My poem Landwork, which is related to the Journeymaker Cycle, is up at Goblin Fruit.The issue’s artwork by Paula Friedlander references the poem! Hurray! This is the second issue of Goblin Fruit with art that references my poem (first was the issue of Summer 2013). I am very, very happy. This piece also has a recording, which is not in my usual style, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.


Spring 2014 cover of Goblin Fruit

Spring 2014 cover of Goblin Fruit, art by Paula Friedlander

Onions and Salamanders

Goldfish Grimm 19: New Lives and Old

Goldfish Grimm 19: New Lives and Old


My whimsical magic realist/surrealist flash piece, “No Longer Lacking an Onion,” about (un)loss, (un)immigration, and onions, is up at Goldfish Grimm. There is also a short author interview. “No Longer Lacking an Onion” is a part of The Jewish magic realist project.

My poem “Salamander Song,” featuring genderqueer parents and salamanders, will appear in Strange Horizons. It is a part of a collaborative piece, with beautiful music composed by Emily Jiang.


Keep yourself safe

I was going to write an essay on landscape impermanence to expand on this storify of my tweets about landscape, competence, immigration, privilege. For a reason I cannot share, the essay is not happening right now. It might happen later.

Instead, I offer this video by Melnica and a translation, for those who need it, today and on any other day. I’ve been planning to do so for a while now, and the time is appropriate.


Keep yourself safe


Never wander off the direct path,

never take the ring off your hand,

don’t step beyond the threshold over cold water,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.


The heart, like a mountain hawk, throws itself into the height –

don’t reprimand yourself, run after it –

hurry and choose between the  wolf and the hound,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.


And if you ask for warmth from the oak and the rowan,

your steps will not bend the grass,

so protect yourself from any evil,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.

Two mentions, and poem sale

Diane Severson Mori at Amazing Stories profiles Sonya Taaffe, and has kind things to say about Stone Telling 10: Body, and the  new Stone Telling blog.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew highlights my story “A City on its Tentacles” alongside work by Ann Leckie, K. M. Ferebee, and Vajra Chandrasekera.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that my poem “After the Mistress of the Copper Mountain” will appear in Through the Gate.

Encouraging diversity – an editor’s perspective

During the last day or so, both John O’Neill, the editor of Black Gate, and Nathaniel Lee, the Managing Editor of Escape Pod,  spoke up against Dave Truesdale’s review  of Women Destroy Science Fiction. This is really important. I was heartened to see these reactions, and I applaud both John and Nathaniel for taking a stand.

As a part of these blog comments, the question of encouraging diversity came up. It is a topic I would like to discuss.

Here are the relevant bits:

Nathaniel Lee:

P.S. – Plz send more science fiction stories to Escape Pod, authors who are female! *waves semaphore flags, does a little jig* If you could see what our slushpile looks like, you’d send us your stories out of pity!

John O’Neill:

> Plz send more science fiction stories to Escape Pod, authors who are female! *waves semaphore flags, does a little jig*

And to everyone else: THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. Was that hard? No. But this is the kind of attitude you need for your publication to be perceived as open towards women.

I greatly appreciate both John and Nathaniel’s reactions, but I am not convinced that encouraging women submitters via a blog post comment in another male editor’s blog is quite how you do it.

When I founded Stone Telling, I knew I wanted the market to be diverse. I talked to both poets and editors before founding the magazine, and heard from quite a few that there just weren’t that many PoC poets in the field, and that very few poets write queer content. I was planning to solicit, but heard back from a few folks that I should expect to quickly run out of PoC poets from whom I could solicit.

That did not happen. What happened was that the field grew in response to a welcoming market. New poets, including queer and PoC poets, sent work to us, and had their first poems published at Stone Telling. Starting with Issue 4, Shweta Narayan joined the team – first as a guest co-editor (with J.C. Runolfson), then as a co-editor. We consistently encouraged and are continuing to encourage marginalized and diverse voices, and the community responded by sending us amazing, fresh, and thought-provoking poetry. The slush pile changed from 2010 to 2014 to better reflect our editorial direction and choices.

