receive a free ecopy of the first anthology in the series Weird Dream Society!

Not only will you be supporting and indie publisher (thank you!), but the proceeds of your purchase with benefit the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC). This organization envisions a world where no child suffers alone when their family faces repression. In addition to contributing to a good cause, you’ll be getting a truly amazing collection of stories ranging in style from literary to speculative. Patron saints and luchadores. Trickster gods. Freedom fighters. Infections of fire. Gated communities and glass castles. Hong Kong. Iran. NYC. The 1860s and the end of the world. These authors raises their voices with stories that demand to be heard.

“24 impressive stories.” —Publishers Weekly

“Highly recommended.”— Lightspeed Magazine

But wait, there’s more!

If you will be at the World Fantasy Convention (WFC), you can join us for a reading and get your books signed on Saturday, November 5th at 10pm CT. Julie C. Day will be hosting a group reading featuring Usman Mlk, Nisi Shawl, and Robert V.S. Redick. Special guests will also be reading for a few of the authors not present. I hope to see you there!

Purchase Links

Containing a mixture of original and reprinted stories, Dreams for a Broken World brings together twenty-four amazing authors: Andrew Altschul, Joy Baglio, Breena Clarke, Zig Zag Claybourne, Tina Egnoski, Cai Emmons, JoeAnn Hart, Ava Homa, Innocent Chizarama Ilo, Céline Keating, Aimee Liu, Jan Maher, Usman T. Malik, Benjamin Parzybok, Charles Payseur, Robert V.S. Redick, Veronica Schanoes, Nisi Shawl, Vandana Singh, Lisa Taylor, Sheree Renée Thomas, Marie Vibbert, Cynthia Robinson Young, and Sabrina Vourvoulias.

eBook:Amazon | Apple Books | B&N Nook | Kobo | Weightless Books
Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Moon Bookseller

Fairy Tale Poetry Workshop

This weekend, I’ll be running a two-hour poetry workshop as part of the three-day virtual event Writing Poetry in the Dark, hosted by Raw Dog Screaming Press. In addition to my live workshop (via Zoom), participants can interact with other contributors featured in the forthcoming book Writing Poetry in the Dark. Featured poets include Michael A. Arnzen, Donna Lynch, Jessica McHugh, Tim Waggoner, Albert Wendland, and Stephanie Wytovich.

Registrations at the VIP + 2 Workshops level ($197) will have access to the entire event, which features on-demand prerecorded content, live sessions, and recordings. This top tier includes all of the rewards in the VIP level ($97) AND access to the events TWO live workshops: Writing from the Wound with Donna Lynch and Fairy Tale Poetics: New Wine in Old Bottles by yours truly. At the all-inclusive price, which includes TWO 2-hour interactive workshops, you can’t go wrong.

My workshop, Fairy Tale Poetics: New Wine in Old Bottles, will be held on Saturday (October 8) from 5 to 7 pm Mountain Time. (To convert the session to your local time, check HERE.) I have a special presentation set up with some of my favorite fairy tale poems. As a participant, you will have access to workshop materials and resources. But the best part is that the small forum provides the perfect place for individual feedback and small group discussion. I hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a blast!

If you’re new to my poetry, check out “Fairy Tale Prohibition” (NonBinary Review #25 Prohibition, Zoetic Press), which was nominated for Best of the Net. I have several new pieces slated to come out later this year and a few scheduled for 2023 (announcements coming soon!). Links to past poetry publications can be found HERE.

I’ve also worked in an editorial capacity with poetry in Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas, which won the Colorado Book Award in the category of Anthology.

Although I don’t consider myself primary as a poet, it is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s a form I’ve always enjoyed, especially when it’s used as a lens through which to view fairy tales. I mostly work in the realm of short fiction, but I’ve been slowing compiling a full-length poetry collection. After all, fairy tales and folklore are my area of expertise. Over the years, I’ve presented on several panels. I’ve also been running online fairy tale workshops at The Storied Imaginarium since 2016. However, this will be the first workshop I’ve offered based solely on poetry. Writers I’ve worked with in the past have gone on to publish workshop stories in such magazines as Apex Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Daily Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, and more. I can’t promise results, but I’ll do my best to help you hone your voice. You can check out the list of published stories started in my workshops HERE.

