Apex, Lackington’s, and other news

I am not around much these days. Life’s been happening.

My short story “A City on its Tentacles” will appear in the inaugural issue of Lackington’s. I might have finally gotten this one right; very happy it found a good home.

My prose poem “Earth Map” will appear in Mythic Delirium.

Apex Magazine 54 is out, with my poem “When the ocean falls into itself“. It is the first love poem I’ve written in over a decade. It is apparently the first poem in a triptych, but the second and third installments in the triptych are private.

Also in this issue of Apex are two much awaited (at least by me) short stories: Bogi Takács’s “Recordings of a more personal nature” (with notes at eir website) and Keffy Kehrli’s “This is a Ghost Story.” I am looking forward to the rest of the issue as well!

Finally, Cuentos Para Algernon published a virtual anthology of their first year, including the Spanish translation of my story “Seven Losses of Na Re.”

poetry sale, reviews, remembrance

My mythic SF poem “Dualities” has been accepted to appear in Mythic Delirium.

Lois Tilton at Locus gave my Strange Horizons story Teffeu: A Book from the Library at Taarona a “recommended” rating:

A beautiful little meditation on the love of books and languages and words, and the narrator’s attempt to hold fast to that love when the mundania of life intervene.

Finally, a new review by K.E. Bergdoll of the Journal of Unlikely Architecture highlights my story Geddarien:

Geddarien by Rose Lemberg is a surreal Holocaust story about music, the power to move past tragedy, and the ultimate deliverance of the dead into the future by those they leave to struggle on. MC Zelig’s progression from student at his grandfather’s knee to survivor is beautiful and elegantly offered within a poignant theme often mishandled. This story is by far my favorite

I think this might be my favorite review of this story so far. It is just so gratifying for me to see that this story is still being meaningful for people.

a page of sheet music hand-copied by my alter zeide for one of his friends

a page of sheet music hand-copied by my alter zeide for one of his friends

When my great-grandfather, a survivor of three wars, could no longer hold the violin bow, he earned money by copying scores for his friends. Not one of them younger than sixty, these musicians had once played in the Jewish Theatre before it was closed by the Soviets. I used to sit under the desk while zeide worked, and listened to many conversations in Yiddish. This single score page, Paganini’s Perpetuum Mobile, must have had some copying error, since it remained with us and was not given away; it is one of the very few things I brought with me from the Soviet Union. I carried it around through my immigrations and wanderings until at last I had a chance to frame it and hang it up in my home.

new short story, and Strange Horizons fund drive

Strange Horizons is a magazine close to my heart. My first professional sale, Kifli, appeared in Strange Horizons in 2010; they published my award-winning epic poem In the Third Cycle, as well as Between the Mountain and the Moon and The Three Immigrations.

They are currently running their annual fundraiser, and my short story Teffeu: A Book from the library at Taarona ran as a $3000 bonus content. This is about multilingualism and language loss (and bookloss), and I hope you give it a try. Even if you don’t like the story, I hope you will consider donating to support this excellent and important venue for short fiction, poetry, reviews, and commentary.

The next bonus content will be an essay titled “Recentering Science Fiction and the Fantastic: What Would a Non-Anglocentric Understanding of SF and Fantasy Look Like?” by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay. I am very much looking forward to it! More fund drive issue content: a review by Aishwarya Subramanian, a story by Nisi Shawl, a poem by Bryan Thao Worra, a roundtable, an interview with Helen Oyeyemi (by Niall Harrison), and more. Dom Parisien’s excellent poem “I am learning to forget” ran as bonus content earlier this month.

Thank you, Strange Horizons team!

New poems and a reprint: now with more Birdverse

Happy things! First of all, a new issue of Through the Gate is up, featuring my poem “Resh” alongside excellent work by Sara Norja, Bogi Takács, Mari Ness, and Sonya Taaffe. It is a small, but perfectly formed issue with poems that work with each other to create a lovely harmony. Major kudos to editor Mitchell Hart, who has consistently been putting out wonderfully edited issues. Bogi has posted a compilation of Hungarian folk songs that inspired eir poem, “Flee to the Far Shores.”

Second, a new issue of Goblin Fruit is out, featuring my poem “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz” and… oh wow, the wonderful art by Betsie Withey illustrates it! This is a Birdverse poem, featuring the secondary world universe in which I am often writing. I have read this poem during the Readercon Mythic Poetry reading MC’d by Mike Allen. This is what C.S.E. Cooney, writing the convention up for Black Gate, had to say about my performance:

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.
I think her poetry is dangerous. At least, it left me feeling like the most gorgeous shipwreck.

The mp3 of me reading this poem is up at Goblin Fruit; it is not as powerful as my Readercon performance (the poem came over me and I was shaking after that was over), but I hope you give it a listen nonetheless.

