Hello, friends! Today, Let’s Fox About It is happy to host Shelby Eileen, fat, queer author of poetry chapbooks soft in the middle, sunfish and Goddess of the Hunt.
Nearing the release of my third poetry collection, I definitely have some anxiety going on (big surprise!). As silly as it sounds, because they’re the same thing, I feel much more like a poet than I do a writer in the face of writing this blog post; at a loss for words but also with too many of them swirling around in my head. I think it best to start with some background about my beginning as a writer and how I got here, to publication day of Goddess of The Hunt, a collection about the Greek Goddess Artemis and her identity as aromantic and asexual set against a lush poetic backdrop heavy with nature imagery and lightly echoed by the voices of other Greek Goddesses.
For my first collection, soft in the middle, my anxiety was mainly around this feeling that publishing was like an irrevocable proclamation, shouting I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK, and knowing that it would inevitably turn some heads. I was writing a book based around a relationship I had WITH A GIRL and putting it out in the world for literally anyone to read, including my family who had no knowledge of me even having the capacity to fall for a girl in that way.
With my second collection, sunfish, my anxiety came from writing a book that had nearly nothing to do with romantic love; a very stark contrast to my first book. I wrote a collection about my family. I romanticized possibility and the unknown in people I should have known the best in life, and I truly thought I was writing something that only I needed to hear- turns out what you think might be unrelatable can also be, wait for it, RELATABLE!
This fact urged me on in my desire to publish GoTH because I knew that it might be at once unrelatable, in a sense, to alloromantic/allosexual people, but also would be so desperately important to those that CAN relate. sunfish was a collection that avoided the theme of love because it focused on the theme of family; GoTH is a collection that doesn’t necessarily avoid the theme of love, but confronts it head on and urges the reader to consider all the grey areas that exist between love, sexuality, desire, and attraction.
With GoTH, my anxiety is coming from all over. From the fact that I’ve taken a fairly well-known mythological figure and built my whole collection around them. There’s anxiety from worrying about how the queer rep will be received with this one. Queer rep is something that sneaks into my work no matter if I’m actively trying to tell that story or not- it’s who I am. All the anxiety aside, and, God isn’t the anxiety just inescapable? I am super thrilled to unapologetically and unmistakably portray Artemis as aroace in GoTH. I think it’s what she needs to be, what she’s meant to be, and the single greatest joy about publishing this collection is being able to say, loud and proud, that IT’S AROACE AF.
I’ve always admired the idea of Artemis but for the longest time, I only really thought of her in terms of the things she’s supposed to represent and protect; the moon, young girls, nature, animals, virginity etc. I think I had to do a lot of growing to do, exploring aromanticism and asexuality, defining my own lack of romantic and sexual attraction, before something snapped into focus and I saw Artemis in a whole new light. I found I could identify with her on such a deep level if I attached modern queer language to her, and by seeing her in this new light made me appreciate everything original and iconic about her even more.
And voila! My fascination, admiration, and connection with Artemis as a baddass aroace warrior (WITH A SOFT SIDE- very important) made me writing GoTH a thing. I feel like I tackle something completely different in everything I’ve published thus far, and for that I am kind of proud. I can’t wait for everyone to experience Goddess of The Hunt!
Does Goddess of the Hunt sound like a chapbook that you want to read? It comes out on Feb. 20, 2019!
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