I love the turning of the year toward light at the winter solstice. It makes up a bit for winter looming ahead. This year was tough for everybody, it seems; as Eric Tran said when he visited to give a poetry reading here, we spent the pandemic borrowing energy from the future, and now we have to pay it back. My mother died at the end of April and she’s very much on my mind as I perform seasonal rituals: recent stuff like sending her a zillion gifts at Christmas 2020 to distract her from going out and taking risks; old stuff like mixing up Christmas pudding to steam and flame it (we always did that as kids, although I riff on borrowed recipes and she just bought Crosse & Blackwell). I need to find a quiet moment to think about her.
I don’t know what that viking-druid I spotted on the trail yesterday portends. He’s looking toward the new year, but I’m mostly looking back. For a conference, I went on a binge of reading related to fairies and Faerie, old tales people keep making new. I discuss some of them here, in the annual “pleasures” column hosted by Aqueduct Press. They make me remember my mother, too, who was the teller of fairy stories in my house, as her Irish father was to her. He used to take her on walks to a Liverpool park in the 40s, where they’d put their sugar ration in a matchbox and leave it for the fairies. You have to propitiate them with sacrifice, or–what? It was always clear to me that Enid Blyton tales of brownies making “mischief” were euphemistic. Fairies are more dangerous than that. Thinking about all this sent me on a weird late night Google binge last week, asking questions about why sacrifice is so central to so many religions and legends. Google didn’t know, but I’d welcome your theories.
I’ll close with a looking-backward list of my publications this year, with a post about the year in reading to come. Then, I suppose, I’ll have to think about 2022, although I can’t yet imagine what it wants from me.
- “Oxidation Story” in Kenyon Review Online
- “Spell for Evaporation of Hope, with Bibliomancy” and “Dadaists are only to be found these days in the French Academy” and in House Mountain Review
- “Garden State” in SWWIM Miami (June 16, 2021)
- “Convertible Moon” in One 42 (August 2021)
- “Sore Tongue Song” in Quarterly West (Fall 2021)
- Print: Arkansas International, Nelle, Smartish Pace, Yemassee Review
- Speculative Nonfiction 5: “Hand of Smoke” (Spring 2021)
- The Account 16: “Closure and Irresolution in Cynthia Hogue’s ‘At Delphi’’ (Fall 2021)
- Print: American Poetry Review
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