Third, my Birdverse novelette, “Held Close in Syllables of Light,” has been reprinted in Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Four, which is now available from Weightless Books. If you enjoy Beneath Ceaseless Skies, please consider purchasing an issue to support this magazine.

inkscrawl.net seeks short poetry submissions

inkscrawl.net, a magazine of short (10 lines or less) speculative poetry, is open to submissions once more. This time, it is guest-edited by Jennifer Smith, who asked me to post about her vision. I am very happy to do so!

Says Jennifer:

I’m a mythic poetry fanatic, and while I do see that many short form poems written to form are flawed in substance, I love the forms and want to give them more than an even break. Hard sci-fi without a personal connection is a hard sell because I am not educated in hard science and therefore might not properly understand the substance, but I do count science fiction poems among some of my favorites. I’m terribly, terribly biased against English language haiku — it’s not you, English language haiku poets, it’s me. I prefer poems which uplift humanity over poems which illustrate challenges or hardship.

Jennifer is reading till October 31. Please send your submissions (up to five poems per batch) to poetry at inkscrawl dot net. Either “Ms. Smith” or “Jennifer” are appropriate forms of address for this editor.

(Please note that while I publish inkscrawl, I do not edit it – editors have the full freedom in choosing poems!)

Disability access and being a bystander

I am continuing my posts on disability and #accessiblecons because there are things I need to say.

Yesterday, a commenter, Lou, left this comment to the Disability, Diversity, Dignity post:

What the heck? I would not participate on a panel where one of the members had to be seated separately from the rest of the panel. I would sit on the floor with Mari before I would allow this to happen. What’s wrong with the rest of the panel that they would accept this arrangement?

When an event is occurring, few bystanders react the way we’d like to react. People observing con harassment often do not interfere. People observing disability-related injustices often do not understand what is going on, are not sure how to react, what is appropriate to do.

In 2002, I was a young graduate student doing summer language immersion school in an Eastern European country. The students were international, from Eastern and Western Europe, the Americas, Japan. It was very cool. The organizers were cordial. Among us students was a girl who used a wheelchair. I do not remember her name now – she was not in my class. One day we were about to go out to a tour to a famous historical site. We got on the buses, and at that point, out of the window I saw the girl in the wheelchair arguing with two of our organizers, and at that point I realized they intend to leave her behind. Some of us ran out to find out what was going on. We were told that the girl cannot come with us because the wheelchair cannot go on the bus. “No worries,” said one the guy students who ran out, “We can easily lift her, collapse the wheelchair, then unload it again. It will fit. No worries.” The girl in a wheelchair really wanted to go and was ready to accept the help. The organizers said no. Even if we loaded the wheelchair, the student would be a burden to “the healthy students” (I remember this phrasing). We kept arguing that she would not be a burden, that we would help her along the way, stay with her in places too narrow for the wheelchair – to no avail. Eventually we gave up and went on the bus and it drove away without her.

The historical site was very beautiful.

I had wanted to stay behind. I should have stayed behind with that student, who, like the rest of us, was paying to be in the summer school and was all paid up to go on the tour. Staying behind with her would have been the ethical thing to do. I did not. I was very young. I was afraid to speak out more than I already did. I have always been a good student and wanted to remain a good student. I wanted to go on that tour. I was very young and had no experience with disability advocacy yet. I was confused and unsure what to do.

I continue to remember this event with great personal guilt and shame. But it taught me something about disability advocacy.

What we can do is act as a community to prevent mistreatment and dehumanization to members of marginalized groups. We have discussed con harassment a lot this year, including what you can do as a bystander, so let us do the same for disability issues.

As I said in Diversity, Disability, Dignity, it is very important that each of us congoers contact the cons we are attending and ask about their disability policy. Also, this is a very good question to ask: “Are you asking attendees whether they have special needs/need accommodations?” All cons should ask attendees regarding their needs, so that attendees on wheelchairs get their ramps, attendees with hearing issues get appropriate aids (e.g. Wiscon has an ASL interpreter – they apply for grants!) etc.

Second, let’s create more public discourse about this. Please consider speaking out online and offline.

Third, if you are on a panel where accessibility issues are not being accommodated properly, get involved. Speak to the organizers (but do NOT pressure the person with disability into accepting help). The person with disability might accept a personally problematic, painful and inappropriate solution because they are likely embarrassed, hurt, unwilling to delay the panel and create issues – in short, they are afraid of being perceived as a burden.

No! It is NOT a burden for cons to provide a ramp, it is no more a burden than providing chairs for rooms, reserving a con suite, providing tea and cookies in the consuite, or any other logistical thing that cons do. Disability access is simply not on the agenda for many cons.

So let’s put it on the agenda. The Other is us. It could be you, or a loved one, mortified and sitting below other presenters, on the floor, in front of a crowd of people who came to listen to your words but can neither see nor hear you. We must uplift each other. The time to care is now.

