TOD 079 Lesley Wheeler: All the Smart Women Are Practicing Magic

In this podcast Anya Martin interviews Lesley Wheeler about her debut Weird novel Unbecoming (Aqueduct Press), and Edward Austin Hall interviews her about her new poetry collection. The State She’s In (Tinderbox Editions). Plus Gordon B. White reviews Unbecoming. The interview segments were recorded on Sat. July 25 and Tues. July 28, and Reviews from the Weird was recorded on Thurs. July 30.

Show Notes

In this podcast Anya Martin interviews Lesley Wheeler about her debut Weird novel Unbecoming (Aqueduct Press), beginning  with her lockdown experience and a sequence of short readings (0:06:06) from the book. The passionate discussion explores such topics as the inherent Weirdness and mystery surrounding menopause, the lack of empowering mythologies surrounding it, the hidden truth or rebirth, two stages of changelings, the title’s double meaning, the setting in academia, poetry as teaching her time management in a novel, her interest in centering relationships among women, longing for escape and the reality of abduction, the art to developing an ambiguous system of magic, an uncanny cat, her affinity with foxes/Kitsune, why The Weird is a better mode than realism to represent what it’s like to be a human being, and her reading recommendations including Nova Ren Suma, Michael Wehunt, and Stephen Graham Jones.

(0:55:24) Then special guest host author/poet/journalist Edward Austin Hall takes over and the lively conversation shifts to The State She’s In (Tinderbox Editions), Lesley’s new poetry collection, digging deep into the weight and Weirdness of the Confederate past in Lexington, Virginia where she lives and teaches at Washington and Lee University, where on campus Gen. Robert E. Lee is buried. Lesley reads several poems and talks about an empowering kind of anger behind this work, parallels between the genesis of poetry and novel, ‘unlearning’, a banishment spell for our time, her favorite dictionary, the ‘egginess’ of the book, and more of what she has been reading.

(1:26:00) The episode concludes with Gordon B. White’s take on Unbecoming in a new installment of Reviews from The Weird.

The Outer Dark Virtual Symposium on the Greater Weird is the only annual conference centered around contemporary Weird fiction. The fourth annual symposium will be held August 14-16, 2020 on Zoom. Find out more and purchase tickets at TheOuterDark.org 

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Additional Links

Mythology by Edith Hamilton (1942; Spark Notes)

Among Others by Jo Walton (Macmillan)

Chris Gavaler’s Blog: The Patron Saint of Superheroes

TOD 073: Quarantine Readings: Michael Wehunt and Damien Angelica Walters

READ: ‘Goblin Market’ by Christina Rossetti

Possession by A.S. Byatt 

Poet Deborah A. Miranda

Journalist Christopher Dickey’s troubled relationship with his poet father James Dickey (Fresh Air interview)

Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Poet Randall Jarrell 

“The 9 Types of Bosses’ (Life in Hell by Matt Groening)

Oxford English Dictionary

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds by Merlin Sheldrake

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino

The Lumberjack’s Dove by GenaRose Nethercott (HarperCollins)

American Sunrise by Jo Harjo

Show Credits

Hosts/Producers: Scott Nicolay and Anya Martin

Co-Host, News from The Weird: Justin Steele

Co-Host, Reviews from The Weird: Gordon B. White

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin


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