I’ll be reading from Wolf Skin in Chicago on June 1 from 1:30-3:30 pm at the Woman Made Gallery Literary Series on the theme of “The Other,” as part of the group art show that is ongoing through June 26. Fellow Dancing Girl Press poet, Janeen Rastall, whose work is wonderful, will also be reading, and I’m a huge fan of many of the poets–like Kristy Bowen and Kelly Davio–who have read at WMG before, so I’m looking forward to this reading very much!
Update (May 5): The list of participating readers has been updated on the WMG Gallery site. The full list of poets reading also includes Renny Golden, Vandana Khanna, Janeen Rastall, Yunuen Rodriguez, and Erika Sanchez!
It’s spring break, so I finally have some time to start planning my trip to Germany to research The Book of Gothel. The trip is set for this summer. A few weeks ago, I bought the air tickets, and I’ve just sent off my passport renewal application…
The plan, as it stands now, is to start in Konstanz, the city of my narrator’s birth, where I’ll wander the old town and visit museums, the island of Reichenau, and the ruins of an old fortress that still exists at Hohentwiel. Next I’m excited about visiting Naturpark Schwarzwald, where I’ll take notes on local flora and fauna and hike through the Black Forest. Then I plan to stay in Bingen, where I’ll make arrangements to see the Drusus Bridge and its ancient chapel, various museums and archives, the Disibodenburg abbey ruins, the St. Hildegard Abbey, and St. Hildegard of Bingen’s assembly of relics. Finally, I’ll visit Freiburg, where I plan to stay in the oldest hotel in Germany and research the House of Zähringen.
I am incredibly grateful to the Sustainable Arts Foundation for awarding me the grant that enabled this trip.
“Not for the Faint of Heart,” my review of Katie Farris’ wonderfully strange fairy tale collection, boysgirls, appears in issue 35.1 of American Book Review:
Beware: this fairy tale collection will cause readers to sit up straight, to blink, to swallow in fear. Anyone “used to sitting back and eavesdropping, playing the voyeur on the lives of others,” in the words of its narrator, will be disappointed. At first glance, Katie Farris’s debut collection resembles an artifact recovered from an asylum…
READ MORE AT PROJECT MUSE…
I first encountered Jeannine Hall Gailey‘s work in The Los Angeles Review and Phantom Drift, and since then I’ve read all three of her books. If you haven’t read them, you’re missing out! In Becoming the Villainess, her first collection, Gailey explores the origins, behavior, and fates of the characters of our collective imagination who help to define what it means to be female: from Greek goddesses to wicked queens, television spy girls to video game and comic book heroines. Her next two books are just as inventive. She Returns to the Floating World explores Japanese folklore and pop culture, building a beautiful and strange, eerie poetic world in which “wasps and swallows/build nests from radioactive mud” and we might meet the fox wife, the crane wife, or a “dragon in the garden.” Unexplained Fevers, her third book, contains alternate versions of European fairy tales in which, for instance, Rapunzel returns, alone, to the tower to “run her fingers up and down the cold stone wall” and Snow White complains that “all these huntsman are the same… promising candy and nosegays, planning to cut out your heart.” Each one of these books is a pleasure to read; no matter the subject matter, Gailey surprises. I’m honored that she took the time to read Wolf Skin and excited to share what she had to say:
In these poems, at the nexus of science and mythology, Mary McMyne delicately dissects wolf, butterfly and crocus with the same careful intensity. Wolf Skin entrances even as it invites us into a world of princes-turned-hedgehog, mothers who disappear, and characters skeptical of their stories. One poem begs, “Huntsman, leave us, like stones in the wolf’s belly, without memory…” but this is a collection you will return to and remember.
– Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, and Unexplained Fevers
Thirteen years ago, I took a graduate-level poetry-writing course with Andrei Codrescu at Louisiana State University. He taught me a valuable lesson about the political function of poetry, introduced me to Alice Notley and Anselm Hollo — poets whose writing I still love — and challenged me a great deal to experiment with language and voice. He is an excellent teacher, an intimidating scholar, and a rigorous critic, a writer whose poetry, prose, and commentary I greatly admire. I was honored when he ran the very first nonfiction piece I ever published at Exquisite Corpse, and I am honored, today, to read what he has to say about Wolf Skin:
Who knew that a poet would come by one day and reanimate the ancient, tragic fairytale figures of Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel? And that she would not only reanimate those uneasy ghosts stalking the roots of memory, but also the ghostly plants and animals of the world that devoured and mourned them? Well, she has: it’s Mary McMyne, with her flute of life, blowing healing air into archetypal pain. One by one her ancestral victims rise from the cannibal fog of our oldest past to live in these marvelous prose-poetry stereopticons. Stories to be truly chilled by, wolf hair by wolf hair.
— Andrei Codrescu, author of So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems, 1968-2014
So excited! I just received the first blurb for my poetry chapbook, Wolf Skin, forthcoming next year from Dancing Girl Press. I was introduced to Sally Rosen Kindred’s poetry through my work with Border Crossing. I’m fascinated by critical retellings of fairy tales and myths, and her poems were thoughtful and lyrical. In one, “Sleeping Beauty Remembers Why” she pricked her finger on purpose; in another, the devil is humanized through the sorrow of his mother. I loved the density of her language, her attention to sound. I was excited to find that her first collection, No Eden (Mayapple Press, 2011), was just as beautiful. A moving look at Southern girlhood through the lens of Biblical myth — the Virgin Mary, Eve, and Lilith are all there — the book is full of intense, bittersweet poems that demand savoring. I can’t wait to read her next full-length collection, Book of Asters, due out from Mayapple Press in 2014. Given my admiration for her work, you can imagine how honored I am by what she has to say about Wolf Skin:
“Enter the wood, dark and wild, the trees that bend,” sings a voice from Mary McMyne’s quiet, powerful poems, and the enchantment begins. In the rich textures of her work dwells the terrible beauty of trapped things—a butterfly behind glass; a daughter within her mother’s memory; and a girl, always a girl, in a tower, in a wood, in a wolf. As these figures say their names, they tell, too, the price of liberation from—and into—story. Enter these poems, and know their hungers. Some of them will call to you, like the red-capped child in “The Girl Who Came Before” who says, “It is time for us to drown./ It is time for us to touch the moon.” Some of these poems you may never leave.
— Sally Rosen Kindred, author of No Eden and Book of Asters
Huge thanks are in order to Wayne State University Press for nominating my prose poem, “Rotkäppchen,” for a Pushcart Prize.
My first poetry chapbook will be released next year by Dancing Girl Press, a small press in Chicago that specializes in publishing innovative poetry by women authors!
Through a feminist lens, Wolf Skin examines how fairy tales shape a person and the way she sees the world. In these poems, a woman reflects on the stories her mother told her and discovers how to move beyond the duality they reinforce. I’m excited to work with series editor Kristy Bowen, whose poetry I very much admire.
I was thrilled to discover today that my novel-in-progress has received a 2013 Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award! Set in 12th century Germany and the present-day United States, ‘The Book of Gothel’ speculates about the historical roots of some of our most beloved European folktales. The grant will fund my trip to the Black Forest this summer to research the book. Here’s what the Sustainable Arts Foundation had to say about the manuscript:
“Mary McMyne’s novel-in-progress, The Book of Gothel, is one of our favorite kind of multi-layered fictions: it offers both a 12th century woman’s memoir and the story of the modern-day scholar who finds, translates, and annotates it. It is utterly inventive and a real pleasure to read. McMyne lives in northern Michigan with her family and teaches at Lake Superior State University.”