What writers have to say about working with me:

“The best writing career money I ever spent was on the Storied Imaginarium Monstrous Women writing course presented by Carina Bissett. I’m planning to sign up for another one of Carina’s classes next time they open. It was astronomically helpful and inspiring.” — Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Little Dead Red. (Storyville: What’s the Best Money You’ve Spent on Your Writing Career?, column by Richard Thomas)

“Carina is a great teacher—insightful, resourceful and empathetic. It was Carina who encouraged me to get my stories out, even when they’d rather skulk in the corners of my brain, then revise and send my work out to publishers. I can’t wait to work with her more in the future.” —Daniela Tomova, author of “Behind Her, Trailing like Butterfly Wings,” Apex Magazine.

“Carina’s classes are intensive and illuminating. I’m impressed with her extensive knowledge of myth and fairy tales, as well as her insightful and kind critique. Highly recommend!” — KT Wagner, author of “3-D Monarch” in Happily Ever After, “Slipped Stitch” in Dead of Winter, and “Grandma Heloise” at Daily Science Fiction.

“Carina Bissett is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic workshop leaders I’ve ever seen. Her generous reading, sharp eye for detail, and prolific knowledge of both fairy tales and publishing make her an ideal teacher for novice and practiced writers alike. I heartily recommend any writing program with her at the helm.” — Julia K. Patt, author of “Whatever Tower, However High,” Escape Pod and My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun,” Clarkesworld.

Persephone’s Promise

Come gentle spring in green’s desire:

the fertile floods, the tender shoots,

            a promise of life in the making.

Come graceful fall, ripe bounty culled:

the harvest moon, the golden fields,

            a promise of death in the taking.

When winter comes, she cradles bones of hope,

ash dusting dreams of the damned in the dark,

summer’s sacrifice red and ripe between her teeth,

shuddering pomegranate torn in two,

            a promise of blood spilt in meadows bloomed,

            a promise of seeds spent in shadows doomed.

Bio: Carina Bissett is a writer and poet working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and fabulism. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in multiple journals and anthologies including What Remains, Upon a Twice Time, Bitter Distillations: An Anthology of Poisonous Tales, Arterial Bloom, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, Weird Dream Society, Hath No Fury, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V, VI, VIII, and IX. She is also the co-editor of the award-winning anthology Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas. Links to her work can be found at http://carinabissett.com.

Preorder your copy of Writing Poetry in the Dark from Raw Dog Screaming Press HERE. *Coming October 18th*

Writing Poetry in the Dark brings together some of the most successful contemporary genre poets to discuss topics related to creating dark and fantastical poetry.

The essays inside feature wonderful tidbits of knowledge for all levels of poets or aspiring poets, or even, anyone interested in learning how people write poetry and why. It might even inspire a reluctant poetry reader to read some!

“Writing is alchemy. You take scary, magical things like emotions—all your pain and anger, your joy and lust, everything you’re afraid of—and you let them churn around inside the brilliant galaxy of your body and brain until they can’t be contained anymore. Then you make something. Maybe you make art. Maybe it’s violent art. Whatever it is, make the thing that sets you free.” – Claire C. Holland, in “Freeing the Demon: Writing Violence Into the Poem”

