Wow. What a day! The response to “The Women Surrealists Helping Me Through Our New Political Reality” received a great response! I have spent the day nerding out about Women Surrealists, and finding out many other people have been dealing with similar feelings about how to creatively approach the nonce insanity. Thank you so much to everyone who read, commented, tweeted, retweeted, and shared on FB!

As a thanks, I’m posting a little bonus addendum to the piece. First, if you’d like to read more about Leonora Carrington’s quote about the Surrealist Survival Kit, it was part of a series of conversations Penelope Rosemont had with Carrington towards the end of her life. Published as “A Revolution in the Way We Think and Feel—Conversations with Leonora Carrington,” you can find it in Ron Sakolsky’s Surrealist Subversions: Rants, Writings and Images by the Surrealist Movement in the United States.

While I recommended 3 books in the article, my original draft had 5. I cut two of them for length, but still find them essential writings for my kit.

Insel, Mina Loy, Melville House, 2014

LoyAn interesting aspect about Women’s Surrealism is that many members evaded the Feminist label. Not Mina Loy. She made it her mission to polish the flaws she saw in its ideology not only writing blatantly about enjoying sex, but also by observing, documenting, and subverting the various roles of womanhood. You could say that she set down the intellectual premise all women surrealists would follow in her “Feminist Manifesto,”: “Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —seek within yourselves to find out what you are.”

Insel is a feminist response to Breton’s Nadja, and the male Surrealist concept of amour fou and the femme enfant applied to the Surrealist Woman. In Insel, these dynamics are flipped. The narrator Mrs Jones is not a woman-child, but a widow in her fifties, dependent on her children, firmly established in her career, and creatively bored. The one thing she has is an established reputation and far-reaching influence, which attracts a young, German junky mystic, Aaron Insel. While he then, becomes the homme enfant, he is physically repulsive. It is Insel’s unhinged perspective that appeals to Jones, and eventually she begins supporting him. It doesn’t end well, of course, but what is important is that throughout the novel, Mrs. Jones holds all the cards—she has all the money, she has the career, connections, and experience Insel most covets.

That isn’t why I have this in the kit, though. While this is something of an anti-romance, Loy uses the notion of mad love to show its true delusion. Mrs. Jones uses her relationship with Insel to distract and confront her aging, as well as how society and art movements dismissed women of a certain age.

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait, Abrams, 2005

KahloYou won’t find any gossip here. Reproduced in full-color facsimile and in translation, Khalo’s diary is a full testament to internal fulfillment. It has no concern for dates or time and is a straight connection to her creative mind. On the page you can see her exploring and meshing Greek mythology with Meso-American folklore, lists of associations and puns, days described only in nouns, and poignant spatial mediations like that on the loss of her leg.

While it’s part of legend that Kahlo used her art as therapy to cope with lifelong health complications and mobility limitations, in this diary you see the messy and raw work that went into the final finessed products. You also get to see all of the doubts and anxieties that echo our own creative worries. Towards the end of her life, after having only seven operations on her back in one year, she reprimands herself for not doing enough, or being relevant enough: “Above all I want to transform it [her work] into something useful for the Communist revolutionary movement, since up to now I have only painted the earnest portray of myself, but I’m very far from work that could serve the Party.” And yet…and yet! Those earnest portrayals that analyzed her most intimate tragedies while upcycling Mexican folklore and remixing post-colonial history, have served, nourished, and inspired within more than one political ideation. It achieved a new universality, and that universality was feminine.

 

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An essay I wrote about my “Surrealist Survival Kit” for Literary Hub.

I’m doing a mini-Guest Blog tour for Calls for Submission, and my first stop is at the incomparable Literary Hub! I am very pleased to share that “The Women Surrealists Helping Me Through Our New Political Reality” is now live.

My original intention, and pitch, for this piece was to be a discussion about the last ten years effort at a Women Surrealist Revival. An effort I believe is at its apex, what with the Leonora Carrington centennial, a first ever monograph of Eileen Agar, and the two new Claude Cahun books coming out this summer, including Exist Otherwise, the first English biography of the gender-bending photographer.

But as I started drafting, the essay took a different and much more personal route. I’d been re-acquainting myself with these artists since the election, and fully realized in the writing of this piece how they were helping me reassess and reaffirm what I believe the potential of art truly can be.  Something I had been struggling with all year, and as a result lead to a lot of dead ins and head-wall banging.

But as I started to look at what and who I had been dipping back into–Carrington, Cahun, Césaire, Kahlo, and Mina Loy–all women who commented on the political by drawing upon the personal, I realized I had to step up and go there myself. The Revival turned into Survival.

