On Poetry

Today I saw a blog post that Rosa Lemberg, the editor of Stone Telling, had written about The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, the poetry anthology she’s editing. It will be coming out from Aqueduct Press. Here is the table of contents:

Ursula K. Le Guin, “Werewomen”
Nicole Kornher-Stace, “Harvest Season”
Eliza Victoria, “Prayer”
Shweta Narayan, “Cave-smell”
Theodora Goss, “The Witch”
Amal El-Mohtar, “On the Division of Labour”
J.C. Runolfson, “The Birth of Science Fiction”
Kristine Ong Muslim, “Resurrection of a Pin Doll”
Lawrence Schimel, “Kristallnacht”
Cassandra Phillips-Sears, “The Last Yangtze River Dolphin”
Peg Duthie, “The Stepsister”
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Girl with Two Skins”
Theodora Goss, “Binnorie”
Nandini Dhar, “Learning to Locate Colors in Grey: Kiran Talks About Her Brothers”
Rachel Manija Brown, “River of Silk”
JoSelle Vanderhooft, “The King’s Daughters”
Lisa Bradley, “The Haunted Girl”
Mary Alexandra Agner, “Tertiary”
Sara Amis, “Owling”
Athena Andreadis, “Spacetime Geodesics”
Lisa Bradley, “In Defiance Of Sleek-Armed androids”
Sofía Rhei, “Cinderella”
Alex Dally MacFarlane, “Beautifully Mutilated, Instantly Antiquated”
Shweta Narayan, “Epiphyte”
Elizabeth R. McClellan, “Down Cycles”
H.E.L Gurney, “She Was”
Kelly Pflug-Back, “My Bones’ Cracked Abacus”
Kat Dixon, “Nucleometry”
N. A’Yara Stein, “It’s All In The Translation”
Sally Rosen Kindred, “Sabrina, Borne”
Adrienne J. Odasso, “The Hyacinth Girl”
Delia Sherman, “Snow White to the Prince”
Phyllis Gotlieb, “The Robot’s Daughter”
Vandana Singh, “Syllables of Old Lore”
Greer Gilman, “She Undoes”
Emily Jiang, “Self-Portrait”
Ki Russel, “The Antlered Woman Responds”
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Oracle at Miami”
Athena Andreadis, “Night Patrol”
Koel Mukherjee, “Sita Reflects”
Lorraine Schoen, “Hypatia/Divided”
Sharon Mock, “Machine Dancer”
C.W. Johnson, “Towards a Feminist Algebra”
Jo Walton, “Blood Poem IV”
Meena Kandasamy, “Six Hours of Chastity”
Samantha Henderson, “Berry Cobbler”
Sofía Rhei, “Bluebeard Possibilities”
Sheree Renee Thomas, “Old Scratch poem featuring River”
Elizabeth R. McClellan, “The Sea Witch Talks Show Business”
Ranjani Murali, “Chants for Type: Skull-Cap Donner at Center-One Mall”
Sonya Taaffe, “Madonna of the Cave”
Jeannelle Ferreira, “Anniversaries”
Rebecca Korvo, “Handwork”
Patricia Monaghan, “Journey To The Mountains Of The Hag”
Ari Berk, “Pazerik Burial on the Ukok Plateau”
Neile Graham, “Dsonoqua Daughters”
Sonya Taaffe, “Matlacihuatl’s Gift”
Ellen Wehle, “Once I No Longer Lived Here”
Yoon Ha Lee, “Art Lessons”
JT Stewart, “Say My Name”
Amal El-Mohtar, “Pieces”
Sofia Samatar, “The Year of Disasters”
Claire S. Cooney, “The Last Crone on the Moon”
Minal Hajratwala, “Archaeology of the Present”
Jennifer McGowan, “Mara Speaks”
JT Stewart, “Ceremony”
April Grant, “Trenchcoat”
Tara Barnett, “Star Reservation”
Mary Alexandra Agner, “Old Enough”
Nisi Shawl, “Transbluency: An Antiprojection Chant”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And look, I have two poems in it!

I’ve had poetry on my mind recently, because it looks as though I’m going to be putting together a poetry collection. It will probably include quite a lot of unpublished poems, since most of the poems I’ve written over the years are unpublished. I’m so much more diffident about my poetry than about my prose. I feel as though I can call myself a short story writer, at least at this point. But can I call myself a poet? I don’t know.

So I’m a little worried about putting together a collection: worried that people will read it and say, why does she thing she can write poetry? But you know, I make it a point to do things that scare me, like put my poetry out there. (Why does poetry seem so much more personal to me than prose? I’m not sure.)

So, just because I’m worried about my poetry, particularly the older stuff, I’m going to post, below, a poem I wrote back in 1993. (The year I graduated from law school. Maybe you can see a connection.) Here it is:

The Changeling’s Story

I, fairy-spawn, am brought green and dripping
to the front doorsteps of the woodsman and his wife
who deserve much better, but are content with this
sign, they believe, of high favor. Ever after,
their astonishment is immense with I speak with weasels
and tease the hazels. It is moonlight
and skips in the frog-dew for me, and wild white things
only I see.

As I grow older, imagine my gold hair
which at the roots is green, and the grain of my white skin,
and my thin lips, how my blood is green.
A pair of sparrows nests behind my ears, indeed
I do not lack for jewels because berries
bend down to hang by my chin,
and the thistle plucks her thorns to nestle more closely
between my thumb and finger. You see, I remember,
in the chink of moneyed towns and walled-up gated gardens
and stone paths, my ancestry. I walk away from tea
tables and small cakes to stroke the yellow bee.

And you who listen to me, you with eyes closed and unbelieving
ears, and a mouth like a mole, what basket were you brought in?
Have you forgotten already the dances,
the wine drunk from acorn cups, the lean
ladies dragging farm boys into the waters, our sisters?
And our high pale mothers with wet glistening hands
holding closed sunflowers? And our proud
royal fathers hunting the lightning
with red-eared hounds that speak in human voices?
Cut your finger. See the ichor. How could you
have forgotten all of this?

It needs some revision (honestly: I’ve revised it a bit for this blog post). But once the defense is over, I’ll be going through years of poetry, trying to separate the decent from the awful. We’ll see what I find.

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2 Responses to On Poetry

  1. Sovay says:

    it looks as though I’m going to be putting together a poetry collection.

    I am glad to hear it.

  2. Because you inspire me, I send this gift, which after all belongs to you, the changeling one-

    I speak with wolves and weasels

    comfort thorns and teasels.

    Moonlight brings wild things only I see

    there, where they skip through dew to me.

    My blood is green, sparrows nest behind my ears

    to whisper old tales from the vale of tears.

    I leave my parents table, that human He and She,

    to stroke the buzzing honey bee.

    A fairy’s spawn am I

    Left on their doorstep times gone by,

    Soon they will return, my kin,

    gather me back, and take me in.

    The moon is dark when forest voices call to me

    “Come, come claim your true ancestry,”

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