05/31/17

She is, there—amongst the Mango Trees—a Flytrap Garden

Here’s a flash prosetry piece of mine which appeared in Verse Kraken in 2014! The formatting in this inspired me to do “stone”, my twine poem.

“She is, there—amongst the Mango Trees—a Flytrap Garden”
by Penny Stirling

For the summer holidays she goes north to her girlfriend's family's mango farm
of         parental introductions and appraisal—oh, scriptwriting? many jobs?
           red dust, sweat, spiders, mosquitoes and flies, wondering if she'll make it 'til New Year's.

bit overwhelmed but okay!
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12/21/15

The Selkie Before Summer

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southern fur seal; Milford Sound, New Zealand, February 2008

My long poem “The Selkie Before Summer” is up at Liminality! It’s about a southern fur seal (or maybe an Australian fur seal) who leaves the ocean for the first time to rescue a lover and ends up exploring Victoria and gender and matters of the heart. (And there’s another poem in this issue about a sea creature who heads inland, by Sandi Leibowitz!) Yes, it is yet another S-title poem about skin. I might have gotten it out of my system now but I promise nothing.

Earless seals like greys and harps have always seemed like quasi-fantasy animals to me. I knew they were real, I saw them on documentaries, but they were just so different to the fur seals I was more familiar with that there was something mythical about them. (White swans have the same effect. When I visited Britain and saw them it was a very “how is this even a real island” moment. Seeing a lone black swan amongst a group of white swans in Windsor did not help this surreal disconnect.) But imagine an Australian fur seal selkie walking along a yellow sandy beach, their brown skin draped over their head to keep off the burning December sun, even though every story and art I see specifies otherwise. That’s more real to me than anything involving a grey seal and the Atlantic.

Of course, it is now well and truly summer, but I was in fact in Victoria this past spring, so here’s two indulgent photos. (If the eucalypts look strange, they’re shedding their back, which is one of my favourite things! Such a beautiful time of year, seeing the trees shed and change colour.)

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The Otways, Victoria, September 2015

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The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, September 2015

07/16/15

sky and kin

My story “Tanith’s Sky” is one of 50 reprinted in The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years! This anthology’s only in paper form but you can still read “Tanith’s Sky” online here. It’s about what happens after the world’s been saved, it’s about grief and non-romantic love and maths and astrology and gender.

And I’m in the new issue of Lackington’s with “Kin, Painted”, which is illustrated by Likhain! It’s about finding a way to be happy in yourself, in your family and in your life, it’s about paint and non-romantic love and romantic love and compromise and being different amongst the different and quite a lot of paint. In a couple weeks the issue will be online for free but if you can’t wait there’s the (very recommendable) ebook and subscriptions available!

06/22/15

skins and seas

My short poem “Skin Ashore” is up at inkscrawl! It’s got a selkie and consonance and difficult life choices.

And my longer poem “Singing Her Body Oceanic” is up at Liminality with mermaids and tattoos and yearning for something new.

Along with “stone” that makes three poems published this month (!), all with S titles and all featuring changing skin. They were all written in different years so that’s quite some coincidence there. I feel like I should probably understand poetry better now but most of it is just ??? to me still.

Short notes:
The supralittoral zone sits above high tide and is regularly splashed.
The photic zone is well-lit.
The mesopelagic aka the twilight zone is 200 to 1000 metres below the surface.
The bathyal zone aka the midnight zone is 1000 to 4000 metres below the surface; sunlight does not breach it.

11/11/14

More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament

My consonance-based story “More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament” is online for everyone to read in Lackington’s issue 4! With stunning art by Kat Weaver! *___* There is some beautiful prose in this issue, as there has been in the previous issues! I’m so happy to be part of such a luscious endeavour.

(A-and it got such a nice review at Clavis Aurea, bwee!)

One note for the curious: “carnivore demon ducks” refers to the extinct Bullockornis planei, nicknamed the “Demon duck of doom”, the 2.5 metre tall carnivorous duck. There’s a collection of them at Kings Park.

I wrote a bit about the journey of “More Embers” earlier, and there’s the very short genesis of the birds’ war if you would like some more weirdy birdy words.

I don’t know anything about wagtails outside of Australia (didn’t even knew they existed until a few months ago!) but it’s difficult to imagine life without willie wagtails. They’re tiny, adorable, inquisitive and utterly fierce. They’ll attack any kookaburras, magpies (also wow non-Australian magpies are weird, I don’t know how youse cope), crows, falcons, eagles that get too close to their nests. And they’ll follow you around the garden as you weed, hopping about and wagging back and forth.

09/5/14

Zenith’s Wake

Zenith’s Wake is up at Mirror Dance! At 9,400 words it’s the longest completed thing I’ve written since I was a teenager, and probably the first time I’ve had to use maths to work out how quickly a plot should be progressing.

It is about death, grief and disaster relief; stress, relationships, love and homesickness; magic, logistics and uncertain futures.

Some minor notes: Ithikana is a Brisbane-analogue and Istapor is a Singapore-analogue; Australia really does have stinging trees.

08/28/14

the white-vested story-teller

I am so immensely happy to say that my bird consonance story “More Embers Than Feathers Filled The Firmament” will appear in Lackington’s Issue 4 later this year. Here is a preview of the willie wagtail’s tale for you!

For once that last dusk of buried dead ducks had ended we discussed what to do, and though diplomat pigeon was our planned decision, the sneaky penguin clan acceded not. Secretly the salt-sea birds sent an assassin siskin, skilled in shadow-killing, to savagely avenge their cousins. Since she travelled solo and lacked restrictive bureaucrats, the blood-letting siskin reached the lupus lair well before our patch-winged pigeons gained pig-faced wolf’s favour for a conference

I started “More Embers” seven years ago and, before finishing it a couple months back, hadn’t touched it for four or five years. Originally it had been a challenge to myself! I had written some short things indulging in my love of sounds, phrases constructed out of alliteration, consonance and assonance, growing into sentences and paragraphs fuelled by combinations of lovely sounds.

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04/14/14

Mango Flies and Body Lies

A flash story of mine appears in issue 2 of Verse Kraken amongst the poetry and photographs and performances. With a very silly title, here is She is, there—amongst the Mango Trees—a Flytrap Garden, a tale of summer experiences. And by that I mean summer bugs. (It’s an image rather than text; if there are accessibility issues and you’d like to read it, please let me know and I’ll arrange something!) Verse Kraken had a launch party which I couldn’t attend, all the more sadly after reading Alex’s write-up.
I had been preparing to talk about how strange it feels, writing such a summery story in summer and rereading it in autumn and feeling nostalgia but NOPE this week has been hot and humid and I have seen too many mosquitoes and there are cyclones in the news.

I was supposed to have another flash piece published in December, and a poem in January. I’ve heard one is hopefully on the way soonish; the other one’s status is a terrible mystery! Frustratingly I’ve not been writing as much as I would like. I seem to start getting some headway into treating one health issue and then another acts up for attention. One thing I have done recently was a poem quite unlike any I’ve written before, which was quite exciting! Hopefully it can find a home.