Poetry is a Hedgehog

from Hélène Cixous, Messiah (1996):

“One day I heard a very fine scholar respond to the enigma What-is-Poetry: Poetry is a hedgehog; and then I had a marvelous vision, I saw the hedgehog big as life with a soft skin like tiger silks and the hedgehog brought forth a high meadow that made for the earth red- and yellow-spotted corollas, and the meadow brought forth an admirable dead woman whose stories and tales are the cities and lights of my inner existence, and the hedgehog was in the center of the springtime like the spirit of resistance at the heart of great leaps of growth. As if on an elevator, the dead woman had gone straight up to that which lives again and she spoke to the hedgehog in the voice of a beloved. She spoke to it as “Ceres,” in a voice whose gentleness was stronger than any authority. Seeing that, I understood for myself the mystery… to say: “Poetry is a hedgehog” is a bit short. One phrase does not a lecture make. But hold out your hands, and into them I’ll put the word hedgehog and the word Ceres. Keep them safe, each of them will bring forth harvests.”

*the “very fine scholar” Cixous refers to is, of course, Derrida.

Thrill to the weirdness!

Vladimir Gvozdev's mechanical frog

It’s horrible, it’s amazing, it’s odd, it’s…

Jeff Vandermeer posing next to a random sign in Prague!

No, wait. That’s not it. Reverse that, start again.

Jeff and Ann Vandermeer recently put together this astounding and disturbing collection called The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiousities (in which I am a tiny bit proud to appear, in a tiny little way),  and NOW Ann has written a hy-larious and unsettling account of how the volume really came to be (wink, wink), including hijinks in Prague. Paired with images from the collection, it’s a treat.

You can peruse the nifty slideshow (and the text follows the slides, btw), kindly hosted by io9.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities is one of the most unusual, complex and interesting anthologies published this year. You’re going to want a copy of your own, so why not duck into one of my favorite booksellers, Mysterious Galaxy in sunny San Diego, especially if you’re headed into town for the upcoming World Fantasy Convention? Or order online from them to support genre booksellers.

What Do Owls Have to Do With It?

Today is an exciting day! Big news on the publication front. More things on the way, too. But I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.

First, About Owls, in brief:

They can look adorable.

They’re iconic.

They’re also fairly bad-assed predators, a fact overshadowed by the cuteness/helpfulness of typical renderings.

Like this one, for starters.

But my favorite owl has got to be this little guy, rendered so magnificently by Imaginary People:

I am not really obsessed with owls or anything. I don’t even have an owl tattoo (yet). But when I heard the word last year that Jeff Vandermeer was calling for micro-fiction for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities concerning strange artifacts, it had to be an owl.

Well, it’s an owl skull. With some moldy feathers clingy to it. Possessing mysterious properties. You’ll just have to read it.

And you can, because the newly minted book, sequel to The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases (a Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award finalist) appears today!

My contribution is tiny, actually, but there are loads of amazing contributors, such as Holly Black, Ted Chiang, John Coulthart, Minister Faust, N.K. Jemisin, China Mieville, Mike Mignola, Alan Moore, Garth Nix, Ekaterina Sedia, and Rachel Swirsky, to name a few.

Order it here or here. Read more about it here.

My copy is on its way to me now, so I can sleep with it under my pillow and dream about owls.



Ah, New Time Travel, Plus More CW Success

Check out Damien Broderick’s new “Time Considered as a Series of Thermite Burns in No Particular Order,” now up at Tor.com, providing a fun little romp, some saving of the world and a nod to Samuel Delany all in one go.

And, new at Lightspeed, my Clarion West classmate K.C. Ball, kickin’ butt and taking names with the complex, fabulous yarn, “Snapshots I Brought Back From the Black Hole.”

The Clarion West class of 2010 is certainly making a good showing of late!

Read K.C.’s thoughts on the piece at A Moving Line.

World Fantasy Convention 2010

Here is what I hope is a pithy little post about this exciting event, as I am still recovering.

This gal is as pleased as can be to have attended her very first World Fantasy Convention this past week in Columbus, Ohio. Highlights: I reconnected with good friends from Clarion West, made some good contacts, and enjoyed fun facetime with writers and editors I’d only previously met online (or not at all), and attended some interesting panels and readings.

WFC lessons learned:

  • Kij Johnson’s readings are NOT to be missed.
  • If your Twitter pic actually resembles you, people may recognize you!
  • Everyone should buy and read the anthology The Way of the Wizard (the one edited by John Joseph Adams, not that thing by Deepak Chopra).
  • Columbus as a city is not as dreary as I’d been led to believe (well, not quite).
  • In October, an old leather jacket is not warm enough for a skinny girl from Florida.
  • Everyone (or at least those who like zombies) should buy and read the collection Rigor Amortis.
  • Ted Chiang apparently always looks dapper, and is too shy to talk to fangirls in the elevator.
  • Chicks in chain mail are ridiculous (see photo), but hilarious to intoxicated people.
  • Brian Lumley really just wants a cigarette,  if you have one.

