“Held Close…” is a finalist in BCS Readers poll

My queer Birdverse novelette “Held Close in Syllables of Light” is a finalist in the Beneath Ceaseless Skies readers’ poll. It is a story which is close to my heart and very important to me. The winning story will be included in The Best of BCS: Year Four.

If you feel so inclined, go vote for one of the finalists. The stories are:

“The Ivy-Smothered Palisade,” by Mike Allen
“One Ear Back,” by Tina Connolly
“Held Close in Syllables of Light,” Rose Lemberg
“Fox Bones. Many Uses.,” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
“Serkers and Sleep,” by Kenneth Schneyer

The voting closes on August 2nd.

Sociolinguistics panel follow-up (Readercon)

Our “Sociolinguistics and SFF” panel at Readercon went very well; the room was full, and some people had to stand. The panelists Anil Menon, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and John Chu all had excellent things to say. We got great comments from the audience. Of course there wasn’t enough time, but overall I think the range of things discussed was just right for the first panel on the topic.

Some topics we covered:

-language and immigration; language shift in immigrant families
-linguistic hegemony; issues of prestige, literary vs. nonliterary dialects
-(briefly) language and colonialism
-language and gender
-SFF books that incorporate sociolinguistic issues, successfully or unsuccessfully

and during “Writing the Others 1: Theory” we talked about the following linguistic topics:

-incorporating languages other than English into fiction (who can do it; how to do it best)
-multilingual characters
-working with non-hegemonic English variants, including immigrant Englishes
-code-switching / code-mixing

I would like to propose a follow-up panel for Readercon 2014 on Sociolinguistics (and?) with a slightly different and if possible, narrower focus than this year’s. I am also toying with an idea of proposing a Sociolinguistics workshop. Regardless of whether you’ve attended this year’s Readercon and these panels, it would be excellent if you could comment and let me know what you’d like to discuss at the next year’s panel and workshop.

Please note that I want to keep discussing sociolinguistics, i.e. how language interacts with society. This is not an appropriate forum for constructed languages unless people want to discuss “constructed languages and society”, then I am game 🙂 🙂

Looking forward to your comments, and to next year!

Two short announcements

My flash length surrealist story, “Theories of Pain,” is up on Daily Science Fiction website today.

My prose poem “The Rotten Leaf Cantata” will appear in Strange Horizons later this year.

My Readercon schedule

Hurray! I have a Readercon schedule. In fact, it feels like I am on All the Panels… Those are some awesome panels!

If you can only make one, please come to the Socioling panel. It will be fabulous, and it is a useful thing for writers. I would also be happy if you came to my reading. Birdverse is cool and full of linguistics.

Friday July 12

12:00 PM G Writing Others I: Theory. Michael J. DeLuca, Andrea Hairston, Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. Authors who want to write outside their own experiences of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexuality face a multitude of challenges. How do we present each character’s unique perspective while celebrating their distinctive identity and avoiding stereotypes and appropriation? How is the research and writing process affected by differences between the author’s and the character’s levels of societal privilege? Is it possible to write about future diversity without oppression, or does today’s reality require us to write in today’s frame? Which authors have handled this well, and what form does “handling this well” take?

1:00 PM G Writing Others II: Practice. Michael J. DeLuca, Rose Lemberg, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski, Sarah Smith. This practical discussion, led by Joan Slonczewski and Michael J. DeLuca, is for writers who have read Writing the Other, or otherwise carefully studied the pitfalls of cultural appropriation, and decided to take the plunge of writing about people whose experiences differ significantly from the author’s. How does one go about acquiring sufficient understanding of another culture, gender, or sexuality to write about it respectfully, productively, and effectively? We’ll discuss research techniques and writing methods used by successful writers of the other, as well as problems and solutions we’ve encountered in our own work. Attending “Writing Others I: Theory” is recommended.

5:00 PM F Agency and Gender. Eileen Gunn, Maria Dahvana Headley (leader), Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Paul Park. When we talk about women’s agency in literature we’re often talking about violence: fighting off a would-be rapist or choosing to risk her life in battle, for instance. Men’s agency is frequently demonstrated in a wider variety of ways. The notion of agency itself varies from one culture to another. How do cultural perspectives on gender and cultural concepts of agency inform characters’ choices and the results of those choices? How are decisions related to cultural assumptions of gender (whom to sleep with, what to wear) portrayed differently from decisions unrelated to cultural gender?

