Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category


A quick post for the new year. I’ve been a bit down about various partings, past, present, and imminent, so I had a bit of a “oh, yes, that’s it…” moment when I ran across a version of the “I see the moon” folk-song in a poetry collection of Sarah Kay, as a lead-in to her poem “Astronaut.” I really like Kay’s version, though I don’t know whether it is her own unique version of the song or a version she learned elsewhere. Apparently it was also a pop-song back in the 50s, and it looks like there are a few different traditional versions listed in various places on the web, including several youtube links for various versions here at Mamma Lisa’s. The sentiment recalls (or predates?) that of the “Somewhere out there” song in An American Tale–a movie I don’t really remember, though the idea of standing under the same sky, the same moon, as someone dear but far away has stuck with me since some early viewing.

Below is a video of Sarah Kay performing “Astronaut”, complete with a rendition of “I see the moon” at the start.


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What I’m Up To

OK, kind of a gratuitous, self-centered sort of post, but after posting about my friend Tiff’s recent short story, and with a new year coming up for me (ie, impending birthday), AND considering that this would be my ONE HUNDREDTH POST, I felt like going over my different projects the last 9 months or so. Maybe more for myself than anyone else, but you are welcome to listen in.

Grim Bunny 12

The last of my 12 The Grim Bunny pages–though hopefully I’ll be continuing this with a second series of 12 one of these days.

With this year off from academia, I was hoping I’d be working on my writing a lot more than I have, but between a family emergency and starting a super cool but super intense translation project (I’m a third of the way through the initial translation now), I haven’t gotten as much done as I’d like, and what I have done has in large part gone towards revising and adding to a novel draft that will probably never be published (because I started it as a naive, silly, childish undergraduate), and towards my art, the latter of which has turned into a decent internet presence/following, including a not-quite-webcomic of 12 installments, and about $60-80 or so of profits from my DeviantArt and Redbubble stores… hm, might need to pick up the pace if I want those to make a bit more of an impact on my financial situation…

IMG_2451I have had a bit of progress getting myself back in gear fiction-wise– I received an honorable mention a few months back for a short story that I submitted to the Writers of the Future contest, and I’ve currently got that on the submissions circuit. I’ve been slowly pulling together ideas for another short story that I’ve got high hopes for (have gone through a number of plot mutations at this point, but feel like I am progressing rather than spinning wheels–have also done some brainstorms for further stories, but am not really pursuing those ideas yet). Have started revising more of my poetry and fragments (have written mostly fragments the last couple years), and while I haven’t had much luck with the places I submitted them (OK, I was overly ambitious with a couple target journals), I got some great comments on two of them from the poetry editor at Ideomancer, where my poem “The Cabin and the Stars” was published in 2011. Her notes reinforced some of my own thoughts, and to be honest, I’m feeling pretty interested in going back over these and some other poem-sketches and revising them fairly thoroughly–something I have always hated doing, as poems seemed too tightly wound to meddle with, but right now it just feels like it would be nice to have some raw material to work with…

At the intersection of my academic specialty and my creative work, I took an hour or so this week to start a preliminary translation of a short Old Icelandic story that I have been wanting to turn into a picture book for a couple years (some preliminary sketches are here). We’ll see what happens–I think it will have to be a one-step-at-a-time process, as there are a few different stages to deal with in the drafting and the illustration, and I need to stay on top of ways to make money NOW rather than later.

Meanwhile, please feel free to share any of my blog posts you like, my poems, my art, my Grim Bunny almost-a-comic thing, etc. While I haven’t been as productive as I’d like (life happens… and so does procrastination, I guess), I’ve been really happy to share my work-thus-far with the world, and look forward to putting some more things out there.

