My second poetry collection is out! Mary Shelley Makes A Monster is published by Aqueduct Press. The title poem was originally published in Strange Horizons and was inspired by a biography of Shelley. And, of course, by Frankenstein…
All our monsters are mirrors. And when Mary Shelley’s second monster (built from her life rather than her pen, born out of biography instead of blood) outlives its mother, that monster goes looking for a substitute. But all the monster really knows of women is that women write, and so the search for a replacement takes it first to Katherine Mansfield, and then to other women who know what mutilated things can be made from ink and mirrors… Virginia Woolf. Janet Frame. Sylvia Plath. Grace Mera Molisa. Octavia Butler. Angela Carter. Murasaki Shikibu. The monster stares into each of them, has their words carved into its tongue, their nails drawn down its back, their toothmarks embedded in its heart.
When it goes out into the world, no-one can tell the difference.
Available in print and ebook.
This week I’ve got a long poem out at Strange Horizons! “Mary Shelley Makes a Monster” is inspired by Shelley’s life. I read a biography of hers recently – picked it up from the library almost at random, because it was on display and reminded me that I loved Frankenstein and didn’t know much about the author.
If you’ve come across my novella The Life in Papers of Sofie K., you’ll know that I’ve an interest in women and monstrosity – particularly historical, looking at women who bucked the expectations of their time and were often punished for it. Sofia Kovalevskaya, with her monstrous mathematical brain, was the first of my experiments on this theme.
Then along came Mary Shelley: most famous for a story of a constructed monster, and I thought What if it were you all along? What if the monster were truly your creation, not Frankenstein’s? What if you were the monster, Mary?
Hence the poem. It’s really a thinly veiled allegory of the events of her life. It reads speculative enough, to be sure, but some years back now I studied English at university and this is probably the only chance I’ll ever get to show it off.