Writing Poetry in the Dark Table of Contents –

  • “To Sing Dark Songs” by Tim Waggoner
  • “Dislocating the World” by F.J. Bergmann
  • “Writing Speculative Poetry in Experimental Forms” by Linda D. Addison
  • “The Art of Speculative Haiku” by Christina Sng
  • “A Slippery World: Writing Poetry About Gender and Sexuality” by Lucy A. Snyder
  • “Do Not Fear Poetic Collaboration” by Jim & Janice Leach
  • “Here Are the Stairs to the Dark Cellar; Yes, You Must Go There: POV in Dark Poetry” by Timons Esaias
  • “World-Building…in a Poem?” by Albert Wendland
  • “Putting the Science in Science Fiction Poetry” by Jeannine Hall Gailey
  • “Like Fright on Lice: Humor and Horror Poetry” by Michael Arnzen
  • “Dark Poetry and War” by Alessandro Manzetti
  • “This Is Not a Poem” by Cynthia Pelayo
  • “Global Reflections Within Our Fear-Lit Ink” by Bryan Thao Worra
  • “Of Poison Doors and Uncarved Stones” by Saba Syed Razvi, PhD
  • “Into the Dark Woods:  Fairy Tale Poetry” by Carina Bissett
  • “Dreams as Poetry: Translating Dreams into Verse” by Joanna C. Valente
  • “I Got My Passport Stamped in Hades: Waking the Dead in the Poem” by Leza Cantoral
  • “Historical Horror in Poetry” by Sara Tantlinger
  • “Exploring the Monstrous Woman Archetype: Writing Satan’s Sweethearts” by Marge Simon
  • “Freeing the Demon: Writing Violence Into the Poem” by Claire C. Holland
  • “Dancing in the Design: Creating Blackout Poetry” by Jessica McHugh
  • “Writing the Wound” by Donna Lynch

Shadow Atlas Wins a Colorado Book Award

I’m pleased to announce that Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas took home the gold as the winner in the Anthology category at the Colorado Book Awards. This is the first win at the Colorado Book Awards for Hex Publishers, and it is also my first award as an editor.

When I had the opportunity to work on the project that became Shadow Atlas, my personal goal was to break down traditional boundaries by curating a diverse collection of voices and styles. I was also ADAMANT about moving away from the continuing (and frankly problematic) domination of cishet, white male writers in genre fiction anthologies. I’d like to point out that there are SEVEN women and only two men highlighted on the cover. (If you count the editors, those numbers change to NINE/three.) This not the norm in the industry.

I’d also like to point out that Shadow Atlas features 24 poems (written by 18 poets) and 21 stories (Note: Christina Sng wrote a suite of poems, and Angie Hodapp penned both a poem and a short story.} Out of these poems and stories, 28 of the 38 contributors identify as women or non-binary, and more than half of the contributors to Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas are people of color and/or LGBTQ+, This diversity was a significant focus and an intentional component of the curation of this book.

This book was a labor of love for me, and I feel incredibly blessed to have had the ability to explore this idea, which continued to evolve and grow throughout the process. I’m proud of the book and honored at the overwhelmingly positive reception it has garnered.

Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas was a Finalist in the Fiction: Anthologies category of the 2022 International Book Awards. It won first place at the Colorado Book Awards in the Anthology category.

Finalist readings for the Colorado Book Awards were held at the BookBar, which you can watch on YouTube HERE (34:00-54:100). Anthology was the first award given out at the awards ceremony. You can watch the 2022 Colorado Book Awards ceremony on YouTube HERE (12:50-18:10).

Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas was a Finalist in the Fiction: Anthologies category of the 2022 International Book Awards. It won first place at the Colorado Book Awards in the Anthology category.

Finalist readings for the Colorado Book Awards were held at the BookBar, which you can watch on YouTube HERE (34:00-54:100). Anthology was the first award given out at the awards ceremony. You can watch the 2022 Colorado Book Awards ceremony on YouTube HERE (12:50-18:10).


“It’s woven together in such a masterful…tapestry of creative minds..seamlessly bound together. This book was quite magical.” Watch the review at Syn’s Book Nook HERE.

