California has a tendency to fool me this time of year — days swinging into cooler temperatures one week and then quickly rebounding into heat. Summer clings, refuses to let go. Leaves rarely yellow or brown in the expected colors of the season. The Fall never really feels like Fall.
And yet, October is my favorite month. The advent of Halloween carries with it the whispering of spirits, the trickery of fae folk, the glowing of jack-o-lanterns, the dancing of skeletons. It's a powerful time, a witchy time.
The days are dimming, growing shorter. The nights are darker.
This can be comforting. Darkness and shadow can be a fertile space for transformation — bulbs and seeds lie hidden within the earth, gestating, awaiting their moment to burst forth and bloom.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I'm feeling a desire to draw in, close off outside influences, and wrap myself in the comfort of hearth and home. I long for rich, warm foods, good books, and quiet.
What I'm desiring is not only an external drawing in, but an internal one. As I settle into what comforts me, I'm wondering what lies within the shadowy places within myself. What have I kept hidden? What fruits can I reap from this year's work? What do I want to plant anew? What do I wish to nurture and grow?
What about you?
Every Girl Becomes the Wolf received Third Place in the Elgin Awards! I couldn't be more delighted. I'm spreading the love by holding a giveaway on Instagram, in which I'm offering three books of poetry, including the two first place winners — War: Dark Poems by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti and Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Lyn Walrath — as well as a copy Wolf. Deadline to enter is October 20th.
Book of the Month
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison is a set in an apocalyptic world in which the population has been decimated by an illness that was particularly hard on women and children. The result is a world in which children are nonexistent, women are rare, and most men rove around in gangs claiming the few women left as slaves. The midwife — whose diaries have been preserved by a future society — survives by pretending to be a man and issues what little help she can to the women she meets in the form of contraceptives and medical care.
There is a certain bleakness that tends to come out of this kind of storyline — much of the worst of humanity is revealed. And yet, this book doesn’t fully dwell there. For all the awful things that happen, there are people who are trying to help or at the very least just trying to survive without doing harm. Interesting cultural structures crop up, some which reverse power roles and people turn out to be capable of trust and to be good to one another, if they try hard enough. This is, in the end, a story of hope in a brutal world — and it moved me to tears several times. I loved it.
If you're interested, you check out the rest of my Culture Consumption for the month of September, with all the books, movies, TV, games, and podcasts that I've enjoyed.
More Good Stuff
"Writing portends the possibility that our documents, our records of living history, our poetry, our arts, our fictions, will live on after our deaths to tell our truths and our lies."
— Melissa Eleftherion on survival and how language reshapes our perception of the world.
Maybe the secret to writing is not writing?
"Language is loaded with history," writes Emme Mandara in her thoughtful discussion of language, identity, and community.
"Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings" by Joy Harjo, who has become the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate. In a recent interview, Harjo advises poets:
"It’s about learning to listen, much like in music. You can train your ears to history. You can train your ears to the earth. You can train your ears to the wind. It’s important to listen and then to study the world, like astronomy or geology or the names of birds."