There is a lot more work to be done, and we are limited by our health issues, as well as limited opportunities to attend cons. We also made our share of mistakes. I am sure we could have done even better. However, I also feel that we learned a lot about how to diversify a submission pool. Here are some tips:

1. Solicit. Ask for recommendations from other editors (especially those who are different from you), and read stories by authors who don’t usually submit to your magazine. See if you like something, and if you do, reach out to that author and ask them to send you work.

2. Actually buy work by authors whose demographic you’re looking to encourage. Writers make decisions about your market being welcoming to them based on whether you publish writers like them.

3. Solicit from established *and* up-and-coming authors. If you buy, e.g. stories from white cisgendered men at all stages in their careers, but you only buy from women, trans and nonbinary people, and/or PoC creators, if they are famous, that is not going to appear especially welcoming, and will not necessarily balance your slush.

4. Invite a co-editor of the demographic you seek to encourage. E.g. if you are an all-white, all-cisgendered, all-straight male team, think of inviting someone different to collaborate with you. Then actually give that person power to make some choices.

5. One of the easiest ways to test the waters with potential co-editors is to invite them to guest-edit.

6. Special or themed issues are a great way to encourage new authors to discover your market.  E.g., we are very proud of our Queer issue, and we are also very excited about an upcoming issue of new-to-us poets.

7. Talk to people. Participate in important conversations. Actively challenge yourself to seek out new perspectives and voices. Weigh criticism carefully. Grow.

8. Also, if you could please encourage people of all underrepresented genders, not just cisgendered women, to submit to your magazine, that would be great. Gender diversity is more complicated than men vs women.

An updated projects page

I have expanded and updated the PROJECTS page to serve as a gateway to my various projects.

As a part of this redesign, I created three additional subpages.

First is the Jewish magic realist page, collecting works about immigration, pain, belonging, and family. I was surprised to discover, while working on this today, how many of those pieces I have written. This will be a collection one day.

Second, I made a Birdverse page with a list of finished work. A lot is on submission right now, or almost ready to go. I cannot wait to share more with you!

Last, I created a page for the Journeymaker/Two-Mountain World poems.

Hope you enjoy this newfound sense of order! I am excited to have enough work out that some of this interconnectedness can be made apparent through lists.

A Sale, and an Award Nomination

My magic realist flash story, “No Longer Lacking an Onion,” has been accepted to appear in Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi. Hurray, and thanks to editors Kelly Stiles and Michael Haynes, as well as to first reader Natalia Theodoridou for passing it up!

My short poem “The Journeymaker, Climbing” from Winter 2013 issue of Goblin Fruit has been nominated for the Dwarf Stars award, and will appear in the Dwarf Stars anthology edited by Sandra Lindow. I am always very happy when the Journeymaker cycle poems receive attention.

Post-Binary Gender and Language column up at

I participated in Post-Binary Gender in SF Roundtable: Languages of Gender, which went up at today. Alex Dally MacFarlane asked wonderful, insightful questions; the other respondents were Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Bogi Takács.

I talk about non-binary/post-binary gender, grammatical gender and how it influences writing, Soviet SF, and more. Here is a short excerpt:

You’ve talked about English offering different options to other languages for expressing post-binary gender. Do you know of ways that writers in these languages (or others) have worked with this subject? (I know, for instance, that the original Japanese publication of Sayuri Ueda’s The Cage of Zeus avoided pronouns for the non-binary characters.)

Benjanun: I was recently directed to this poem by Yona Wallach that’s specifically about gendered language in Hebrew. Other than that I don’t have much insight to offer as in my language pronouns are not very gendered, and so it doesn’t come up as a linguistic issue.

Rose: I have thought a lot about how, despite professed Soviet ideals of gender equality, Soviet-age SFF seems to have major issues with gender representation both in terms of who wrote science fiction, and what kind of protagonists were featured in classic novels and short stories […]

I’m very pleased with how this came out, and hope you give it a read!



