Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Dragon's Story (Online Novel)

Dear readers, Chapter 1 of our fiction editor Andrew Hallam's online novel/editor bio is now up at Dante's Heart: A Journal of Myth, Fairytale, Folklore, and Fantasy. Those of you who have been with us for a while know that our editor bios are unusual. They may take the form of a myth or a poem or (in this case) a novel. In any case, they are serialized - they come in installments. Come enjoy the Prologue and Chapter 1 of Andrew's story, drop us a line at to let us know what you thought of it or to suggest a title for the novel, and watch for Chapter 2, which is coming soon!

Here are the first few sentences of Andrew's tale of wit, misadventure, and panache, to whet your appetite:

At last measure, Andrew's wingspan exceeded forty-five feet. He only emerged from his chrysalis about four weeks ago, but he is already beginning to grow white feathers....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Endicott is closing

Dear readers,

I have sad news. Endicott, the Studio for Mythic Arts, is closing down and is preparing its final, farewell issue. If you do not know Endicott, please visit them at once! For many years now they have nurtured the growing field of artists, writers, and readers in the world of mythic and fairy tale arts. We wrote this to the editors, Terri Windling and Midori Snyder, as our appreciation of their work:

More than godmothers of the field, you have been the branching mother-tree, green with life and mystery, that allowed the rest of us saplings to take root. You have given us inspiration and nourishment. The sunlight that came to us through your boughs came green-tinted and wondrous: you helped us look around at our world again and see it as if for the first time.

The archives at Endicott will remain online, and - here is the bright morning news at the end of the grieving: both artists will now be free to move on to beautiful new projects that will surely astound and astonish us.

Terri & Midori have gracefully suggested that there is now a thriving field of mythic arts and many fresh venues for such work (Dante's Heart among them), so that they can consider their work well done. Yet they were the first. To look upon the retirement of such a venue as Endicott is to be deeply saddened: this was a place where, as in Cheers, everybody knew our name, they were always glad we came, and they were always ready to celebrate and support everything beautiful and wondrous being made in our field.

Visit the Endicott blog, and join me in both saluting and sorrowing for the closing of the Studio. I am rambling horribly in this post. I was thunderstruck by the news that Endicott was closing.

The beautiful artwork above is by Jeanie Tomanek.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

(Small) Rant about Google

So, some of you may have noticed that last Thursday (May 22), Google's logo looked very different - in fact, it looked bright and colorful, and as though stepping between those giant letters in the word "Google" one might find oneself in some mythical land:

The new logo was the work of an elementary school student, Grace Suryung Moon from a middle school in California. You can read about it here. She was the national winner in a Google-sponsored logo art contest, and she won for herself a $10,000 college scholarship and for her school a $25,000 technology grant. All of this is beautiful. My one small rant is this: why did Google show Grace Moon's work for only a single day? It was so colorful and vibrant, that now I find I miss it terribly, and my favorite search engine now looks a bit dull and metallic in its absence. I am confounded with the persistent suspicion that we have somehow been treated badly: shown a flash of sunrise or sunset glory, just long enough to be teased with it, before being dropped back into the mundane and everydayness of web surfing. The message of the artwork is clear enough: "We are creative and we will take you to new and magical places" - it is a good message for advertising a search engine. But bring it back! You can't transform your logo into a magical art piece by the alchemy of a child's prodigious imagination only to change the gold back into lead the next day. That's just horrible.

//end rant

Thursday, May 29 - Addendum:

Another beautiful logo-day at Google. Did someone read this post and decide to spice things up with a mountain-climbing experience? It's more likely coincidence. In the thoughtful comments our readers have made to this post, we've learned that Google does this sort of thing more often than we'd supposed.... Maybe it will work itself up to the point where the Google logo invites us to a new and marvelous place each day.

