New from Birdverse: Glassmaker and Jeweler

I have a new Birdverse story out at Uncanny Magazine, and for a change, it’s not a novelette. “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” is a happy, hopeful story about two artists and their art, and I am very happy to share it with you.

Charles Payseur reviews it at Quick Sips:

And the story takes the shape of two people exchanging letters. About art and craft but also about seeing the world and learning of each other and a yearning that finally bridges so much distance and difference. The story is set in the same world that the author has used many times, and every time I step back into that world I am delighted and left wanting more. […] And there is the inherent tension to the relationship, to the correspondence, to the waiting. That waiting is full of implications and flights of the imagination and worry, full of things that seem to spill from the ether…

And Sara Norja writes in her Sunday Recs: Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse:

…this is a happy story – ah, marvellously joyful and hopeful, though not without conflict. It’s written in an epistolary format, which is something that I really enjoy. Two artists meet and share their art, and more. Rose always writes exquisitely, but the language here is really something special. The words in these particular arrangements sparkle like jewels, like shimmering shards of coloured glass.

(She also reviews Geometries of Belonging in the same entry!)

Finally, Liz Argall has been publishing a special Uncanny feature of her webcomic Things Without Arms and Without Legs, reacting to a story in Uncanny Magazine, and this month’s installment reacts to Glassmaker and Jeweler! Hurray!

First reviews of Marginalia to Stone Bird

My poetry collection, MARGINALIA TO STONE BIRD, has received its first reviews.

Nerds of a Feather published a review by Charles Payseur, their first speculative poetry review:

Marginalia to Stone Bird is a testament to how speculative poetry can succeed in capturing voice and plot and movement and feeling while still tackling big ideas and personal truths. The collection crafts a sort of map of forms and intents, a tour of what speculative poetry can be. From magic realism to high fantasy to far off-world science fiction, the poems range far and wide while maintaining a circling consistency, an interest in language and oppression and voice and freedom.

Charles elaborates further in his Goodreads review:

I really can’t say enough about the organization of the collection, with each section growing more comfortable with the strange, the unearthly, with form becoming looser and more and more speculative elements creeping in so that, by the end, the verse is dominated by fantasy and science fiction, by sweeping epics ripe with world building and tight plotting and complex morality.

And finally, this week Strange Horizons published a review of MARGINALIA in form of a conversation between Karen Burnham and Sofia Samatar. Here’s an excerpt:

KB: There’s a lot to be said about how Lemberg is able to take starkly contrasting images and language and make them work together in interesting ways. As you mentioned, there’s history, autobiography, mysticism, and fantasy all juxtaposed […]

SS: This is so interesting and important, I think—the poems are very carefully organized. It’s the organization that makes Marginalia feel like a book, a complete argument rather than a “collected poems of Rose Lemberg.” And you’re right, those pieces set in the same world are not clumped together, but their influence grows toward the end of the book. It feels more like a tapestry than a collage—rather than separate components set beside each other, there are threads that travel through the whole, but certain colors are stronger in some places. Or maybe it’s like a piece of music, with themes that are repeated with variations, and grow and dominate in different movements.

I am really thrilled with these reactions.

We are running a Goodreads Giveaway for two signed copies of the book; it runs until February 3rd. I hope you enter!

Locus Recommended

In a strange and marvelous turn of events, I have a piece on the Locus Recommended Reading List. It is my poem “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong.”


A poem I wrote is on the Locus Recommended Reading List.

Under Short Stores.

I only know of one other poem that has been on the list: Paul Park’s “Ragnarok,” a few years ago. (I’d love to hear about any others).

Strange, and marvelous, and a great honor.

Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong” is a poem about living ships, and memory, and corporations, and unlikely connections made and honored. It has been published in the second issue of Uncanny Magazine. There’s a haunting, terrific podcast of it by C.S.E.Cooney, who reads it in multiple voices.

My work also appears in Letters to Tiptree and Sisters of the Revolution, which are on the Locus Recommended List this year.

If you are so inclined, consider voting in the Locus Poll! Obviously you do not have to vote for me – there’s a lot of tremendous work on the list – but it’s definitely a rare chance to vote for a POEM!

This Award Season and “Grandmother-Nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds”

I am thrilled and honored to see my Birdverse novelette “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) on many awards and reading lists this award season.

It has been included in:

SFWA award reading list
Tangent Online 2015 Recommended reading list (three stars!)
Tiptree Award recommendations
Beneath Ceaseless Skies award recommendations, Best Novelette
Nerds of a Feather Hugo Award Longlist

And various fine people’s 2015 lists:
Fran Wilde’s award recommendations
Gwendolyn Clare’s award recommendations
Forestofglory’s Favorite Short Fiction of 2015
Ada Hoffmann’s 2015 list
I think I am missing some lists, so I will be adding them as I see them.