(People are tweeting and discussing these issues on Twitter using the hashtag #accessiblecons. I am @roselemberg there. Please join us).

Disability, Diversity, Dignity

So imagine you are an up and coming professional in the field of SFF. You worked hard for your credits. You are publishing, people get to know your work, and you are invited to participate in programming at a major SFF convention. It’s pricey, but this is a professional and social opportunity, so you pay about a thousand dollars (flight, lodging, food) to attend this convention.

Then, on a panel, all the participants sit behind a table on an elevation, but not you. YOU are asked to sit on the floor. Not only are you on the floor, you are also seated BELOW everyone.

And your next panel. And your next. They just don’t have a chair for you.

Would you feel happy? Welcomed? Treated with dignity? Would you feel your 1000$ dollars were well spent?

This happened to my friend Mari Ness at the recent Worldcon. Joseph M. McDermott wrote it up here: :

So, Mari Ness, who is a very smart person that I would love to listen to about many, many things, is in a wheelchair, and she couldn’t get up to the panels where she was on, because there was no way for her to get a ramp up to the same level as the rest of the panel, had to spend her panels down below everyone else, on a lower level than them. That’s not cool. It was an oversight in a huge, fan-run convention, so it’s not worth a rage-fueled rage. But, do please fix that at every con, everywhere, forever, right now, please. (emphasis mine-RL) Are you a Con? Include ramps to the panels. Thanks.

I met Mari Ness in person when I started attending conventions in 2011. I went to WFC in San Diego. I was very ill, but my best friend was leaving the US for G-d knows how long and I had to see her and she was in San Diego. So I flew out. I was in debilitating pain. The con was not accessible. My best friend, who uses a cane, had a very difficult time despite being local. Mari Ness? Dear G-d, nothing was accessible for Mari, who uses a wheelchair. It was atrocious.

We started talking publicly about disability access after that con. I am sure people were doing it even before. In 2012, Mari again went to WFC. And it was HORRIBLE again.

In 2012, the Nebula awards had no ramp. I participated in some SFWA discussions about helping with disability policies at cons. I regret I could not do more than I did, due to my own health and family issues flaring at the time.

It is 2013. Mari DMed me before Worldcon with hesitations about her attendance, and I did my best to talk her into going anyway. Then, during Disability in SFF panel, there was no ramp. There was no wheelchair access at the Disability in SFF panel. Nor for other panels.

For at least three years Mari, who paid full price for attending conventions as an industry professional, had to suffer physical pain, humiliation , and anguish due to the lack of basic accessibility at cons. People who are less brave and determined than Mari would simply not go. How can we give lip service to diversity if our conventions actively exclude the disabled?

People who live with disabilities, or are caregivers to the disabled, do not always have the freedom to choose an accessible place of residence. Those who rely on a primary caregiver are often limited to the location of the primary caregiver. Those who raise children with disabilities may strive to live in places that offer the best services. Those who hold jobs while disabled may feel especially vulnerable in this economy and may be unwilling to risk a move. What this means is that fans and professionals with mobility issues may feel fairly isolated in their regular places of residence; cons then become an important social outlet, a respite from this unwelcome social isolation. But when the disabled SFF geeks go to cons, they may end up spending thousands of dollars only to be in pain, to be humiliated, to be told that one is overreacting, in short to be treated as less than human.

Leaving aside the ever-popular question of the appropriateness of rage, I want solutions to this – and not only to lack of mobility/wheelchair access, but to disability access at cons in general.

What can we do? Most immediately, if you are a person planning to attend a convention, please consider contacting that convention prior to purchasing membership and asking them if they have a disability policy. We need to act on this as a community – otherwise things will not change.

(I am hoping to post more on this, spoons permitting).

ETA: Follow-up post: Disability access and being a bystander

ETA2: This discussion is also ongoing on Twitter, under the hashtag #accessiblecons. It is also a part of #DiversityinSFF conversation. I am @roselemberg on Twitter. Please join us!

Reprint and poetry sale

The new issue of Unlikely Story, Journal of Unlikely Architecture, is out, with a reprint of my Jewish magic realist story “Geddarien.” It was the third story I’ve ever written and the second I have sold, and I am so happy and blessed that my zeide’s story remains meaningful to people. I am grateful to Cat Hellisen for talking me through the writing of it back in the day, and to the Unlikely Story team for featuring it.

In other news, my poem “where the ocean falls into itself…” will appear in the November issue of Apex Magazine.

“Held close…” and other news

Thank you everybody who voted in the Beneath Ceaseless Skies readers’ poll. It was truly an amazing competition. I am happy and humbled to report that “Held Close in Syllables of Light” was the winner, and will be reprinted in Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Four. Thank you again!

In addition, my poem Resh, referencing abjads and Serabit el-Khadim, will be published in Through the Gate alongside poems by awesome people.

In other news, I LOVED Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story Found, in the latest issue of Clarkesworld.

“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.

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