Spelling the Hours: open call

During the Kickstarter campaign and editorial work for An Alphabet of Embers, I have also been editing a poetry anthology, Spelling the Hours. Taking Sofia Samatar’s
Girl Hours” as a cornerstone, this anthology focuses on underrepresented and forgotten figures of science and technology. The anthology is a part of An Alphabet of Embers rewards, but it is very much its own thing, and will have its own life and distribution.

I have accepted some wonderful pieces for StH from solicited poets, but I have more space in this anthology. Therefore, I am opening Spelling the Hours to all submitters.

I am looking for poems focusing on forgotten figures of science and technology, broadly construed. I am interested in seeing work that focuses on PoC, women, queer people, trans people, disabled people, and members of other underrepresented groups. I prefer seeing work focusing on specific individuals. However, I will also consider thematically connected pieces that do not focus on a single individual. I will be paying on publication: 5$ and a copy of the chapbook. There is no minimum or maximum length; I welcome poems of epic length.

I REALLY want to see more PoC science and technology poems, both focusing on scientists of color working within Western-style academic paradigms (in the West and elsewhere), and historical non-Western science. There is a very rich and fascinating history of non-Western science and technology, and I would love to have more of this material in the anthology. As always, I welcome and support diverse creators and want to consider material from a variety of voices and perspectives. My latest editorial work includes An Alphabet of Embers and Stone Telling magazine (co-edited with Shweta Narayan).

If you are writing about a specific individual, I prefer to receive, together with your poem, also a paragraph of context/biographic information about the featured person. I am asking the accepted poets to provide a paragraph of context to their poems, and while this is not a requirement upon submission, it would nevertheless be a good thing to include.

You can send up to THREE poems for consideration during the submission period (in one email, or in separate emails). Submissions are open beginning now (January 9, 2015), and will close on March 15, 2015 OR when filled. I do have slots in this anthology, but it’s better to send things earlier rather than later.

Please send your unpublished poems to stonebirdpress@gmail.com; put “STH SUBMISSION: Your Last Name” in the title. Please do send a short cover letter. If you have credits, list up to 3-4 best credits; if you are unpublished, this is not an issue at all for me.

NO simultaneous submissions.

I will respond to all submissions within 60 days of receipt and/or by April 15, 2015, whichever comes first.

First sale and publications of the year

My first sale of 2015 is a small humorous poem, “Love me, Love my Belly,” to Love Me, Love My Belly zine published by Porkbelly Press. It’s a belly-loving event all around! To forestall questions: no, porkbellies are not kosher; yes, body acceptance is good.

In more serious news, my poem, “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong” is in the second issue of Uncanny. It shares a ToC with Amal El-Mohtar’s small, uplifting short story “Pockets,” which I love very much. “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong” will be available for free on February 3rd, but it is available to purchase right now. I am very proud of this poem, which I wrote as a part of An Alphabet of Embers backer rewards. It is a science fictional poem in the Boundless universe, about living ships, and corporations who hunt for their remains.

My poem “Scatter and Return,” written for Saira Ali, is out in the new issue of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. I am especially honored that my poem follows a powerful and important essay by Nisi Shawl, “Unqualified” – the essay that inspired me to start the #dontselfreject tag on twitter (storify of initial tweets available here). I hope to be able to write more about Nisi’s essay soon. The CSZ is available for purchase as a part of a subscription, and as a stand-alone issue (5$ print, 3$ electronic), and I would urge you to purchase this issue for Nisi’s essay alone. It also contains poetry by Sonya Taaffee and Mary Alexandra Agner, and Kate Elliott’s essay on Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein, as well as some great reviews.

An Alphabet of Embers ToC announcement

All contracts for the anthology are in, and I am ready to announce the lineup. First, however, I want to talk about the process of assembling this collection.

