The week departed

Photos from Twitter etc - part 1

Photos from Twitter etc – part 1

  • It took the slow boat, but my copy of The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 has arrived, with my story “Skull and Hyssop“! Almost like I’m a writer or something.
  • I had cause to quote Douglas Stewart’s gentle poem “B Flat”, and it remains a favourite:
    “Sing softly, Muse, the Reverend Henry White
    Who floats through time as lightly as a feather
    Yet left one solitary gleam of light
    Because he was the Selbourne naturalist’s brother…”
  • I’ve bought my membership for this year’s Readercon in Quincy, Massachusetts!
  • Terns of Reference

  • On Thursday I was the Event Illustrator (with a media pass and everything) for Elizabeth Gilbert’s event for the Brisbane Writers Festival’s year-round program, and it was great fun. Some photos in poor light are in a Facebook album – I’ll put up better photos after BWF has the chance to do so. I’ve been reading Big Magic, one of the more practically mystical works on creativity I’ve read:
    “Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Watching Ep. 4 of Supergirl and was struck by the fact the ONLY conversation between men (which I could remember) was in a flashback interruption where one was sacrificing himself for a child. It was quite subtly done, and I don’t usually track this but one of the jarring notes in Deadpool was how (occasionally awkwardly) it did the exact opposite, so it was on my mind.
  • It was a weekend for pastiches on Twitter:
    27/2/2016:
    “I must arise and draw now, and sketch a book or three,
    And several covers lay out, of rough lead pencil made.
    Three commissions I will lay out, and perhaps a birthday card,
    And sharpen my paper-cutting blade.

    And I shall Get Things Done then, for things happen very slow
    When I lie abed in the morning tweeting pastiches of Yeats
    And realising it is of cardinal import to go online and check right now
    Whether his name rhymes with greets or gates.

    I will arise and draw now for always night and day
    I hear deadlines tapping with increasing intensity at my door.
    Whether I lie on top of the doona or put the pillows over my head,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

    28/2/2016:
    “Yes I want to draw a picture,
    Or take my bike up to the store,
    But instead I have to spend the day driving around to buy a Macbook cord!”

 

Photos from Twitter etc - part 2

Photos from Twitter etc – part 2

Second-hand and Antiquarian

(Being a small Twitter diversion for October – the first title incorporates several Angela Slatter stories which prompted the exercise)

Second-hand and Antiquarian

The Book of Spells and Skin and Words
A Catalogue of Sins of Birds
The Compleat Changer’s Almanack
A Monograph on Rare Sea-Wrack

A Treatise on the White Blood Moon
A Guide to Whales (with Whaling Runes)
The History of a Hearthside Ghost
(Inscribed: To She Who Haunts Me Most)

Of the books you requested, these
Are currently in stock, so please
Find them enclosed. We will retain
Your list on the offchance we gain

– A first ed. Necronomicon
A Tour Guide On the Rubicon
(Please write, if others spring to mind).
Sincerely, yours, the undersigned.

Print is Dead

Today, on Twitter, Text Publishing was (facetiously?) harking back to the gentler days before the great YA/Adult Lit debate, and wishing for some new pieces on the death of print publishing. I think they wanted links to articles, but I wrote a poem instead.

Print is Dead

Ink stains the sheets.
The newswires said
Behind a locked door
Print lies dead.

TV detectives
Trace white lines
Where the books fell
With broken spines.

(The culprit words
In bright neon
Through dirty windows
Flicker on,

Then flicker off.)
Print lies there, still
Ignoring all the ink
We spill.

Illustration Friday: Beginning

Illustration Friday: Beginning

Some initial capitals, in scratchboard with digital colour, for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Beginning“. They are, as usual, test pieces for another larger project, but I chose the letters based on what I thought were the first letters of some recent poems. I managed to get one completely wrong.

Last week, Terri Windling held a winter poetry challenge on her blog. Below are three of my contributions. The first, on bears, I posted with the last Illustration Friday picture. One other is not here because it turns out it did not start with the letter “I”. So I have a spare capital and a poem to post later. If you are a fan of poetry, illustration, myths, fables or fairytales, I recommend checking out the posts – there are many more poems in the comments.

BAVARIA

(Theme: Snow White, and a memory of first encountering a landscape out of fairytales)

hen apple trees scrabbled to view,
Above a wall, boughs half-unleaved,
Heavy with portent and truth,
All bronze and pewter, I believed.
When garnet, pomegranate fruit,
Struck at my heart, I almost grieved.
(The castles only ever were
Sprung from some wild dream-aquifer).
Snow falling from the mirrored sky,
Softened the blow. But then when I
Saw winter forests spider-grey
All webbed and knotted out of view,
(So little space to struggle through),
I knew the stories all were true.