Laura Kemmerer at What Lies Beneath calls Shadow Atlas “a fantastic exploration of identity, landscape, and what happens when the two intersect…and the structure itself feels like a story that would be told around a campfire over the course of several nights.” You can read the full review HERE. Shout-outs for “Moon-Eyed Women” by Kay Chronister, “The Man Who Wasn’t There” by Betty Rocksteady, “Blood of Angels” by Owl Goingback, “Blood, Like Chocolate” by Stephanie M. Wytovich, “La Ciguapa” and “Yacumama” by Christina Sng, “Xtabay” by Julia Rios, “Door to Door” by Josh Malerman, and “Moon Under Mangroves” by Juliana Spink Mills. (Feb. 2, 2022)

 “The editors’ fictionalized-scholastic approach combines academia with spine-tingling creepiness and absolutely riveting adventure,” writes Queen Wysiwyg at Brain Matter. “It is my fervent hope that Bisset, Dodge, and Viola are already working on Shadow Atlas: Europe. This was a splendid ride.” You can read the full review HERE. (Dec. 1, 2021)

Shadow Atlas garnered special attention as an Editor’s Pick at BookLife of Publishers Weekly. “Dead serious in its horror, yet delightful and inviting in its design and conceit, Shadow Atlas is a rare, beguiling treat, a collective fantasy with teeth, vision, and grounded in urgent, ancient truths.” You can read the review HERE. Shout outs include “Xtabay” by Julia Rios, “Blood Sisters” by Christa Wojciechowski, “Moon Under Mangroves” by Juliana Spink Mills, and “Iara” by Kathryn Reilly. (Nov. 30, 2021)

“Think The DaVinci Code or Indiana Jones, but with more literary force, as it comments on mortals, immortals, and the intersection of worlds which holds them.” You can read the Midwest Book Review on the General Fiction Shelf HERE. Shout outs include “Sand and Salt” by Mercedes M. Yardley and “Diablo Ballena” by Jeanne C. Stein.

“A host of sublime writers and settings create an entertainingly macabre collection.”  You can read the Kirkus Review HERE. Shout outs for “God Spelled Backward” by (Tim Waggoner, “Door to Door” by Josh Malerman, “Xtabay” by Julia Rios, “You Ought Not Smile as You Walk These Woods” by Annie Neugebauer, “Diablo Ballena” by Jeanne C. Stein, and “The Massacooramaan” by “Christina Sng. (Nov. 22, 2021)

“If you’re the sort of person who likes books-as-objects, then I definitely recommend snagging a print copy of this one,” writes A.C. Wise. You can read this review for Shadow Atlas HERE. Shout outs for “Moon-Eyed Women” by Kay Chronister, “Things to Do in Playland When You’re Dead” by Gwendolyn Kiste, “You Ought Not Smile As You Walk These Woods” by Annie Neugebauer, “Xtabay” by Julia Rios, and “Blood Sisters” by Christa Wojciechowski. (Oct. 29, 2021)

“A host of sublime writers and settings create an entertainingly macabre collection.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Think The DaVinci Code or Indiana Jones, but with more literary force.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“Dead serious in its horror, yet delightful and inviting in its design and conceit, Shadow Atlas is a rare, beguiling treat, a collective fantasy with teeth, vision, and grounded in urgent, ancient truths.”—BOOKLIFE REVIEWS

Ancient peoples knew there were lands given over to shadow and spirit. The world is full of haunted places that exact a terrible toll on trespassers. Our forebears paid a heavy price to earn the wisdom and the warning they bequeathed to future generations.

Time transformed their precious knowledge into superstition, but there are those whose hearts beat in rhythm with the past and whose vision is not clouded by modernity. Seeking to reclaim humanity’s early secrets, the Umbra Arca Society was forged. For centuries, this private league of explorers dedicated their lives to uncovering the oldest mysteries of the Americas. Armed with boldness and guile, and equipped with only a compass, a journal, and devotion to truth, these adventurers braved cursed landscapes, dared unnatural adversaries, and exposed hidden civilizations.

Many did not survive.

None were forgotten.

Their stories are maps revealing the topography and contours of landscapes unimaginable and dark. The Shadow Atlas collects their adventures.