I saw why this con is recommended for writers above conventions that support writer activity but remain focused on fans, costuming and entertainment/media. This is primarily an publishing industry con. This is where writers want to be to network with folks from Tor, Del Rey, Nightshade, Edge Publishing, and the like. Pro and semi-pro publishers were represented, and a surprising mix of people mingle at after-parties which seem to be what the con is really all about. Oh, and the World Fantasy awards are handed out.

I’m being a tiny bit flip about the experience, but it truly was worthwhile. I handed out as well as collected a number of business cards (sort of a party game, and not without very real etiquette and papercut hazards) and made useful and stimulating connections. I learned more about the lively industry that is sci-fi and fantasy publishing. I came home exhausted and probably with more information than I can ever process.

I’m already scheming to attend the 2011 convention.

On Roller Derby (more non-writing activities)

Too chicken to play all-female flat track roller derby myself, but it is awesome to be a spectator. I’ve recently been introduced to this team sport, and my current fav is the Switchblade Sisters, a team in the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins league.

The officials are almost as much fun to watch as the flat track action itself. I spent a fair amount of time at the last bout on September 4th trying to capture the antics of Stella Knockout (derby names are fun). She skidded on her knees on the edge of the track (a few feet from me) after every other play like she was sliding into home plate. Never quite got the shot I wanted, though. As seen here, she rocks the referee uniform.

I’m really not one for sports. I was forced to play team sports as an adolescent and hated it all. Now, I tend toward individual or partnered recreational activities, not competitive ones, and I don’t watch sports on television. The entertaining aspect of roller derby (for me) has a great deal to do with empowering women, and the majority of spectators are women and girls. I plan say a bit more about this and the appealing third-wave punk aesthetic, too, when I’m not so sleepy; women-centered space can be creative and interesting to occupy. The number of supportive males in the sport, in terms of both audience and officials, is not too shabby from what I’ve seen in this league.

For a fun and informative look at roller derby, check out the excellent documentary Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Roller Girls.

And then there was Pie (and sand)

I promised a photo! Thankfully, I took one because, as they say, a picture will last longer. It was GOOD pie. I confess that I ate almost half of the pie all by myself. So much for the low-carb diet.

The delay in posting of the promised pie photo is the result of my family’s long-awaited trip to Anna Maria Island, which was incredibly beautiful. The sky was this gorgeous azure, and the water was perfectly clear and aquamarine. There was a moment when the beauty of the water was overwhelming and unreal to my eyes, a solid thing, like a delicately colored piece of plexiglass. Absurd, right?

Unexpectedly, I shed tears when I first touched the water. The oil spill is on the mind of every person along the coast, even though they pretend, like our innkeeper did, that everything is wonderful as usual. I said some prayers, and we had a lovely time for the most part. Mr. B ran himself ragged and fell into bed at 9 PM every single night we were there. I wish I could figure out how to exhaust him that way at home.

The sea turtles were nesting at night, which was something I would have dearly loved to witness, but I was too tired. We did go out each night in the early evening and walk in the twilight. Every night, when the sun touched the horizon, an interesting thing happened. Every person on the beach stopped (except Mr. B, who never stops moving unless he is unconscious) and stared at the sun as it appeared to grow smaller and smaller, and then wink out below the horizon line. It occurred so rapidly, and I found this unceasingly amazing. I mean, Florida is flat, but I rarely see the completion of a sunset because we live in a tree city. I was caught up every night in that motion, startled by it each time. It made me feel very small. It’s easy to forget that we live on a enormous ball spinning in space, and then you glimpse it turning.

Blessed be, Gaia. Oshun. Yemaya.

Mr. B is Cute and Online!

Mr. B had his portrait painted by an artist, a person he’s never met! Ahh, the magic of the internet.

The talented artist, Karen Schmidt, has a blog called Send Me Your Head, which is just what it sounds like. Send Karen a headshot, and you may get to see it transformed into a painting.
Apparently, Karen is attempting to complete a portrait a day, which is a mighty undertaking. The procrastinating writer could learn a thing or two about dedication from this…

The truly amazing thing is that the portraits are 3″ x 3″ in size. How does she do that?
In the photo I sent, Mr. B was actively channeling David Tennant, of recent Dr. Who fame, who is one his favorite actors (and mine).