NEVERTHELESS Stories for International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

LONG AGO, all the way back on MONDAY, I noted that today would be the day Tor.com would release the flash fiction stories written in response to “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

I busted out this gif of Burr, even. I made a commitment. I said

wait for it

But what do I find, today? I find that Tor.com is MERCILESSLY releasing these stories in batches. Three at a time. THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Now?

Angelica Satisfied

The stories are being collected as they appear here, and I’ve devoured what’s there — Kameron Hurley’s “Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light,” Alyssa Wong’s “God Product,” and Carrie Vaughn’s “Alchemy” — but I want more more more, and if you do too, I encourage you to check back during the day!

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Reading Cassandra Khaw for UNCANNY

marapr17_issue15covermed-340x510It’s no secret that I read poems and stories for Uncanny magazine‘s monthly podcast. I love doing it, not least because in months heavy with other kinds of work it feels really good to know that I’m guaranteed to read at least one short story or poem, and that short story or poem is going to be absolutely great.

I confess to having my favourites — which overwhelmingly tend to be the pieces that make me work harder as a reader. Cassandra Khaw’s “Protestations Against the Idea of Anglicization” is one of those favourites.

It’s live today in Issue 15 of Uncanny, along with many other excellent offerings (in particular this essay by Sam J. Miller on Resistance 101). You can listen to me attempt to do it justice here — it starts at 39:07.

Names and the things people call us are as much on my mind as borders lately. Chosen names, names discarded, names on documents, family names, what we accept or reject in a choice, what it means to be forced into the change, how we change ourselves to say that we weren’t forced, to say that it was a choice — all this, and more. It’s been manifesting in writing in fits and bursts.

All those fits and bursts, oddly enough, are appearing this week, in reverse order of production: this reading, my very short story for Tor.com, and my short story for The Djinn Falls in Love are all appearing this week. They make a sort of whole together.

As good a time as any, I suppose, to spit fire and snow.

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Defending V FOR VENDETTA — The Movie — on Unjustly Maligned

It can be told!

logo-ump-1xA long while ago now, Antony Johnston invited me to appear on Unjustly Maligned, a podcast where guests turn up to “explain why that thing you hate is actually really great.” I was stymied by this brief — OBVIOUSLY all the things I love are objectively and universally adored by all people of good sense — until recent events reminded me of V for Vendetta, the comic, which prompted remembrance of V for Vendetta, the film, and my blistered attempts at talking to anyone who loved the comic about how I thought the film was actually a pretty good adaptation oh my gods you’ve already stopped reading haven’t you you’re throwing things at the screen HEAR ME OUT.

Hear me out on the podcast, in fact! I had a wonderful time chatting with Antony about it and the state of the world. And while you’re at it, consider subscribing! Antony’s a fantastic, charming host, this podcast is a fabulous concept I wish I’d thought of, and I hope to appear on it again as soon as I’ve thought of something else I love that most people hate.

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Nevertheless, She Persisted

nevertheless_whitney3

In the wake of some truly beautiful poetry being unexpectedly spoken by Mitch McConnell in an attempt to silence Elizabeth Warren, Tor.com is launching a flash fiction collection inspired by it, scheduled to run on March 8, International Women’s Day. I’m honoured and delighted to be taking part, in the company of such magnificent writers as Charlie Jane Anders, Bo Bolander, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Cat Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton and Alyssa Wong.

For no doubt obvious reasons, borders are much on my mind lately, and my contribution has to do with them and one news item in particular that I can’t stop thinking about. More about it on Wednesday, when it airs — and when I get to read everyone else’s flash-responses to the prompt. I want them NOW, but, well —

wait for it

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His Hands Are Small, We Know

If you lived in North America and listened to the radio a lot in 1998, chances are the title of this post is doing something weird to your brain. Brace yourselves — it’s only getting weirder (and more awesome) from here.

I have a completely earnest love for the song “Hands” by Jewel, and have since I first heard it in high school. I make no apology for this: a space has been arranged to the left for the haters. In recent months, ever since people started commenting on that hairy orange pustule’s hands being notably small, my mind would tick over to Jewel singing “my hands are small, I know.”

There’s a pastiche in that, I thought. But probably no one remembers that song, and deeply earnest somewhat religious yearning folk rock songs from the late 90s are no one’s jam. 

Also I was a bit reluctant to associate a song I deeply love with the aforementioned HOP.

But this morning, while reading through my daily webcomics, I saw that the creator of Sinfest and I have been surfing the same wavelength for some time.

If you’ve not heard the song before, listen to it below first.

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Review Column in March Issue of Lightspeed

It’s the first of a new month, and with it comes a shiny new issue of Lightspeed

I have a review column in this one, in which I talk about sequels and what I think made so many of them particularly great last year. It’ll be available online from March 21st, or you can read it now by purchasing the issue or subscribing.

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Social Media Hiatus: March 1 – April 1

I’m taking a break from social media again. No one thing occasioned it — I’ve just been craving the deeper breathing and quiet, slowed-down brain cycles that accompany stepping back.

During this hiatus, I will

  • continue to teach 2 courses
  • read for comprehensive exams
  • read for reviews
  • get my house in order for April visitors
  • write 3 chapters of novel
  • record podcasts
  • play with my nephew
  • commit to getting healthy again

There may be 1 or 2 days where promoting something (The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories is coming out March 9, have I mentioned?) is necessary enough to peek in from a desktop, but a brief, scheduled visit to the Twitters feels more palatable than having it live in my hands and eyes at all times.