What readers say:

“…a world in which it seems natural that old women should be the guardians of secret romance and rebellion” — C.L. Kagmi

“a beautiful story…” – Kate Elliott

“It’s soaked in sensory detail, transporting the reader to the world of the tale. Overall, it’s lovely on many levels” (A.C. Wise)

“It’s an incredibly complex story, but it reads with an effortless grace” – Charles Payseur at Nerds of a Feather

“It resonated a lot with me from the perspective of gender and societal expectations, but also that of the complexities of family: disappointment and love and misunderstanding.” (Paige Kimble)

If you are voting or recommending for awards this season, I hope you give this story a try!

Strange Horizons poll results are in

The Strange Horizons readers’ poll results are in.

“Ranra’s Unbalancing” placed first in the poetry category.
“Long Shadow” placed second in the poetry category.
My folkloristics essay “The Uses and Limitations of the Folklorist’s Toolkit for Fiction” shares first place with “Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in SF: A Conversation” by Polenth Blake and Bogi Takács.
And I came second in the Columns category; I did not even know I was competing.

This is a bit overwhelming. I don’t quite know how to hold this.

Thank you very much to everyone who voted and engaged with my work; and, as always, to the Strange Horizons team. The magazine had a terrific year, and I’m very much looking forward to 2016.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of the winners!

Strange Horizons Readers Poll

The Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll runs traditionally for two weeks of January, this year from 4-17th. Voting is free and open to everyone. If you read Strange Horizons, you can vote. You can vote for fiction, poetry, articles, columnists, and artworks.

I blog about this poll every year because I think it’s fun and important and because, as I’ve stated many times before, I love Strange Horizons. Strange Horizons was the first online market I read, one of the first markets I read, period. They had published my first professional fiction sale, and many of my best poems. I had the honor of winning the Readers’ Poll twice with some of these poems.

This year, I am eligible again.

I had three poems in Strange Horizons this year: two Birdverse poems (“Ranra’s Unbalancing”, “Three Principles of Strong Building”) and a Journeymaker Cycle poem, “Long Shadow.”

Long Shadow” is, well, long; it’s an epic length poem which tells a complete story of a ghost child, an orphan of past wars, who steals the souls of the unborn. The Journeymaker tries to find a solution, but there are no easy answers to be had.

This might be the most horror-ish thing I’ve written yet. It’s hard for me to think about any of my work as horror. I always try for a hopeful ending. It’s somewhat of a signature of mine, that in uttermost darkness I strive to find some hope. The Journeymaker, too, labors for hope, however difficult a situation might be. But it’s not always possible to resolve things. Sometimes all you can do is to witness. Witnessing in itself has such tremendous power, and witnessing is so often overlooked in favor of finding a solution.
Witnessing, though, is a kind of hope. So often our suffering is not even seen.

Long Shadow” represents the best of my writing.

Regardless of whether you vote for it or not, I hope you give it a read.

Strange Horizons poetry department had a tremendous year. Please check out other people’s work – I loved so many of this year’s poems that I don’t think I can list them all.

In addition to poetry eligibility, my essay “The Uses and Limitations of the Folklorist’s Toolkit for Fiction” is eligible in the Articles category.

Happy reading and voting!

Birdverse recognition!

Charles Payseur has started the Sippy Awards, which he gives out in five categories. The first category is The “I’d Ship That” Sippy for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF, and my Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” won the Big Sip award in this category!

This story features a deeply complex relationship between Parét and his master, his lover, his partner. The two men are older, and it’s quite refreshing to see a mature relationship, one that has been through so much, complicated even further in this story about being broken and not broken, about being unwell and about living with it.

I love what Charles Payseur is doing with his reviews, and I am really pleased by this.

The Tangent Recommended Reading List is out, and both “Geometries of Belonging” and “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” are listed! “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” received a three star rating. I’m really happy to see this. I’m happy to see these two stories on both the Tiptree recommended list and the Tangent Recommended reading list.

“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is on the SFWA’s Nebula Reading List.

I’ll write more about this, but if you are nominating for the big awards in 2016 and are considering a Birdverse story, both of those are novelettes and potentially in competition with each other. I’d like you to consider “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” – not because one story is better than the other (they are very different, and both received recognition), but simply because I’d rather not split these votes.

Huge thanks, again, to everyone who read, commented, recommended, discussed, and is considering voting for these stories.


My debut poetry collection, Marginalia to Stone Bird, is out and available from Aqueduct Press! as a paperback, or in ebook format!

