talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Now it can be told! My reverse selkie story, “Watercolors” will be published in the upcoming Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Anthology, edited by Matthew McFarland. I can’t wait for you all to check it out; I’ll let you know as soon as I know the release date.

Things that I wrote: 

A Pinning Guide to Cat Safe Thanksgiving Centerpieces” over at Front Page Meews.
Our Favorite Fall Eyeshadow Trends” over at ISA Professional’s blog.
Winter Hair is Coming” over at ISA Professional’s blog, as well.

Things that I read:

Dr. Seuss was not even in the general vicinity of fucking around,” being an Imgur set of Seuss’s political cartoons.
#justfairythings: Fairy behavior is truly appalling,” being a set of fairy trufax.
The Photographer Representing her Non-Binary Friends as They’d Like to be Seen,” what it says on the tin.

Things that I made:

Catherynne M. Valente released a brand new Fairyland story this week, processing her response to the American 2016 election. “The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still” is free for everyone, and will be always. I formatted the ebooks for her, so you can download the story as PDF, EPUB, or MOBI as well.

ww-snorlax-thanksgivinggoals

A couple of weeks ago, I doodled up a quick Snorlax for the Thanksgiving-era fridge. After all, my #ThanksgivingGoals were to be fat and sleepy, which is pretty much Snorlax to a T. (I succeeded at this!)

ww-pusheenxmas

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness heralds the coming of cookie season in my household! I drew one of Pusheen‘s adorable cartoons for the occasion.

Things that I’m excited about:

crimsonpeak-brdt-sblackmoorenoface-hirudolph

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

 

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente was officially released into the wild today, though it's been available by Kindle for some time now.

I had the pleasure of reading this novel a month or so ago, and it promptly learned to sing in the tongue of my heart and engaged with many of my spiritual issues in sublime catharsis. That toes the edge of overwrought, but this novel proved to be a very personal experience for me. This is why I have not yet reviewed it, and why I am reading it again before I do. I purchased my own physical copy today, and immediately cracked open its ragged-edge pages: already, again, I am gone over the edge of the world and the Rimal has me in its scouring embrace.

Look for me there.

...no, seriously, if you have any interest in fabulous bestiaries, religious deconstruction, intelligent fantasy, or just a compelling story of the fantastic... do yourself a favor and pick up this novel.

You should also check out the amazing release shenanigans (prizes! video!) over at Cat's Livejournal, and the fantastic website for Prester John that she's set up.

Also, I may have committed icon:



18 more icons behind the cut! )
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
Today's free fiction recommendation is available in the print anthology Dark Faith, recently published by Apex Book Company. This particular story, Catherynne M. Valente's "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" was recently featured on io9, thus fulfilling the "free" qualification in "free fiction recommendation."

Do you like zombies?

Well, I don't. At all. Yet they've been a popular thing for a while now, and I don't think that's changing any time soon.

What I like, however, is well-written fiction. Tell a compelling enough story, and it doesn't matter if it has elements I find in every way disturbing and distasteful. Of course, it's true that stories containing those elements have to work a bit harder to impress me: they're struggling against natural prejudice, and that can't be helped.

I say all this so you'll understand the strength of my recommendation: "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" is a zombie tale well worth your time.

It's not flippant or fun or action-packed or thrilling. It's frankly quite sad. It's painted in dark rooms and dripping ichor, in running water and the far pinpricks of stars. It's full of sadness and despair and the need to witness. The story is a bit wandering, but that's just fine because it comes to us scrawled in the pages of a notebook with flaming motorcycles on the cover. The narrator is just a girl, still herself and all alone in Augusta, Maine. She chronicles her days in notebooks of Kermit or punky princesses - an affectingly comic touch that turns out to be not really comic at all.

Perhaps this zombie story isn't fun, but it says something real: something about soul-killing weariness and despair and existence in tandem with these truths. Truths, unfortunately, that we can all identify with in some degree. Valente weaves in the flip-side, as well, shoring up her narrative with the indomitability of human curiosity and the persistence of life-preserving hope in the face of inexorable bleakness.

Valente has stated in her blog that "I have no plans to ever write a zombie story again, so this is pretty much it for me and this trope." If that must be so, I must say that I'm glad this is the one she gave us.

Have you read "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles"? And, if so, what did you think?
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Right now, I should be working on my paper regarding the use of folklore in Charlotte Mew's poetry. In fine academic fashion, I am instead procrastinating by doing other neglected tasks, making lists, organizing my deadlines, and randomly posting to Livejournal.