Slush has been, for the lack of a better word, epic. When I was Kickstarting, I expected to receive 200-300 stories for the project, plus a few solicited ones. The final count for the anthology submissions during the reading period was 887 stories (not counting the solicited stories). That is a staggering amount of tales, and I was committed to responding to everyone before the end of October. It was no easy task – especially as I am a rereader, so shortlisted/maybe stories got more than one read – and I wanted to send out as many personal rejections as I possibly could. Bogi Takács joined me in reading the slush, which made the work much more streamlined, and the process easier – thank you, Bogi!

We were amazed and heartened by the quality of the submissions, as well as by their diversity. Many writers wrote specifically for the call. There were many outstanding submissions, and choosing between them was hard; I had to let go of many stories that were excellent, but did not quite fit the feel of the book. After months of reading and rereading, I selected stories that I felt were the most unusual, lyrical, odd, surreal, gripping – that had that elusive quality that I came to think of as An Alphabet of Embers feel.

I made all decisions on the slush with only a slight delay, so that folks who submitted their work during the reading period got responses back by the beginning of November. In November and December I worked on invited submissions, selecting reprints, sending edits to authors, and finalizing the ToC.

Reading for reprints proved to be somewhat frustrating. Though I read widely, I did not end up buying many reprints – I wanted a specific feel, and had found many more fitting stories in the slush. In the end, most stories in the book are originals.

I am also very happy to report that quite a few authors made their first sales, and/or their first professional sales, to An Alphabet of Embers. These authors come from all over the world, and from a variety of backgrounds. I feel that this is a unique, voicy collection which will amaze and inspire its readers.

Since many of AoE authors are new or emerging, I decided to ask the authors about whether the sale is a significant milestone. I marked these milestones below. Please note, “first pro sale”, “first sale” etc. applies to prose markets only, as some of our contributors have sold poetry or essays before.

AN ALPHABET OF EMBERS, Table of Contents


Emily Stoddard, “Outfitting the restless heart, or how the sky was made” (first fiction sale, first pro sale)
JY Yang, “Transfers to Connecting Flights”
Sara Norja, “The City Beneath the Sea” (first pro sale)
Nin Harris, “Moult” (first pro sale)
Greer Gilman, “Hieros Gamos”
Kari Sperring, “Some Silver Wheel”
Mari Ness, “Mistletoe and Copper”
Nisi Shawl, “An Awfully Big Adventure”
Zen Cho, “Everything Under One Roof”
Yoon Ha Lee, “Calendrical Rot”
M. David Blake, “Absinthe Fish” (reprint)
Celeste Rita Baker, “Single Entry” (reprint)
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, “And Now You Are Alone Among the Stars”
Nolan Liebert, “The Swing, OR How to Ricochet according to Sylvia Plath” (first paying sale, first pro sale)
Mina Li, “Dreaming Keys” (first sale, first pro sale)
Shweta Narayan, “The River’s Children” (reprint)
Ian Muneshwar, “Telomerase” (first sale, first pro sale)
Sheree Renée Thomas, “Treesong”
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, “Five Lessons in the Fattening Room” (first pro sale)
Tlotlo Tsamaase, “Sebeteledi Holds the Dead”  (first pro sale)
Sonya Taaffe, “Exorcisms” (reprint)
Emily Jiang, “The Binding of Ming-Tian” (reprint)
Ching-in Chen, “One Testimony (m. Lao)”
Arkady Martine, “Ekphrasis”
Vajra Chandrasekera, “Rhizomatic Diplomacy”
Amal El-Mohtar, “Wing” (reprint)
M Sereno, “Only Revolutions” (first fiction sale, first pro sale)

An Alphabet of Embers will be illustrated by M Sereno, who emerged on the scene this year with brilliant poetry and art. You can see it on her website and Patreon. She is a wonderful calligrapher, and has committed to providing 7-8 detailed inked illustrations for the project. This is very exciting – all the more exciting that she has also made her first fiction sale to AoE, “Only Revolutions.”