So, here then, is an achievement of a few things. First, it is the first finished thing I’ve produced since the election; Second, it is both a celebration of the internal resistance of the past, and advocation of its exploration in the future; three, it’s on LITHUB!

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out, and if you liked it, please share it widely with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN:  My debut collection, CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, will be released May 15th (but you can pre-order from Pelekinesis now, if you’d like). That isn’t that far away, and to get pumped for the big day, I will be showcasing the awesome blurbs the collection has received. Every author that we queried has influenced me in some vital way, and as a thank you and token of my gratitude for their time and effort, I’ve written a little about each person and what their work has meant to my work.

So there are about 7 days left! In the past week or so, a few developments have occurred. First, more ordering options–including e-book versions–of Calls for Submission were made available. You can view them here.

Since then, Amazon announced it’s new diss to living writers, and I would like to personally urge you to purchase from Pelekinesis directly, or through Powell’s or your local indie bookstore. On those latter two, you may have to request a special order through the store and wait a hot minute, but ultimately you would be helping to defend working artists and contributing to a healthier literary community.  Plus, that would be helping me out too. However you want to do it, many thanks again to those who are pre-ordering!

Speaking of indie bookstores, I am excited to finally announce that I will be reading and discussing Calls for Submission at Tallahassee’s brand new and baller Midtown Reader.  That event will occur on June 16th at 5:30 pm.

Oof, and this was suppose to be about blurbs! It is, it is, my friends. Today’s blurb comes from the man who has single-handedly made Stephen King afraid of the dark:  Paul Tremblay!

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You all know Paul Tremblay as the best-selling rock star of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rocks, but I first became hooked when I found a copy of The Harlequin and The Train at a friend’s house. My friend had already done the interactive bits, so that aspect was spoiled for me, but I got to see the final outcome, and it was just a light bulb for me.

The whole concept of an interactive text like this–mixing play with narrative responsibility and transparency–was just one of the coolest thwartings of how we read and consume mysteries. And it was one of the first contemporary examples of how to thwart and play within genre I’d come across. Something I needed badly at the time. Unfortunately, the experience is lost to a time and a place, as it was a limited edition of 400 copies and isn’t readily available now. But, believe me, the subversion of tropes and pop culture and all sorts of other surrealistic-punk principled goodness permeates in Ghosts and Devil’s Rock (which just came out in paperback). If you haven’t read Paul yet, rectify that now.

 

Yesterday was fun! I learned on Facebook that pre-orders of CALLS FOR SUBMISSION seem to be shipping out a bit early, and are showing up in the wild! I am so excited for everyone to read this, and if you have already pre-ordered, thank you so much and I hope it is enjoyable!

My own author copies also arrived, reminding me that there have been a few developments I’d like to share.

She Arrives

CALLS FOR SUBMISSION  will be released by Pelekinesis on May 15th.

In addition to ordering directly from Pelekinesis, CALLS FOR SUBMISSION is now also available from SPD and the following locations:

If you prefer an ebook:

If you are in Canada, it is also available at Chapters/Indigo. (h/t to Alexis for letting me know!).

While the official release date isn’t until May 15th, it is possible those who pre-order hardcopies might receive their copy sooner, but it isn’t guaranteed.

TO REVIEWERS AND INTERVIEWERS:  I still have a few ARCs available. If you are interested in reviewing CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, drop me a line at: LeFilleHST@gmail.com, or hit me up on Facebook or on Twitter @BasBleuZombie.

I was very happy to get to go to an independent bookstore in my hometown, Midtown Reader. It is quickly becoming my sanctuary from home and work. Every time I go, I leave energized in the unique way that only book browsing and buying can do. Needless to say, I never leave empty handed.

Here’s my swag from today. Because I bought A LOT, I got a free tote, and this delicious cookie. I hope you all are visiting your local stores and keeping this important, dwindling ecosystem alive. If you need help locating one in your town, check out Indiebound’s handy independent bookstore finder!

So what did you all buy today?

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THE FINAL COUNTDOWN:  My debut collection, CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, will be released May 15th (but you can pre-order from Pelekinesis now, if you’d like). That isn’t that far away, and to get pumped for the big day, I will be showcasing the awesome blurbs the collection has received. Every author that we queried has influenced me in some vital way, and as a thank you and token of my gratitude for their time and effort, I’ve written a little about each person and what their work has meant to my work. 

This week features very kind words from two masters whose work I’ve both adored for several years: Richard Gavin, a master of mysticism and the macabre, and Orrin Grey, the master of teratology and the new Gothic.