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File:SeamusHeaneyLowRes.jpgSeamus Heaney, Nobel Prize winning poet and a translator of Beowulf, has passed. His translation of Beowulf came out right around the time that I studied the poem and the Old English language for the first time at UCSB with Carol Pasternack (I would later go through Beowulf again with the late Nicholas Howe at Berkeley). I believe this was my first encounter with Heaney, and have enjoyed digging into his poetry every now and then over the last decade. Speaking of digging, his poem of the same name is available to be read at the Poetry Foundation. Just reread this a few minutes ago, and I love the tension as the poet contemplates the concrete bodies and practices of his family/heritage while sitting, (gun? spade?) pen in hand, in a very different field. Maybe every (aspiring) poet faces this sense of disjunction (or are there many poets whose parents and grandparents were poets?). While not made explicit, the “cool hardness” of potatoes in hand seems to find such a clear echo in the hardness of pen-in-hand. In contrast to the pervasive physicality of his father’s work, the poet has material tools, but immaterial produce–no cool, hard poem to hold in hand. Well, I don’t know whether Heaney was making that connection or not, but it stands out to me, as the poem starts and ends with the grip of the pen but is filled up in between with the “honest work” of tilling the soil. You can find a more specific analysis of the “digging” of this poem, as well as that of Heaney’s poems on the bog bodies, in the chapter “Erotic Digging” in Karin Sanders’ Bodies in the Bog (a great book by a member of my dissertation committee, which I will hopefully get around to reviewing in more detail one day).

File:Heaneys.jpgI believe the only collection of Heaney’s work that I own is Electric Light, but it seems to have been misplaced along with half of my books of poetry in the course of my move back from Minnesota, so I can’t share any favorite poems from it at the moment. Several of his poems are available online at the Poetry Foundation, along with a biographical essay and links to many other essays about him (and I expect that their publication Poetry Magazine will feature an obituary in their next issue). Being a fan of sonnets, I especially enjoyed The Glanmore Sonnets, and will point out that you can find this translator of ancient Germanic poetry making contemporary use of kennings (intentionally derivative of the Beowulf poem) in sonnet # 7.

IMG_1854Heaney’s verse translation of Beowulf is rightly praised, and I especially enjoy having the Old English text facing the verse translation in the bilingual edition. I last took a course on Beowulf in the original (well, in Klaeber) with the late Nicholas Howe, who appreciated Heaney’s translation, but felt (if I remember correctly) that it could not adequately get across the appositive style of the poem (an aspect of the poem which Howe’s own advisor had worked on). As our “crib” we instead used Howe’s edition of Donaldson’s prose translation, which may lose the poetic flavor of Heaney’s, but translates a bit more directly (but it has been a while since I’ve worked through Beowulf in the original, so I will reserve judgement myself–but it is about time I worked through my new edition of Klaeber…)–it also includes a variety of academic articles, mostly fairly accessible, at the end, so I’ve used Howe’s edition for the most part when teaching undergraduates.

IMG_1856I especially like that we have an Irish poet translating the Beowulf poem, as that poem is itself so exemplary of the centuries of cultural contact and mish-mash throughout the North Atlantic (with an early and persistent presence in Ireland) before, during, and after the Viking Age. The poem is, of course, implicitly English in the fact that it is written in Anglo-Saxon… but it starts by saying “Listen up! We’ve heard about the deeds of the Spear-Danes (=the Scandinavians).” Why do we have an English poem celebrating a Scandinavian hero of the Migration period???  The poem as we have it was written down near the end of what we label as the “Viking Age,” so we would expect folks in England to be not-OK with poetry celebrating these pirates, right? Well, the situation was a bit more complex, and exactly what Scandinavian connection you see may depend on how far back you think the poem goes (in either oral or literary history)–is some early form of the poem an inheritance from the migration period, not so distant from the Anglo-Saxon’s own continental origins? was it composed initially to cater to new Viking lords in the Danelaw, from more the middle of the Viking Age? is it a result of the pan-Scandinavian kingdom of Knut/Canute the Great? Whatever the earlier history of the poem (though I do tend to understand it in its final form/combination as a primarily literary text in emulation of oral style), I like Nicholas Howe’s interpretation, which ties well into the Cultural Memory studies that I’ve been working in lately. If I remember correctly (it’s been a while), Nick argues that the Anglo-Saxons (in their Archive, or literate production) understood/articulated their own history, in particular their passage from Paganism to Christianity, as an Exodus on the model of the Old Testament story, crossing their own Red Sea from Southern Scandinavia/Northern Germany into England, the site of their eventual conversion. The portrayal of the heroic migration-era culture of Beowulf recovers the martial heritage of the past for the Christian present (a concern common to medieval Scandinavia as well) via (in part, at least) the Noble Heathen (to appropriate Lönnroth’s term) Beowulf, who, whether we are to understand him as a role model, a tragic figure, or something else, seems at once to embody the abstract ideals of the pagan heroic period while either relying entirely on his own strength (as opposed to the strength of the gods–this repudiation of the pagan gods is common among protagonists in the sagas), or else articulating what seem at times to be very Christian thoughts (the narrator is quite explicit in his Christian commentary). OK, the main point of all this: The poem, and the main figure, can serve as a mythic-heroic representative of the (for medieval Christians) more admirable aspects of the pagan past, recovering those ideals for a late-Viking Age Anglo-Saxon elite because they understand themselves as having come from that same place–the poem is not so much representing some cultural Other, but a primordial origin for the martial aristocracy of the present, as well as a chapter in the grand narrative of their progress from pagan the christian.

