Sickness, AFS, and Other Updates!

So you probably noticed that I disappeared for a while there but I am back! I sadly have been very sick this semester, a terrible bout with mononucleosis that I would much rather forget. I’m on the mend for sure, and back to most regular activities, but I probably won’t be 100% until December (mono tends to stay in your system for a while.) Practically what this means is that I still get very tired sometimes, have a bit of vertigo every once in a while, and am dealing with a very compromised immune system. Trying my best to avoid all the crazy colds and such out there at this time of year!

I did get to be Maleficent for Halloween though ;).

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And I was happily able to go to AFS in Santa Fe, NM this past weekend as well! It was awesome, as it usually is. It’s such a fun conference and I love seeing friends and colleagues from all around the country. I presented my section of the essay I wrote with Jeana Jorgensen for the new book Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on TV, which I’ve written about before, and it went well! Wayne State University Press also hosted a book launch/reception that was very cool to attend :). I’m the new junior co-convenor (with Victoria Harkavy) for the Folklore and Literature section too, which has a lot of awesome stuff planned for the next few years!

A few other things of note:

x. New Poem in the fantastic Through the Gate #5!

x. This very thoughtful review of A is for Apocalypse calls out my story! :D!

x. The Mythic Delirium Anthology is officially out! I already mentioned the starred Publishers Weekly review, but here’s another great one from Amazing Stories!

x. My short story “Kitsune, Fox” from Jabberwocky #7 has been listed on the very cool StoryFox “database of vulpine science fiction and fantasy,” run by Jenn Grunigen!

x. The Hedgespoken project is so, so fantastic! I love the idea so very much – what could possibly be more awesome than traveling the country, telling stories and sharing magic in a moving theatre?

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Please chip in if you can!

x. Crazy excited for the new Sleeping Beauty/Snow White book by Neil Gaiman.

x. And lastly, I absolutely love Kat Howard’s piece “The Princess and the Witch” from the special Women Destroy Fantasy issue of Fantasy Magazine – yes, yes, yes, yes :). Resonates so much with me and is so beautifully said.

That’s all for now, more soon!


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A Prize, Publications, and Other News!

Whew, the fall semester has started and, as predicted, things are already quite crazy. I’m teaching a new course (the second level literature based writing course, my theme is “US Literature and the Fairy Tale” of course!), still reading crazily for candidacy exams, and trying to fit in conferences, article writing, reviews, all the other stuff I want to do as well!

As some of you may know, I also went on a whirlwind, awesome Baltic Sea cruise right before school started. I wanted to do a post about folklore-y stuff I saw but sadly I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, a few things of note –

* I won a prize! I am the recipient of the first ever annual Polly Stewart Student Travel Stipend from the Women’s Section of the American Folklore Society, presented to “an emerging scholar who shows promise of furthering the study of women’s folklore, gender issues in folklore, and/or feminist approaches to the study of folklore” :D! This is an incredible honor and I’m so happy and excited about it!

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* In other professional news, I received my contributors’ copy of the about to be published Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television (which includes an essay on “Sleeping Beauty” I co-wrote with Jeana Jorgensen) and it’s gorgeous – I highly recommend giving it a look on October 6th if you’re interested in such things!

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* The new Mythic Delirium anthology of the first four online issues, featuring my poem “WereMoonMother,” is coming and it’s already received a STARRED review in Publisher’s Weekly! They call it “a winner from cover to cover” (which is especially lovely as my poem is the last piece in the book :).) More on this soon!

* I’ve got a new poem up at the lovely Mirror Dance called “Year Forty-Nine” :).

* The International Fairy-Tale Filmography has launched and it’s lovely – check it out when you get a chance!

* Rose Lemberg’s Kickstarter for her “anthology of unclassifiables,” An Alphabet of Embers was successfully funded and the submission guidelines are now up here! She’s looking for “lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose.” This is going to be a beautiful collection and I hope I can put together something to submit :).

That’s all for now, enjoy the beginning of fall – my favorite season!


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Maleficent: Retellings, The Fae, & Embracing My Fairy Tale

At last, my long awaited post on Maleficent is here! I promised it was coming and I’m going to deliver to the best of my abilities. Because “Sleeping Beauty” is my fairy tale. I think everyone has one of these – the one fairy tale that they really identify with, that they’ll always love, that has somehow shaped their life. It might not be the one you intellectually think is the “best” or the most important or even the most interesting. It’s just yours and you know it. I love “Sleeping Beauty”: I write about it, read about it, retell it. It’s shaped my academic and creative life in more ways than I can properly name. ATU410 will always be a part of me.