Serendipities continue: Amal El-Mohtar, who will be narrating the audiobook, has a reprinted story in AoE – “Wing,” one of my favorite surreal stories from Strange Horizons.

I am going to tweet and write more about the contributors and the anthology in 2015, so watch this space!

AoE going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Award Eligibility 2014, prose+poetry

For 2014, I am eligible with prose (short stories), poetry (short poetry category), and as Best Fan Writer.

Regarding Best Fan Writer, I’ve never before considered myself a candidate, but in the spirit of #dontselfreject, I do think I qualify. For my essays, look in Essays the category. Especially highlighted are: “Encouraging Diversity – An Editor’s Perspective,” “Diversity of Voice and Theme,” and “Reading, Writing, and Submitting.” I have also been active on Twitter as @roselemberg.

In 2014, I had three original short stories appear: “A City on its Tentacles” (Lackington’s), “No Longer Lacking an Onion” (Goldfish Grimm), and “Stalemate” (Lackington’s). Two are highlighted for awards with updated reviews:

A City on its Tentacles” – a slipstream/fantasy/magic realist short story about a mother and a chronically ill child.

“…a gorgeous read that became even complex and powerful for me on reflection” – Vanessa Fogg

“What a gorgeous terrible city, framing Luba — a mother drawn with both delicacy and intensity ” – M Sereno

“The story you tell might save someone. A Rose Lemberg story might save you.” – Sofia Samatar

Stalemate” – a far-future SF story about friendship, art, and loss.

“Stalemate” is a balancing act, musing on responsibility and its limits, the role of art in society, and giving the ages-old argument between individualism and collectivism cosmic scope. – Amal El-Mohtar, Tor.com

Lemberg proves to be a master of the slow build with this piece.”  -Paige Kimble

“Peeling away the layers, what we find here is a story of friendship.” – Lois Tilton, Locus

The following 11 poems are eligible for the Rhysling Award (all of them in the short poetry category).

If you’d rather only consider highlights, then maybe .. hm…”Baba Yaga..” in Apex. It’s funny. Also, “The Law of Germinating Seeds” in GF.

The Law of Germinating Seeds,”  Goblin Fruit, Fall 2014.

The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth,” Strange Horizons.

After the Mistress of the Copper Mountain,” Through the Gate 5.

“Peregrinations in Change and Fear,”Poems for the Queer Revolution.

Baba Yaga Tries to Donate Money,” Apex

Dualities,” Mythic Delirium, October 2014

Landwork,Goblin Fruit.

Earth Map,”  Mythic Delirium

The Rotten Leaf Cantata,” Strange Horizons.

Salamander Song,” with music by Emily Jiang,  Strange Horizons

“The Mikveh of Past Meanings,” Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, edited by Claire Trévien and Gareth Prior.

The wonder of Goblin Fruit

The last day of 2014 saw the publication of the Fall issue of the ever-wonderful Goblin Fruit. The artist was a bit delayed, so I created a quick placeholder layout for the issue. The placeholder melted on the 2nd of January, to be replaced by a glorious “Winter is Sown” layout by Grant Jeffery, which is a companion to his “Summer is Dead” layout. But while my humble offering has melted, I am nevertheless fond of this little bird spirit, the opening of the layout I drew in the last moments of the year, and I wanted to share it with you:

birds forever birds everywhere

Bird spirit with a small seedlight

The issue contains a poem by me, “The Law of Germinating Seeds,” which also somehow perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now. It was written almost exactly a year ago, around this time. You can listen to me read it, too!

It’s a great issue, including marvelous work by Ada Hoffmann, Mari Ness, M Sereno, Judith Chalmer, Sara Cleto, Neile Graham,Janna Layton, and Alena Sullivan. If you are following Bogi Takács’s #diversepoems and #diversestories tag on twitter, e is planning to do a Goblin Fruit week next week, focusing on some of these poems.