Heaney of course does a similar thing with his translation, revisiting this classic to enrich the present. Our obsession with the poem, and with any ancient “classic,” is to some degree a move of Cultural Memory (Mikhael Gronas even takes the assertion that Canon is Cultural Memory so far as to emphasize the ways in which it is an actual mnemonic system)–we turn to these texts (Beowulf, Homer, Shakespeare) because we believe there is something primordial to them, something foundational in them to who we are now. I’ve already written more than I intended, so I’ll leave it there, but if you feel like listening to Heaney read his translation, it looks like a recording is (for the moment) available here.

And now I think I will go dig up some potatoes. Or something.

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Sigurd on the Ramsund stone.

My goodness, is it really World Poetry Day again? Can’t believe a whole year has gone by since my last WPD post. Note that the WPD announcement from UNESCO (linked to above) features a picture of a manuscript of the Nibelungenlied, the epic account of Siegfried the Dragon Slayer, his death, and the aftermath. This traditional material is quite prominent in Norse sources as well. I often refer to it as the Volsung tradition or legend, after Völsungasaga, a fornaldarsaga (saga of ancient times, or legendary saga) written in 13th century Iceland. The saga itself has always felt a bit disjointed to me, as the complier is clearly struggling to turn all the disparate traditions at his disposal into one coherent account, but that in itself makes it interesting as a window into the transition from oral discourse to literary discourse. Manuscript production was still characterized by “variance,” so we aren’t hitting the extreme textual fixity of print culture yet, but it is kind of neat, in this saga and elsewhere, to see the wake of a still living tradition, whether through the cracks of the manuscript version, or explicitly referenced (as when the author of Grettis saga notes the different accounts of certain episodes).

The Völsungs show up in both of the Eddas as well, which gives me a nice “in” to briefly discuss the difference between Eddic and Skaldic poetry for my World Poetry Day post. The Eddas themselves give us a nice starting point, as they are each primarily associated with one or the other.

File:Snorre Sturluson-Christian Krohg.jpg

Snorri the chieftain (not the 8th dwarf)

