dolorosa_12: (le guin)
BBC Scotland has been posting little interviews on Twitter with people who migrated to and made their homes in Scotland. They're all really wonderful, but this one in particular really resonated with me. The specifics are obviously very different (he's a Polish baker living in Scotland, I'm an Australian librarian living in the southeast of England), but the underlying foundations of our respective migration stories — as far as I can tell from a heavily edited three-minute interview — are the same. Our adult lives in our countries of origin didn't feel right, like a coat that didn't fit. We were restless, directionless, not sure how to be where we were, and, like a last, desperate throw of the dice, we left, as if changing our location would enable us to change ourselves. And, astonishingly, that is what happened.

I forget, sometimes, until I compare my life ten years ago with what it is now, how miserable and uncomfortable and frightened I was. I felt like I had lost myself. I didn't realise how depressed and afraid I was until, in complete desperation, I emigrated, and realised, after about a month, that the fog had completely lifted. That the fear had gone. That I felt like myself again, for the first time in my adult life.

Migration isn't always big, and bold, and part of something larger. It's not always for a broader reason: fleeing danger, seeking a better life, moving towards concrete opportunities. Sometimes it's small, and personal, flailing about in the dark, moving blindly forwards without knowing whether what awaits you will be better. And, if you're very, very fortunate — and if your new home welcomes you and allows it — you shed your skin, and figure out who you are, and how to be that person again.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
This week has been absolutely excellent for people saying brilliant, eloquent, important things.

To journey is to be human. To migrate is to be human. Human migration forged the world. Human migration will forge the future, writes Ishtiyak Shukri in 'Losing London'. This was the post of the week for me, and affected me deeply.

We already have the table of contents, but now we have the cover of Athena Andreadis's To Shape The Dark anthology, illustrated beautifully by Eleni Tsami.

I really loved this interview of Aliette de Bodard by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz: I’ve come to realize that “appealing to everybody” is a codeword for bland, unobjectionable stuff; or at the very least for something that doesn’t challenge the reader; and, just as I like to be challenged when I read, I would in turn like to do that to my readers!

Speaking of Aliette de Bodard's writing, she's put 'In Morningstar's Shadow', the prequel short story to The House of Shattered Wings, up online for free. I read it last weekend and loved it.

I liked this essay by Marianne de Pierres on Australian myths in contemporary SF, but I've been worrying away at some of its conclusions for reasons I can't quite articulate. Certainly I appreciate the recognition of Australian writing's emphasis on the dystopian and post-apocalyptic, but I worry about her characterisation of the Australian landscape as universally barren, inhospitable and predatory. Let's just say it is not so to all inhabitants of Australia, and is not represented as such in the stories of all Australians, although it is a really significant theme in Australian literature.

Sophie Masson wrote on authors in a changing publishing landscape. I smiled a little ruefully at this quote:

When my last adult novel, Forest of Dreams, came out in 2001, I was commissioned to write a piece for a newspaper on the historical background of the novel (a paid piece), and reviews of the book appeared in several print publications, despite its being genre fiction. When The Koldun Code, also genre fiction, came out in 2014, I had to write several guest posts for blogs, do interviews for online publications (all unpaid) and reviews only appeared online.

I did not review this book, but I did interview Masson and review several of her YA works for print publications, where I was paid for my work. Now I retweet links to her articles and review things exclusively online for free. Oh, how times have changed!

Authors who are parents have been posting about the experience. There are too many posts to include here, but you can find links to all of them at the #ParentingCreating hashtag.

The latest of Kari Sperring's 'Matrilines' columns, on Evangeline Walton, is up. I've been finding these columns both illuminating - in terms of introducing me to many authors whose work sounds right up my alley - and disheartening, in that almost all of them were entirely new to me, instead of well-known figures in the SF canon.

I found this post by Samantha Shannon on judging a literary award to be a very interesting read.

In a departure from these posts' usual content, I have a music recommendation: CHVRCHES' new album Every Open Eye. It stops my heart, in the best possible way.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Hello to all the new people now following me as a result of the friending meme (and for those of you who haven't seen the meme yet, it's here).

I thought I'd introduce myself to all of you. Feel free to ask me questions about anything.

Feel free to skip if you've had me in your circle/flist for a while )
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
Today's linkpost is a little early, and contains poetry, translation, and a literary treasure hunt of sorts.

This is a great interview of Zen Cho and Stephanie Feldman by Sofia Samatar.

Ted Hodgkinson interviewed Daniel Hahn and Fahmida Riaz about literary translation.

Samantha Shannon answers readers' questions. (Beware Mime Order spoilers.)

The Book Smugglers announced their new slate of short stories, which should be great.

Zen Cho has set up a directory of Malaysian SFF writers and projects.

A new issue of Through the Gate is out. I particularly liked the poem 'Juli' by M Sereno, which I found heart-shattering and powerful.

I love the Where Ghostwords Dwell project. The site is dedicated to discarded text, forgotten words and the memory of dead manuscripts, and each entry embeds links hinting at its origin, or pointing the reader forwards towards further connections. It's part Russian doll, part literary treasure hunt, and I love it.