At least I've made an outline? And now I'm here with book recommendations!

First up: Mira Grant's Feed.

Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, featuring a world in which humanity has made it through a zombie apocalypse and is keepin' on keepin' on. Really, I can word no better endorsement than Publisher's Weekly has already done in their starred review:

Urban fantasist Seanan McGuire (Rosemary and Rue) picks up a new pen name for this gripping, thrilling, and brutal depiction of a postapocalyptic 2039. Twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their colleague Buffy are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead, invites them to cover his campaign. Then an event is attacked by zombies, and Ryman's daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the newfound power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a scheming vice presidential candidate, and mysterious conspirators who want more than the Oval Office. Shunning misogynistic horror tropes in favor of genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported.

If that hasn't sold you yet, here's how excited my husband is:


Andy's jazzed about FEED! Why aren't you?


Mira also appeared on John Scalzi's blog for the Big Idea last Friday: read her post for some background about the series! And then check out this kick-ass immersive website Orbit has put up for Feed.



Catherynne M. Valente also had a book birthday this week! Two years ago, she began her Omikuji Project: each month, she sends an original story to subscribers. Those who subscribe to the postal version receive heavy paper sealed with fax, each carefully wrought missive an ode to classic letter-writing. And since her project is named after the Japanese sacred lottery, Valente creates an original work of art - be it graphic collage or beaded necklace or knitted minotaur hooves - that is sent to one random subscriber.

With the assistance of the Omikuji community, Valente has created This is My Letter to the World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle I. This collection features the first 24 stories of the project, excerpts from each month's letter, and original art by community members.



If you'd like some idea of what you can expect, read my review of the inaugural story "The Glass Gear" at my website.

Back to the page-mines I go...

This entry was originally posted on Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
This past week has been a mess: my stepdad died and my family is devastated.

I have been scarce, but I did manage to put some content up for your poetry-reading and interview pleasure at Cabinet des Fées to celebrate the tail-end of National Poetry Month. For previews, check out [profile] cabinetdesfees.

For now, I'll just tell you that Seanan McGuire has stopped by, along with Amal El-Mohtar. Oh, and I believe that a certain Cat (of the Valente genus) isn't far behind...

As always, you can find the posts at Cabinet des Fées.

This entry was originally posted on Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
Last week, I began working through the stories freely available online from the 2009 Locus Recommended Reading List. My first choices were a bit random: I chose Catherynne M. Valente's "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" because I've been interested in it. I accidentally clicked on Kij Johnson's "Spar" and then could not turn away, its text inexorably drawing my eyes onward in horrifying train-wreck style. I finished the week off with "On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk" by Peter M. Ball because it was the first story on the list.

If one were to look for an unofficial theme to this unintended triumvirate of stories, I think it would be this: "bizarre steps to the left of everything."

Let's start with the least radical story and work up from there.

"On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk" by Peter M. Ball (Strange Horizons, 07/06/09)

In this short piece, we have a fellow dissatisified with his life and dallying with a younger woman under comfortably false pretenses for them both; concurrent with their affair, Copenhagan (where the fellow's sister has been traveling) is attacked by salvage-built merfolk-mech. That last bit is compelling in itself, except for the part where that aspect of the story unfolds indirectly through reported news reports and the narrator's casual neuroses. I finished this story indifferent to the narrator and wanting to know more about his sister, which would probably deepen the narrator's depression.

"The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, 08/09)

There was much to appreciate in this one: beautiful and satiating language, a competently constructed mystery fraught with cosmic importance, and a bold, adventurous female filmmaker who manages to be the protagonist without ever appearing directly on screen, so to speak. (Directly on screen within the context of the story, certainly, but always through screens and images within the meta-screen of the text.) Unfortunately, I found it undercut by the juxtaposition of science fiction and its close adherence to the early forms of film. I could not reconcile extensive space travel and colonization with old film reels and vinyl soundtracks. And the balloons - I don't understand the exact details of the balloon-use, and the vague details of their use related to the story's space travel drove me to distraction. I'm in the curious position of appreciating the atmosphere, but being unhappy with the mechanical details.

That said, the closing image is completely killer.

