Ecuador’s men’s soccer team is off to a solid start in the World Cup—which is my awkward segue into the announcement that I have two new poems paying homage to this side of my heritage.
I’m thrilled to have my poem “La Iglesia of the Stone Creatures” included in the new Sonder issue of Lucky Jefferson. I would like to share a collective message from the Sonder contributors and editors: “This issue brings 23 writers together to generate admiration for the communities around us. There are a wealth of experiences and moments outside of ourselves that shape life itself, and we hope after enjoying work from this issue, that you are inspired to pause and admire your friends, neighbors, and strangers.”
In my opinion, the ability to think about and care deeply for the experiences and wellbeing of others, especially those we don’t even know or barely know, is one of our most valuable, precious, powerful callings.
For “La Iglesia of the Stone Creatures,” I thought of my experiences visiting a couple of churches in Quito when I was younger, including la Basílica del Voto Nacional, which has these amazing gargoyle-like statues of animals native to the region.
And speaking of converting my travel experiences in Ecuador into poetry, my poem “The Middle of the World” is available in the Edges & Borders issue of Pilgrimage. This one was inspired by the first time I visited the Monument to the Equator, la Mitad del Mundo, and then later when I saw a photo from when my parents had visited there years before, back when there was hardly anything around it.
Nowadays there’s a nice plaza with shops and eateries and exhibits surrounding the monument. My husband and I bought some art there that’s hanging up on our wall.
In unrelated poetry news, I also have a haiku (which I call “Chill”) in the Autumn Moon special edition of Plum Tree Tavern. I have one more piece of news to share, but this post is getting long. I’ll save it for later this week.
It’s another mishmash of updates! First up, two of my sonnets appear in Sonnet Collection Series Volume 5, published by The Minison Project. “O Sweet Child, When Titania Speaks Thy Name” presents an alternative view of a very side character from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the young boy whose presence in the fairy court sets off the discord between the fairy king and queen. “Kintsugi Master Pieces” won first honorable mention in the Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest in the Traditional Sonnet category. It uses the Japanese art of kintsugi as a metaphor for resilience.
I had a wonderful time teaching alongside my friend Elizabeth Beechwood last weekend for Hugo House. We were even able to teach from the same room for the first time, since we didn’t start giving our workshop until the pandemic.
Next week I’ll post about a couple of new free verse autobiographical poems (quite a departure from this week’s sonnets).
I also have two other writing opportunities in the works, for which I’m awaiting contracts before I can talk about them.
I’ve got a couple poetry treats for you this Halloween. First up is a brand-new piece, “Pumpkin Ash and Cypress Knees,” in Boudin by TheMcNeese Review. They just released their special issue today, with the delightful theme of It Came from the Swamp! My poem was inspired by my trip to New Orleans a few years back, when I took a Bayou Segnette swamp tour. Our tour guide was an ecologist who talked about how the bayou comes from the river (as opposed to feeding into it), and the water can change directions. I fell in love with the plants rising within and around the water. It took me a while, but the memory of that setting finally came back as this poem.
Next, “Dancer Summons,” my belly dance poem, has been reprinted in the Pastoral Haunting issue of Pastel Pastoral. It first appeared in The Common Tongue Magazine. Please share it with any dancers in your life.
I’ll leave you with some October pumpkin patch vibes. Earlier this month, my family had a gorgeous fall day at the pumpkin patch. It was dry and foggy, unlike last year’s fiasco when we had to slog through ankle-deep mud in the corn maze. Aw, who am I kidding, I also enjoyed the soggy adventure! But this year had a particularly iconic feel to it:
My latest story, “Midnight for Clementine,” is available now in Christmas Gothic Short Stories, an anthology for fans of dark and macabre winter holiday tales (a la Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas). My story delves into a world of ornaments, figurines, and other decorations. That’s right, it’s a glimpse into the secret life of inanimate objects (the topic I’m teaching next month through Hugo House!).
This story stems from my longtime fascination with holiday décor. As a kid, I’d play with the seasonal figurines my parents distributed around the living room and dining room throughout the year—the Halloween candles shaped like ghosts, the plush Easter rabbit in a dress holding her surly, swaddled bunny, and most of all, the Christmas decorations. Tree ornaments, nutcrackers, the nativity scene, and a special doll collection that only made an appearance in December! I couldn’t resist. In grade school one year, I ordered a book called The Glass Mermaid by Susan Clymer, in which the human protagonist shrinks down (like in the ballet adaptation of The Nutcracker) and travels through the trunk of a Christmas tree to have an adventure. Well, I preferred the possibilities of venturing up the tree itself.
Years later, thanks to my writer’s group, I was inspired to revisit those memories and create this story for our annual Christmas party. Now, I’m so excited to be included in this beautiful anthology.
If you’d like to check out my poem “Backward Compatibility (Quinceañera on a Generation Ship),” the link is up now to read it on the Apparition Literary Magazine website! I also answered a few questions about the inspiration and process in getting this poem off the ground (pun intended). In the next few weeks, they’ll also post audio of me reading the poem.
In other news, I have a story in Christmas Gothic Short Stories, the brand-new anthology from Flame Tree Publishing! I’ll post about that one hopefully this weekend. If you’re eager to blend some of this month’s spookiness with the upcoming winter holidays, Christmas Gothic is available now from a variety of bookstores.
The wonderful team at Apparition Literary Magazine gave me one of my earliest science fiction story sales in their Ambition issue, and I’m thrilled that now they’ve included my SF poem “Backward Compatibility (Quinceañera on a Generation Ship)” in the Nostalgia issue!
In writing this poem, I took inspiration from the (non-speculative) poet Naomi Shihab Nye. I love how conversational and accessible her work is, while still leaving the reader with a sense of depth behind the words. I don’t know if I came anywhere close in striving toward that balance, but I sure enjoyed myself in the process.
While I was working on it, I also interviewed my dad about his memories of attending fiestas de quinceañeras. His anecdotes ran the gamut from hilarious to bittersweet. It was our own form of connecting across time.
I can officially share this now: I have a science fiction poem due out in the next issue of Apparition Literary Magazine, themed around Nostalgia!
Also, my latest poem, “Where in the Zoo Is Carmen Sandiego?”, just posted on Sidequest. I’ve been focusing a lot on speculative poetry lately, but this poem is autobiographical. The Carmen Sandiego themed event really did happen, and I dug out my old ZooTeen yearbook and found the following excerpts:
In fiction news, I’m looking forward to the impending release of Flame Tree Publishing’s Christmas Gothic anthology, which includes my story “Midnight for Clementine.” If you love a dose of darkness in your winter holiday season, this is the book for you.
In my interview with the Horror Writers Association, which just posted today, I talk about the show Are You Afraid of the Dark?, being a recovering scaredy-cat, and some of the most haunting Latinx writers I’ve read. Also, I don’t mince words in the advice I offer to my fellow horror writers out there.
I’m excited to be the guest speaker for the next Young Willamette Writers meeting! Writers in middle or high school can join me at this online and in-person event, where I’ll be discussing the thrills and challenges of writing speculative poetry! You’re welcome whether you’re new to poetry or not, and whether you typically write in the speculative genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror or not.
You can join virtually on Zoom or in person at the Beaverton City Library on Saturday, October 1st from 10:30am-11:30am PDT. It’s free to attend, and remember, it’s only for middle and high schoolers.