BOOK BIRTHDAY!!

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.

NOVELETTES

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, Tor.com

“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, rhiannonrevolts.com)

SHORT STORIES

“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

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.

How to Suppress Disabled Fans

how to suppress
With thanks to Joanna Russ. I am keeping the “she” pronouns as in Russ’s text, and also because it refers to the experiences of Mari Ness, Haddayr Copley-Woods, and Lee Martindale (in this I09 essay and interview), but this is applicable to people of all genders, and to all people who need access.

————

She didn’t ask for access/accommodation.

(But if it’s clear she did the deed. . .)

She asked for access, but she shouldn’t have. (It’s too expensive, too difficult, too fussy, conrunners are too busy.)

She asked for access, but look how she asked. (Too quietly, too loudly, too soon, too late, she was rude, too wishy-washy, too oblique, too pushy, she asked the wrong people, she did not write an essay about it, she wrote essays in all the wrong places, we did not see the links, she sent emails to the wrong people, we lost the emails, conrunners work very hard).

She asked for access, but if she wanted to get it… (she should have volunteered, she should have paid more money, she should have respected the conrunners).

She asked for access, but she isn’t really a participant like the other participants, and it wasn’t really asking.

She asked for access, but she does not really need it. (She’s not that disabled, it can’t be that bad, she’s just whining, she’s only doing this to get attention, her friends will help her, somebody else will help, she will sit on the ground with other panelists elevated, other panelists will sit on the ground with her)

She asked for it, but she’s an anomaly. (It’s too much bother, it’s too much to spend on just one person, she will not need it again, no other people need it.)

She asked for it BUT. . .

———–

Comments are moderated. Depending on how heated this gets, I may close comments. Thanks for understanding.

 

#accessiblecons and Geek Social Fallacies

Earlier today, I had a series of tweets on accessibility and geek social fallacies under the #accessiblecons hashtag. I am putting my tweets in a post with some additional links and edits.

#ACCESSIBLECONS

I have thoughts about #AccessibleCons and Geek Social Fallacies. There’s been a lot of talk about Geek Social Fallacies in the last few years in the context of geek communities and the social repercussions of abuse. We talked about how abuse is glossed over or minimized, sometimes for many years or even decades, because of Geek Social Fallacies 1 and 2: “ostracizers are evil” and “friends accept me as I am.”

Ater some years in fandom, I get this feeling that many – most? – geeks are secretly proud of Geek Social Fallacies. Many, most of us have been bullied and/or excluded. It feels wrong to exclude others, when we are afraid in turn to be excluded.

Except those Geek Social Fallacies only seem to apply to certain people. They do not not SEEM to apply to disabled fans.

Con after con after con, conversation after conversation, geeks ostracize disabled and neuroatypical geeks.”Friends accept me as I am,” except for that geek in a wheelchair who keeps being invited to panels, but is without a ramp for YEARS. And it’s never, ever “friends accept me as I am”, it’s “your access is too expensive”, “we did not know,” “it’s your fault.” Disabled fans give up on the field and leave, while serial sexual harassers will have friends who accept them as they are, defend them, claim they were misunderstood.

And let’s not pretend that it’s only the disabled and neuroatypical fans who are excluded from Geek Social Fallacies.”Friends accept me as I am” unless you are [insert marginalization here], then Geek Social Fallacies will not apply to you.Then you are too costly, too fussy, too loud, too touchy, too sensitive, then you harsh the squee, then you are erased.

Why is it that calling out serial sexual abusers AND at the same time getting Mari a ramp BOTH harsh the squee? “Ostracizers are evil?” Then why do we need to have the conversation about the appalling lack of accessibility at many major cons over and over and over for years?

“Geek Social Fallacies” are in themselves a fallacy. There are many people – not just the disabled -pushed away from fandom.

It’s not expensive to get a ramp in the US with pre-planning. Most hotels have them ready because they are ADA-compliant. If you invite a person in a wheelchair to speak at a con, and there is no ramp, you ostracized them. Own it.

It’s not because it’s too difficult, too expensive, it’s not because the fan did not ask nicely or loudly or politely enough. It’s because you did NOT accept them as they are. It’s because you ostracized them. Will you own it?

Year after year, I see defensiveness. I see the same arguments repeat. It’s too pricey. It’s the disabled person’s fault. Where are our Geek Social Fallacies when it comes to access? Can we as a community stop ostracizing disabled fans already?

As Lev Mirov (@levmirov) effectively summarized, it’s “come as you are” unless you are disabled, then it’s “don’t come.” We need to fix this.

Thank you for reading.

If you are a conrunner, please consider before commenting here with more defensiveness. Thanks.

Ranra’s Unbalancing

My Birdverse poem “Ranra’s Unbalancing” is up at Strange Horizons. It’s about a ruler trying to save her people from disaster; also about quince seeds.

For those following Birdverse, Ranra is the mythic matriarch of the Ranravan/Kekeri family (who appear in Geometries of Belonging and in my older novelette Held Close in Syllables of Light). It’s something of a theme in my Birdverse work that Ranra’s descendants think about her story, each in different ways. “Ranra’s Unbalancing” is in Ranra’s own voice.

I put a lot into the reading of it, too – the mp3 is available as a part of the November poetry podcast, with readings of other poems by Octavia Cade, Lev Mirov, and Alice Fanchiang.