Keep well, friends! Do consider leaving me comments here if it takes your fancy. I miss the slower solidity of longer-form blogging, and hope to do more of it.

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“Seasons of Glass & Iron” Nominated for a Nebula Award

Today the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America announced the finalists for the 2017 Nebula Awards. “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” my short story from The Starlit Wood (reprinted at link by Uncanny magazine), is among them.

What follows is a 100% accurate representation of how I received that news.

SU Connie Blink

faintingmerlin

That was on Thursday, before I had any idea of who else was on the list, and seeing it now — oof, my heart. I’m so absurdly grateful that words start to blur at their meanings’ edges — I’ve sat here, trying to write something worthy of all the feelings, for an embarrassingly long time. Simply, then:

A million thanks to everyone who nominated the story, who told me they were touched by it, who recommended it to their friends. More thanks than I can say are due to Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien, for holding their beautiful anthology’s fairy door open for me and shaping and polishing this story until the light could shine straight through; to Julia Rios, Lynne and Michael Thomas, and Michi Trota for reprinting it in Uncanny, promoting it and allowing it to reach a broader audience; Max Gladstone, for enormously helpful fastest-ever-turnaround edits that fixed it when it was broken; and Lara West, who asked me to tell her a story that day after we visited the owls.

I keep being dazzled by this ballot. Four out of five of the novels nominated are written by women. Three of them are by people of colour. And across the rest of the ballot, as well as the Andre Norton and Ray Bradbury ballots, there are so many kinds of stories, as Leah Bobet has observed:

I can’t wait to discover all the things here I haven’t yet read, especially in the shorter fiction, which I fell behind with last year. Here is a list with links to read or purchase all the books and stories on the ballot.

Congratulations to all the nominees, and happy reading!

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Template: Call & Write to Your MPs About Bill C-23

I read this article yesterday about Bill C-23 and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.

Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.

I expressed my concerns about it on Twitter in a thread beginning here:

Charles Tan very helpfully storified the rest, for those of you who don’t use the service.

Here, courtesy of Adam Shaftoe (and slightly modified by me in 1st paragraph to add links for the benefit of staffers), is a template for anyone who wants to write to their MP about this issue. I urge you to do so. According to my MP’s office the bill isn’t on the schedule to be discussed this week, so there’s still time to confront its many problems.

I’d also encourage you to write to Ralph Goodale’s office and the Prime Minister’s; from what I recall of working in ministerial correspondence the greatest weight/urgency is given to letters originating from an MP, but in a case like this I think volume matters as much as anything.


[Your MP here]

I’m writing to express my deep concerns about Bill C-23, an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, introduced by Mr. Ralph Goodale (https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-23/), and discussed in some depth in this CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-clearance-border-canada-us-1.3976123

As your constituent and a Canadian citizen, I take particular exception to section 31 of the bill; therein, the bill proposes empowering American Customs and Border Patrol agents, acting as pre-clearance officers, to detain and question Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

While the spirit of the law pertaining to 31(2) might exist within the realm of reasonable questioning and information gathering, the language is suitably nebulous such that a preclearance officer might interpret section 31(2b), “questioning the traveller for the purposes of indemnifying them or determining their reason for withdrawal,” as a licence to excessive interrogation and detention. It is my opinion that the limitation on section 31 outlined in 31(3), specifically the language surrounding “unreasonable delay” is vague and fails to explicitly protect Canadian citizens from an unconstitutional challenge to their liberty at the hands of foreign nationals.

While I understand that it is a privilege to enter the United States of America, the Charter rights guaranteed to Canadian citizens on Canadian soil do not end in a pre-clearance area. To that end, I would ask you to review this bill, and propose an amendment to its language that would not leave Canadian citizens in Canada beholden to foreign authority and potential abuses of power.

Sincerely yours,

[Your name]

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Gita Hashemi at CUAG

Today I took my poetry workshop students on a field trip of sorts.

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Gita Hashemi is a calligrapher and the current Artist in Residence at the Carleton University Art Gallery’s Open Space Lab, where she makes floor to ceiling illuminations in Farsi of her friend Zahra’s memoirs. You can see much better photos than mine at CUAG’s website, or watch a livestream of her working. Here’s a description of the project:

In this work, Hashemi writes life stories shared with her by an Iranian woman named Zahra, in Farsi. The narrative has been emerging through conversations between Hashemi and Zahra about how being women has affected their lives in obvious and not-so-obvious ways, and how their lives are marked by gender. What is shared is Zahra’s writing. She is the writer. Hashemi is the scribe.

Visitors are advised that Gita Hashemi’s artwork contains written descriptions (in Farsi) of sexually explicit content and sexual violence.

It was a beautiful visit. Fiona Wright animated the space and offered us sage tea; Anna Khimasia talked to us about her contributions as curator. I loved hearing about what a tremendous collaboration between women is this project. My students asked great questions and made insightful comments (I loved hearing who was awed and who was made uncomfortable by the fact of watching an artist at work, with each camp citing intimacy as their reason), and I was so happy to get to take them out of the classroom and into so powerfully moving a space. Many of them stayed well beyond class time (and those who left only did so because they had other classes to get to).

If you’re in Ottawa, I highly recommend visiting if you can. Gita’s at work in the space from 11:00-2:00 for the next two days, and takes a break at 12:00 if you’d like to chat. It’s a breathtaking experience.

 

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