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So, as you can imagine, I was practically crazy with excitement upon hearing that Disney was making this film. I’ve been following all the updates, drooling over the merchandise (and maybe buying a Maleficent doll…), planning a Maleficent costume for Halloween, and reading all the blog posts people have been making in anticipation. I wound up being able to see it a couple days early with my family and then quite soon after that again with my boyfriend. I’d totally see it again too.

Warning! The following post is FULL of spoilers for the film!! Don’t read until you’ve seen it :). There are also a few spoilers for the Disney film Frozen as well so be warned about that too?

The Especially Good:

For me, the absolute best part of the movie was the incorporation of faerie folklore with the fairy tale, something that isn’t done nearly enough and really should be.

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This really dives into the core of my love for “Sleeping Beauty” itself – it is an enchanted story, a tale about the fae world in a way that most fairy tales really aren’t.

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This embracing of Faerie is perhaps best reflected in the concept art for the film, which you can view here. Gorgeous, strange scenes and creatures – clearly inspired by Brian Froud’s work. Strongly connected to nature – perfect.

Disney's "MALEFICENT"..Conceptual Artwork..?Disney 2014
The fae are typically very much a part of nature and I loved how the film showed this, from Maleficent’s magical healing of the trees to the organic looks of many of the fae creatures. I loved that their weakness was iron, that there were so many different kinds of fae, that some of the promotional material for the film included things like Yeats’ poem “The Stolen Child,” and I loved Diaval too, particularly the way in which his transformations always echoed his original bird form – brilliant touch.

Disney's "MALEFICENT"Conceptual Artwork©Disney 2014
Aurora herself was also beautifully linked to nature. As one of the Disney princesses typically associated with nature (mainly due to her forest creature friends), I thought the way this film ran with that idea was fantastic. From her immediate acceptance of the odd, unexpected creatures of the faerie world, to her demonstrated love for the creatures of the human world, to her (gorgeous) forest themed bedroom and flower crowns, Aurora’s connection to nature really cemented her for me as the ideal choice to bring together the fae world and the human world.

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For me, this vision connects with the heart of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale as well. The sleeping princess is frequently seen as a representation of the sleeping spring beneath winter, the new life waiting to be born. To have Aurora be the catalyst to forming a new world in which both fae and human can exist together fits this model in a lovely way.

It can nearly go without saying that Angelina Jolie was fantastic – nearly all the reviews focus on this and I can’t disagree. She was elegant, otherworldly, mischievous, vulnerable but powerful – Jolie clearly relished playing the role and it shows in every scene she’s in.

The way the film changes the iconic kiss is, of course, also a subject of much interest to many reviewers. I loved it and thought it was perfectly appropriate – and am, I admit, a bit annoyed with the constant assertions being made that it’s just a copy of Frozen‘s depiction of true love between sisters. What reason are we giving filmmakers to show different kinds of love when the first major subversion of the typical male-female “true love’s kiss” after Frozen is treated like old news, or worse, read as a copycat attempt to ride on Frozen‘s coat tails? True love can be so many different things and I welcome this new trend to show that.

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I also really like that the traditional male hero wasn’t demonized here either. Prince Phillip doesn’t have a big role but he’s not a villain either. Tellingly, my boyfriend’s verbal reaction to the arrival of Prince Philip was something like “NO. Stupid boy is going to ruin EVERYTHING” … and he could have done that, easily. I thought the same thing. That would have been an easy way to go for the filmmakers, right? Prince Philip turning out to be a bad guy, undermining the feminine connection of Maleficent/Aurora, yet another male representation of destructive/anti-nature humanity, etc. etc. – but they didn’t do it. Philip is a good guy, who really likes Aurora and doesn’t even want to kiss her without her permission when she’s asleep. He has nothing to do with the fight to take down Maleficent. He appears at Aurora’s coronation ceremony, not as a rival for attention or to undermine it in any way, but simply as a guy in the audience who has a crush on a girl who he thinks is really awesome. That’s pretty great.

Interestingly, Frozen does do a bit of a weird male demonizing thing, by making Prince Hans the surprise bad guy, but also tries to make up for it at least a little with Kristoff?