7:00 PM ME Sociolinguistics and SF/F. John Chu, Rose Lemberg (leader), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Anil Menon, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Sociolinguistics studies the ways in which language intersects with society. It looks at issues such as interactions of language with power, prestige, gender, hegemony, and literacy, bilingualism and multilingualism, translation, language birth, and language death to name but a few. We will look specifically at the kinds of tensions that are created in societies where people speak different languages or dialects depending on social and racial/ethnic status. We will also discuss genre books in which those topics have been explored, and consider sociolinguistics tools and concepts that may be useful to writers.

Saturday July 13

12:00 PM G Friendship Is Magic. E.C. Ambrose, Rose Lemberg, Kathryn Morrow (leader), JoSelle Vanderhooft, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Heroes have friends and companions, while villains only have minions. Stern protagonists can be softened by romantic attachments that draw them back into the community, but the plot also requires that they be special, isolated by some terrible burden of privilege or unshareable secret. Loner stories are episodic (the gunslinger rides off to the next town, the gumshoe slouches off to the next case) while going from solitude to connection is perhaps the most common character development. This panel will examine how cultural narratives and values around heroism, personal development, sex and gender, class, family, and community affect the ways we write and read about being alone and being connected.

3:00 PM NH Mythic Poetry Group Reading. Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Gemma Files, Gwynne Garfinkle, Andrea Hairston, Samantha Henderson, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Rose Lemberg, Shira Lipkin, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Dominik Parisien, Caitlyn Paxson, Julia Rios, Romie Stott, Sonya Taaffe, JoSelle Vanderhooft. Over the past decade, speculative poetry has increasingly turned toward the mythic in subject matter, with venues such as Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Jabberwocky, and the now-defunct Journal of the Mythic Arts showcasing a new generation of poets who’ve redefined what this type of writing can do. This reading will feature new and classic works from speculative poetry’s trend-setters.

6:00 PM F Readercon Blog Club: “The Uses and Value of Realism in Speculative Fiction”. Elizabeth Bear (leader), John Crowley, Rose Lemberg, Scott Lynch. In response to the Readercon 23 panel “Why Is Realistic Fiction Useful?”, Chris Gerwel wrote a blog post exploring the aesthetic uses of realism in spec fic and other literature. He says, “To be effective, fiction must communicate or reveal something true…. That truth is not necessarily factual (such-and-such happened), but is rather more nebulous and insightful (such-and-such could have happened).” Gerwel goes on to argue that “realistic” descriptions of fantastic things can be a way to help the audience to deal with these concepts, giving them better access to the underlying metaphors of a dragon or a spaceship. He closes by saying, “I believe that quotidian speculative fiction has its place in the genre. And that is precisely because it speaks to different truths than most speculative fiction: it speaks to the little heroisms of daily life, and to the practical challenges that arise from our human and social natures” an idea that echoes discussions of early science fiction stories written by women, and offers an alternative to the conflation of “realistic” and “gritty.” We’ll discuss the place of the quotidian in speculative fiction and other aspects of Gerwel’s complex and intriguing essay, which resides at http://elflands2ndcousin.com/2012/07/17/the-uses-and-value-of-realism-in-speculative-fiction/.

Sunday July 14

9:00 AM VT Reading: Rose Lemberg. Rose Lemberg. Rose Lemberg reads excerpt from the secondary-world fantasy novel Bridgers, as well as a few poems set in the same universe.

10:00 AM RI Gender and Power in Literature and Life. E.C. Ambrose, Cathy Butler, Eileen Gunn, Rose Lemberg, Daniel José Older (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. This workshop, led by Daniel José Older, is a critical look at different ways that gender and power shape our realities and experiences of the world. With examples from the writing process and fantastical literature in particular, we will deconstruct dynamics of power and privilege on the gender spectrum.

Interfictions, and Emerald Spires preview

My unclassifiable piece “Bone Shadows” is up at the new Interfictions Online under Poetry. Many thanks to Sofia Samatar for giving this thing a home!

