Poetry Publication

DantesInfernoCoverV3-5.5x8.5My poem “OH MAD ARACHNE: A Folle in Three Acts” is included in NonBinary Review #19 Dante’s Inferno, which was published by Zoetic Press in December 2018. This one came out in a wild rush of words, quite unlike my normal process of writing poetry. It’s based on the story of Arachne, just a tale of a woman tearing another woman down. Let’s just say I have no love for Artemis.

Arachne is mentioned in “Inferno” in relation to Geryon (Canto XVII). On a side note, Geryon is Medusa’s grandson and Medusa is yet another woman who was cursed by a goddess, only this time it was Athena. (Go figure.) My inspiration came from the Gustave Doré’s image of “Arachne,” from the 12th Canto of Dante’s “Purgatory” (see below).  However, when I realized Arachne was actually in Purgatory, not Inferno, I’d already written this poem. Luckily, my editor Lise Quintana loved it anyway and decided to include it in this marvelous issue. Enjoy!

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 “Arachne” by  Gustave Doré

The Blue Fairy Book-A Creative Project

blue coverTo kick off the new year, I’ve started a project revolving around Andrew Lang‘s  The Blue Fairy Book (1889), which was the first of twelve “coloured” fairy tale collections published through 1910. There are 37 tales in The Blue Fairy Book, which includes seven tales from the Brothers Grimm, five from Madame d’Aulnoy, three from the Arabian Nights, and four Norwegian fairytales, among other sources. Every eight to ten days, I will be posting one of the fairy tales along with my notes of potential links, mash-ups, and outside sources on Patreon. Other posts will include commentary on the original authors and collectors of these tales, links to contemporary retellings, and classic fairy tale illustrations. It’s going to be a fun ride, and I hope you will join me on this adventure.

The Blue Fairy Book (1889) Table of Contents

  1. The Bronze Ring
  2. Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess
  3. East of the Sun and West of the Moon
  4. The Yellow Dwarf
  5. Little Red Riding Hood
  6. The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
  7. Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper
  8. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  9. The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was
  10. Rumpelstiltskin
  11. Beauty and the Beast
  12. The Master Maid
  13. Why the Sea Is Salt
  14. The Master Cat or Puss in Boots
  15. Felicia and the Pot of Pinks
  16. The White Cat
  17. The Water-lily. The Gold-spinners
  18. The Terrible Head
  19. The Story of Pretty Goldilocks
  20. The History of Whittington
  21. The Wonderful Sheep
  22. Little Thumb
  23. The Forty Thieves
  24. Hansel and Gretel
  25. Snow-White and Rose-Red
  26. The Goose-girl
  27. Toads and Diamonds
  28. Prince Darling
  29. Blue Beard
  30. Trusty John
  31. The Brave Little Tailor
  32. A Voyage to Lilliput
  33. The Princess on the Glass Hill
  34. The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou
  35. The History of Jack the Giant-killer
  36. The Black Bull of Norroway
  37. The Red Etin

Event Announcement

I will be emceeing HWA Colorado’s Annual Red Tinsel Event from 7-9 pm on December 8 at the BookBar (4280 Tennyson St.) in Denver. Readers in attendance will include yours truly,  Steve Rasnic Tem, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, Angie Hodapp, Warren Hammond, Josh Viola, Sean Eads, Hillary Raque Dodge, Larry Berry, Dean Wyant, and Carter Wilson.  In addition to the readings and signings, there will also be several giveaways. I know it’s a drive, but it should be fun.

In other news, Hillary Raque Dodge and I are looking at event options to celebrate Women in Horror Month (February). Together, we are working on the preliminary development of the Colorado Springs satellite of the Colorado HWA chapter. Future moves include plans to meet with core HWA members in the southern region, raise awareness of HWA membership opportunities for potential recruits, and to schedule future satellite meetings and activities at central Colorado Springs locations. Stay tuned!

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November News

It’s been a crazy and wonderful Fall, and I’m ready for the cold quiet that comes with winter. It’s always been my favorite season to write. I have projects planned and stories to finish. Time to get back to business!

