The Seers’ Table May 2023
Linda D. Addison, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
You can see any of “The Seers’ Table” posts since inception (March 2016) by going to the HWA main page and selecting menu item “Our Blogs / Diverse Works”.
Tish Jackson recommends:
Tamika Thompson has been writing for her whole adult life, crisscrossing genres until landing squarely into horror with her new fiction collection Unshod, Cackling and Naked. As someone who writes for the love of the written word, she wears all the hats—author, producer, and journalist—while creating worlds for readers to fall into. She carries degrees from Columbia and USC in order to hone her craft. The stories she writes are more than scary because they are just familiar enough to remind us that horror is never far away. A mundane hallway or a stately tree can easily be turned into weapons by Ms. Thompson’s pen.
Her novella Salamander Justice published in 2020 by Madness Heart Press came out during the pandemic, and was re-released last year to great reviews. Described as a love triangle, it felt more like a love square if you count dead people. Others liken it to a monster story, but who exactly is the monster? An engrossing read for sure!
Following the success of her novella, Tamika’s horror fiction collection came right on time. Masterfully woven together, each story stands on its own merit, starting with a general theme that turns into a massacre of different types. Many found “Bridget has Disappeared” to be especially haunting. As expected, it is not your normal missing person story with the husband as the main suspect but carries hints of aliens, time travel, and evil incarnate so haunting you may never let your children go—or look too deeply into their eyes.
My favorite story was “Mannequin Model” because the main character took her agency using a metal pole with violent intent. Sharing her own specific horror but willing to overlook them, as so many women are required to do, Zenobia was just trying to make a living. But when she realizes making a living can become a horror of its own, she kicks ass and saves others at the same time. Ending the story with the collection’s title, this is definitely my kind of tale!
As is the whole collection! Black women are featured here. Women trying to live life are allowed to tell truths that are usually kept inside. Individuals trying to heal—or just to be free, this collection will ring a familiar chord within the deepest part of you. I truly cannot wait to read the next offering from this promising horror author.
Recommended Reading: Unshod, Cackling and Naked (Unnerving Press, January 2023).
Excerpt from “I Did It For You:”
She decided terror was more productive than revenge.
She purchased an eyelash curler, and outfitted the plates with filed-to-size, high-carbon, stainless-steel knife blades powerful enough to slice through bone.
She’d always loved eyelash curlers because they provided the satisfaction of a scissor snip, had the air of medical tools, and, with the slight risk of capturing the entire lid during the curling, were mildly terrifying.
After several trips to the hardware store, she found just the right tension spring to add to the lever, so she could squeeze and cleave with ease. Her creation made her quite pleased.
As she sharpened the blades, she thought of him, his palm squeezing her throat, his moist breath in her ear. She wouldn’t give up hunting him, but until then, she’d collect.
The rules for her collection were as follows:
- She would only target men who were creeps to begin with—catcallers, whistlers, harassers, butt-cheek pinchers.
- She’d never approach her victim. She’d wait for him to make the first move.
- She’d strike during the witching hour, when everyone could say the guy really shouldn’t have been in the prostitute section of town to begin with.
- She’d never accept money from them.
- She’d only collect when the men were unclothed, in bed, and fast asleep.
- She’d disinfect the amputation site with seventy percent rubbing alcohol before slicing, and she’d take care to line up the blades so she’d increase the odds of clearing the bone.
- She wouldn’t be greedy. She’d collect the baby toe, and only the distal phalanx or tip.
Her rules were designed to debase, to transform offenders into victims, but also to keep the focus on the toe-loss and not on any infection nor need for further amputation, thereby maximizing victim-blaming, so they could experience what that was like.
It helped that the men were usually inebriated when they first shouted, “Hey, sweet thang,” or “You wanna have a little fun?” And, if they weren’t, she had just the product in her purse to knock them out, either in pill form or a tasteless liquid slipped into their drink.
Her fleshy trophies included all skin colors and varying sizes. Some stubby, others narrow. One guy had no toenails. If she could feel anything for them, that one would have elicited some guilt.
Find Thompson online: Web site: https://www.tamikathompson.com/; Twitter: @tamikathompson Instagram: @ tamikadthompson.
Kate Maruyama recommends:
Maria S. Picone (she/her/hers) writes, paints, and teaches from her home in South Carolina. As a queer Korean adoptee, Maria often explores themes of identity, exile, social justice, and belonging. Her debut poetry chapbook, Adoptee Song, was published in late 2022.
Maria’s publications include flash fiction, flash and full-length CNF, poetry, translations, visual art, and hybrid work. Her writing has been published in Tahoma Literary Review, Porter House Review, The Seventh Wave, and Fractured Lit, among others. She is the winner of the Cream City Review Summer 2020 Poetry Prize and was published in Best Small Fictions 2021. She is also a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and two-time Best of the Net nominee.