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I am the one who is in awe! I don’t throw around the word mystic loosely. I learned last week that in some literary circles, being termed mystic is anathema. But, man, when I say mystic in regards to an artist, that refers to a very select chosen few (chosen as in not by me, but some higher calling):  Leonora Carrington, William Burroughs, William Blake, Remedies Varo, Percy Shelley, Frida Khalo, Edgar Allan Poe (you balk? Go read Eureka, fool!), etc. You’ll notice those people are all dead. Well, Mysticism, like Poetry, belongs to a dying breed. But there are still a few out there navigating the unseen seas, among them:  Alex Grey, Carrie Ann Baade, and Richard Gavin!

To me, Richard Gavin’s writing is in direct correlation with the darker aspects of Sublimity and Dark Romanticism, all of which often intersects at very strange, mysterious, and alchemical topographies. In his latest collection, SYLVAN DREAD: TALES OF PASTORAL DARKNESS, he explores these topographies, as well as the lies we have told ourselves about Nature to ignore what might be beyond the veil beyond human civilizational presumptions. It was one of the collections that really stuck with me last year. To learn more about his work, please visit his website here.

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Just as Richard Gavin has opened my eyes to the mystical possibilities in writing Weird and speculative fiction, Orrin Grey has brought me more sympathy and understanding to our relationship with monsters. Be it primordial beasts or a B-movie zip-up costume, works like NEVER BET THE DEVILPAINTED MONSTERS, and the non-fiction collection MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT, explore teratology to its fullest, while also staying in commune with the Gothic traditions of Edgar Allan Poe and M. R. James. Check out his skeletal perambulations at his website:  Who Killed Orrin Grey?

Many thanks, Richard and Orrin, for the time and for the words!

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We’re in the final countdown! In a month, my debut collection CALLS FOR SUBMISSION will be out in the world doing whatever debut collections do (hopefully be read?). And I am doing all the things writers do to try to make that happen (witchy moon spells?).

Seriously, though, so far, it has been going pretty good, and I am very excited about the upcoming date. I am humbled to have received wonderful blurbs from among my favorite writers working today. I am “over moon” to have the above from Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., editor of The Madness of Dr. Caligari and the World Fantasy Nominated Cassilda’s Song. He is also author of A House of Hollow Wounds (which includes some madness of its own in the way of Mallarmé that is sooo good!) among many more great works. You can find more out about Joe here!

Other blurbers include Kat Howard, Livia Llewellyn, Richard Gavin, Ann VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay, Nick Mamatas, and Orrin Grey! As you can see above, my publisher at Pelekinesis, Mark Givens, has made these beautiful blurbs into nifty memes, and I will start unveiling them over the next few weeks. I am also working on some Guest Bloggage and a few local events in Florida, so please stay tuned for developing news and the official book launch May 15th!

If you’d like to get your orders in early, the paperback is now available for pre-order at the Pelekinesis website, and I understand an e-book option will soon follow. And I don’t really know what else to say at the moment, other than a HUGE thank you to everyone who has taken the time to support and encourage this project!

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Cover art by MANDEM.

I’ve been remiss in updating when a new Alphanumeric goes live. You may recall, there was some free content from the Non-Binary Review Issue #12: Words of Edgar Allan Poe promised, and this is where it is at! Alphanumeric is the sister-site/brother companion to Issue #12, and I think it gives a great sample of what you can expect from the full issue, which can be bought at Zoetic Press’s store for $1.99 in Kindle, Pdf, and ePub formats.

So far, the following works are available for viewing:

  • “The Ravening” by Meadhbh Hamrick, which gives the choose your adventure/RPG narrative mode the Poe treatment.
  • “My Mother’s People” by Samantha Stiers is a very poignant non-fiction essay about family, illness, and finding solace in the imagination after discovering Poe.
  • “Madmen of a Harmless Nature” by Robert Perret (edited) reunites us with our Decadent Dupin and goes on an occultism romp.
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” by Chris Bullard is a poem that further examines contemporary examples of how the Imp still rides us all.
We have three more entries ahead, and I am looking forward to introducing them all! I do hope you enjoy them.

WS CoverToday is the last call on WANDERING SPIRITS: TRAVELING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, my limited-edition travelogue chapbook from Tallhat Press.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying this, now’s your last chance.

I can’t believe it’s been 9 months since Yves Tourigny swooped in and made my idle wish a beautifully illustrated reality. Many thanks to him, and to the readers who bought, reviewed, and advocated for this adventure.

FRANKENSTEIN turns 200 offiicially next year, so there is much more bicentennial celebrations to be enjoyed. Please tune in to the Facebook page,  Frankenstein200, for more things Frankenshelly.

