This is the End, So We Begin Again

This week, I learned that TinyLetter, the software I use for this rather small and irregularly distributed newsletter, will be closing down permanently, as their parent company MailChimp refocuses on it's other businesses (i.e., the money-making ones). This is a development that I find personally heartbreaking. I love the simplicity of TinyLetter and how it was designed to be more of a personal letter to subscribers rather than a marketing tool like so many other platforms. 

But in the infinite realms of the world wide web, everything changes. So, as this platform comes to an end, I will be looking for a new home for this newsletter.

Searching for the right tool is always an interesting challenge, because each platform offers an array of features and pricing plans that have to be sifted through with a fine toothed comb. One of the benefits of TinyLetter was that it was 100% free, while every other platform seems to be built around the idea of monetization. And I personally have an deep interest in clean aesthetics and the overall feel of the platform, which is much less easily defined. 

For the moment I am looking at Beehiiv, Buttondown, and ConvertKit to just name a few (and I've already discounted Substack, MailChimp, and Ghost for various reasons). And thinking about all the variations between them is making my head spin, if I try to stare at them too closely. 

At least, I have until February 2024 to make my decision. 

New Publication

At the end of October, Interstellar Flight Press published my long-form essay, "The Never-Ending Tedium of Survival: On the Final Girls Who Struggle to Stay Alive Again and Again and Again." It is indeed a lengthy piece, but it also one I that I have been mentally poking at for a couple of years and that I am rather proud of now that it's finished and released out into the universe.

Here's the opening paragraphs: 

Horror movie franchises are often recognized by their iconic villains — Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Ghostface, Pinhead, and many other often-masked and often-men baddies who are easily recognizable as a Halloween costume. However, they are not always the core of the series; more often, the heart and soul of a horror franchise is its survivor — the Final Girl (or Guy), who finds herself hunted all over again in the next film, who must learn to survive and survive again as she continuously stares down the ever-looming presence of the monster in the dark.

Bearing the wounds and scars granted by their roles as would-be-victims turned fighters, these Final Girls find themselves perpetually trapped in a limbo of trauma, dragging themselves through the mud and blood in the hopes of coming through the other side alive. This article will present an overview of a number of survivors, who have each appeared in at least three films within their franchise — and who each have their own journeys of coming to terms with their dark worlds.

Book of the Month

Poetry as Spellcasting, written and edited by Tamiko Beyer, Destiny Hemphill, and Lisbeth White, is a beautiful collection of essays and poetry about the ways in which poetry connects to and reflects the sacred, spiritual, and magical — and the ways authors can use the act of writing poetry as a sacred practice, a form of healing, a method for connecting with ancestors and community, and a path toward building a better future. In addition to the essays and poetry, the book includes prompts and suggestions on how to create space and delve into poetry while staying grounded and connected to spirit. 

In the essay "Articulating the Undercurrent," Dominique Matti writes:

I learned that it was possible to feel what one could not otherwise know. And that I could transmit feeling where rational explanation failed, by using poetry like a lyre — plucking invisible energetic strings. I discovered that where no one would cry for me, my poetry could conjure easy tears. And when my spirit could not represent itself in mundane gesture, it could rise up and shout in verse.

In "Text of Bliss," Kenji C. Lui writes:

There is a time and place for the poetry of comfort and contentment, the poem that pleases aesthetically even if the subject is difficult. Beyond that, I think my poetry goal is to break something. Not in the sense of something broken in my interior, a confession and healing, but instead a methodical attempt to

break certain aspects of

this world.

In "Poetry as Prayer," Hyejung Kook writes:

Rilke says, "Every angel is terrifying." But what if you are the angel? What if the power you are afraid to call upon and know is your own power? Consider the possibility that the outward address of poetry as prayer was actually an inner invocation, a tapping into our own divine and enlightened self.

More on the books, shows, and games I loved recently can be found in my Culture Consumption for November 2023.

Good Reads

Lady Macbeth is monstrous in spirit, but to identify with culture’s literal monsters is also to identify with—and learn to embrace—the grotesque. For all her murder, Lady Macbeth is primarily still a queen, envisioned in actresses like Marion Cotillard and Florence Pugh. Google images of the pontianak, however, show snarling, red-eyed, clawed nightmares. Beauty standards and gender norms go hand in neat hand. I had harmed myself for them as a child, struggled to embody things that didn’t actually feel right for me. Yet to let go of that is terrifying, and so perhaps it takes a terrifying thing to represent it. I wouldn’t go around looking for actual pontianaks—I didn’t let go of common sense. But as a symbol, a myth through which to filter the world, identifying with my culture’s most monstrous woman somehow brought me closer to a healthier version of myself, and one more rooted in my own folklore. One might call it self-possession.

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