“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom.” - Maya Angelou
Welcome to our one-year newsletter anniversary. If you stuck with me this far, thank you! I just hope that this content continues to be interesting to you.
I have a new email: rewildingourstories [at] gmail. It keeps my personal email separate and the Tutanota one something I’ve decided to phase out of due to the amount of spam that comes through. So it’s the best way to reach me if you have any feedback, a submission to make to Dragonfly.eco, or even just to say hello.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month, so let’s look at Black fiction that intersects with the natural world, of which there is a lot. I’ve compiled some resources and will continue to add to them:
Black Lives Matters website
More on #publishingpaidme
Lovis Geier’s introduction into Black authors and trends in the field of eco-fiction
Artists & Climate Change’s new series on Black Artists and Storytellers on the Climate Crisis
My articles at Medium explore authors from around the world
A list of Reimaginings, revelations and reframings by Black authors from the Appalachian
Tor.com recently announced Africa Risen, a new anthology of African and diasporic speculative fiction, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (whose novella Ife-Iyoku, The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon recently won the 2020 Otherwise Award), and Zelda Knight. The collection will be available in hardcover and ebook in fall 2022. I’m so excited about this one, and the cover is gorgeous. See Sheree’s post about it on Twitter. Speaking of Ekpeki, we’ve recently been chatting about his previous work, including The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), an anthology from this past September.
Book Riot’s Brief Guide to Eco-fiction by BIPOC Authors
Nnedi Okorafor’s article on Afro- vs. Africanfuturism
Monthly Book Recommendation
We had a power outage last weekend, and I read a lot. I re-read my novella Bird Song, which I just want to mention because of a bird theme this month. I also read more of Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind and Mary Alice Munroe’s The Summer Girls—an easy read getting my mind off ice and into warm beaches.
I also re-read a nonfiction collection by Stormbird Press, called Tales from the River, which I contributed to a few years ago. I wrote about rafting the Atnarko River in search of grizzly bears in the isolated wilderness area outside of Bella Coola, BC, the gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest. I highly recommend this book and not really just because I have a chapter in it. There’s something to be said for rivers, whether you get out in them or read about them. It’s great to feel the freedom of rafting in a fast stream or even just to follow the many stories and songs of rivers, and to realize that in a world full of bad news, we don’t need to dwell on the negative but rise up against it and past it. And know that others are doing the same. Authors from around the world, from all kinds of wetlands, contributed their experiences.
This month, the newest world eco-fiction spotlight heads to the Arctic, with Girl in Ice author Erica Fenrecik. Erica has traveled to interesting places, including Greenland, to research where her novels take place, and this story is wildly interesting, involving a linguist who studies dead languages and discovers a frozen girl come to life. I think you’ll enjoy our chat.
I guess birds have been on my mind. Check out my monthly Backyard Wildlife series, wherein I apologize to turkeys and loons everywhere for comparing them with a small but loud convoy of truckers who have been co-opted by the far-right and dare to think they know even a tiny thing about what freedom means. And, on a more serious note, I look at recent cases of the avian flu around the world, including in my provincial back yard.
I’ve updated our Turning the Tide feature thanks to Kimberly Christensen who reviewed the middle-grade novel Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Also new is a link to Lovis Geier’s interviews with teenage winners of Extinction Rebellion Wordsmith’s recent Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase.
Speaking of Lovis, she and I co-founded the Rewilding Our Stories Discord, and it’s grown to nearly 200 writers, readers, gamers, artists, students, podcasters, professors, and more. We recently voted to read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed in our next book club. It’s never too late to join in the conversation! It’s important when you join the Discord to read the bot’s instructions for joining and post something about yourself in #introduce-yourself right away.
A couple months ago I chatted with Michael Mohammed Ahmad about his work on the After Australia anthology as well as Sweatshop, a literacy movement based in Western Sydney. I want to focus more on literacy this year, so will start with talking about people who are the frontline of promoting it. For starters, check out Sweatshop.
ZEST Letteratura Sostenibile is an Italian journal capturing ecological thought in art and literature. My piece on water and fiction is on page 107 of their newest issue.
BrightFlame, from our Discord, has written an excellent article about solarpunk for Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Futures. I was happy to contribute thoughts about solarpunk after having explored it for the past few years.
News in our eco-film guide: Emmi Itäranta’s Memory of Water will be released as a film adaption on March 11 as Veden vartija. You can read more about the novel here, where Emmi and I chatted about it in 2014. Also, Alex Garland (Her, Annihilation) has a new movie out called Men. I won’t add it to the film guide just yet, because the news on what it’s about is pretty slim right now. According to what I’ve read, the main themes are isolation and men, and it’s a horror movie, albeit more human and “less science fiction” than Garland’s usual fare, though I would argue that science fiction represents human-ness more than most give it credit for. It takes place in a rural area in England, and landscape seems to be important as a mood and significant setting, so I’m watching for this one! And, finally, I just found out that Station Eleven is now a miniseries on HBO/Crave, and, after having read the book a few years ago, I’m excited to see if the miniseries stands up. From IMBD: “A post apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, telling the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.”
In Other News
Lovis Geier is doing great things over at her Ecofictology channel on YouTube. After acting as a judge on the XR Wordsmiths Solarpunk writing contest, she’s interviewing some of the teenagers who were winners of that contest. She’s talked with Katrina Eilender and Aël Magnard so far and tells me that she has one more interview coming up.
I’m super excited about a few anthologies later this year, including the above mentioned Africa Risen. The others are Terraform and Revelations: Horror Writers for Climate Action. I think a real positive in these upcoming anthologies is that authors we know and love are tackling and exploring our changing planet, from diverse areas of speculation and genre.
Boston Review has an eye-opening article about the environmental crisis and looks at two recent essay collections that explore the interplay between literary genre and a rapidly changing planet.
The Strathspey & Badenach Herald launches its first episode of Northern Bibliosphere with Barbara Henderson, who is the author of Scottish historical and eco-fiction for children such as Fir For Luck, Punch, Wilderness Wars, and The Siege of Caerlaverock as well as her first non-fiction book, Scottish by Inclination.
Grist began accepting submissions for its next climate-fiction contest on February 1. See more details about their Imagine 2200 contest at the website.
The New Yorker has an article by Joshua Rothman titled Can Science Fiction Wake Us Up to Our Climate Reality? It’s a neat look at the work of Kim Stanley Robinson.