Last but not least, in 2014 we have discovered that Goblin Fruit almost made the Hugo ballot in the Semiprozine category. It is eligible this year as well. Goblin Fruit had and continues to have a transformative effect on speculative poetry, and it more than deserves a nomination. Let’s put it on the ballot this year!


When I went to Readercon in 2013, I was asked to put down the most important line from my work on a sticker as a way of introduction. I wrote, without hesitation, “My life is described by the music of mute violins.” It is an opening to “Seven Losses of Na Re,” a magic realist story about Soviet Jews, memory, and history, that appeared in Daily Science Fiction.

A while ago, I sold a reprint of this story to Sisters of the Revolution, an anthology of feminist SF edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer. Here is the description of the anthology from PM Press:

Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about feminism while engaging the reader in a wealth of imaginative ideas. (PM Press product sheet)

I’ve sold reprints before and since, and have been very proud of all of them all, but this one is special. I share a table of contents with many of my heroes, feminist writers who literally saved my life and changed it, informed it, enriched it, upheld me and so many others, without whom my work now would not be possible.

Contributors include: Angela Carter, Angelica Gorodischer, Anne Richter, Carol Emshwiller, Eileen Gunn, Eleanor Arnason, Hiromi Goto, James Tiptree Jr., Joanna Russ, Karin Tidbeck, Kelley Eskridge, Kelly Barnhill, Kit Reed, L. Timmel Duchamp, Leena Krohn, Leonora Carrington, Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, Pamela Sargent, Rose Lemberg, Susan Palwick, Tanith Lee, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Vandana Singh.

Inarticulate flailing of excitement goes here.

The anthology comes out in February 2015, and is available for preorder on PM Press, Powells, Amazon, and a variety of other retailers.

Sisters of the Revolution

Cover image of Sisters of the Revolution

Many thanks to the publishing people who helped this story along: to Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden, for publishing it in DSF, and to Marcheto for translating it into Spanish in Cuentos Para Algernon (congratulations  to Cuentos Para Algernon for winning a prestigious Ignotus Award in the Best Website category!), and of course, many thanks to Jeff and Ann Vandermeer for choosing to reprint it, and to Dominik Parisien for helping make this happen.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Good News from Birdverse

Today I am announcing two excellent bits of Birdverse news, and I am very excited about both of them.

First, some of you might remember my long poem, I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz, which appeared in Goblin Fruit in Summer 2013. Earlier this year, it was nominated for the Rhysling Award. I am now very happy to announce that it took 3rd place in the Rhyslings , in the long poetry category. I am not a member of SFPA and have not been for some time, so it is especially cool to be honored.

“I will show you a single treasure…” talks of many women who, though pain and joy and struggle, work together to create the greatest treasure ever woven. The poem came to me – like some of my poems do – and I wrote it down. Then,  because the poem wanted to be performed, I went to Readercon. After I returned from Readercon, the poem wanted even more from me.

And so I wrote a Birdverse novelette, “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” about very many queer women and trans people and autism and carpets woven of song and wind; the titular Grandmother-nai-Leylit is one of the traders in the poem. I am now very happy to announce that this story will appear in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I am very proud of this story – its words, its people, its truths. It was difficult to get right; I hope I did.

More stories await – more Birdverse stories in particular. I am looking forward to the future.

New shinies!

My poem “Earth Map” is now up at Mythic Delirium. It is a prose poem in the land poems series, and I am very happy with how it came out. Hope you enjoy, too.

Speaking of prose poems, Bogi Takács’s “You Are Here” an animated SFnal poem about a war memorial, and it is mind-blowing. You should check it out if you haven’t yet.

JY Yang favorably reviews my Lackington’s story “Stalemate” alongside work by Ken Liu, Ann Leckie, and others. Thank you!!

Michael Matheson has just announced the lineup for The Humanity of Monsters, which includes a reprint of my story “Theories of Pain,” about a man who experienced pain as fruit. I am beyond thrilled to be in this fine company!