Edited by Carina Bissett, Hillary Dodge and Joshua Viola

Illustrations by Aaron Lovett

Release date: November 30, 2021

Published by Hex Publishers

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-7365964-3-2

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7365964-1-8

eBook ISBN: 978-1-7365964-2-5

Under Her Skin: Poetry Collection Release

Today is the book birthday of the highly-anticipated anthology Under Her Skin: A Women in Horror Poetry Collection, Volume 1. This gorgeous book includes two of my poems: “My Body, My Book” and “Our Lady’s Bird.”

“Not for the faint of heart…Each word and phrase has been structured in such a way that the reader will experience an intense depth of emotion and feelings.” —EGuide Magazine

“…varied themes, approaches, and poetic structures create a diverse series of horror inspections. Under Her Skin is unparalleled in scope, creativity, and literary strength.” —Midwest Book Review

A showcase of poetry from some of the darkest and most lyrical voices of women in horror.

Under Her Skin features the best in never-before-published dark verse and lyrical prose from the voices of Women in Horror. Centered on the innate relationship between body horror and the female experience, this collection features work from Bram-Stoker Award® winning and nominated authors, as well as dozens of poems from women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes.

Edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni MillerUnder Her Skin celebrates women in horror from cover to cover. In addition to poems contributed by seventy poets, the collection also features a foreword penned by Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) Grand Master and recipient of the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, Linda D. Addison; interior illustrations by Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master and recipient of the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award Marge Simon; and cover art by noted horror artist Lynne Hansen.

OUR LADY’S BIRD by Carina Bissett

A good girl wears white
gloves, pristine, unblemished
hands folded, head bowed,
lips pressed tight, pink
heat hidden, sealed, trapped

in bleached cotton that covers,
smothers knuckles bruised,
nails chewed, cuticles torn,
blood spotting, weeping,
a testament to wickedness within.

You can read the rest of this piece as well as featured poems by Lee Murray and Amy Lowenstern in the article “UNDER HER SKIN: COVER AND POETRY REVEAL” at SciFiNow or in your own copy of this amazing collection of dark poetry.

Musings on Poetry and the Art of Collaboration

After a some time away from poetry while working on a novel-length book, my return to the genre came with a new appreciation of the form. I start my mornings with poetry. If I’m not writing poems, I’m reading them. One of my goals last year was to work on a poetry collection featuring fairy tales and myth. And I’m pleased that I’ve made progress on that front. Several of my new pieces found homes, and poems I’ve been working on for years finally took form. In the end, I published five poems in 2021, and I have two more forthcoming.

Most recently, my collaborative poem “Ars Poisana” was published in Enchanted Conversation. I co-wrote this piece with Andrea Blythe several years ago. (Check out Blythe’s award-winning chapbook Twelve, a short series of linked poems based on the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” You’ll be glad you did.) Before working with her, I had never written a poem (or anything else) with another person. I wondered if it was even possible. But as we layered line over line and took turns making sweeping passes on the text, this poem took a shape and voice of its own. I’d never experienced anything like it, but I was hooked. I love the idea of poets collaborating on projects, and it’s something I hope to do again. In fact, I have the glimmer of an idea for a collection taking shape. Stay tuned!

A girl has heard the stories, fair maidens who knew better,

but slipped into the witch’s garden despite the warnings.

The witches have stories too, stories about good girls

who plucked petals from blooming plants

to eat the secrets and plant the seeds in black soil and red hearts.

“Ars Poisana” by Carina Bissett and Andrea Blythe, Enchanted Conversation, December 2021

Around the same time I started work on “Ars Poisana,” I wrote the first draft of “Bright Tapestry.” I was enamored with tapetum lucidum (Latin for bright tapestry), the reflective surface on the top part of some animals’ retinas. If only human predators could be as easily identified. I reworked this poem numerous times over the years but could never get it just right. Finally, on the day of the deadline for the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VIII, I sat down and spent six hours reworking and refining until I had a poem that was worthy of submission. I’m happy to say that the publication of “Bright Tapestry” marks my third appearance in the annual HWA Poetry Showcase.

The solitary woman stalks alleys,

a time traveler spinning dark

matter, the cosmic web.