"Spar" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, 10/09)

I don't even know. I read this story in a mad rush because I couldn't believe what I was seeing and it left me feeling slightly ill and mildly distraught. What does it mean? Does it mean anything? The very questions that plagued the narrator plague me, except I'm not trapped in a tiny world of incessant barbarism and interspecies copulation and faceless rape and the eroding memories of Shakespeare. I don't really feel like I can recommend other people read this story; however, it is on the Locus Recommended Reading List and was a real contender for the 2010 Nebula Ballot (whether it made it still remains to be seen).



Since this is my make-up post for last Friday's free fiction offerings, you get another one this week!

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on February 17th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
A POLL

What do you think of authors publishing short stories that tie in with their novels? For example, Sarah Rees Brennan posting "Sorcerer and Stone," a short story that depicts the background of Gerald from The Demon's Lexicon? Or Marie Brennan publishing "Deeds of Men," which takes place between her novels Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie? Or those Silverberg-edited Legends anthologies featuring stories set in Westeros (George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire), The Dark Tower universe (Stephen King's, of course), and Neil Gaiman's version of reality from American Gods? Marie Brennan is looking for thoughts from writers and readers regarding this very topic in this poll at [profile] fangs_fur_fey.


MYTHOPOEIC AWARDS

I don't even remember if I managed to post the finalists for this year's Mythopoeic Awards, which I feel awkward about considering I'm a member of the Mythopoeic Society! In any case, I'm here to share the results now:

Literature Awards

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature
Winner: Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone by Carol Berg
Others nominated: Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory, Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip, and An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature
Winner: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Others nominated: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, Savvy by Ingrid Law, and Nation by Terry Pratchett.

Scholarship Awards

Mythopoeic Award in Scholarship Studies
Winner: The History of the Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins; Part Two: Return to Bag-end by John Rateliff
Others nominated: Charles Williams: Alchemy and Integration by Gavin Ashenden, Tolkien on Fairy-stories: Expanded Edition, with Commentary and Notes, eds. Veryln Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Michael Ward, and The Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology: A Study of the History of Middle-earth by Elizabeth A. Whittingham.

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies
Winner: Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children’s Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper by Charles Butler
Others nominated: Folklore and the Fantastic in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction by Jason Marc Harris, Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn, One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle and Orson Scott Card by Marek Oziewicz, and Oz in Perspective: Magic and Myth in the Frank L. Baum Books by Richard Carl Tuerk.


HELL YES, I WROTE THAT!

And, finally, [personal profile] catvalente posted a passionate essay today on how writers are not, in fact, mere vessels for the divine muse. This essay induced a lot of Amen!'s from readers and culminated in the following text:

"And that's the thing. It isn't easy. It shouldn't be. It's scary and hard and it takes forever. Own that, for fuck's sake. Flex your bicep and say: hell yes, I wrote that book. Not my characters. Not my muse. Me. Every verb, every article. I've got the carpal tunnel to prove it.

Writers aren't fragile Mina Harkers, occasionally filled up with Dracula's literary fluids. We're Rosie the Riveters. We always have to roll up our sleeves and do the damn work.

That text caused me to throw up my fist in solidarity and spontaneously generate the following icon:



Take, use, credit as you wish! 
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
In honor of [profile] onaleopard (the community for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente) being in the Livejournal spotlight this week, I bring you icons inspired by Chapters Five and Six.

Preview:



+15 more icons behind the cut! )


As always, comments are keen! And you can credit [personal profile] talkstowolves.

Thanks to Bauble for the icon table generator.

Updated! Icon post now includes icons of September's key, inspired by Interlude I!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Way back when (where the value of when equals March 4th, 2008), the talented Mia Nutick debuted the amazing new [profile] chimera_fancies: pendants of various sizes, painted in gorgeous and sometimes glittering colors, featuring tiny poems constructed from the printed pages of old books. It was recycled creativity at its finest and the poem-pendants she crafted were nothing less than revelatory.

I was lucky enough to land one of the most beautiful early examples of her art: the black and red-glittering flower-kissed pendant that proclaims "wicked girls saving ourselves." Yet even though Wicked Girls came to live only with me, its influence has been vast.

On May 9th, 2008, [personal profile] seanan_mcguire wrote a song inspired by the poem-pendant, entitled, naturally enough, "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves." It is, in a word, amazing, and you don't have to take my word for it. You can listen to a recording here or even watch a video of her performing it live at Duckon 2009 with Vixy & Tony and S.J. Tucker! (Seriously, listen. You need to, even if you don't know that you do.)

