Wolf Skin at Baltimore Composers Forum

Wolf Skin had its premiere performance this week at the Baltimore Composers Forum concert with the original score by composer Elizabeth Skola Davis.  Watch the video below to see the performance by Joseph Regan, tenor, and Tim McReynolds, piano!

The lyrics originally appeared as a prose poem in the Los Angeles Review and as the title poem in my chapbook.

 

Wolf Skin

“The huntsman was just passing the house and thought: How the old woman is snoring! You better stop in and have a look.”
—from “Rotkäppchen” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1812)

Inside, the shadows shape a riddle, a story. The half-burnt candle in the kitchen, the unwashed dishes. The cloth-covered basket by the door. From the hook on the wall, neatly hung, the red ripple of fabric. The crackling fire. The light flickering in the hall. In the bedroom someone is sleeping. At the foot of the bed, two well-worn slippers. On the side table, one book. One pair of spectacles. Night fills the room like cradlesong.

There it is again, that strange buzzing sound. There it is again, from the bed. Such a little old woman could not make this noise. When the log falls into the fire, and the light hits the shape under the blankets, when the log falls into the fire, and you see the claw dragging the floor, you have already begun to rush at the bed with your scissors, you have already resolved to slit the beast open, the word hero stinging your tongue –

In the story you tell your friends, you’ll say you took home the wolf skin as a trophy. You’ll say the old woman thanked you, and the girl went on about how frightened she was. But the truth is the girl spoke only three words that day: Who are you? The truth is the grandmother only whispered, white with shock, as she drank the wine: We were dead. It was dark when you left the grandmother’s house, and cold. When you tried on the wolf skin, the stars laughed. Dead leaves crackled under your feet like fire.

Two Poems in Phantom Drift

I was excited to find the latest issue of Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism in the mail today. This issue includes two of my poems, “Instructions for Letting the Stranger into Your Bed” and “Ahab’s Sister-Wives,” along with poems by Ki Russell and Gregg Murray, a story by Stephen Langlois, and more! Phantom Drift is always delightfully weird, and this issue’s theme is “navigating the slipstream.” I’m sitting down with my coffee to read it cover to cover now! Order a copy here.

PhantomDrift2015

TwoPoemsinPhantomDrift2015

New Review of Wolf Skin in American Book Review

I have been traveling on and off, since early May, so I only just got the chance to be amazed by this wonderful new review of Wolf Skin in the latest issue of American Book Review!  Huge thanks are in order to Saara Myrene Raappana for her insightful close  reading. Here’s an excerpt:

Reaching beyond the simple retelling or recasting of the myths that compose our culture’s symbolical landscape, Mary McMyne’s Wolf Skin (2014) weaves brave, dark versions of the Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel tales into the emerging identity of a textual version of the poet. In doing so, she creates a new myth about mother- and daughterhood, contrasting the mortality of self and body with the immortality of love. What’s most impressive about this collection is the way that it builds a mere twenty pages into a single composition that illuminates and complicates both the individual speaker and mythical characters, each informing the other… Before any myths have even been mentioned, the book’s central symbology is established: mothers, children, and flying creatures that mediate the connection between the dead and the living… Wolf Skin catches the reader in its snare, personalizing the universal girl of myth and universalizing the individual woman/poet/speaker by blending them together, and in so doing invites readers to identify as closely with the poet-voice as we’re meant to identify with the cautionary figures of our most basic myths.

 

WolfSkin_review_Raappana

 

Two Poems in Ninth Letter

The latest issue of Ninth Letter features two of my poems, “The Sleagh Maith: A Nocturne,” part of my series on folklorist Robert Kirk, and “Open Letter to the Frog Princess,” a poem retelling the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Frog King or Iron Heinrich, popularly known as The Princess and the Frog. Also in the issue is new writing by Dawn S. Davies, Ander Monson, Terrance Manning Jr., and more, not to mention some pretty wild visuals, as usual. I love this journal!

9L_12-1_cover_final_revapr19-1

SlaighMaithANocturneOpenLettertotheFrogPrincess

 

New Review of Wolf Skin

Last month brought some good news for Wolf Skin–the chapbook was nominated for the 2015 Elgin Award, an annual competition for speculative poetry collections coordinated by the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA). And this week, SFPA member Sandra J. Lindow reviewed the collection for Star*Line, the SFPA’s quarterly publication. The review is based on a really close reading of the chapbook, and I’m so grateful to Lindow for it. Here’s an excerpt:

Nineteen elegant poems in this simulated antique handmade edition reflect contemporary insight into fairy tales whose origins are lost in time. Native of south Louisiana, Mary McMyne writes poetry flavored by the moonshine of Southern Gothic and puts them in a butterfly frame. There is a witchy, cognitive connection between “the woman in my head who pinned monarchs to cork” mentioned in the first poem, “The Butterfly Dome” and the poems that follow. ‘Lepidoptera’ reveals that ‘unlucky’ butterflies sleep ‘under glass,’ ‘wings wide open—married to cork’ while the woman who collects them dreams of flight as she transfixes their wings. This dichotomy of love and death, freedom and captivity, power and powerlessness is a reoccurring motif ‘pinned down’ throughout the collection… Much is contained in this small package of poems. Highly recommended.”

You can read the review online, in full, here.

Wolf Skin Release

Cover design by Alisha Camus
Cover design by Alisha Camus

My poetry chapbook, Wolf Skin, has just been released by dancing girl press!

Wolf Skin follows a modern woman whose mother told her dark fairy tales when she was a girl. Many of the poems in the collection retell the tales of the Brothers Grimm from the perspectives of minor characters, such as the huntsman from Little Red Riding Hood, the witch from Rapunzel, and the woodcutter’s wife from Hansel and Gretel. Others look at the stories of popular characters in a fresh light.

Learn more about the chapbook and order copies here.

Rhysling Nomination

My poem,  “Irène Joliot-Curie,” which appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly no. 86 (Feb. 2013), has been nominated for a Rhysling Award and thus will appear in this year’s Rhysling Anthology. Here’s the list of candidates over at the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Congratulations to the other nominees!