She searches for eyeshine,

animal bridegrooms disguised

as bluebeards, princes, and wolves.

“Bright Tapestry” by Carina Bissett, HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VIII, edited by Stephanie Wytovich, November 2021

In October, my poem “The Tower” was part of ARCANA —an innovative project based in Munich, Germany. Each participating writer was given the task of composing a piece of flash or a poem based on based on a specific card in the Major Arcana. You can read more about the inspiration and process of this piece HERE.

The first poem I sold as Carina Bissett was to Zoetic Press in 2013. Over the ensuing years, I’ve been lucky enough to have had my work featured numerous times in Zoetic Press’ NonBinary Review and Alphanumeric. In September, “Fairy Tale Prohibition” was included in NonBinary Review #25 Prohibition. And in July, they published “Radiant” in NonBinary Review #24 Industrial Revolution. “Radiant” was nominated for Best of the Net.

I’m hopeful for an even more productive year for poetry in 2022. And I’m off to a good start. My poems “My Body, My Book” and “Our Lady’s Bird” will be included in the forthcoming anthology Under Her Skin: A Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, edited by Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller at Black Spot Books. It’s available for pre-order and is scheduled to be released on April 5, 2022.

“Not for the faint of heart…Each word and phrase has been structured in such a way that the reader will experience an intense depth of emotion and feelings.”

Gini Rainey, EGuide Magazine

Shadow Atlas Release

It is November 30th, and the day I’ve been waiting for all year is finally here. Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas has finally been released into the world!

Reviews are starting to come in, and the praise is glowing.

“Dead serious in its horror, yet delightful and inviting in its design and conceit, Shadow Atlas is a rare, beguiling treat, a collective fantasy with teeth, vision, and grounded in urgent, ancient truths.” – BookLife Reviews (BookLife section of Publishers Weekly)

“Think The DaVinci Code or Indiana Jones, but with more literary force, as it comments on mortals, immortals, and the intersection of worlds which holds them.” – Midwest Book Reviews

“A host of sublime writers and settings create an entertainingly macabre collection.”– Kirkus Reviews

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered the book. That initial response makes a HUGE difference. I hope you will continue to share the anthology far and wide. And for those of you who’ve read it and loved it, we’d be grateful if you’d leave a review. Thank you in advance!

The other editors (Hillary Dodge and Joshua Viola) and I recently had the honor of selecting six entries to submit as Hex Publishers‘ official nominations for the The Pushcart Prize. We decided to nominate three stories and three poems. It was extremely difficult narrowing down our nominations, but we feel confident with our final decision:

“Moon-Eyed Women” by Kay Chronister

“The Scarlet Tanager” by Starlene Justice

“The Sugar Castle of St. Lucia” by E. Lily Yu

“No More Prying Eyes” by Maxwell I. Gold

“Waay Chivo” by Jimena Jurado

“For the Fires of Floreana” by Cameron E. Quinn

Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas, edited by Carina Bissett, Hillary Dodge and Joshua Viola, illustrations by Aaron Lovett

“There is an old saying that wisdom sits in places. Open an atlas across the Americas, and you will soon discover this knowledge hidden in fragments of shared memory marked on maps. The ancient peoples knew which areas to avoid, which spirits to appease. Later, invasive superstitions from far-flung countries seeded into the landscape. In order to survive, newcomers learned the cautionary tales and secret lore linked to the terrain. But not all paid heed to superstitions. These are their stories, each tale a new entry in the field guide to dark landscapes.”

You can find more about Shadow Atlas and purchase links at Hex Publishers.

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-7365964-3-2

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7365964-1-8

eBook ISBN: 978-1-7365964-2-5

Best Horror of the Year

It’s the time of year when the BEST OF anthologies start to roll out, and writers everywhere eagerly look forward to discovering if their stories caught the attention of the readers compiling these collections. Ellen Datlow has been editing anthologies for the last four decades, and is one of the most influential editors working in the horror genre today. My poem “Swimming with the Shark Boys” made Datlow’s long list in 2016. And last year, my story “Buring Bright” (Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, February 2019) was mentioned in the introduction of The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 12.