The concept of wicked girls saving themselves is one that's very inspiring to me and close to my heart (and I don't just mean when I'm wearing the pendant, hah). For all intents and purposes, I've been a wicked girl for most of my life and definitely had to save myself a time or two. Poem-pendants and beautiful songs that encourage this behavior simply enrich my life. I dare say that's true for more girls than me.

Seanan recently engaged in penning some apocryphal verses to her song, because she's crazy and always plays the best party games. As she says in the title of that post, the world is in need of wicked girls. That sparked something inside me and so an icon meme was born. And so, for your pleasure, I present to you the birth of a new line of "Wicked Girls" icons, starring some of my favorite wicked girls:




There are seven more behind the cut! )

In order, this particular run of Wicked Girls icons stars: Toby Daye (from Seanan McGuire's forthcoming Rosemary and Rue!), Ofelia from Pan's Labyrinth, Coraline from Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Emma Frost of X-Men fame, Alice from Resident Evil, Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean, Elphaba from Wicked, Flying Snow from Hero, September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and Sorrow from The Orphan's Tales (the latter two being by Catherynne M. Valente, of course).

Comments are keen! If you use, feel free to credit [personal profile] talkstowolves. And I am totally open to requests!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Chapter 3 of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making went up yesterday and, as usual, I found myself inspired for icon-making. You can find the fruits of my labor below:

Preview:



Signposts and hats and spoons... )

As always, comments are keen! And you can credit [personal profile] talkstowolves.

Thanks to Bauble for the icon table generator. Also, thank you to [personal profile] catvalente for featuring the Livejournal icons on the brand new Fairyland Museum!

You see the first batch of Fairyland icons at this post and you can find banners to promote Fairyland at [profile] onaleopard here.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
First, [personal profile] seanan_mcguire is giving away another ARC of Rosemary and Rue for the price of one comment. If you're a fan of urban fantasy, detective stories, fairy tales, or bad-ass Fae... you want to read this book! Comment here for a chance to win. Check out her website to learn more about the series.

Secondly, [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith has put up an interesting poll on cyberfunded/crowdfunded fiction, asking questions about what creators prefer to create and what consumers prefer to consume. If you engage in crowdfunded projects or read them (such as [personal profile] haikujaguar's Spots the Space Marine series or [personal profile] catvalente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making), please do participate in the poll!

Which reminds me: If you like young adult fiction, especially such excellent fare as Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan... you should really check out the following serialized novel:


Follow September into Fairyland:
Livejournal | Facebook
Updates every Monday!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Hello. My name is Deborah and I am an icon addict. Especially when I'm sick and find playing around with images in Photoshop to be low-key and soothing.

So, here you have them: a slew of icons inspired by [personal profile] catvalente's upcoming serialized novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Are you excited to see it spin out? You should be.

Previews:



On to the rest of the icons! )


If you like them, do let me know! Comments make this sick-frazzled girl happy. Also, if you choose to use them, you can credit [personal profile] talkstowolves. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you fancy an icon with a different phrase, do let me know. I'll take requests.

We also have a banner and buttons! )

Leopard of Little Breezes icons here! )
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Catherynne M. Valente, famous for her fabulous fairy tales embodied in The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice, recently published Palimpsest, a searing and erotic work about a viral city. I wasn't totally enamored of the book, but one thing that emphatically did enchant me was her references to a fictional young adult novel called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

As part of promotion for her novel, she even had a reading of the beginning of the book recorded for the ostensible novelist's website.

Well, now Catherynne is experimenting with cyberfunded creativity and actually bringing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making into the world! She's starting this next Monday, posting them at [personal profile] catvalente.

Considering the beginning reminds me in the best way of Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum, I'm quite excited to see this project unfold.



(Button above links to her initial post on the subject.)
talkstowolves: "When you dream of monsters, they also dream of you."  (when you dream of monsters)
Just shy of two weeks after the novel's release, my review of Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente has appeared at Green Man Review.

Palimpsest runs the risk that all hotly desired lovers do -- it fetches you in with a dream, teases you into a taut state of wanting, and leaves you desolate in the face of reality. Or -- here, have another analogy, for this work seems to throw itself at them -- like its namesake, you may fall in love with the gorgeous purity of its surface text, but flinch in horror from what lurks beneath, barely scraped away.