Marginalia to Stone Bird

In this powerful debut collection, Rannu Award-winning poet Rose Lemberg explores the deep-rooted fluidity of gender, tradition, language, and desire in landscapes as familiar as high fantasy and as foreign as San Francisco. Written in the voices of immigrants, shape-changers, sentient ships in a distant future and heroes of a mythic past, her poems inhabit a fragile, vital space of complex identity and story as a conscious act, stubbornly urging the reader’s attention toward the marginal, the liminal, and the unheard—a firebird cautioned to burn less brightly, a ghost-child ignored by the gods, a lover laying a road of words for a beloved to follow. By turns devastating and deeply hopeful, Marginalia to Stone Bird writes a fearless commentary on our history and others.

Happy 2016, everyone!

Award Eligibility 2015

2015 has been a great year for my work.

Prose-wise, I am most proud of the two Birdverse novelettes in BCS. I cannot decide which one I think is more award-worthy, but I feel “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” may win for me with a very narrow margin.


Geometries of Belonging,” (Birdverse novelette), Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“A wonderful portrayal of a society with trans and non-binary people, polyamory, fluid sexuality, and dom-sub relationships.” (Tiptree Award Nomination)

“The prose is blunt and powerful, the narrative compelling, and the worldbuilding both deep and lightly-sketched” – Liz Bourke,

“It’s a beautiful story, and lives and breathes through its characters” – Charles Payseur, Nerds of a Feather

“The magical system is beautifully realized and Lemberg gives “naming” magic a new spin.” – Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature

“Lemberg overlays strong themes of consent and identity with enjoyably complex  characters and setting, deftly introducing each element in its proper  time.” Michelle Ristuccia, Tangent Online

“… it’s especially worthwhile  reading for anyone who is playing with magic systems and wants to  understand how mind-healing magic and acceptance of neurodiversity could respectfully coexist.” – Ada Hoffmann, Autistic Book Party

Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” (Birdverse novelette), Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

“Beautiful telling of many gendered wordings and relationships, with great tenderness.” (Tiptree Award nomination)

“it’s soaked in sensory detail, transporting the reader to the world of  the tale. Overall, it’s lovely on many levels and a wonderful starting  place for Lemberg’s work” (A.C. Wise, Non-Binary Authors to Read)

It’s an incredibly complex story, but it reads with an effortless grace” – Charles Payseur, Nerds of a Feather

“This is a very good case study in how to write autism both respectfully and creatively in a secondary world.” (Ada Hoffmann, Autistic Book Party)

“It resonated a lot with me from the perspective of gender and societal  expectations, but also that of the complexities of family:  disappointment and love and misunderstanding.” (Paige Kimble,


“How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War,” Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed, June 2015.

The Shapes of Us, Translucent to your Eye,” Journal of Unlikely Academia/Unlikely Story.

These are the roads that loop and entwine me,” Bahamut (this is a magic realist memoir).



Poetry-wise, I consider my best work of 2015 to be “Long Shadow.” (it may be my strongest work in poetry, ever – but then again, I am biased in favor of epic poems). Runners-up for me are “Ranra’s Unbalancing” and “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong.”

Short (under 50 lines):

  • A Riddler at Market,” Uncanny.
  • “Love me, Love my Belly,” Love Me, Love My Belly II, Porkbelly Press.
  • “Scatter and Return,” Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Long (over 50 lines):

If you are a SFPA voter and would like to consider my poetry, please let me know if you’d like to receive a pdf with those poems.

Folkloristics essay is up at Strange Horizons

My essay “The Uses and Limitations of the Folklorist’s Toolkit for Fiction” is up at Strange Horizons.

This essay was a part of An Alphabet of Embers non-fiction rewards, and is dedicated to Arachne Jericho. I chose the topic and made all the choices about the content of this essay. I say this, because some of you may recognize my reference to a problematic editing project as the diverse fairytale anthology from Eggplant Productions, about which Arachne Jericho has written, as well as other people. A lot of things bothered me about that call, centrally its unquestioning use of a folkloristics tool, the Aarne-Thompson Tale Type Index, to decide whether something was, or was not, a fairytale.

The essay is not about Eggplant, or any past or present controversies. I wanted to talk about how using academic tools unquestioningly for fiction can be problematic. I discuss how the Eurocentric bias of much of our 19th and early 20th social science scholarship still informs not only academia, but the world beyond academia – and our particular corner of it.

Folklore is an international phenomenon. Groups as small as families and as large as nations have folklore. While documenting, studying, and popularizing folklore has often had a Eurocentric bias (for historical reasons I outline in the essay), folklore itself is not Eurocentric.

I hope this essay is useful to editors and readers alike. Thanks to AJ and other An Alphabet of Embers backers for making this possible, to Nin Harris and Bogi Takács for  great commentary on the first draft, and of course to the Strange Horizons editorial team for publishing it.

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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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