Storm King

The other day, I asked one of my classes to try writing a lǜshī, a type of Chinese formal poem. It’s a new form to me, so I thought I should give it a try. Here’s what I came up with.

Returning to my home

In view of the granite dome

Of Storm King mountain.

This sight has been fountain

Of my memories:

The bare crest, the clinging trees,

Backdrop to a distant youth

Lived against its stony truth

Storm King Mountain (New York) - Wikipedia

With Jeff Ford at the Fabulous Mountain

Saturday night, I had this strange dream. In it, I was somewhere in Ireland. I had come from the airport to meet Jeff Ford. Together, we walked around a cul-de-sac of maybe four or five houses, which were the only buildings around. At the center of the cul-de-sac was a traffic island thick with grass and short trees. There were other people walking on the sidewalk beside the road. I understood they lived in the houses. They gave Ford and me suspicious glances, but he ignored them. There was also a constable with a large black and gray dog who kept walking between us. I thought maybe the dog was trained to sniff out drugs, and the cop wanted to give him a chance to get a good whiff of us. We walked onto the island, I can’t recall exactly what we were talking about–it had something to do with being in Ireland. (Maybe Ford was teaching a workshop there?) The cop and his dog followed us onto the island and once more passed between us. We stepped out onto the street to return the way we’d come, and I saw a mountain in the distance ahead of us. The sight of it stopped me in my tracks. It was wide, its slopes steep, though not too much to hike up, and rose to a long flat top. Its summit was dusted in snow almost pink in the sunlight. Its sides were deep green and dark blue, traversed by winding streams, dotted with small lakes. It seemed to glow in the afternoon light. I was awestruck by the sight of it, overcome with this feeling of wonder that hasn’t left me yet. “This was behind us this whole time?” I said to Ford, who replied, yeah, and there were more beyond it. As he said this, I could see the edges of other mountains in the distance behind this one, dark purple masses. I think I saw water at or near their bases. Looking at all of it was like hearing the swell of an orchestra as it reaches the end of a song.

The next day, I relayed the dream to Fiona, my wife, as we were making dinner. Although I couldn’t figure out what it meant, it had stuck with me since I had awakened that morning. “What do you make of it?” I said when I had reached the end of it. I didn’t think she’d have an answer; I assumed she’d say something to the effect of, “Beats me.”

As is usually the case when I make assumptions about my wife, I was wrong. She said, “I think it’s about your creativity. You were feeling low after losing the Stoker award. So your mind brought you to someone you look up to and admire. From what you’ve said, Jeff Ford isn’t too concerned about awards. While you were with him, you saw this fabulous mountain, which is an emblem of your creativity. You were amazed, but Ford wasn’t, because that’s what he’s focusing on, already. Think of it as your brain’s way of reminding you of what’s important.”

“Wow,” I said. “That makes sense.”

“Great,” Fiona said. “That’ll be fifty bucks.”

I’m Sorry: They Said WHAT About My Story?

At the beginning of this year, I joined the lunatics on the Staring Into the Abyss podcast for a discussion of Ramsey Campbell’s brilliant story, “The Companion.” I had a blast discussing the story, and as Ramsey sent only one Night Gaunt after me, I assumed he was not too displeased by our analysis of it.

Well, now the shoe’s on the other hoof, with guest writer Patrick Barb having selected my story, “The Communion of Saints,” for discussion. The result is terrific. The best kinds of critical discourse open up a work for understanding, often for the writer as much as anyone. (That’s the case for me, at least.) Listening to these guys talking about my story, I learned all kinds of things about it I wasn’t aware of (not consciously, at least–leave it to the Fornits…). Thanks to Patrick, Scott, Matt, Mike, Richard, Other Mike, Little Joe, Doc McStuffins, Old Greasy, and Knock-off Big Bird for the time and attention they spent on my story.

(If you decide to listen, though, start around the 47 minute mark. What comes before is–well, it’s pretty messed up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

An Honor from the Circulo Lovecraftiano & Horror

A little while ago, I did a print interview with the Circulo Lovecraftiano & Horror, a principally Mexican group of horror fans, critics, and writers. Subsequently, I had the pleasure of sitting down to a zoom call with them, which developed into a wide-ranging and entertaining conversation. The other month, they asked me for my mailing address. Last week, the following wonderful items arrived:

I cannot tell you how pleased, and honored, and moved I was by these gifts. My sincerest thanks to the CL&H for their thoughtfulness, and my hopes that some day in the not to distant future, we will be able to carry on our conversations in person.