News, mentions, and congratulations

A.C. Wise kindly profiles me in a current installment of her Women to Read series at SF Signal. She highlights my story “Geddarien,” as well as “A City on its Tentacles” from Lackington’s:

In the interest of full disclosure, “Geddarien,” my recommended starting point for Rose Lemberg’s work was reprinted in the architecture issue of Unlikely Story, which I co-edit. Personal connection aside, I would still recommend it is a starting place for Lemberg’s work. The story struck me and stuck with me from the first time I read it when it was originally published in Fantasy Magazine in 2009. The story is haunting, resonating long after its last word, which is appropriate for a story centered around music. The story deftly balances whimsy and magic, the idea of dancing houses, with the horrors of the Holocaust and the persecution and murder of Jews.

Strange Horizons posted a set of updated Poetry Guidelines, where I am listed as one of the editors’ favorite poets. It is an honor.

I made a set of arguments on Twitter about dialect and hegemony, which has been storified by Alex Dally MacFarlane and is available here. These tweets have been made in conjunction with Daniel J. Older’s reaction to a Strange Horizons review of Long Hidden; the full context, as well as the ensuing other arguments, have been summarized in a Strange Horizons entry “On Dialect.”

Bogi Takács is tweeting eir recommendations of diverse stories under the #diversestories tag. I love these recommendations.

Speaking of love: I love, love, love, love Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “Women in Sandstone” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“Your mouth is hanging open like a bell,” the South-East Wind said.  “I wonder, if the wind blows between your teeth, will you clang or chime?”

The general tore her gaze from the temple’s walls.  The tall wine-dark plume on her silver helmet bobbed and swayed in the North Wind | I blow through it and it is like the grass near a battlefield: heavy with the smells of burning and blood and bones | and then it tilted as she removed the helmet, revealing her hair—long and black with white running through it like embroidery, fastened in four thick braids—and the extent of her dark, scarred face.  “I wish to honor your great temple,” she said.

I blow through the bells, I blow through them all, all thousands upon thousands, I bring them all to song and it is loud and perfect |

The general barely flinched at the sound of the North Wind blowing across the temple’s bells, though she looked up again, wary.  The South-East Wind smiled.

If I could hang a tiny “yes” under each one of these words, they would chime there like bells.

Finally, congratulations to Nebula Award winners and nominees.  I am still to read many of the works in this slate, but my favorites included work by Ann Leckie, Sofia Samatar, and Ken Schneyer. Cheers!

New review of “A City on its Tentacles”

Editor Ranylt Richildis alerted me to a new review of the first issue of Lackington’s #1 by Vanessa Fogg, who highlights my story “A City on its Tentacles” for an in-depth and very positive writeup.

Luba is both a mother and storyteller. She dreams wonderful tales and grows within herself a magic pearl. But her daughter suffers from a mysterious illness, and the only way for Luba to save her is to periodically enter the Undersea and give up her pearl and all the storytelling/dreaming power which is tied to that pearl. She doesn’t give it up completely; the pearl will grow back, and while Luba’s storytelling powers return her daughter again declines, until Luba has to return to the Undersea and give up the new pearl for her daughter’s health, again and again. […] Charlotte Ashley in her positive review read this story as a narrative about addiction. My interpretation is more literal: I take at face-value the sacrifice that Luba has to make.

I am thrilled to have this reading, and such a detailed and positive review, alongside Charlotte Ashley’s also very positive, but very different reading. When I was shopping/showing this story around, there’d been some commentary on how editors and readers needed to know “what the story really is about.” Is it about a drug addiction? Is the magical setting real? Is it about poverty? Is it about what happens to women when men leave them? (ok, this last one was a bit baffling).

All I can say is this: not all stories need to have a One True Reading. This one doesn’t. It’s amenable to many readings, it is unreliable, malleable, shifting – like the octopus at the heart of the Undersea, like stories we tell ourselves, those stories we take at face value at one moment and disbelieve the next, those less-than-straightforward tales that circumnavigate and shape our painful magical lives. In her editorial, Ranylt Richildis talked much about language versus plot, but from where I stand, Ranylt’s editorial process was not about accepting a plotless story  (“City” most definitely has a plot), but about taking a chance on a story that has many readings.

It is a feature, not a bug.


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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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