Prose Edda, aka Snorra Edda or Younger Edda, was written around 1220/1230 by the Icelandic Chieftain Snorri Sturluson as a poetics (in fact, one etymology for “Edda” would derive it from Latin edo/edere (I compose/to compose), even if we often use it for its accounts of Norse mythology. The name “Edda” comes from this work, as it is referred to as “Edda” (and attributed to Snorri) in the Uppsala manuscript. We now call the type of poetry discussed here “Skaldic,” after the Old Norse word for poet, “Skald.” While it is not primarily determined by meter (well, depending on who is doing the defining), the “poster child” for so-called “Skaldic” poetry is dróttkvætt, “court-meter,” a very demanding form which, unlike eddic, has a set number of syllables per line (OK, “set number of syllables” is not the best way to put it, as at least two linguist friends have reminded me, but this is a common way to describe the difference between dróttkvætt and eddic in introductory books), as well as relatively demanding rules for alliteration and internal rhyme. “Skaldic” poetry also involves especially prominent use of kennings. These poetic circumlocutions are common elsewhere (for example, “whale road” for “ocean” in Beowulf), including Eddic Poetry, but they are taken to a whole new level (several new levels, maybe) in Skaldic poetry. Many of these kennings depend on mythological allusions, hence Snorri’s thorough treatment of mythology in his Edda. It has been argued that he wrote the sections of his treatise in reverse order, starting with Háttatal (Tally of meters, a relatively straightforward presentation of examples of various meters), Skáldskaparmál (Poetic Diction, which explains kennings and heiti [poetic names] by giving the relevant stories behind them, or, in the latter part, just listing the terms), Gylfaginning (The Deluding of Gylfi, an account of major myths from the beginning of the world up to the end via a frame narrative, which allows the stories to be passed off as “lies” while still laid out for our examination), and a prologue which may or may not have been written by Snorri (scholars disagree), but which, with the frame narrative of Gylf., highlights the fictionality of the myths in juxtaposition with official Christian history. The Völsungs don’t come into Snorra Edda all that much–just a 5 page summary or so, plus some references in examples of skaldic poetry (for example, Bragi’s Ragnarsdrápa).

Poetic Edda, aka Elder Edda or Saemundar Edda, refers primarily to the Codex Regius manuscript written sometime around 1270, although larger and smaller portions may be found elsewhere (including quotations in Gylfaginning). The manuscript was discovered by Icelandic Bishop Brynjólfr Sveinsson in the 17th century. The bishop decided this was another Edda and attributed it to the learned Sæmundr Sigfusson, who lived slightly over a century before Snorri. However, we only know Sæmundr to have written in Latin, and the text as we have it is from much later, so I prefer to call it Poetic Edda. The age of the poems themselves varies. Some are widely believed to come from the Viking Age, but there certainly would have been a good amount of change over the years (this is the rule with oral tradition–not to say that there cannot be exceptions, as we will discuss below). Others are much more contested, and it looks like the collection of the poems itself grew from many smaller collections. The text of Codex Regius moves from an overview of mythic history in Völuspá, to poems about the gods (possibly chosen to represent the “Big Three,” Odin, Frey, and Thor), to poems about minor supernatural beings (the elf Völund and the dwarf “All-Wise”), and then heroic poems about the Völsungs–first three Helgi poems (themselves fascinating as examples of the plurality of traditions) and then on to the story of Sigurd, and the eventual disintegration of the aristocratic family at the heart of the story. We get several different meters in the collection, but in contrast with dróttkvætt they are not as strict, still alliterating, but counting “beats” instead of syllables and leaving off the regular internal rhyme. Generally speaking, it runs in the tradition of other early medieval Germanic poetry, the so-called “long-line.” There is of course a lot more to say about this, but until I have time to expand this (or write a new post), I suggest you check out the metrical notes on pp xxviff of Carolyne Larrington‘s translation of Poetic Edda and Andy Orchard‘s introduction to his translation, pp xxx and following (both are excellent resources, btw–and as far as Prose Edda goes, I recommend Anthony Faulkes‘ translation).

It has been pointed out before that meter is insufficient to distinguish between what we label as “Skaldic” and “Eddic,” as some key examples of what we consider “Skaldic” have been written in an Eddic meter (and Snorri himself gives examples of “Eddic” meters in his Háttatal). We could argue that skaldic is primarily encomium, composed in praise of someone, while eddic is primarily narrative, but that doesn’t work so well either, as the examples of skaldic in the sagas are put to such a wide range of uses–in particular, the earliest and most canonical examples of skaldic perform their praise of their subject by telling mythic and heroic stories, obliquely praising the patron by juxtaposing him with the deeds of the gods (the idea of oblique praise coming from Margaret Clunies Ross, who also has a great introduction to Old Norse poetry and poetics, as I mentioned in my poetry post last year).

