We arrived in Reykjavik at 6:00 AM yesterday morning during a spring snow squall that made the road to Akureyri impassable. But our friends Vigdis and Sveinn took us in, fed us Icelandic pancakes, and sent us to bed, for which we were grateful. We're on the road today after a good night in the company of good people and two sweet-tempered cats who curled around us while we slept.
Iceland isn't a foreign country to me anymore, breathtaking because I have never seen her before. Now her snow-covered mountains and spring-brown soil are familiar, even welcoming. I love this place from volcanic bones to glacial crown. She is a young queen among geological elders, still showing off to the world.
I am in liminal space as I write this post. Behind me, the successful completion of my first year as a PhD student of Folklore; a discipline for which I have genuine passion in a department full of committed professionals. Ahead, ten days in Iceland, a place of unparalleled beauty for which I feel something akin to the reverence one might reserve for a god. Afterward, a five-day meditation retreat at home in Cape Breton and a summer of writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces already slated for publication in their various anthologies and journals.
Because we're spread out all over the world, Rhonda Parrish asked us to record an excerpt reading of our D IS FOR DINOSAUR stories for publication on her blog. Mine went live this morning. I recorded in a closet with my new voice recorder in one take, so it isn't perfect. But it was hella fun to do. Have a listen!
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Over the years, I've withheld one story from my collections of previously published work. It was originally printed in The Stolen Island Review in 2003, but it wasn't Pagan enough for The Ruin of Beltany Ring, and it wasn't quite mature enough stylistically for The Longest Road in the Universe.
I'm in DC this week and missed participating in the cover reveal for the next Alphabet Anthologies installment, but here it is now. This installment contains my story "D is for Duel/One Who Dies as a God Dies" along with a pile of great fiction by fellow contributors. You can follow the book on Goodreads and LibraryThing, and you can read more about it below.
For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.
Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.
Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!
Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.
I should be catching up on writing career things while I'm between semesters, but now that I have my studio back, this blog post is crowding the front of my mind. So I'm going to get it out of the way first, and then I'll work on that story stamping its feet in the queue.
The LibraryThing giveaway for THE LONGEST ROAD IN THE UNIVERSE is live, so if you're a LT user and want to win a copy, check out this link and scroll down the page until you find it.
I'm still writing poetry. It's been cathartic for me to make political art for its own sake and publish it to my blog. Here's another piece.
You cannot always be drowning.
You cannot sink forever in a bottomless sea.
Brine fills the lungs, but these are finite vessels,
and the body cannot endure that awful fullness.
It spasms, pinches the larynx shut, blackens the mind.
You do not want to die.
Even the small fish of the deep make plans,
zipping past your body toward a story you cannot fathom,
while the whales who pursue them sing in tongues -
too profound for any human understanding.
Fight the flailing of your limbs.
Fight the clenching of your throat.
Fight the darkness at the edges of your sight.
I've been writing this poem since Remembrance Day. I'm still so conflicted about what has happened, what is happening now in the States. I think this piece reflects that. Make of it what you will.
By then, her knuckles were thick and gnarled,
but the needle piercing her quilt scraps -
was sure as an old woman's prayer.
"Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah," she would intone -
over the television, as if President Jimmy Carter -
spoke with the voice of Almighty God.
"Never voted Republican once in my life."
Neither have I. It wasn't enough.
I should be there now.