HWA ShowcaseOverall, October was a fun month. I received my author copy of the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V, edited by Stephanie Wytovich. My story “Blood Works” appears in this wonderful collection featuring some of my favorite poets currently working in the speculative realm. There are some truly lovely works in this powerful and haunting journal. Among my favorites are “The Joy of Seeing” by Christina Sng, “The Temptation of the Moon to Shadow” by C. R. Langille, and the featured poem “Amalgamation” by Sara Tantlinger. The Horror Writers Association has showcased dark poetry for the last five years. It’s been such a lovely experience, I hope I’ll be able to submit again next year.

Also in October, I received my author copy of Birthing Monsters: Frankenstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities and Cruelties, a stunning grimoire collected by Firbolg Publishing. Opening this package was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had as an author. Not only was my story marked in the hardcover edition by a goose quill, but the box was brimming with treasures galore–all of which were unique and marvelous in their own way. The book itself is meant to be explored as an adventure; in fact, it doesn’t even have a table of contents. My essay, “Mapping the Collective Body of Frankenstein’s Bride,” can be found about halfway through and is bookended by an eerie piece of short fiction by Bruce Boston and a selection of strange images ranging from a black-and-white still from the movie Bride of Frankenstein to an excerpt from a criticism of the original publication of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (The London Literary Gazette; November 19, 1831). The line-up of authors, poets, scholars, composers, playwrights, and artists featured in this quirky compendium includes Michael Bailey, Adam Bolivar, Jason V. Brock, Cecile Grimm Cabeen, Robert Payne Cabeen, Scott Edelman, Brian Evenson, Eric J. Guignard, Anne Jackson, Thierry Jandrock, Erik T. Johnson, S. T. Joshi, Lisa Morton. Gene O’Neill, E. F. Schraeder, Darrell Schweitzer, Doktor Alex Scully, B. E. Scully, Mary Shelley, Marge Simon, and Darren Speegle. The result is a stitched narrative that celebrates one of the most influential novels ever penned. It’s an experiment unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I hope I will have the opportunity to work with Firbolg Publishing again.

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August News

Hath No Fury coverMy birthday is right around the corner (August 31), which makes all the good news I’ve received lately even more enjoyable. On August 23, Hath No Fury was released into the world. This gorgeous anthology hold special meaning for me as it contains my “Jack and the Beanstalk”/”Rappaccini’s Daughter” mash-up “A Seed Planted,” which was one of the first manuscripts I workshopped with Liz Hand during my time at Stonecoast. I received the acceptance letter while I was in Puerto Vallarta celebrating the fact that I’d survived the first year of my bicycle accident in June 2016. It seems a lifetime ago now, but it was worth the wait. It’s a gorgeous books and an incredible line-up.

In other news, my poem “Blood Work” will be included in the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V, edited by Stephanie Wytovich. I worked on this particular piece with Cate Marvin, an extraordinary poet who took the time to really help shape the way I approach poetry. In the past, I had a fascination with Anne Sexton’s Transformations–a collection I still admire–but, I am not Anne Sexton, and with Cate’s help, I’ve been able to find my own path.  I still have a fascination with fairy tales and myth, but my poems have started to evolve into pieces with more concrete connections. It’s an interesting journey, and one I hope to continue.

During my time at Stonecoast working with Cate, I also wrote an academic paper on the brides of Frankenstein’s monster. Body horror tends to crop up in my creative work, so this felt like a natural transition. I ended up presenting that paper at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in March, and I ended up with some interest in an essay adaptation on my research. I recently had the opportunity to view the final draft of  Birthing Monsters: Frankenstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities and Cruelties, which will include my piece “Mapping the Collective Body of Frankenstein’s Brides.” Firbolg Publishing will be hosting a book signing on October 28 at Dark Delicacies (3512 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because of a prior commitment at Sirens; however, you can be sure I’ll be watching the festivities remotely. It looks like it will be an incredible event.

gorgon-emergenceMy last bit of news was just announced today–I have a story coming out in the stunning Pantheon Magazine anthology Gorgon: Stories of Emergence“Burning Bright” is the result of an experiment in literary style. I started with a flash piece written about an abused girl hidden in the skin of a circus tiger, which was originally inspired by Angela Carter’s short story “The Tiger’s Bride,” collected in The Bloody Chamber. When I decided to expand it in order to take a look at the cycle of abuse, I settled on the opening reference to Frank R. Stockton’s short story “The Lady or the Tiger?”, which was originally published in magazine The Century in 1882. The story has come to represent an unsolvable problem, which I feel reflects the emotional state of victims trapped in relationships ruled by domestic violence.

