The official launch of my new chapbook is only 14 days away! As I sit here waiting for the exciting day, I decided to make a video showing off my author copies of Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale. I also talk a bit about the original “Twelve Dancing Princesses’ story and how it inspired me to start writing these poems.
I continue to be amazed and humbled by the kind things people are saying about Twelve, such as this review on The Biblioshelf:
“In Twelve, Andrea Blythe manages to pull off a modern retelling in spectacular fashion whilst retaining the elements of fairytales and storytelling which all of its fans love. Taking each sister one by one, Blythe dedicates each of the Twelve Princesses with their own unique voice and identity giving fresh substance and purpose to the once subservient, archaic damsels-in-distress in search of their prince.”
Preorders the book are still open at Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound. And, if you’re the giveaway loving sort, then you might like to know that Interstellar Flight Press is currently offering a chance to win copies of Twelve over on Goodreads.
Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Collaborative work made with Elizabeth Paul has been published in multiple venues online and in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press). Rebecca is a Women’s National Book Association poetry contest winner and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was published by dancing girl press in 2019, and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Find her at rebeccahartolander.com and @rholanderpoet.
Your new collection of poetry is Dressing the Wounds. Tell us about the project and how it came into being.
The new collection is also my first collection, and it came into being in kind of an unusual way, at least for me. In sum, I created it with a specific press in mind, and I didn’t get feedback on the manuscript as a whole before submitting it for consideration. To explain further, in the summer of 2018, I was feeling pretty discouraged by the lack of success I was having placing my full-length manuscript. I had finished my MFA program three years prior, and each year I was having a steady incline in individual subs being accepted, but lots of rejections (and a nice bunch of semi-finalist/finalist nods) for the book. I felt like it was high time I had a book in the world, and it began to seem silly that I hadn’t even had a chapbook out yet. Even students of mine were publishing chaps, and I was feeling like I’d skipped a step trying to go from individual publications to placing a full-length manuscript.
I’m delighted — of course I’m delighted. Though some small part of me wonders if, considering everything that’s going on in the world, all the stress and doubt and fear, whether I should be subdued in my excitement, more respectful of those who are struggling right now.
But here’s the thing, I think the world needs good news. It needs victories great and small. It needs celebration in whatever small spades that life can offer.
So, I’m thrilled and excited and overjoyed to announce that I have a chapbook coming out this year. The cover is beautiful with art by Yana Germann and the layout is stunning. In fact, when I first saw the combination of fonts and illustrations combined together with the words I wrote, it was so beautiful I started to cry. It feels like a “real” book. And I’m so grateful for the amazing work that Holly Lyn Walrath and her team has done to make Twelve into the best possible book it can be.
I’m also overjoyed that folks whom I respect in the poetry community have also said lovely things about Twelve.
“Andrea Blythe’s collection of the retold (and often feminist) Brothers Grimm fairytale, ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses,’ is a breath of air at the bottom of the ocean. It’s not only fresh, but it’s so different and unique that it deserves multiple reads. One of my favorite lines in the book is also something we should all ask ourselves, ‘Do you mean it?’” — Joanna C. Valente, author of Marys of the Sea and editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault
“Hearkening back to when Grimms’ tales were less fairy, more formidable, Andrea Blythe offers a rhythmic, alliterative retelling of traditional stories that reveal a stark imbalance between genders. An engaging and eerie tribute to the young girls and women who read, dance, and keep things clean, Twelve does exactly what her storyteller suggests of her characters: it ‘see[s] the truth beneath the pretty surface.’” — Christina M. Rau, author of the Elgin Award winning Liberating The Astronauts
Twelve will be published on September 7th. Pre-orders for Twelve will open up around June.
For those interested in receiving a digital review copy of Twelve for review, the chapbook is now available at Net Galley.
I have no idea what the world is going to looks like a year from now, a month, a week, tomorrow — but I do know this: I have a collection poetry forthcoming. It’s a collection I’m proud of, and I’m elated to be able to share it with the world.
Do you have any victories to share? Any good news big or small? I would love to hear about it and join you in the celebration.
This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my newsletter on the writing life and things writers might find interesting. If you enjoyed reading this, please check it out and subscribe.
Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & seven chapbooks, including the recently released little ditch (above/ground press, 2018). Trauma Suture is forthcoming from above/ground in 2020. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Berkeley Poetry Review, and The Tiny. Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.
Please tell us about the genesis of your new chapbook, little ditch. What is the collection about and how did it come into being?
little ditch is a chapbook about survival through sexual abuse, rape culture, & internalized misogyny. This is also a book about being sexualized as a young, non-binary person growing up in rape culture. About being a preteen on the verge of something shattering. About the fur.
As I was completing my first book, Field Guide to Autobiography, I was visited by these urgent, dark spells or calls to action to write a way towards these poems. These poems felt caked in dirt, but very alive – I felt the need to dig deeper. Using various creative exercises like trance, tarot, & cut-ups, I tried to summon the hidden. There were times where I’d not be able to recall anything, other times I’d feel immersed in sense memory. All these gaps and leaks where trauma holds in the body. I later referred to these as “the ditch poems.”
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) hosts the annual Elgin Awards — named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin — which honor the best poetry books (49+ pages) and chapbooks (10–39 pages) of speculative poetry from the past two years.
The 2019 winners for book length collection are:
Winner:War: Dark Poems by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2018)
Second Place:Artifacts by Bruce Boston (Independent Legions, 2018)
Third Place: Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande Books, 2017)
The 2019 winners for chapbook length collection are:
That’s right! My collaborative chapbook written with the amazing Lauren Madeline Wiseman has placed third in the Elgin Awards. We are so phenomenally honored to be included among such amazing works of poetry.
And I’m so stoked that I’m hosting a poetry giveaway on my Instagram — featuring copies of the two winners and a copy of my collaborative chapbook.