The plot of Palimpsest is rather straightforward. Four strangers find themselves the newest hosts of a sexually transmitted city. Each of them have slept with an individual bearing an intensely black mark that looks like nothing so much as a small part of a strange city map. Afterward, they experience a bizarre dream in which the four characters, still unknown to each other, find themselves ritually tied together in a frog-headed fortuneteller's shop before being released to wander separately and divided in a truly bizarre otherworldly city. In this city, the vermin are manufactured clockwork creatures of dizzying perplexity and stunning beauty; canals are filled with clothes above rivers of cream; lion-headed priests silently cry aching sermons in breathtaking cathedrals; trains are wild beasts and contain rice paddies, forests, the dead, and the rabbit of the moon. The city offers amazing wonders and staggering horrors. The city is still seeping pus from infected wounds left by war. An alien and glittering tyrant wants to open doors, the city wants to be known, and the four -- Sei, November, Oleg, and Ludovico -- don't want to leave this place they seem only able to enter in dreams. [Read the rest of the review at this link.]


Thank you to the editors at Green Man Review for giving this review of mine an Excellence in Writing Award.




Please feel free to comment here with any points you would like to discuss from my review. Below, you'll find some rambling elaboration on the book's flaws, some nitpicky observations, questions I was left with, and a listing of some things I liked. And some pretty pictures.

Beware that there are spoilers beneath the cut and also, no doubt, in the comments.

More about Palimpsest below the cut... )

PALIMPSEST ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB

The original short story.
Theophania, the Glass-Blower (a haunting, excised piece of the novel).
Quartered, a companion album by S.J. Tucker.
Catherynne's release day Livejournal post, including icons.
Palimpsest merchandise.*
An interview with Catherynne revealing inspiration for the narrative.
Promotional videos: [Palimpsest the Trailer.] [The Trains of Palimpsest.] [The Dead of Palimpsest.]
ARG websites: [Tabula Rasa.] [Sato Kenji.] [H.F. Weckweet.]



* I really want one of those pendants from RockLove, but because my name means "bee" and I have developed a fascination with compass roses rather than because of Palimpsest.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
I chose this poem by Catherynne M. Valente ([livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna around these parts) because of how closely I can identify with it. Anyone, I imagine, who's lived in another country, turned their tongue to learning another language, and listened with an unschooled ear can feel the depth of connection and shame illuminated through her words:

The Emperor of Tsukuyama Park
by
Catherynne M. Valente


When first the word was spoken, I heard:
Tsuki-yama -- Lord Moon.
And for me, the moon settled onto a dais, with
sixteen-pointed chrysanthemums in his phosphor-hands,
topknot oiled with seaweed and orange,
his hakama fringed in silver worms
which wove on and on,
flooding the nightingale-floor with silk.

The folds of his sleeves creased blue and black
in signet-shadows, descending like stairs to me,
in a poor, threadbare yukata,
my sallow Western skin protruding,
forehead pressed to his white tatami.
For me, the moon extended a branch of heavy plums
and with well-water eyes forgave my ignorance of protocol,
my botched obi, my hair unpinned and ragged.

When winter came to Tsukayama Park,
it seemed to me that the strange-limbed tigers
of his wall-hangings
rumbled like clouds, and I was permitted to watch
the sparrows spiral up to his ashen ear. Under his cratered arms,
I knelt, and whispered tears into the hiragana of my palm-lines,
obscuring the text with salt and snow.

For him, I was always penitent.
I did not question his rule over the cherry trees, the green tide,
the steam of tea in a glazed cup. I allowed him to stifle
my breath in twelve layers of white silk, to paint me a new mouth,
to fold back my hair in beryl combs
that cut my scalp with piscine teeth. For him, I pressed out my pride,
flat as a river, and bowed my face to the floor.

When summer came to Tsukayama Park
it seemed to me that his voice was the thrust-cry of cicadas,
that the wind beat drums of star-hide, that I had
learnt the angle of the closed mouth
well enough to pass for one of his own.

But in the midst of my prostrations, my rain-hymns,
the steeping of my braids in inkwells,
I heard a woman laugh at me.
She said that the word was
Tsukayama -- top of the hill -- nothing more.
And for me, the moon was excised from the sky.

I had no grace left but my face flattened into sun-cracked dirt,
no patron but the feet of a false moon,
evaporated into plain grass and a stone stair.

My kimono dissolved to water,
and the sparrows turned in shame
from my nakedness.

© 2005-2006 Catherynne M. Valente

You can find this poem in her Apocrypha collection.

I'd also like to show you the way to another poem of hers, published at the Pedestal Magazine: Suzuri. This poetic vignette captures one of my favorite Japanese holidays: Tanabata (or Hoshi-Matsuri, the Star-Festival).

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