Also, Bogi Takács has posted the lineup and cover for the first Emerald Spires anthology, which includes a reprint of my trans* poem “Plucked from the Horo.” I am so excited about this project!

And … short story sale!

My short magic realist story “Teffeu: A Book from the Library at Taarona” will appear in Strange Horizons. HURRAY! This story is about multilingualism, language study, and language loss. Strange Horizons sent me a rewrite request on it, but I found it difficult to return to the story, until finally, after my Strange Horizons interview, something shifted and I was able to finish the rewrite. Many thanks to Bogi Takács for eir support during the rewrite process, and to the Strange Horizons fiction team for their hard work!

Short story sale

“Theories of Pain,” a flash story about a man who experienced pain as fruit, will appear in Daily Science Fiction. Yay!

Interview at Strange Horizons, and a translation

An interview with me appeared today at Strange Horizons. It is entitled Noticing Language, and it is about language, linguistics, my novel, poetry, emerging poets, and various other things.

A few comments I wanted to add to the interview:

Rose Lemberg lived in Ukraine, subarctic Russia, and Israel before relocating to Berkeley for her Ph.D. She is now living and teaching in the Midwest, where she finally became an immigrant in 2010. She is relieved to be a resident, rather than a nonresident, alien.

I wrote this bio before the events at Boston, and I have since had the (dis)pleasure to travel by plane for a conference. I had the urge to change the bio after that experience, but I left it in. It is important for me to talk about this.

I recently had a chance to ask my students whether they view language as a “primary component of identity,” a phrase we’ve found in an article. Many said no.

To follow up, I asked my students what they would consider a primary component of identity. Many immediately said “gender.” I then asked how often they reflected on their gender. The discussion further developed along these lines; I thought it might be worth discussing/mentioning here.

I also note that answers would vary depending on the context. Students at my university are different demographically from the ones I had at Berkeley.

Yet, language is central to identity. For many monolinguals, especially those who speak the standard vernaculars, language is not something one notices in daily life

The issue of standard vernaculars is very interesting; do you want to discuss diglossic situations and language hegemony, or should we wait until Readercon?

Speaking about languages and translations, Seven Losses of Na Re has been translated into Spanish! This is the first time my story is translated – very exciting. Thank you, Marcheto!

Essay reprint, and poetry nominations

My essay  “Feminist SF/F: on Feminist Characters” was selected to be included in Speculative Fiction 2012: The Year’s Best Online Reviews & Commentary. I have not sent it to them, so this was a surprise.

My long mythic poem “Between the Mountain and the Moon” is a Rhysling Award nominee.

Finally, “Between the Mountain and the Moon” won the Strange Horizons Readers’ poll in the poetry category. In a somewhat bewildering turn of events, my pooem “The Three Immigrations” placed second.

MANY THANKS to Sonya Taaffe, who plucked these poems from slush!

One of my very favorite stories, Alex Dally MacFarlane’s “Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints,” placed third in the fiction category. Congratulations also to the ever-wonderful Michele Bannister, Gwynne Garfinkle, Sofia Samatar, and Liz Bourke for placing/winning in various categories.

New Poetry, Readercon, Nebula

The Winter Goblin Fruit is up, with glorious illustrations, beautiful work by Mat Joiner, Shweta Narayan, Alicia Cole, Ada Hoffmann, Sally Rosen Kindred, and others! I have two poems in this issue, both fragments from the Crow Epic – “The Journeymaker, Climbing” and “The Journeymaker to Keddar.”  The latter is a love poem (of sorts), for those to whom these things are important today.

Another shiny I failed to mention is the new issue of Through the Gate. It only contains three poems. I admire Mitchell’s minimalism – he is unafraid to publish an issue of three poems because they go perfectly together, like an intricately crafted puzzle box. His epigraph is appropriate: “Two pieces of coin in one bag make more noise than a hundred.” This issue contains work by Bogi Takács, myself, and Sonya Taaffe.

A special interest panel I proposed, “Sociolionguistics and SFF,” has been accepted for Readercon.

I made my Nebula nominations last night. I have not done an eligibility post this year, but my short story “Seven Losses of Na Re” is eligible this year, and some folks have recommended it. This is the story that will be reprinted in the Vandermeers’ feminist anthology.


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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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