We can hope so! I admire the risks this firm takes and its support of artists. Someone reminded me today of just how many people see this logo. (He said a "bazillion," I believe. I don't know how much a bazillion is, but it is surely many millions.) Let's clamor for more of this. As a man with a love of rock-climbing, I especially like today's.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Veil: Visible and Invisible Spaces

For those of you in Colorado or visiting Colorado, here is something to check out: a traveling art exhibition curated by Jennifer Heath, showing in Boulder at the Dairy Center for the Arts until June 20th:

The Dairy
2590 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302

The exhibition is a thrilling one. Here's the official blurb: exhibition of the work of twenty nine artists from around the world, including videographers, filmmakers and new media artists, as well as painters, sculptors, performance and installation artists. Each considers and re-visions the veil in its many manifestations and interpretations and puts veils and veiling into context. The exhibit intends to engage received wisdom - particularly current clichés and stereotypes about Islamic practices - and to reflect on the great ubiquity, importance and profundity of the veil throughout human history and imagination.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Autumn of the Patriarch

I have the delight to be reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's The Autumn of the Patriarch, which is less often read than his One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, but very worth reading. The entire novel is one long prose poem, with neither chapter nor paragraph break, and it moves from one scene to the next with a mythic intensity. I offer a passage here to show what has delighted me and to encourage you to pick up a copy, as well, if you have not had the chance to read it. The passage is one of walking through the city -- a beautiful evocation of both the scenes of this city (its poverty and its vitality) and the mood of the observer:

...the fearsome tapestry of the woman who had been changed into a scorpion for having disobeyed her parents, the alley of misery of women without men who would emerge naked at dusk to buy blue corbinas and red snappers and exchange mother-directed curses with the women selling vegetables while their clothes were drying on the carved wooden balconies, he smelled the rotten shellfish wind, the everyday light of the pelicans around the corner, the disorder of the colors of the Negro shacks on the promontories of the bay, and suddenly there it was, the waterfront, alas, the waterfront, the dock and its spongy planks, the old battleship of the marines longer and gloomer than truth....

There are some writers that it is a crime not to read, and read fully.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Seven Sages of Rome

By the way, if you haven't had the chance to yet, check out Roberta Payne's beautiful translation of The Seven Sages of Rome in our second issue of Dante's Heart. The Seven Sages is a very old cycle of folk tales, many of them quite dangerous: in these tales young women and old fathers are treacherous, and there is a price to be paid for ignoring the random wisdom of animals. My own favorites are "The Stolen Wife" and "The Jealous Man Locked Out of the House." What are yours?

Awe at the tornado

This tornado (click link to see video) is rushing by not too far from our editors' home base. Now, to any of our readers from Tornado Alley, this will not seem an unusual thing in late May. Here on the corridor of the Rockies, it makes a few of us stand up and gasp, though.

This storm renews my wonder at the raw energy of our world. Part of me wants to go at once and become a meteorologist! We need another fantasist of the caliber of Frank L. Baum to give us another myth of the tornado. Such a wild thing deserves a myth. Consider these myths from the past:

* Dorothy swept off to Oz
* Pecos Bill with a lasso about the tornado's funnel, waving his Stetson hat in the air and yowling his joy (now look at that shot above of the storm and imagine riding that across the open plain)
* The Shawnee Prophet climbing up the inside of the tornado as one might climb a stair, and looking out into all of time, in Orson Scott Card's Red Prophet

Are there others?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Seaelven Studios: A Certain Quality of Light

Dear readers, I am thrilled to let you know that our art editor has opened her own studio online, Seaelven Studios. Definitely check it out: her art is intensely aware of light and shadow, of the atmospheric and insistent details of our surroundings that only really appear and are made real in a certain quality of light. Jessica Treadwell's site offers a small gallery of her black and white film photography, which will grow, I think, by the week.

The image shown above is her Swing Solitude. Explore her gallery and let us know what you think!

"Their Mother Was a Fay..."

It has been a little while since very many people read Spenser, but The Faerie Queene is worth a second look. Spenser's poetry is unique in its enchantment and in the raw and visceral force of many of its images. For enchantment, consider this passage:

Their Mother was a Fay, and had the skill
Of secret things, and all the powers of nature
Which she by art could use unto her will,
And to her service bind each living creature....

Though I have no longing for power to bind living creatures, yet ah, for the skill of secret things! That is every scholar's wish and the wish of half the poets too.

Here is a passage for a raw and visceral velocity of sound and image (read this aloud, and you will see what I mean), one of my favorite passages on Dragons. The scaly beast has just been wounded, in battle with the Red Cross Knight:

For grief thereof, and devilish despite,
From his infernal furnace forth he threw
Huge flames, that dimmed all the heavens' light,
Enrolled in duskish smoke and brimstone blue;
As burning Aetna from his boiling stew
Doth belch out flames, and rocks in pieces broke,
And ragged ribs of mountains molten new,
Enwrapped in coalblack clouds and filthy smoke,
That all the land with stench, and heaven with horror choke.