I feel that the best way to differentiate between the two, both in terms of contemporary scholarship’s “instinct” for identifying the two, as well as the way they are treated in the Old Norse texts, is in terms of the text’s perceived relationship to an original composer and performance. The so-called eddic poems tend to be treated as the products of tradition–they are received, and while modified for the needs of particular performances (as Lars Lönnroth has noted re: Hjálmar’s Death Song), the “work” as such does not seem to be understood as explicitly the creation of a Poet. Skaldic poetry, on the other hand, carries its perceived origin with it (I say “perceived” because there are plenty of stanzas we don’t think are “genuine,” but which are presented as the work of a particular person in a particular time and place). Stanzas and entire poems are attributed to a specific skald, and often are explicitly placed in historical time and space. This may simply be a feature of the tradition/prose text accompanying the poem in its transmission, but it also works its way into the poem itself quite often, as the skalds would not only tell a story, but would reflexively articulate the performance situation, asking the patron and audience to listen, explaining (often via the mythic frame of the myth of the mead of poetry) that he (the skald) has been asked to, or is about to, present a poetic gift. We find similar reflexivity at the end of the poem, while the middle sections for the most part tell the “story,” with further reflexive intrusions in the refrain. We might argue that the severe metrical restrictions of dróttkvætt give the text of skaldic a greater degree of fixity than, say, eddic (or most other traditions of oral poetry), but in addition we can suggest that the relationship of later performers to the skaldic text would also contribute to a relative degree of fixity–the text gets its value, after all, from its origin, as a canonical performance located within the history of the Scandinavian aristocratic class. With skaldic, the authenticity (and subsequent capital) of the text is derived from an originary moment (ie, it is valuable as “the words said at that moment”), whereas the authenticity of eddic is derived from its relationship to tradition–the story is the inheritance, the specific performance is incidental.

Well, hope that made some sense–I’ve been picking away at ways to articulate this for a while, in my entries on the Eddas for The Literary Encyclopedia as well as in the final chapter of my dissertation (where I threw in a bit more theory from work in folkloristics and oral performance). In any case, have a very happy World Poetry Day! I’ve also been picking away at editing some poems of my own (both from visits to Iceland–one in 2005, the other near the end of my dissertation research in 2009), will see if I can get them in good enough shape to send them off anywhere…

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Hoping they won’t mind my posting a portion of their logo here…

Ah, I was so bummed to hear this news! In 2007, after a 5-6 year dry spell since my first two publications with Fables (also defunct now), Rose and Thorn published my poem “A Stone Age Man Confronts His Son,” which they later nominated for the Best of the Net (didn’t make it, but it was nice that they liked it enough to suggest it!), then invited me back for a week of guest blogging. I think I did 3-4 entries of the latter, my first experience with blogging (although I did have a geocities website for around 7 years, also gone now). Unfortunately a change of ownership led to a change in blog address, and eventually the previous blogs (including mine, as far as I can tell) were deleted. I don’t seem to have any digital copies of my own, so I’ll see if I can get a hold of them–maybe they have them archived somewhere. I had just found some edits on a poem I’d been planning on sending them (the misplaced edits had been stuck as a bookmark in my copy of The Quantum Thief), when I found out they were closing. One more issue left, but I am certain they have already found their contributors. Ah well.

While I certainly enjoy print journals as well (have occasionally subscribed to Poetry, which does have a decent amount of material online: here is the Richard Rorty article that my first R&T blog was on), I think the wide range of free, high-quality digital journals is really great–sure, poetry can be a bit abstruse these days (meaning the last 100+ years…), but so much of it is worth working through, and if you take the time, you will surely find some gems which speak to you at some level. And you know, it is just good exercise, cognitively speaking! Many of the poetry journals I regularly check out are fantasy or science-fiction poetry, but I find the gap between “normal” poetry and fantasy/sci-fi to be not as great as it is in fiction. Here are some of my favorites:

Every Day Poets (whom I of course have to mention, as most of my poems have been published there… also, remember you can still rate my poems 😉

Ideomancer, a journal of both speculative fiction and poetry (as well as the publishers of one of my favorites of my poems, The Cabin and the Stars)

Stone Telling, a journal of speculative poetry founded by my friend Rose Lemberg

Goblin Fruit, a journal of fantasy poetry

Strange Horizons, a journal of fantasy, science fiction, etc, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

Hm, that’s all that’s coming to me at the moment–plus, I really need to get back to work. Sorry for the paucity of posts the last two months. I am racing to finish a chapter for a literary history (on my second extension!!), but am ALMOST done. Will turn it in tonight or tomorrow, after finally having whittled it down from 40+ pages to 25 (OK, a few more than 25). We’ll see what my editors think…

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Egill Skallagrímsson, one of the most renowned Icelandic poets of the Viking age-- also the orneriest s.o.b. in all the sagas. Well, maybe some others come close. Picture from a late manuscript. Sorry, the poem at the end of the post isn't by him. I'll probably cover him again sometime though...