The Not-So-Good:

Of course, the film isn’t perfect by a long shot.

For me, the main problem is that, structurally, the film doesn’t really work as a fairy tale retelling. It’s… sloppy, for lack of a better word. There are numerous plot holes, poor character development/motivation, and several other problems. And the narrator. Oh my gosh, I hated the narrator! Completely superfluous with a syrupy sweet old woman voice, her lines about telling the “real” story are what ultimately dooms the film as a successful retelling. Because the film ends with the redemption of Maleficent and the kingdoms being united through Aurora, there’s no reason at all for there to have been any other version of the story. The original Disney tale should not exist because who would tell the story that way? There’s no reason to do so. What makes a story like Wicked work is that you can see how the “winning” side twisted the witch’s story in order to make her the evil witch they needed her to be, even though there was far more to her life than they allowed to be told. Considering the happy ending of Maleficent, why would anyone paint her as a straight villain, particularly in Aurora’s lifetime (as in the film she’s supposed to be trying to set the record straight?)

Does that mean that I wanted Maleficent to die? I don’t know. I certainly loved the character and didn’t want her to die but I think at the very least the human kingdom should have wound up believing that she did. I’ve spoken with numerous people about how the ending could have gone differently and most people seem to agree that there was something off about it. It wasn’t a bad ending, just ever so slightly the wrong ending.

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Other strange choices annoyed me as well – for example, why change the names of Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather and then alter their personalities and looks so much? They were overly silly when they didn’t need to be.

I was also pretty disappointed with the music. The original Disney film’s genius move of weaving in the music of Tchaikovsky’s ballet was so spot on and gorgeous that the score they came up with for Maleficent just felt… dinky to me in comparison. Why not use at least a little of that same music? Iconic scenes felt incredibly different – and not as powerful – without it to me. The exception, of course, is Lana Del Rey’s brilliant cover of “Once Upon a Dream” that played during the credits. Her haunting vocals combined with the way the film shows the early interactions between Maleficent and Aurora almost as dreams (note how Maleficent puts Aurora back in her bed each night after their adventures) puts a completely different, fantastic spin on the classic.

But seriously, all that said, with stuff like this going on, a mainstream fairy tale film with a powerful, complex, magical female lead is pretty fabulous and needs to be supported regardless of these problems. For me, they are small indeed when stacked up next to the good things about the movie.

A Few Other Thoughts:

What I’m really interested in, however, is that in the ramp up to this movie I’ve seen more than the average amount of “delving into Sleeping Beauty’s  – the literary fairy tale – history”, and from a much wider variety of sources as well, than for any other fairy tale movie remade, retold or sent to the “dark side”. People are being sent back to their libraries, searching google for this “Perrault” guy, buying up vintage fairy tale volumes with Sleeping Beauty (the extended version) and learning about it would really be like to have an ogre-ish mother-in-law. – See more at: http://fairytalenewsblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/maleficent-release-day-will-she-re.html#sthash.ibtJ1i9H.dpufBut seriously, with stuff like this going on, a mainstream fairy tale film with a powerful, complex, magical female lead is pretty fabulous and needs to be supported.

As Gypsy pointed out at Once Upon a Blog, it’s interesting how so much of the press for the film has centered on the history of the story itself. People want to see how this new version of the story matches up with older, more horrific versions of the tale. What’s even more interesting to me, however, is how little research has gone into many of those “histories.” There’s so much more to this tale’s history than what typically gets said and it drives me crazy to read things like “the first version of the story is Basile’s “Sun, Moon, and Talia”” or, far worse, “Perrault’s “La Belle au bois dormant” is the original “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale…” Gah!

[For the record, “Sleeping Beauty” goes back at the very least to a medieval French text called Perceforest, a text that we know was largely cobbled together from various oral stories: it’s very likely that the “Sleeping Beauty” tale of the text, “Troilus and Zellandine,” was one of the stories pulled from actual folk narratives. How old those stories might be or where they’re from, however, we have no real way of knowing. There are several other medieval versions of the tale as well.]

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Right. Moving on :).

Here are a few articles on the film I liked:

Thanks for reading this far – I know this post was crazy long but I hope you enjoyed it! I certainly enjoyed writing it :).

Maleficent-LookHave a lovely day, beasties :).


