MY HAUNTING IS A LOAMY SKELETON…
or so begins my new poem, Ekphrastic 22/The Drowning Girl, now up at Strange Horizons, as part of their special speculative poetry issue. It features a number of excellent poets, and poems (I recommend Jessy Randall’s Food Diary of Gark the Troll, and Rose Lemberg’s The Rotten Leaf Cantata).
When I first wrote Ekphrastic 22/The Drowning Girl, I said this about it:
…(an) ekphrasis made by the book I’m sharing my bed with now. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan. It’s a haunting of a book; already it’s dredged up echoes in me. I dreamt with the light on last night, and felt the resounding truths all day at work (two pieces of sausage in a cup of soup, a ribcage in what I wish were the wind, empty bowls, crab forks). (Will write them down later.)
Anyway, many thanks to Sonya Taaffe for contacting me about this piece. I’m glad it’s found a home outside my skull (both bloggish and bone).
For months, I’ve been sick of sitting. I perch on my chair, well-intentioned and driven: I will write 4,000 words, a blog post, answer emails/interviews/facebook messages from friends who deserve more, better attention than my easily-distracted mind can offer. I have a butterfly brain, regularly diverted by the winds of tangent (tumblr, for example, is a temptation-ridden custom-tailored black hole overspilling with Lokis, blood-stained elk skulls, Totoro gifs, and cosmic jellyfish).
One thing I know about myself is that I function better when I move. Anger can be destroyed with a bike ride, deadend cyclic anatomical self-antagonizing can be crushed by thirty minutes of high-intensity interval training. So I’ve known for awhile that the reason I spend more time aimlessly flipping tabs when I sit at my computer is because I’m sitting, stationary. The solution, naturally, is to stop.
The past few weeks, I’ve been sitting (bad!) and thinking of various solutions. I knew I wanted a standing desk, and that I didn’t want to spend any money, or nail something together, if I could avoid it–mostly because I wanted to be standing, now, and not work too hard to do so (which, really, just sounds like another bout of laziness). At any rate, two days ago, I decided that my computer was staying off until I’d solved my problem. I stood for a moment, thought, and promptly found a solution.
My solution was percussive: I found a drum. As a drummer, this wasn’t exactly a challenge–my apartment is full of them. But the trick was finding the right one. The right one turned out to be a cajón. Which is amusing, since this particular drum is meant to be sat upon. Happily, though, when resting sideways on my desk, it adds just the right amount of height for me to stand and type on my laptop (or distract myself with an inverted drum, which loses none of its sonic potential). Return it to the ground, and I have my drum again–or a chair, if I’m being lethargic.
I like my instruments to be instruments, but I’m also the kind of person who like an uncluttered, multifunctional space. The musical desk satisfies my obsessive-percussing and organization-addiction in a single hit (a gong hit that rattles through my skull and satisfactorily shakes the compulsive quirks of my brain).
Where have you been, Tattertongue?
lying with pelvis and ribcage
reading the mouth for
sugared ginger for
Why did you leave?
there was a forest
of snapping saplings
What did you find?
they were chopped
(An excerpt from my poem Tattertongue, which secured third place in Strange Horizons’ 2013 readers pole. A poem about starvation, Loki, and suspension. Thanks to all who voted. Other news: I recently sold an ekphrastic to SH; it’ll be out in February.)
TODAY is the last day to vote for my poem on eating and horse-boiling (Tattertongue), published last year by Strange Horizons. There are a number of different categories to vote in, and lots of excellent writing to explore, if you feel so inclined. If you happened to enjoy my poem, and feel it deserves ranking, please vote! It’s under ‘poetry,’ then ‘Tattertongue, by Jenn Grunigen.’ Many thanks!
Is fanfic the new folklore?
That’s the thought that’s been pacing in my skull for seven days (and counting). Ultimately, my answer is probably no. But I can’t stop thinking about fic in relation to other things. I’ve spent half a decade avoiding fan-communities/works, because as much as I love it all, getting involved is hugely invasive and hungry for attention–and then Mjolnir struck me in the ribcage, cracking it open for heart-access, and when I got up, it was with obsession. The THOR/Norsk fandom wriggled in past my cracked ribs, crawled up my throat, and eventually settled in with my (very few) intellectual faculties.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about folklore, and literature, and the headstrong crossover between the two, mythpunk*. With the appearance of an old obsession (fanfic/art), all these electrochemical signals naturally collided with all the force of mid-Ginnungagap (am I giving myself too much credit? I am.), and I began noting the similarities between fanfiction and folklore.
(Warning: most of this is brain-vomit. I’m just letting my thoughts dance about unchecked.)
Obviously, there’s a lot of fic that spins around rewriting lore, replacing traditional characters with, say, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin; tweaking gender roles; contorting tropes to better fit plotlines and character arcs; and, of course, the addition of lots (and LOTS) of sex (not that folklore shies from fucking–it just tends to be more graphic and long-winded in fanfic). This use of lore is especially prevalent in the THOR fandom–which is only to be expected, given the source material, though in this case, replacing the characters isn’t always necessary. However, the re-imaginings are frequently slant, are often re-imaginings of re-imaginings, as a lot of fic is based on the movies, which are based on the comics–etc, etc, you know what I mean; stories are reincarnations of stories are reincarnations of stories; it’s just the nature of the beast…
Anyway, my point is folklore can be like fanfiction: a retelling.
Call them tropes, stereotypes, fanon, canon, tale-types, or motifs plucked from the Aarne-Thompson Index–fanfiction, like folklore, is full of repetition, darkened mirrors, and doppelgangers. Think of the endless pairings, the descriptions (hurt/comfort, angst, AU, PWP, etc)–they’re all filters, methods for us to pick and choose how we like to feel. To find a new iteration of the familiar. I often read fanfic for the experience, to get that certain clutching of the upper-chest and throat, to find an emotion catharsis, to experience the characters I obsess over, until they’re more, deeper, than obsessions–until they become human.
Perhaps that’s elevating fanfic too high. But maybe not. What do we seek in fanfic? Humanity–a potent, emotive dose of humanity. And isn’t folklore for learning about humanity, for feeling it like a punch to the gut? The stories aren’t always right, sometimes they say wrong things, and in this way, reveal the many, amazingly snarly, nasty truths about the nature of human creatures–but all the repetition that occurs in lore, all the circling, all the characters with news faces, but familiar hearts? Sometimes, it’s all just the human-beast’s collective voice speaking to us.
So maybe folklore and fanfic are just two different voices speaking to, and of, the same spinal things in us. Folklore’s a primal, bone-fed voice; fanfic is a spitfire tale-spinner that feasts on and subverts our memetic hearts.
*For the record, I don’t think mythpunk has much to do with the bridge between fanfic and folklore, as I don’t feel that bridge is particularly anarchic in nature. But mythpunk’s been on my brain, so I mentioned it. I think the reason it came to mind is that there may be a parallel relationship between mythpunk and myth-driven fanfic (mythfic?)…