Culture Consumption: January 2021

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

Initiated Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia“An initiation is a beginning, a rite of passage, a ceremony that signals an advance of some kind, into adulthood or a new form of knowledge.”

In Initiated: Memoir of a Witch,  Amanda Yates Garcia shares her journey as a witch, beginning with being initiated into the tradition by her mother, which she pulls away from as a young woman. Her path takes her through abuse and hardships, through which she struggles against the expectations that society tries to place on women. In her desire for beauty and love, she find herself surprised by a number of initiations over her her lifetime that guide her back toward the practice and ritual of witchcraft. Garcia’s prose is beautifully poetic and interlaced with mythology and the stories of magical women throughout history, which I found enlightening. I really enjoyed taking this armchair journey.

I read two great poetry books this month. Meg Johnson’s Without: Body, Name, Country (Vine Leaves Press) presents poems and flash creative nonfiction that explore identity, illness, and politics. Broken into two parts, the first section offers poems that explore various personas, while the second presents memoir the author’s experience with a harrowing illness in the form of short, evocative flash pieces.

And the Whale by Sonya Vatomsky (Paper Nautilus) is a gorgeous chapbook, filled with powerful poems that weave mythology and Russian folklore into an exploration of love, sex, grief, and trauma. I was personally in love with the persona of the Widow, who features in several poems that examine the shadows of the past.

Books Finished This Month:
1. Without: Body, Name, Country by Meg Johnson
2. And the Whale by Sonya Vatomsky
3. Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia

Total Books for the Year: 3

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Nox Pareidolia, edited by Robert S. Wilson, The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy, and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

In Which the Deer, Unwittingly or Not, Moves In” by Nikki Caffier Smith (Strange Horizons) —

“all day she and her grandfather watch the deer.
it gets tiring over the next few weeks, living with this creature.
the deer eats their food, nibbles on her sweaters.
it doesn’t help with the dishes or sweep the floor
or pay its share of the rent.”

Last Bus to What’s Left of Albuquerque” by Carrie Cuinn (Kaleidotrope) — “The bus station man walked outside and immediately blinked, hard, against the too-bright sun. Above him, the sky stretched out until it was only the ghost of blue and emptiness, without even a smear of greasy cloud; in the distance, he saw a dusty updraft that could be the approaching bus, or another of the desert’s restless sand augers, spinning furiously but amounting to nothing.”

Make Believe” by Navya Dasari (Liminality) —

“as a kid I made believe I was Morgana
born whispering curses over smoke
and I know you would have been
Guinevere, the one who wanders”

What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide” by Eleanor R. Wood (Diabolical Plots) — “The ball bounces off the tide-packed sand and Bailey leaps to catch it with lithe grace and accuracy. He returns to deposit it at my feet for another go. It’s nearly dusk; the beach is ours on this January evening.”

And Then Finally” by Diannely Antigua (BOAAT) —

“I don’t know why the performance of leaving

was a kind of magic, adventure to nowhere,

navigating the terrain of our small apartment.”

The Poet and the Spider” by Cynthia So (Anathema Magazine) — “You saw the Empress once, when you were still a pillow-cheeked and blossom-mouthed child. She was tall and severe, and the train of her yellow dress flowed behind her for miles and miles, a river of pure gold. You stood behind your mother and wanted to bathe yourself in that river, and the Empress turned, her crown twinkling like a cosmos of cold stars, and she looked at you.”

From “Her Read” by Jennifer Sperry Steinorth (The Guesthouse) —

“say ‘I’m sick’
and wish very much
to be found”

(Note: This piece features visual art and word spacing not reflected in this excerpt.)

Sleepless Night, #29, #57, and #69 by Sarah J. Sloat (The Guesthouse) —

“not having dressed, I
lay crumpled
in
the sunlight of a foreign
melancholy”

(Note: This piece features visual art and word spacing not reflected in this excerpt.)

Self Portrait as Salt” by Despy Boutris (Drunk Monkeys) —

“And how could I have not? Looked back,
doubted, tried to catch one last glimpse
of our home, our marriage
bed, the olive trees we’d planted
in the backyard.”

Movies & Television

As I didn’t watch any new movies or shows, I don’t really have anything to share here. I keep going back to rewatching older shows that I love or turning on YouTube videos — mostly the kinds of things I can have on in the back ground while I get some blogging or other work done.

Games

I had a rough night of insomnia a couple of weeks ago — one of those nights in which I couldn’t calm down my mind and nothing seemed to provide the appropriate level of calm to allow me to sleep. Instead of torturing myself by fighting the lack of sleep, I opened up my phone and decided to try out The Collage Atlas, a game I’d downloaded on a whim from Apple Arcade.

I turned out to be exactly what I needed.

John William Evelyn, The Collage Atlas - interactive poetry and art

Written and developed solely by John William Evelyn, The Collage Atlas can best be described as interactive art and poetry. As you play the game, you journey through a gorgeous and richly detailed, hand-drawn black and white dream world, with text and phrases assembling along the way and integrating as part of the landscape. This is combined with soothing music and soft sound effects of pages fluttering and wind rustling.

John William Evelyn, The Collage Atlas - interactive poetry and art

John William Evelyn, The Collage Atlas - interactive poetry and art

Sometimes exactly what you need is to be immersed into a gorgeous world of of poetry, art, and sound. Sometimes you just need to be told, “It’s okay.”

After playing and being soothed by The Collage Atlas, I was able to quickly fall into a deep, relaxed sleep.

Podcasts

Writing Excuses is working through a series of episodes on publishings, and both Publishing Pittfalls and Publishers Are Not Your Friends provide excellent insights.

As a fan of Arthurian low, I was absolutely captivated by the Imaginary Worlds episode, Camelot Forever, which discusses the history of the King Arthur lore and some of its adaptations into film.


That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?


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