Posted in Articles, Reviews | 2 Comments

Things I’ve Found Around the Internet

I am pretty busy getting prepared for the Project Narrative Summer Institute to start tomorrow but I have a few links to share so I thought a post was in order! :).

x. The fantastic journal Interfictions Online is conducting an IndieGoGo Campaign to raise money for the publication – please consider supporting them if you can! It’s a great journal and the perks are pretty wonderful too!

x. Speaking of IndieGoGo Campaigns, you might also consider supporting the fund to save the amazing Talliston House.

x. There is a lovely piece in The Guardian about rain in English literature

x. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has a new, limited edition set of scents based on Only Lovers Left Alive! Gah, I want all of them.

I’m also working on a post about Maleficent so stay tuned for that ;).


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Early June Updates!

A few news items!

* I did an interview for the Stone Telling blog about my poem “Rep/ercussions (Carmina)” that was recently featured in their “Body” issue – they just posted it and you can read it here! This issue was just incredible in so many ways and I’m so honored to be a part of it.

* Speaking of things I was honored to do, the lovely Rhonda Parrish asked Sara and I to write the introduction to her amazing new anthology Fae, which is forthcoming from World Weaver Press! It’s such a good collection, guys, seriously – check it out asap!!

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(Psstyou can also still enter to WIN a copy!!)

* I’m officially going to present at two conferences so far next school year – the first will be the 2014 International Conference on Romanticism – “Romantic Reflections: Twins, Echoes, and Appropriations” in Minneapolis, MN. I’m going to present a paper called “’Her Eyes Were Wild’: Echoes of Traditional Fairylore and the Gothic in Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’” on a panel organized by the new group Romanticism@OSU. The other conference so far will be the American Folklore Society annual meeting, “Folklore at the Crossroads” – I’m going to be doing a paper based on the article I co-wrote with Jeana Jorgensen for the Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television collection on the “Briar Rose” episode of the Japanese anime Grimms’ Fairy Tale Classics.

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* The Project Narrative Summer Institute starts on Monday! I’m both excited and nervous but mostly I’m feeling pretty confident that it’s going to be a great experience :).

Otherwise I’m just reading away and trying to get some other aspects of my life on the right track. I’m a tiny bit behind, probably due to being at home for a while and then readjusting to being back in Columbus, but I’m getting back on track!


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Victorians, Witches Cottages, and Vampires

A few links to share!

x. My dear friend Deborah is trying to raise money to finish her Master’s degree on Charlotte Mew, a sadly not very well-known Victorian writer that deserves far more attention. Please help her out if you can!

x. The British Library has launched an amazing website called “Discovering Literature” and the first things they’ve put up are Romantic/Victorian! There is SO much to explore there, I’m kind of giddy with delight. The Guardian has a good sum up of some of the most fantastic things they’ve posted – many of them Sara and I saw in person when we were lucky enough to visit the library’s “Writing Britain” exhibition!

x. The lovely writer Mary Stewart has died at age 97… sad news, she is the author of an only fairly recently discovered all time favorite of mine, Thornyhold. A beautiful, quietly magical story, I highly highly recommend it.

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x. And lastly, well, I clearly can’t resist this ;). – Tilda Swinton, Vampire Reader: Tasty Treats for Literary Goths!

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Great recommendations.

Now back to reading…!


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A is for Apocalypse Cover Reveal!

Hi all! You’ve probably seen a few of these promotions around but here I am, late in the day but still delighted to be able to post about this great anthology that I have the honor to be a part of!

What do you get when you take twenty-six amazing writers, randomly assign them a letter of the alphabet and give them complete artistic freedom within a theme?

A is for Apocalypse!

AisforApocalypseCover Designed by Jonathan Parrish

A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves. My letter was Q… a bit of a hard one for sure but it wound up working out perfectly!

This volume contains work by Ennis Drake, Beth Cato, Kenneth Schneyer, Damien Angelica Walters, K. L. Young, Marge Simon, Milo James Fowler, Simon Kewin, C.S. MacCath, Steve Bornstein and more!