Ah, I need to start finding out about these special days in advance!  Today is World Poetry Day.  Yay for poetry!  I have all sorts of things I’d love to post (with translations, of course)– Erik Gustav Geijer‘s “Vikingen” (= The Viking), Egill Skallagrímsson‘s “Sonatorrek“, and others– but I’m short on sleep and behind on grading and class prep, so this will be a less involved post.  I thought of posting the poems I did my dissertation on, but honestly, those need to be cleaned up a bit before they are readable for a casual blog-audience.  In keeping with the “Book Reviews” element of this blog, I’ll bring to your attention the relatively recent (2005) A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics by Margaret Clunies Ross (also the author of Prolonged Echoes, my favorite large-scale interpretation of the corpus of Norse mythology).  Affordable, and a nice introduction for the beginning grad student, or the ambitious undergrad or enthusiast.  I haven’t had the opportunity to teach with it yet (and I’m not sure I would teach it in an undergrad course– actually, I’m not sure I would have the opportunity to teach an undergraduate course in Old Norse poetics at all, though I would like to do a grad course on the subject one day), but it covers the basics as well as a wide range of pertinent issues, from questions of genre, to the transmission and recording of the poetry, to the “Poet as Craftsman” metaphor behind much of the poetic terminology (this section was helpful to me with both my dissertation and a conference paper I gave a couple years ago), to the vernacular grammatical treatises of the later Middle Ages.  One day (maybe soon, now that it is on my mind) I will put together a post on Eddic versus Skaldic poetry (and whether that is a useful distinction or not).  Meanwhile, there is wikipedia and this book.  Well, and some other books as well.  Like this book, which will also give you some short, easy-to-read (for the most part) introductions to a whole range of genres and topics in Old Norse-Icelandic literature.

Well, I don’t want to leave you with nothing but prose, so here is some actual poetry, taken from a 13th century rune stave from Bergen, Norway (B255).  Text and translation are from A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics, page 20.  I’m short on time, so I’ll just let Margaret Clunies Ross tell you what it means.

Vár kennir mér víra
Vitr úglaðan sitja;
Eir nemr opt ok stórom
Öluns grundar mik blundi.

“Intelligent Vár (goddess) of wires [goddess of wires/jewelry=woman] teaches me to remain unhappy; Eir (goddess) of the land of the mackerel (sea) [goddess of the sea = woman (?)] takes away my sleep, often and mightily.”

Or another way to put it, if you are having trouble following the kennings (I’ve got to admit, the goddess of the sea = woman doesn’t really work for me…):

First Couplet: That smart lady is schooling me in misery, but I’m still hot for teacher. 

Second Couplet: No sleep for me–that siren keeps me up, way up, every night. 

What can I say, I’m a sucker for depressing love poetry (and can certainly empathize with the lack of sleep).  Well, OK, maybe my interpretation of this runic poem is a bit on the unsubtle side [edit: actually, now that I look at it again, it could be a bit raunchier than I meant… that’s what I get for paraphrasing skaldic late at night], but if you want the full experience, you’ll just have to go and learn Old Norse.  Then you can take another year (or two… or three) to learn how to interpret Skaldic poetry.

EDIT: For more romantic runes, check out this Valentine’s Day post from Viqueen.

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My poem “The Waves on Lake Vättern” is up at Every Day Poets.  Yes, it is a sappy, depressing poem for the month of February.  This is the sort of poem you get when your girlfriend breaks up with you and then you go and spend the summer in Sweden writing poetry and getting ready to teach Beginning and Intermediate Swedish back in Berkeley.  Well, you also have to stop off at lake Vättern for a couple days and walk along the beach.  Just be glad that the other poems from that time aren’t being published.