CUSTOM

(Theme: Deer in Fairy Tales, Folklore and Myth, which fit with recent research on legends of white deer for another project)

BeginningWDeer

e do not say we saw a deer. We saw
The starlight slanting through rain-silvered leaves
The mist lift off the lake, owls through the trees
Glide white and silent. This, and nothing more.

We do not say we saw a figure pale
Among the rushes, long-limbed, loitering.
We saw the rushes only, rustling,
The thin frost freezing to a glassy veil.

We do not speak of tracks that, seen too near,
Appear to change from hooves to naked feet.
We do not speak of strangers whom we meet –
Such questions only ever cost too dear.

We keep an older law:
These two have always been
Separate: What you have seen
And what you say you saw.

ROBIN’S FLIGHT

(Theme: The Wild in Myth, Folklore and Fantasy)

ut of rumour and night,
Blood and bone,
Something knotted and gnarled
Had sprouted and grown.

A tree climbed out of a heart.
It may have been
Oak or ash or elder,
Or else from a dream –
Not evergreen.

When the crown of gold and scarlet
Tarnished to grey
The branches clutched at sky.
Something had flown away.

Illustration Friday: Search, and poems

Illustration Friday: Search

My current art warm-up exercise is painting this year’s calendar – free-handed ink and gouache with a liberal dash of gold acrylic – and the stories for these four months all involve searching: sisters for brothers, brave lassies for lovers, mothers for daughters…

The girl on the bear is generally from the story “East of the Sun, West of the Moon“, which I had in mind because of Terri Windling’s winter poetry challenge, and yesterday’s topic, which was bears. The post is full of fairytale art, and the comments of poetry.

Australia is bearless, but my mother is more-or-less from Colorado and we were raised  in Western Queensland on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, as well as fairytales (and my father telling us to run outside because bears had come in the night, we could still see bare footprints around the house), so this is my poem:

Bears My Mother Brought With Her

The bears that haunted
Nights and sleep,
The bears that spread
Their skins for warmth
In covered-wagon dreams,
The bears
That kept the dark
Soft-furred and deep,
That left their mark
On trackless dust,
The bears that must
Have haunted trees
And granite hills,
Have spilled
From northern lips
And filled
The bare and bearless
Eucalypts,
And fallen on this thin divide,
Have ranged like cattle in the dusk,
Left stories like a trace of musk,
Carried the frost off like a bride
On broad translucent labouring shoulders,
Lichened like boulders –

And we, who never saw a bear,
We never doubted they were there.

And here is another digital sketch, of the end of a search:

 

 

Illustration Friday: Search

 

The Dalek Less Travelled

The Dalek less travelled

Oh look a Dalek!

This instalment of the game is for a book by Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry): the readable, entertaining and beautifully validating explanatory/musing/instructional guide to poetic forms, The Ode Less Travelled. I love this book. It is very practical, far from dry, genuinely useful as a reference guide, a practical course, a lever for disengaging the angst from the rigour, and a handy-sized object for beating friends over the head with until they produce werewolf sestinas (Caitlene, I know where you live).

The drawing is also in honour of travelling at home, on two fronts: the one where you do all the things at home you like to do travelling (for me, that is sketching in cafes and writing in restaurant windows, so that works out well); and the one where you plan trips to very-likely-Dartmoor-after-World-Fantasy-this-November. So please feel free to let me know if you know the identity of the mysterious “iconic figure in Australian land law” who is connected with Dartmoor. That person is not the reason for going to Dartmoor, but I received a flyer for the 2nd Annual UK Property Case Law Tour today, and now I need to know!

Also, I just finished a new book cover and set of internal illustrations for an amazing collection of stories for an author whose last publication from the same press was illustrated by one of my heroes of illustration and I’m just going to faint quietly off the back of the chair now.

 

Illustration Friday: Yield

Illustration Friday: Yield

This was a test of new ink (happy), paper (pretty happy) and nib (much larger and less yielding than I’m used to). The texture was added digitally but is part of one I made with ink and coffee last year. The illustration is for A. E. Housman’s poem, “God’s Acre“:

This hopeless garden that they sow
With the seeds that never grow…

Evidently I once knew Housman’s poems very well – I was certain this was from A Shropshire Lad, but it’s from a much later (manuscript?) collection, all of which are still very familiar too me. Often bleak, sometimes spoilers for Sayer’s novels, but also beautiful. Not my first Housman illustration, either.

Bonus weeping angel, of course, but no Dalek this time.