I leave you with every argument about Buffy on the internet from 1998 to now. This is one blog post where you're going to want to read every single comment, and it makes me ridiculously happy.
dolorosa_12: (una)
This time five years ago, I was getting ready to go to my department's annual garden party, over the moon because I had submitted my MPhil and was confident of passing, and of being accepted for a PhD place at Cambridge. Today, I'm getting ready for the garden party, happy in the knowledge that my PhD corrections have been approved and that (after I've paid an extortionate amount for binding and submitted a hardbound copy to the Board of Graduate Studies) I will be graduating in July as Dr Dolorosa!

These past five years have been a mixed bag. Some parts of being a PhD student were filled with joy, while others threw me into despair, self-doubt and fury. I am glad to have written it, and to have learnt what I learnt - about medieval Irish literature, and about myself. I am so grateful that it allowed me to meet a truly wonderful bunch of people, and to become part of several amazing international groups of friends. I met my partner because of my PhD. As a result of my PhD, I had the good fortune to meet several awe-inspiring older women who have acted as mentors for me in all sorts of ways. I can speak and read a good many more languages than I could five years ago!

My PhD gave so much. It took a lot from me, though. I don't talk a lot about that very often, because ultimately I feel that I made the right decision. If nothing else, doing a PhD at Cambridge got me to where I wanted and needed to be, with the right people around me, and the opportunity to meet others who, although not much a part of my life right now, connected with me at the right time to help me become myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my PhD allowed me to live. And while I never want to live through those years again (some of them were just packed with so much living and so many emotions that they were exhausting), I am privileged and grateful to carry them with me.
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
I'm sorry I've been so absent recently. I just haven't felt much like blogging. It's strange how energy-draining I find my current job, considering it's only part-time and considering I've been doing similar work for the past four years! I think I may have to look into getting another blood test, as I've had ongoing problems with absorbing iron all my life, and my low energy levels may be related to this.

Aside from that, though, my job has made me more certain that I made the right decision in not staying in academia and pursuing work in libraries. My original library job always made me extremely happy (to the extent that I looked forward to going to work, which is something I've never experienced before in any other job), and I've loved the opportunities that this new job has given me. My weakness as a library assistant was always that I had no formal training in cataloguing, but I've since been taught how to do it. It's actually surprisingly simple, at least for the tasks I've been doing.

At the moment, I'm only allowed to work twenty hours a week, which rules out any second job or full-time work, and I'm thinking that once I've finished my PhD corrections, I'm going to try and volunteer at the local municipal library for one or two days a week. I'd like to try and spend as much time as possible on my feet, as well as gaining experience in a different library system, so that seems a sensible thing to do. At the moment, it's not feasible, as I need to spend some of my days off on my PhD, but I should be done by April.

Aside from work, I don't have a huge amount going on. Two weekends ago, my department had its annual postgrad student conference. I helped organise it several years ago, and I gave a paper there once, but these days I just go along, hear the papers, enjoy the conference dinner and catch up with friends from other universities. I don't usually enjoy conferences all that much - I find the need to be constantly chatty and engaged and making small talk during the tea breaks extremely draining - but I like this one, because it's basically a gathering for a whole bunch of my friends.

And that's basically it from me. Have some links.

Matthias first alerted me to this really excellent article by James Wood about the literature of exile and immigration. One line in particular jumped out at me: To have a home is to become vulnerable. Not just to the attacks of others, but to our own adventures in alienation. It just described so perfectly how I have felt about my hometown of Canberra, about my adopted hometown of Sydney, and about Australia itself, ever since I was eighteen years old. The weird thing is that I only left Australia when I was 23, and for a lot of the time, my own sense of displacement and vulnerability was related entirely to age, and not to a place. Being an adult made me feel dispossessed of my own identity, and I sort of transposed those feelings onto physical places. It was only when I moved overseas that I started to feel at home in my own skin and as if my mental identity mapped onto my physical identity again. But this came with a price: Australia doesn't feel like home any more. Wood's article conveys very nicely all my complicated feelings about place and migration and identity.

Here is a great article by Megan Garber about the peculiar power of nostalgia, and how it's been harnessed by the internet. As you can probably tell from all my wittering about home and identity, I'm an incredibly nostalgic person, so much so that I have a specific tag for it on Tumblr.

This article by Caitlin Flanagan about fraternities in US universities will make you really angry (and note: it contains discussion of abuse, hazing, rape and victim-blaming, so if those are things you'd rather not read about, don't click on the link), but is well worth a read. For more on rage-inducing fraternities, check out this article by Kevin Roose about a fraternity of Wall Street's wealthiest traders:

I wasn’t going to be bribed off my story, but I understood their panic. Here, after all, was a group that included many of the executives whose firms had collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009. And they were laughing off the entire disaster in private, as if it were a long-forgotten lark. (Or worse, sing about it — one of the last skits of the night was a self-congratulatory parody of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” called “Bailout King.”) These were activities that amounted to a gigantic middle finger to Main Street and that, if made public, could end careers and damage very public reputations.

It's enough to make you sick with rage.

It's not all bad news, though. The recent extreme weather in Britain has exposed a prehistoric forest in Wales that had been covered by sand:

The skeletal trees are said to have given rise to the local legend of a lost kingdom, Cantre'r Gwaelod, drowned beneath the waves. The trees stopped growing between 4,500 and 6,000 years ago, as the water level rose and a thick blanket of peat formed.

Super cool.

Finally, the internet is kind of awesome. Two young women, raised in adoptive families on opposite sides of the globe, discovered each others' existence through the power of Youtube.

I hope you are all having lovely Mondays.


dolorosa_12: (Default)
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