Aetna, it is worth knowing, is the volcano that the Greeks named: "I burn."

If you haven't read Spenser in a while, look for a copy! Like every great writer of fairy tales and fantasies, he reminds us that the world in which we walk is full of hidden wonders and hidden monsters, even in the mundanity of our daily lives: he demands that we peer below the surface of our choices and our encounters. He demands - in the first lines spoken in The Faerie Queene - that we "be well aware." These are beautiful and perilous lives we live.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Dear readers, it has been a whirlwind of a month! Issue 2, of course, is up; we are actively seeking interviews with some new artists & writers who are doing significant and startling work (and we'll get those up on the website soon), and...the weather is something to endure. Here in Colorado, a state that I love deeply during the winter, we had snow a weekend ago and today the land is dry as a parched stretch of saguaro and thicklebrush. I am showing a copy of Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee in this post because I am thirsty for a good sea-storm. I am thirsty for a good sea. Having grown up on the brink of Puget Sound, with its orcas and its brisk ocean winds, I dread the summers here by the Rockies. So share with me my joy at the sight of that boat tossing helplessly on the waters. The land here is too solid for me. I have sea-fever.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Calls for Submissions (Ghost Stories; Irish Myth); and Dante's Heart on Facebook

Regretfully, our message board hasn't really picked up speed, so we are going to try a couple of new things:

First, we will resume posting CFPs and calls for submissions here on the blog.

Second, Dante's Heart is opening up shop on Facebook. So those of you who are online social networking people - come join us! We will be posting updates on Dante's Heart, calls for submissions, we will highlight pieces of great work that either we or another journal is publishing, we'll let you know when we have an interview out or a new book review. Come connect with readers, writers, and artists who share an interest in the fantastic.

Oh, and third! I almost forgot. Some of you know that our editor bios are unusual. Rather than tell where Editor Y was born or what Editor Z has published, we place Editors Y & Z as characters in a developing myth or fairy tale or other marvel-tale. The bios are serialized, meaning that you can read the first 1 or 2 installments, and then watch for the next chapter to appear. Come see what adventures Childe Daniel is up to, or learn about that dryad we have for an art editor.

And now here are a couple of Calls for Submissions, pertaining to Ireland and Scotland:

First: An Sionnach: A Journal of Literature, Culture, and the Arts invites submissions (complete essays) for a special issue dedicated to the Irish poet and writer Ciaran Carson. Carson most recently published a translation of The Tain, the Irish epic also known as The Cattle Raid of Cu Chulainn. Read the details of this call for papers here.

Second: Forum, a peer-reviewed journal for post graduate students, published by the University of Edinburgh in beautiful Scotland, is calling for papers for a special issue on "Haunting." Says Forum:

"The idea of haunting points to a residue or surplus of meaning that cannot be affirmed in the
present and nevertheless makes itself known in unexpected and disruptive ways. The haunting
traces of the forgotten, the disavowed and the effaced fundamentally undermine and trouble
what we have come to know and rely on as, or in, the present. In this sense, haunting opens up
the complex possibility of spectral knowledge and emerges as a powerful tool of
conceptualisation and representation. "

Go here for the details on this call for papers.

That "haunting" painting, by the way, is Catherine Jorden's Ghost at the Door. You can see more of her work here at Elfwood.

We'll put up a few more calls for submissions shortly. Until then, swing by and read the developing myth-stories of our editor bios, and be sure to visit Dante's Heart on Facebook.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dante's Heart Issue 2 is here!

Happy Friday, dear readers – Issue 2 of Dante's Heart: A Journal of Myth, Fairytale, Folklore, and Fantasy is here! Please swing by and take a look.

The centerpiece of Issue 2 is a compelling translation by Roberta Payne of the cycle of folktales known as The Seven Sages of Rome, taken from an Italian text. The origins of this cycle are in ancient India and Persia, and through the centuries these tales have traveled a long way.

Issue 2 also includes:

  • A translation of a Dutch story featuring a Scandinavian water spirit
  • An exclusive film featurette offering a behind-the-scenes look at an independent film, Titania, currently in production
  • Other poetry, reviews, fiction, and art -- a dessert tray of thoughtful and evocative work

You can also visit our message board to offer responses to the work in Dante’s Heart or to post questions for the authors and artists. We look forward to fostering a more active community of writers, artists, and scholars interested in myth, fairy tales, and folklore.