The image is from Wikicommons, but I believe this isn't too far from the place where I wrote the poem.

Vättern is a really beautiful lake, btw.  I wrote the poem on a beach on the southern tip way back in summer 2007, I believe.  I stayed in Jönköping, a largish (for Sweden) urban area at the southern tip of the lake (and if I remember correctly, one end of Sweden’s own version of the “Bible Belt”, according to a girl I knew there).  There are probably nicer (=less developed) areas along this huge lake (second largest in Sweden, which is full of lakes), but Jönköping was nice enough.   Two or three years earlier I had visited some American friends involved in a ministry there, and while they were no longer in Sweden, I felt like visiting again the area again (I’d written a lot of poetry on that previous visit as well, though I don’t think much of it is going to end up published–more practice than anything else).  The beach and the harbor area are nice, but if you visit, you should also check out the  John Bauer museum.  You can get a sampling of his illustrations here.  In the same general area there is a safety match museum and the town of Husqvarna, which lent its name to a couple (or more?) companies (all related, I believe).  I never visited those, but hey, if that’s your thing…

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Normally I would announce these as soon as they come out, but since I will be in Estonia at the start of the month for the first meeting of the Old Norse Folklorists Network (yeah, pretty obscure), I thought I would send out a heads-up now.  Two poems coming out this December:

1) “The Cabin and the Stars” in the December issue of Ideomancer.

2) “Sketches of Leaves” on December 2 in Everyday Poets.

If I have a chance to go online while I’m gone, I’ll add specific links to the poems once they are available.

[EDIT: The poems are up now!  Here is “Sketches of Leaves”  and here is “The Cabin and the Stars”.]

Meanwhile, I just finished this picture of Firebird, the main character from Kathy Tyer’s series of the same name:

Lady Firebird Angelo

Lady Firebird as a young woman–sorry for the blotchy skin and any other problems. This is my first attept at a portrait using Photoshop Elements.

The picture can also be seen (and downloaded) from my DeviantArt page–but you won’t be able to buy a print, since it is in the Fan Art section.   I won’t claim that I got Kathy’s image of Firebird just right–it started out as a random sketch, then decided to become Firebird.  I hope I didn’t make any glaring errors–couldn’t remember what color her eyes were, so I made them green, which is pretty much the best color in the world.

If you remember, I gave a critique of certain elements of Kathy’s Firebird series as an example of Christian science fiction.  Well, I tended to focus on the negatives there, which I feel bad about– the Firebird series is not my favorite of Kathy’s work, but I do remember first reading about Firebird around 15 years ago in a beat up second hand copy of Fusion Fire while camping with my family, and I admit that the series is close to my heart.  Looking forward to finding some free time after this trip to Estonia to finally catch up with her most recent Firebird novel, Wind and Shadow.

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Hey folks, I’ve had four poems accepted for publication recently (1 at Ideomancer, 3 at Everyday Poets), and the first is up now at Everyday Poets.  The poem is a sonnet called “Amateur Astronomy” which I wrote several years ago–maybe way back in 2005, I can’t really remember any more.  In any case, it was shortly before I bought an Orion 4.5 inch reflecting telescope, which I unfortunately only get to use maybe 2-3 times a year.  What can I say, the conditions just aren’t so great in the Bay Area, and I don’t have time to go driving out to where it is clearer.  In any case, I hope you enjoy the poem.  If you like it, please rate it!  4-5 stars would be nice.  😉  Meanwhile, I’m even more excited about the other poems coming out.  Look for an announcement about my sonnet “The Cabin and the Stars” in Ideomancer sometime in December (yes, another astronomy sonnet–“Amateur Astronomy” was written first, “The Cabin and the Stars” shortly after–within a month of each other, I believe).

Taken at a farm/hostel in South-Eastern Iceland with a 15 second exposure. Not an amazing pic, I realize-- it's all my camera is capable of.

Taken in the same place, the same way. I've got some stories about that hostel, but they will have to wait...

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