Wow, that was fast… Neil Clarke is taking “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” for the January issue of Clarkesworld. I feel… a little awed? I’ve been trying to break into Clarkesworld ever since it came into being (back when Nick Mamatas was still editor); and now it’s happened.
This is the story with pseudo-Chinese poems, colonialism and language that I was talking about earlier, the one where writing the last scene actually wrung me dry. It’s been knocking around my head for a while, ever since Aimé Césaire died: I wanted to write a story about poetry and language and decolonisation and national identity. It took me four years to find the words, and I ended up throwing a lot of personal stuff in it (much more than really makes me comfortable); but I’m proud of it, though a little fearful that it’s not going to be up to scratch. We shall see…
The revised snippet from the beginning (didn’t do much beyond touching it up)
I grieve to think of the stars
Our ancestors our gods
Scattered like hairpin wounds
Along the River of Heaven
So tell me
Is it fitting that I spend my days here
A guest in those dark, forlorn halls?
This is the first poem Xu Anshi gave to us; the first memory she shared with us for safekeeping. It is the first one that she composed in High Mheng—which had been and remains a debased language, a blend between that of the San-Tay foreigners, and that of the Mheng, Anshi’s own people.
Many thanks to everyone who took a look at it on OWW and helped me hammer it into shape: Oliver Buckram, L.K. Pinaire and David Kernot. And to the H, who liked it in spite of not understanding the ending at all (I fixed that part; now it should make sense for everyone).
January also marks the publication of another piece in which I had a part; but I don’t think I’m not allowed yet to reveal where and when. Watch this page for updates.