Enjoy Issue 2: Seven Sages – our Spring gift to you – a reward for whatever work, exams, or spring cleaning you may have inflicted on yourselves over the last month.

P.S. The first image above is Waterhouse's painting The Enchanted Garden, depicting a scene from Boccaccio's Decameron, a cycle of folktales with a frame narrative, one of few such framed cycles surviving in the world, part of the same literary family as and The Thousand and One Nights and The Seven Sages of Rome. The second image is Gustav Dore's portrait of Dante carried by an Eagle into realms new and exciting, and brilliant with wonder and light. Needless to say, these are not images from our journal! But they are part of our invitation to you to step into a new place with us, to hear tales and see wonders.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Starfare's Gem: A Ship for Giants

As might be gleaned from an earlier post, I have a fascination for Giants. I think it goes back to a childhood book with lavish illustrations of giants tromping out of their massive carved homes under the hills.

So I have to share this passage from Stephen R. Donaldson's The Wounded Land, in which a ship rides the breakers in toward shore, with Giants climbing in the rigging:

...Starfare's Gem arrived in a gleam of white sails, as if it had been newly created from the sun's reflection on the blue Sea. It hove into sight like a stone castle riding gallantly before the wind, beautifully both swift and massive, matching the grace and strength of the Giants.

Imagine how large such a ship must be, to be piloted across the wild seas by Giants! What a sight that must be to humans...a ship the size of a stone castle coming in to shore.

I have included the cover art from the Australian edition of the sequel to The Wounded Land, because it depicts that magical ship carved out of granite. I am amazed at the beauty of this cover.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Students Create Life-size Mythological Statues

Check out this article from the news. Students at Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers, Massachusetts have created - as part of their studies on classical myth - life-size papier-maché sculptures of the Cyclops, the Medusa, the Minotaur, a centaur, and other figures. The sculptures are on display at a local library. Other art projects the students undertook included masks of the Hellenic gods and fictional retellings of Greek myths. Sadly, no photographs of the students' work are available with the news piece, but it is great news nonetheless!

Pardon my tardiness in posting to the blog this week - things are quite hectic given the preparations for Issue 2 of Dante's Heart and (on a personal note) the preparations for an upcoming wedding. In atonement for the tardiness, here is a slew of other Cyclops from our century, a morbid tribe that might arouse interest, gasps of horror, polite amusement, or wonder at our persistent interpretation of the physically deformed and disadvantaged as both other and monstrous.

First, the stop-action Hollywood Cyclops:

Second, Odilon Redon's remarkable painting Cyclops (1914), which walks the line between cute and deeply unnerving:

Third, Ray Harryhausen's conceptual image of the Battle of the Cyclops for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad:

Fourth, an interesting piece from Julio Garay's studio, blending the illustration of cannibalism with echoes of the old "contemplation of death" motif. That is to say, is Julio Garay's Cyclops groaning, "Munchings and crunchings!" or "Alas, poor Yorick!"

And finally, not to be forgotten, the X-Men Cyclops, regarded as much as a mutant and other as his ancestor Polyphemus, and unlucky in love despite his ability to shoot lethal fire out of his mono-opthalmic visor:

Enjoy this gallery, and stay tuned for news of our Issue 2, which is only a few days away.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Dolls of Crawford Manor

Dear readers, here is a Friday dispatch from our fiction editor Janette MacDonald about the quite remarkable work of Cheryl Crawford:

At Crawford Manor, Cheryl lovingly recreates some of the most evocative images of legend, including Arwen and Goldberry from The Lord of the Rings, by transforming modern designer dolls into their mystical counterparts.

The dolls charm and entice and even prompt a feeling of awe, each one fully detailed from her exquisitely rendered features to tiny shoes gathered at dusk from under an elderberry bush where they were left after the dance.

From the main page at, travel to "A Little Fantasy World" or explore all the site, accompanied by music carefully chosen for each doll...and read each of their stories. One of the most haunting is the Fairy Queen of The Ballad of Tam Lin, whose doll is shown in the photographs here.

It is remarkable and unique work, definitely worth a long look.

Also, if The Ballad of Tam Lin is new to you, visit the website, which is devoted to the study of the ballad. The site includes collected versions of the ballad, sheet music and known recordings, and other resources. Here is how Tam Lin opens:

O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh,
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

Also check out Pamela Dean's evocative novel Tam Lin, which translates Janet of the green kirtle into a graduate student and translates Carterhaugh into Carter Hall, with wistful and enchanting results.