On November 16, Datlow releases her thirteenth foray in producing The Best Horror of the Year. And this year, TWO of my stories received shout-outs in the introduction!

The first mention is for my Snow White fairy tale retelling “Rotten” that was published in Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes Murdock Yardley (Crystal Lake Publishing, March 2020).

This gorgeous anthology also made it as a finalist for Superior Achievement in an Anthology at the 2021 Bram Stoker Awards.

Not bad for a story that was rejected 19 times before finding a home

Her story “An Embrace of Poisonous Intent” also received a nod. This piece was originally published in the limited edition collection Bitter Distillations: An Anthology of Poisonous Tales (Egaeus Press, December 2020).

This story was also translated in Japanese and published in Night Land Quarterly Vol. 25 (June 2021).

The Tower (ARCANA)

I’m excited to share my work with ARCANA —an innovative project based in Munich, Germany. Each participating writer was given the task of composing a piece of flash or a poem based on based on a specific card in the Major Arcana. When I opened that invitation, I found that I’d been assigned The Tower— the one card in the deck that fills me with acute dread.

From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to move away from the more literal interpretations, so I took the symbolism of the card and mashed it up with the prevalent motif of women in towers found in fairy tales and myth. (On a side note, check out Gregory Hergert‘s visual interpretation of The Tower in the Art catalog. He works in the genre of Urban Surrealism. I was especially intrigued by the differences in the ways we approached our individual interpretations.) You can view the complete works (ART 2021 & STORY 2021) at ARCANA.

Read the rest of 16: The Tower by Carina Bissett at ARCANA.

As I worked on the concept for this poem, I followed the leads to early interpretations. In some decks, it was called La Foudre (Lightning); in others, it wasn’t included at all. I was especially intrigued by the link to the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). This biblical link then then led me to the card’s connections to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and the Harrowing of Hell.

Right: The Tower of Babel. Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563. Below: Minchiate card deck (Florence, 1860-1890): trump XV – La Casa del Diavolo; Playing Card (CH 18165941); The Harrowing of Hell, depicted in the Petites Heures de Jean de Berry, 14th-century illuminated manuscript commissioned by John, Duke of Berry.

In the end, I fixated on that image of Eve being expelled from The Tower, which reminded me of the story of St. Barbara, who I’ve discussed at length during my Storied Imaginarium module on Rapunzel. In short, Barbara was guarded by her father, who kept her locked in a tower. She refused to marry, and her father eventually condemned her to death by beheading. However, after he did the deed, he was struck by lightning. How perfect is that?

At this point, I knew I wanted to write about Maidens in Towers. (For an excellent review of the subject of this popular trope, check out the essay The Maiden in the Tower by Terri Windling at Myth and Moor.) The result was the poem “The Tower.” I hope you enjoy it.

Right: Saint Barbara, by Jan van Eyck (c. 1437)

ABOUT THE PROJECT: One card from the Major Arcana is drawn randomly and given to the participant. How the artist or writer responds to their, will be revealed this October 20, 2021 at 3 pm (CET) This year’s show will be presented completely online. —Hazel Ang

ARCANA is the result of caffeine injected conversations between writer, Steve Toase, and curator Hazel Ang. Conversations about the occult, ceremonial magicians, and eccentric filmmakers inspired Toase and Ang to start an invitational project based around the cards in hopes of presenting an international community of like-minded artists to the Munich arts scene.

In 2019, 14 artists and writers were invited to participate. The visual and literary interpretations were presented in the beautiful Orangerie in Munich, Germany. The show was beautiful and was written about by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and InMünchen Magazine.

In 2020 Arcana became an online event directed by Ang with editing help from writer, Diana Radovan. The number of artists and writers invited doubled; 22 writers, 22 artists.

With help from artist/writer Rysz Merey, and multi-talent Luvan, Arcana 2021 is presented online.