I haven’t had many reasons to leave the house, lately. Too many deadlines and not enough time. However, when it comes to these two events, I wouldn’t miss them for all the pennies per word in the world.

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On Thursday, March 9th, starting at 7 pm at the Phyllis Straus Gallery in Tallahassee, FL, I will be joining poet Luis Eduardo and others at his event #RESIST.

Quoting from the Facebook Event page:

Join us on a night of resistance and unification as we all welcome the artistry of The Lessers (singer/guitarist Olivier Millour), Mariah J. RománMax EpsteinSelena ChambersMenika LueSawyer CampbellLuis EduardoElton BurgestEric McNeil, and Sawyer Vanderwerff.

[Resist] indicates unification and resistance, the sense of being together with all while also going against any disturbance to said unity. Has to do with current events, with the people against xenophobia, against homo- and trans-phobia, against bigotry and against diving opposing sides in any country, whether it be here in the States or in Great Britain. RESIST can mean many things; hence, resistance includes resisting from society, from pressure, or from the very resisting occurring in society. Unification, in turn, can be the unification of ideas that go against the very idea of unity, therefore, distractions to proper utopias. The two conflict and coerce themselves, like yin and yang. Both are necessary for the development of good and evil found in society.

Just as an aside, I agree with this mission statement 100%. Since November, I have heard testimonies from many people lost in the sea of possibility of resistance: What’s the right way? What’s the best way? Why is it this way? And resistance can come in many forms, and I believe that it is up to the artists, writers, musicians, and creators to explore and illustrate those forms in ways that aren’t necessarily done effectively on the front lines. So, I am very glad to be standing and reading with this great group of artists. Thank you, Luis!

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On Saturday, March 25th, I will be in Atlanta as a guest participant in the first annual The Outer Dark Symposium of the Greater Weird.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird will be an immersive one-day event featuring eight hours of panels, readings and signings centered around Weird and speculative fiction. Admission will be limited to 50 attendees, but all programming will be featured on The Outer Dark weekly podcast which airs on This Is Horror, reaching thousands of listeners who are readers of Weird and speculative fiction.

Since this is its first year, they are running an Indiegogo campaign with amazing perks from some of the best weird writers and vendors in the biz. To quote co-founder Scott Nicolay, host of The Outer Dark weekly podcast:

A key goal is to keep the symposium affordable ($25) for readers and writers, with everyone attending all programming and sharing breakfast and lunch together. We also will be providing an opportunity to continue the conversation at an after-party in the evening. We’ve crunched every figure and cut corners as far as we possibly can, but to rent a great space for an entire day, fly in some out-of-town guests, provide food services, and print a collectible program chapbook still takes money. In other words, to accomplish ALL this at this crazy price point, we ask humbly for your help.

That’s why we created this Indiegogo campaign through which you can purchase:

  • Supporting Membership ($20, includes program chapbook, limited to 100 copies & signed by all 17 program participants)

  • Basic Attending Membership ($25 for day event including meals)

  • Deluxe Membership ($50 for day event & evening party)

  • VIP Membership ($100, includes exclusive brunch with author guests & more)

With 4 days left, they have almost reached 50% of their goal (which is just under $3k). If you are coming to the Outer Dark, why not consider buying your membership along with some of the great perks? If you are a fan of Frankenstein or Poe, you may be interested in two of the below options that involve my WANDERING SPIRITS: TRAVELING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN limited edition chapbook from Tallhat Press.

Wandering Weird–$10 USD  + Shipping
 
1 signed & personalized copy of Selena Chambers’ WANDERING SPIRITS; TRAVELING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN (illustrated by Yves Tourigny) & your name thanked in program chapbook & on podcast.
 
Dreadful Poe Pack–$45 USD + Shipping
 
The Dreadful Ape Tiki Mug is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE & finely crafted by Horror in Clay. To make it even more Poe-fect, it comes with a signed copy & personalized copy of WANDERING SPIRITS: TRAVELING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN by Poe expert Selena Chambers. Plus your name thanked in program chapbook & on podcast.

There are plenty of other options, from simply getting the basic membership for $25, or a special VIP Deluxe Attending Membership for $100, which gets you to “The Outer Dark Symposium, VIP party (8-11 pm, location TBA), farewell Sun. brunch with guests (up to $25 incl tip) & special surprise Weird book/gift. Plus your name listed as VIPDeluxe attending member in program chapbook & on podcast.”

You can explore all the perk options and find more details at The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird’s Indiegogo page or Facebook event page. Many thanks to Scott and Anya Martin for having me along for the ride.

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