It was an accident. An accident? It was the steady ground suddenly tilting into the steep sides of a gorge, and the shitty path and its shitty cracks turned into crumbling rock giving way under shittier shoes, the ones that were going to be thrown out and replaced with the new season because these had paid their dues and there was supposed to be just enough traction for a few more weeks of Weather, before Weather gave way to Heat.
It was an accident in that it happened, it was done, and they were asleep at the bottom of the gorge and it was too steep and too far to get them. Someone else would have to get them.
Listen—one day you’re gonna find yourself out in the ocean,
in the world, and you’re gonna stop and feel the electric
heartbeat of the entire world in the water around you—
down here, no one is ever alone.
This spring, Strange Horizons put out a call for their summer special, Our Queer Planet. The excerpt comes from my poem chosen for the series, “A Mergirl Speaks of Travels,” which follows a queer scientist-explorer in a futuristic aquatic Earth.
What would you do with unlimited power?
Over at Open Letters Monthly, I’m thrilled to have a poem in their February 2016 issue.
I do love this poem a stupid lot; it came out of a collection I worked on about two years ago. A lot of the poems and prose poems were unsalvageable, but I’m still circulating some in hopes of getting them published. The poems riffed on mythology and women from my favorite stories (female characters from history, myths, and literature) and I’m glad that if any part of that collection sees the light of day, it’s this one. (Maybe the Mary Shelley one, too.)
I’m so happy Atlas and Alice picked up this short and absurd piece that’s disgustingly close to my heart.
A) ME AND BRADLEY COOPER (PRE-HANGOVER)
There’s a quality like sweetness. It’s made of soft lighting, smiles, laughing with you but not at you. It grows in small spaces. Alias set scenes with Will Tippin in a too-small-for-tv apartment, a space where Jennifer Garner could hide from her premise and fate.
This starts another argument between husband and wife, mild at first, but then it peppers and there is this thing that distance does where it subtracts warmth and context and history and each finds that they’re arguing with a stranger.
A phenomenal short story by Lesley Nneka Arimah, published in Granta and a winner of Commonwealth Writers’s short story regional prize. This was distractingly good, like I have to leave the house ten minutes ago but NO I DON’T NO I CAN’T I WILL FINISH THIS. So load it on Pocket or- just be late. It’ll be worth it.
LESS PERSONAL OPINION: While I’m over AOU, I’m not over discussing AOU because I’m fascinated by the conversations that surround every aspect of this movie. See, the conversations around last year’s The Winter Soldier centered on the themes of its story (contemporary “preventative” warfare; the surveillance state that makes it possible; every single thing about the dual figure of Steve Rogers/Captain America in the real/fictional American psyche). In conversations about AOU, story barely figures because the plot points were sloppy and forgettable. So far the best takeaway from AOU has been the way it made every writer I know leave their theater with a loud and firm I NEED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS. Here are two essays very much worth reading:
I’m not here to bury or praise Whedon, or the larger Marvel universe, or even Avengers: Age of Ultron;I’m just a girl, standing in front of a movie universe, asking it to give her narrative and emotional consistency.
I went with the cheeky excerpt because to quote any one part of this first part is to end up quoting the rest. This piece uses the concept of “points of care” as a straightforward way to describe how you can lay out the stakes for any given character in a story. For the Avengers in AOU (the central Avengers with 3-5 appearances in the MCU each), those points were developed throughout Phases 1 and 2, and AOU the Phase 2 finale meant to cash in on that prior development. My main disappointment with AOU came from this fundamental difference between the movie promised and the one delivered. Marvel invested in characters over the course of years, and their big return to this reluctantly-formed team completely ignores that they’re wildly different characters from the characters who teamed up three years ago. This essay does a great job of articulating the storytelling failures that characterized the movie.
Once the movie came out, there were a metric ton of problems with how the character’s story arc was presented. And after everyone digested all that, the backlash started. A backlash that seemed centered on Joss Whedon as a person, and not on having a real discussion about the movie.
This io9 piece takes a look at Black Widow’s AOU context- not in-universe context, but an overview of our talk around her role. This reviews the buildup to Black Widow’s role in AOU/the MCU in general, the reception of her story in AOU once the movie came out, and the backlash/fallout directed at Joss Whedon when it turned out that his take on Black Widow was out of tune not just with Phase 2 but also with his own characterization in the first Avengers movie. Also, for this piece in particular: don’t read the comments.
To keep the diary was to defend against memory loss; the prospect of forgetting seemed to Manguso a fate worse than death. But her fixation on capturing every detail didn’t feel quite right either.
I think I’ve kept a journal almost my entire life, from the cute hot pink ones still buried somewhere in my parents’ house to the dark green moleskine in my bedside table right now. It’s difficult to keep a journal and this piece from Vela has stuck in my mind for just that reason. I’ve kept a journal for so long, I don’t know why I keep it, what I hope to get from it, or how it affects my writing. Questions that need evaluating, maybe in… my journal?!
That night, my wife and I began scouring real estate listings, and almost immediately warmed to Satchel-on-Hudson, a lovely village two hours north of the city…. Life out here is placid and wonderful, and has afforded me the time and space for things I could never do in the city, like jarring my own salsa and not living in New York.
Girl Canon‘s business: publishing women’s “secret canons”—books that were part of women’s formative reading experiences, especially books outside of the canon as it’s taught. The idea comes from n+1‘s conversation between female writers and academics, published as the pamphlet No Regrets. Below is an excerpt from my secret canon. Ladies: consider submitting your own.
I read Harriet the Spy when I was nine and thought: YES! I want to write! Except I was nine and not so hot on picking up The Message, so I started a burn book about my classmates. It… did not go well. In the novel and its sequel, The Long Secret (an underappreciated beautiful weirdo of a book), Harriet has this tenacity and knowledge-lust that makes a reader dizzy with the possibility of how much you can know about people, about anything, while still knowing nothing at all.
Much Ado is a rich, quotable comedy, with Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation the long-standing Definitive Film Version that you can absolutely use to bluff your way through a classy Shakespeare-quoting life. Yet (long may Branagh’s version reign), seeing Joss Whedon’s version revealed a new depth to this play I had seen and read so many times in so many forms. Whedon’s version completely remakes the play from the ground up, and his version poses a question that I hadn’t even thought to ask: in watching Much Ado, do we want a great story, or a great performance?
Full disclosure: I love Kenneth Branagh. I love his version of Much Ado. I love his Hamlet. I love his Thor. I love that he so loved the world, he gave it Tom Hiddleston when he had the chance to trap that rainbow-made-flesh in a crystal and keep it in the chamber of secrets beneath his house.