Her work has been supported by scholarships and grants from The Fine Arts Work Center, The Speakeasy Project, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, GrubStreet, AWP, Voices of Our Nations Arts, Murphy Writers Workshop, Kenyon Review Writers Workshops, The HUES Foundation, The Watering Hole, South Carolina Writers Assn., Tin House, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, The Juniper Institute, and The Loft. She has attended residencies at Artscape Gibraltar Point in Toronto, Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico, and House of Two Urns Retreat in Chicago. A residency is forthcoming at The Hambidge Center in Georgia.
She is the managing editor for Chestnut Review, poetry editor at Hanok Review, and associate editor at Uncharted Mag. She has read and/or edited for Longleaf Review, ang(st), Split/Lip Press, Emerge Literary Journal, SLICE, Headway Quarterly, and The Petigru Review. She is an associate member of SFWA and a member of several other writing organizations, including SFPA and GrubStreet.
As an artist, Maria often paints abstract, space-inspired themes with dark, dramatic colors and gemstones. Her photography captures features of the world such as architecture, landscapes, and patterns and designs. She loves traditional brush painting and multimedia works that combine visual arts, media, and language-based arts. Her visual art can be found in the New England Review, Déraciné Magazine, and Blue Mesa Review, among others.
She received an MFA in fiction from Goddard College and holds degrees from Princeton University, Rice University, and Western New Mexico University. In 2014, she won the Spirit of Goddard Scholarship in honor of her volunteer work teaching creative writing to schoolchildren in Cambodia. She is an alumna of GrubStreet’s Novel Generator program and is working on her first novel. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese, and reads French, Latin, and ancient Greek.
Recommended Reading: “Double Cleanser” from Orca Magazine about an unlikely assassin.
The heartbeat like warring energy drinks in her system.
Gangnam seared her eyes like a vintage Hyuna video. To oeguk she might call it Carnival orgying 5th Ave. She pressed her way past the crush of fashionistas looking for their next haul and tourists trying to put the Gangnam back in Gangnam Style. Pulling out her decoy phone, she pretended to scroll on social in front of the Innisfree. The picture of a young woman waiting to shop with a friend.
Exactly at seven, Aritaum—and wasn’t it shameless that her family would name her “beauty”—came down the street. She had the flawless, dewy face of an aspiring idol and the Insta-fame of a brief fling with a K-drama mainstay. Like any smart young woman, she’d leveraged that into a brand. In this city that ate young people’s dreams like barflies scarfing down myeolchi, Aritaum was nowhere near important enough for bodyguards. The fact that she shared her name with a major beauty brand was also an unfortunate obstacle to her fame. Too on the nose, they said, and waved hands to dismiss the idea of inviting Beauty onto their channel.
The assassin pulled out the acupuncture needle, concealed under the baguette, and began walking, texting, the very portrait of an annoyed girl stood up by a flaky friend.
Like a butterfly’s kiss, in and out.
Like a butterfly’s kiss, she was in and out.
No stumble, no tell. Just two girls heading in opposite directions.
You can learn more about Maria at mariaspicone.com or follow her on Twitter @mspicone.
Linda D. Addison recommends:
Tiffany Morris is a Mi’kmaw/settler writer of speculative fiction and poetry from Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia. She is the author of the horror poetry collection Elegies of Rotting Stars (Nictitating Books, 2022). Her work has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, and Apex Magazine, among others. She has an MA in English with a focus on Indigenous Futurisms. She is a member of the Speculative Fiction Poetry Assn. and the HWA, and her work has been nominated for Elgin, Rhysling, and Aurora Awards.
Recommended Reading: Elegies of Rotting Stars released November 2022.
A poem from the collection:
We Are Born Devouring
A voice just above a whisper rustles
the jikoq dried rotten trees horizon.
Alisqopg, I have … in my mouth an oath for each tooth,
and a promise for flesh torn open in consecration.
Pugweligu’nia’tieg we bleed profusely
in the stygian solace of resurrection,
in a dusk that does not burn but breathes.
Nipit, my tooth, ntun, my mouth
sinks where there is only ravening.
There is a bell / breaking a shriek / quelling
in the snow where we are born devouring.
There are ways to shatter time: to destroy
that which created you. Gi’s gi’l angamt na’gu’set segewa’t ta’n tujiw gesig?
Have you ever watched the sun rise during the winter? The pink goldleaf snow bleaching white,
a heart drained of blood—wait—he wears the daybreak so well— dawn to bone and soul shedding gone,
pugtewigtug etliaptlamit he suffocates in its fire.
Follow Morris at: https://tiffmorris.com/; Twitter: @tiffmorris.