I also borrowed the spelling of “tyger” from the William Blake poem “The Tyger” to indicate the shift from beast to woman, and the fierceness of the human soul once it is freed from the conventions that bind it. Other references include instructions on how to sew a lining, a circus calliope driven by a steam-driven carousel, the children’s counting rhyme “Eeny Meeny,” depictions of children’s string games, and hints of resurrection through the connection symbolized by the red thread of fate. This piece is meant as an acknowledgment of the fact that many victims return to their abusers, often several times. That final act of separation is a brave one and it often comes at a high cost. “Burning Bright” is a reminder that there is hope. The uncanny connection between a victim and an abuser can be severed. Freedom can be attained.

 

 

MFA Graduation

A month ago, I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. It still seems somewhat surreal, and I’m working out the kinks of adjusting to a life without the idea of school deadlines looming. In addition to my personal writing pursuits and running workshops at The Storied Imaginarium, I will also be teaching a couple of English classes at Pikes Peak Community College. And, just to stay on top of my own goals of being a life-long learner, I will be taking Advanced Creative Writing with Richard Thomas. It’s going to be a busy Fall!

Commencement Speech (Stonecoast, Popular Fiction, S’18)

Stonecoast graduationJust as I expect was the case with many of you here today, I discovered the magic of books at young age and by the time I hit grade school, I realized I could not only read other people’s stories, but that I could write my own. Although the map of my life reveals haphazard progress hindered by numerous wrong turns, dead ends, and detours, my desire to write never waned. When I received my acceptance to the creative writing program at Stonecoast, I thought my path had finally straightened out. I could clearly see my destination, and I thought there was nothing that could slow me down. I was wrong.

Three weeks before my first residency, I was speeding down a hill when the front tire of my bike caught gravel. When I fully regained consciousness 18 hours later, I slowly began to process the damage. The trauma doctors had done their best to put me back together, but I was never going to look the same as I had before the accident. Worse, the traumatic brain injury meant I’d never think the same either. The first flower arrangement to show up in my hospital room was from Stonecoast, which added to my determination to be a part of this community despite my injuries. I received the offer to wait, to push my start date back, but I was terrified that if I didn’t press forward, the opportunity would slip through my fingers. I stuck to the plan, and limped onto a plane with a bag full of medications two weeks after being released from the hospital. This was not my best idea.

There’s a saying that first impressions are everything. So I knew I was in trouble when Robin and Justin staged an intervention in the middle of my first residency. I was a walking physical and emotional disaster. I tried to persevere, without the greatest success. Intervention, remember? Those of you graduating tonight are the last class to remember my disastrous first residency. You are also the ones who helped me to continue forward to this moment.

Although it has been a difficult two years, it’s been rewarding also—in ways I never would have expected. I still suffer from chronic pain and impaired cognition, but upon reflection I think the accident served to make me a better writer; it definitely made me a better person. All of my protective shields were shattered, my pride and arrogance stripped away. Without this having happened, I might not have been in the position to learn the lessons Stonecoast has to offer. For instance, I learned that you can be self-reliant, yet still be able to ask for help when you need it. I learned that you can be an outsider yet still belong to this vibrant community of writers and mentors. And above all, I learned that earning my MFA is just one of the signposts along the ever-evolving journey in becoming a writer.

I urge you all to keep moving despite the obstacles that will invariably come your way. Slow down. Take advantage of unexpected side trips. Explore the roads off the beaten path. And remember to stay connected to the Stonecoast community: if you reach out and stay involved, your time here will never come to an end. There’s a quote by E. L. Doctorow that kept me moving forward even in the darkest times, and I’d like to share it with you now: “[Writing is] like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Even though we are all travelling in different directions, I will keep my eyes open in hopes our paths will cross again soon. I know from experience, my life will be better for it. Thank you.

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