A Mayse-Bikhl by Sonya Taaffe came to Papaveria as an unexpected surprise, and I’m so glad it did. This is a collection of 20 poems, published as a special edition chapbook by Papaveria Press. The introduction, by Jeannelle M. Ferreira, says it all.
“Here are almost a decade’s worth of poems, curated by the author and Rose Lemberg. They tap an abiding cultural well; they are folk tales, mermaid-mayses, they are the richly hued wares of those who have traded in small, bright, enduring objects for a thousand years. Ms. Taaffe knows how to please the reading eye and linger in the senses, to charm by a sound, to sketch an inheritance with ash and fire and with sweetness. By turns intimate, elegiac, singing, and seeking, these poems are full of truth. They are deeply and completely Jewish poems, though to say that is to reach above one’s height for the emet written in the clay. Perhaps all Jewish texts look backward, inward, into dreams and the dark: better the wolf you know. These are poems for those who have known the wolf. Memory, wire-sharp and gallows-cold, is here, and the last notes of songs the whole world has forgotten. Orpheus is here too, Amazons, tzaddikim, dybbukim, small gods, and tummlers; the weighted grey of the diaspora; the warm golden stones of Jerusalem. It is all yours for the taking.”
— Jeannelle M. Ferreira
Many thanks to Rose Lemberg, who helped me with a lot more than curation, and to Jeanelle for finding the words when I could not.
Shiny Thing blurs the lines between fantasy, horror and science fiction. The stories inside are suffused with magic and danger, and will sometimes chill you to the bone. With a delicate touch Patricia Russo reveals humanity in all of its foibles and glorious moments, in settings that range from the perfectly average to the absolutely sublime. You can never be quite sure who is the monster and who is the heroine, and sometimes there is no divide. The characters are people you know, yet they do things you would never expect, and within each story there is one shining thing that somehow changes them all. You know the old saying — all that glitters is not gold. Well sometimes, all that is gold does not glitter. In Shiny Thing, your life depends on being able to tell the difference.
Patricia Russo had her first professional short story, “True Love”, published in 1987 in the anthology Women of Darkness: Original Horror and Dark Fantasy by Contemporary Women Writers, edited by Kathryn Ptacek. Since then her work has appeared in Lone Star Stories, Electric Velocipede, Abyss and Apex, Talebones, Tales of the Unanticipated, Not One of Us, in the anthologies Corpse Blossoms and Zencore, and in many other fine publications. She is that rarest of authors: she has no website, no blog, nothing on the internet to indicate that she even exists — except for a trail of fiction that reveals the prolific and generous writer behind the name. This is her first collection of short stories.
Papaveria’s next appearance will be at the Glastonbury Conference for the Fantastic in Literature, hosted by our friend and colleague Liz Williams. This is going to be “A Feast for the imagination”. Here’s a quote from the British Fantasy Society website: “Imaginary, supernatural and magical worlds in literature feature in Glastonbury’s first Conference for the Fantastic, Saturday 3 September, from 10.00am-6.00pm, at The Grail Centre in Chilkwell Street.
The Write Fantastic will offer inspiring and thought-provoking talks, evocative art, and beautiful, unusual books. Speakers include guest of honour, best-selling fantasy author Freda Warrington; Liz Williams, a well-known Glastonbury figure and popular fantasy novelist, who will be bringing occultist and author Dion Fortune back to life; writer Kari Maund, an expert on Celtic Britain, will shed light on the colourful Arthurian tradition; and local author Paul Weston will explain the work and philosophy of John Cowper Powys.”
I, too, will have many books available, both the paperbacks and a few of the limited editions, as well as the very first copies of Shiny Thing which just arrived this morning. Shiny Thing has a release date of 20 September, so this will be the only chance to purchase a copy between now and then — after this, they go back into hiding until their day arrives. We’re attending the conference as vendors, but fortunately Dis will be with me, so I’ll be able to run off and listen to the speakers whenever I please (or sneak away for a pint!). We love Glastonbury, we think of it as a home away from home, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone there.