The traditional song quoted in my poem is “The New York Trader”. I really like this version of it by Kadril.

This poem would not have been possible without the support of my Patreon backers. This year, Patreon support allowed me to write many Birdverse pieces that I would not have otherwise written. If you like my work, I hope you consider supporting me.

Two in-depth reviews of “Geometries…”, and a bonus!

beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-183-seventh-anniversary-double-issue-cover-200x266

My Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” has been reviewed  by Ada Hoffmann for her Autistic Book Party series and by Paige Kimble for their Unmonstering series. These are both in-depth, thoughtful engagements with the story and especially with the story’s focus on  disability,  neuroatypicality, and mental illness. I am extremely grateful to these and other reviewers who truly get this story and what it is doing, for whom it works not just a s a piece of fantasy writing but as a commentary on the lives we live.

From Ada Hoffmann’s review:

In “Geometries”, Healer Parét, the protagonist, is a mind-healer who can magically cure people of all sorts of mental ailments. But Parét’s cures are imperfect, and impermanent, and often have to be repeated – and, most importantly, Parét never heals without the patient’s consent.

This gets Parét into trouble when he meets a genderqueer autistic teenager named Dedéi – a patient whose parents and grandparents want a cure (both for their gender and for their neurotype), but who desperately and emphatically does not want to be cured, and is capable of saying so, loudly and repeatedly.

Approximately zero story time is spent on the decision of whether to perform or not perform a cure. It is obvious to Dedéi that they do not want to be cured, and it is obvious to Parét that he will not perform mind-healing on a patient like Dedéi who does not want it. The conflict in the story comes, not from agonizing over what it would be appropriate to do with Dedéi, but from the fallout and social consequences of Dedéi and Parét both sticking to their principles.

From Paige Kimble’s review:

Rose is also in conversation here with the Miracle Cure narrative in SFF, the remaking of disabled characters to fit into the normal box.  But the truth of it, their own knowledge of this experience and their own feelings that are simpatico with mine and so many others’…that is what really makes ‘Geometries’ sing (like bird song, perhaps) for me.

Thank you, Ada and Paige, for your thoughts. It is a thrill that my Birdverse work continues to resonate.

As a bonus, Charles Payseur pairs “Geometries of Belonging” with mulled wine on The Monthly Round at Nerds of a Feather:

A story about age and consent, about power and choice, about strength and healing, “Geometries of Belonging” by Rose Lemberg is a mulled wine, a drink best served hot with a dense rush of flavors and a comfort for cold autumn nights.

If you enjoyed my Birdverse work, please consider supporting it on Patreon.

Story sale to Uncanny Magazine

I’ve signed the contract and I can announce that my new Birdverse short story, “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar,” will appear in Uncanny Magazine. It’s the happiest story I wrote since… hm. It might just be the happiest story I’ve ever written, period.

It’s about two artists and their art and a very great distance that separates them, and it’s about sand and jewels and glass, and I am very happy to be able to share it with you soon.

Thank you, Lynne and Michael!

More Birdverse reviews

A.C. Wise highlights my work and “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” in particular as a part of her Non-Binary Authors to Read feature:

It is a story rich in imagery and sensory detail. It is a story about magic – who is allowed to use it, and what kind are they allowed to use. It is a story about language – who is allowed to speak, and what happens if they cannot. It is a story about love – what would you do for its sake, how far would you travel, what would you give up and leave behind. And it is a story about self – coming to know who you are, and seeing others more clearly in the process. Lemberg also uses the tale to explore gender in fascinating ways….[The story] presents the notion of gender as something both rigid and fluid, each binary choice coming with its own weight. As mentioned before, 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.

“Geometries of Belonging” is now on the Tiptree Recommendations list, along with “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds.” Thank you very much, anonymous recommender!

Tangent Online review of “Geometries…”:

…Lemberg overlays strong themes of consent and identity with enjoyably complex characters and setting, deftly introducing each element in its proper time. A surreal magic system reflects on the characters’ diverse personalities while providing a sense of otherness.

Charles Payseur reviews my worldbuilding poem, “Three Principles of Strong Building,” as a part of his Strange Horizons roundup:

Ah, something to hold me over a little while longer while waiting for the next Birdverse story to read. This poem sheds some light on the system of magic created in the stories and also just does a fine job examining the relationship between the land, the individual, and the creations of the individual. […] The poem itself seems part of some larger text, an instructional one designed to inform the reader of the relationship between land and mind, mind and building, land and building. Triangles all, balanced and balancing, and damn I want more stories now.

I’m working on it, Charles!!!

Patreon updates!

I’ve switched my Patreon to monthly payments. The previous per-creation arrangement was not really working for me, as I ended up constantly worrying whether new pieces were worth charging for, and in the end, nothing felt quite worthy of posting for pay. The monthly payments feel liberating. They also give patrons more predictability – you know what you will be charged each month, regardless of how often I post.

Which is to say, you can support my Patreon with as little as $1 a month to gain access to snippets, worldbuilding, poetry, drawings, and more. Support is encouraging and allows me to continue creating.

I’m posting a new Birdverse poem today. I hope you will consider supporting my work. And a very big thank you to my existing patrons!

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About

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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