The Humanity of Monsters Final ToC

“Tasting Gomoa” by Chinelo Onwualu
“Dead Sea Fruit” by Kaaron Warren
“and Love shall have no Dominion” by Livia Llewellyn
“The Bread We Eat in Dreams” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Emperor’s Old Bones” by Gemma Files
“The Things” by Peter Watts
“muo-ka’s Child” by Indrapramit Das
“Six” by Leah Bobet
“The Nazir” by Sofia Samatar
“A Handful of Earth” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
“In Winter” by Sonya Taaffe
“Never the Same” by Polenth Blake
“Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
“Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe Lansdale
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley
“The Horse Latitudes” by Sunny Moraine
“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky
“Boyfriend and Shark” by Berit Ellingsen
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson
“Proboscis” by Laird Barron
“Out They Come” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
“You Go Where It Takes You” by Nathan Ballingrud
“Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” by A.C. Wise
“Theories of Pain” by Rose Lemberg
“Terrible Lizards” by Meghan McCarron

ST reading periods reminder

Reminder: Stone Telling is OPEN to submissions for our Hope issue. We will also be reading for our Joke issue beginning Dec. 1st. You can send 3 poems for the Hope issue and, once we reopen, 3 poems for the Joke issue (yes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have six pieces under consideration at ST!)

For Hope issue, we’re hoping for hopeful stuff. It does not have to be upbeat, but it has to be hopeful.

We’re looking forward to reading your work!

Award Eligibility, “Stalemate” reviews, Rhysling

This year, I have three pieces in the short story category, of which I would like to promote two for fiction award eligibility. (Please promote yours, too!)

“A City on its Tentacles” – a slipstream/fantasy/magic realist short story about a mother and a chronically ill child. It appeared in in the inaugural issue of Lackington’s, in February 2014.

“…a gorgeous read that became even complex and powerful for me on reflection” – Vanessa Fogg

“What a gorgeous terrible city, framing Luba — a mother drawn with both delicacy and intensity — and the necessity of choice, the silent persistence of love through it all, and again: necessity, endurance.” – M Sereno

“The story you tell might save someone. A Rose Lemberg story might save you.” – Sofia Samatar

“Stalemate” – a far-future SF story about friendship, art, and loss. This story has just come out in Lackington’s 4, 2014. It has been reviewed twice, once at Tor.com by Amal El-Mohtar, who writes insightfully and kindly about the story in her review column Rich and Strange:

“Stalemate” is a balancing act, musing on responsibility and its limits, the role of art in society, and giving the ages-old argument between individualism and collectivism cosmic scope. There is no vilification of either in the story, which is refreshing: the stalemate of the title is genuine, earnest, and heartfelt throughout.

Paige Kimble has also given the story a positive review in her review column Diamond Dust:

Lemberg proves to be a master of the slow build with this piece which inspired the ‘Institutions’ theme of this issue of Lackington’s. […] The stakes here are extraordinarily high, and while ‘Stalemate’ does have a touch of the morality play style to it, it’s a morality play where there are no absolute correct answers.

I am informed that Rhysling voting for this year’s poetry award closes on 11/20, and I have a poem nominated in the long category, “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz.” It is a Birdverse poem about women’s work and carpets and desert and winds, and I am very proud of it. It is the poem I read at Readercon 2013. Here’s what C.S.E. Cooney had to say about the performance, in her column at Black Gate:

Rose Lemberg […] tore my heart out and gave it wings.
She recited her piece from memory. She cried it out. She embodied it. And it consumed her like a fire. She left me weeping and trembling.

People have been so incredibly kind about my work; I just want to take a moment to thank the editors and the reviewers of my stories and poems for giving them homes and good words. And, as ever, thank you for reading.

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Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Tiptree, Elgin, Rhysling, and Crawford awards.

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