And, of course, I must include Sara‘s amazing bio for our fantastic editor:
Rhonda Parrish is a shapeshifter with talents to match her every incarnation- magpie tenacity for picking the shiniest submissions, nightingale notes for crafting tales, and bright, feline eyes for seeking out her photographic subjects. She balances on the knife-edge of darkness and light, a sorceress of both realms.” – Sara Cleto

A is for Apocalypse on Goodreads
A is for Apocalypse Mailing List

Blurbs:

“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice–and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs and whispers that might someday take us all out. Often bleak, sometimes hopeful, always thoughtful, if A is for Apocalypse is as prescient as it is entertaining, we’re in for quite a ride.” – Amanda C. Davis, author of The Lair of the Twelve Princesses

“Editor Rhonda Parrish gives us apocalyptic fiction at its finest. There’s not a whimper to be heard amongst these twenty-six End of the World stories. A wonderful collection.” -Deborah Walker, Nature Futures author

Contributor Interviews:

Question:

As a contributor to this anthology you are privileged to have been able to read a proof copy of it already. Aside from your own story, which one is your favorite? No spoilers, please :)

Answers:

Michael Kellar – “U is for REDACTED” got to me early on, and ended up being a perfect little glimpse of what would be important when facing the end of the world.

Marge Simon – That’s really, really a hard question to answer. But I’m picking Damian Angelica Walters’ moving “U is for REDACTED”. It reminded me much of one of my top favorite dark sf stories, “Testament”.

Sara Cleto – I’ll admit that I haven’t read through the entire anthology yet (it will be my reward when I finish this semester’s grading!), but I adore Brittany Warman’s story- as always, her images are haunting, powerful, and full of wonderful folkloric resonances (Note from me: !! Thank you! :)!)

Beth Cato – I loved R. It’s one of the longer stories in the anthology, I think, and it’s a unique take on events leading up to the apocalypse. The whole vibe is creepy and gritty.

C.S. MacCath – I confess I have only skimmed the anthology as yet, but Beth Cato’s and Damien Angelica Walters’ stories fairly sang with emotion, and Gary B. Phillips has written a nicely-executed piece of humour.

And Last but Certainly Not Least… A Giveaway?!

Rhonda is giving away three ARC copies (tour-wide)!! These are physical copies but she’s willing to ship them to anywhere in the world. The Rafflecopter draw will run from May 12th to May 19th. On May 20th she will choose three winners and email them in order to get their shipping address. Anyone who doesn’t respond by May 27th will forfeit their prize and Rhonda will choose a new winner to receive it. Enter below, you know you want to!!

Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Yay!!


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Reading, Reading, Reading

Well, summer has started and I am already neck deep in candidacy exam reading. This image illustrates how that feels (I am the sorceress, the dragon represents my exams/reading list :P.)

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I put this image on the cover of my readings binder… it is inspiring! Though I am tiny, I have powers too. See how the dragon is being subdued by the sorceress’ magic? Yes. I also made a spreadsheet. I’ve got a plan, I’ve got this. I hope.

I also have much other work that needs to get done asap (including revising a potential article, submitting for a conference, and two reviews), an institute on narrative theory to attend in June, and a ‘Folklore and Literature’ Think Tank to attend in July. Eep!

A few other things:

x. Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film, is insanely good. The soundtrack is too, I’m actually a bit obsessed with it.

x. Speaking of vampires, here’s some scientific evidence that folklore always knows what’s up – Vampire Therapy Could Reverse Aging 

x. For more Gothic fantastic, the Guardian posted this hilarity – How to Tell You’re Reading a Gothic Novel (in Pictures!)

x. And this is just lovely – Gorgeous Illustrations of ‘Untranslatable’ Words from Different Languages by Anjana Iyer. I’m always fascinated by these kinds of words and this project is very cool.

Also, Sara has tagged me to do a post on my writing process and I promise that that is coming shortly! I hope you’re all enjoying the spring flowers as much as I am :).


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Sara’s New Website!

Just in case you missed this awesome bit of news, my incredibly talented, inspirational, beautiful roommate, Sara Cleto, has a brand new website!

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You may recognize her name from such publications as Cabinet des Fees, Ideomancer, Niteblade, and many others! We have also co-written two poems (with plans to do more in the future!)

She was very resistant to the whole idea of webpages at first so I bought her her domain name for this past Christmas and have been encouraging the heck out of her ever since. It paid off because she has turned out an absolutely fantastic site. So go check it out!

In other Sara news, she wrote me the BEST BIO ever, which is now up on my “Bio” page here:

“Brittany Warman is a magical witch-faerie who mutters at the moon and scratches verse into the bark of trees that have grown for at least a century. She cannot cook, but she hordes jewels and gowns, and she will tell you about your best qualities if you ask her politely.”

I am totally using this from now on :P.


Posted in Inspiration, News | 4 Comments