“In the Third Cycle” published

Today, Strange Horizons published my epic poem In the Third Cycle. This is the poem I wrote during the very strange “Ten Days in December,” that resulted in two queer epic fantasy pieces (the other piece is my forthcoming novelette, Held Close in Syllables of Light.)

In many ways, everything creative I’m doing this year flows from the Ten Days in December.

In the Third Cycle is an epic poem about three characters, a mortal man and the two powers he is involved with. It’s not their whole story. The Journeymaker in particular is a central figure in my private mythologies; she’s been there always, though under different names – and sometimes in different worlds. I haven’t yet written any prose about these characters – it feels too close to home.

I’m grateful to Shweta Narayan and Jenn Smith, who read the poem as it emerged, and Peer Dudda and Sam Henderson, who critiqued it when it was finished. I am also grateful to the Rannu fund folks, who thought this poem worthy of the first place in the Poetry Category.

And a bonus – an mp3 recording of me reading the whole thing. The reading is quite rough and lasts 10 minutes, so not for the faint of heart (but yes, you can pause it if you want!)

In the Third Cycle, by Rose Lemberg

If you feel so inclined, I would appreciate comments (on my blog or at the Strange Horizons website).

Dreams come true (a note from Ursula)

Where did we leave off? After much agonizing, I inscribed the artist’s book of Stone Telling 1 and tenderly sent it off to Ursula in Oregon.

On August 28, an email arrived in my mailbox.

Ever since I’ve read Rocannon’s World and Left Hand of Darkness at age 13 (in Russian translation, back in the Soviet Union), it’s been my dream to correspond with Le Guin. Her work means more to me than I can explain. Her work saved my life. It taught me that my strange culture-diverse worlds, the odd stories that sometimes spilled out of me and which my classmates ridiculed, my secrets and oppressions, my jumbled identities, it was all fine, because here she was, writing in my language, writing in a voice I didn’t have, writing about the true things inside me. I would compose long letters to her, then painstakingly translate them with the help of the old Müller’s dictionary. It ended there.

And now I’m in my thirties and edit Stone Telling, a poetry magazine named after a character in Ursula’s book Always Coming Home. To correspond with Ursula (mainly through her agent) in the context of Stone Telling is a great gift to me.

So, on August 28th, this email arrived. Directly from her.

It said,

Dear Rose,
I sent a proper thank you for the beautiful first issue, but it was returned in the mail — I am sorry as I wanted to thank you “by hand” for such lovely handiwork.

I was devastated. Couldn’t sleep. Talked to the post office, found out my mailman had been sick that week, and the subs made many mistakes. Of course, I begged her to resend it.

Today… today it arrived.

A handwritten note from Ursula K. Le Guin. Un the background: the two envelopes.

And the card itself shows two California quail by a Northwestern artist L.R. Messick, which is, of course, a reference to the Quail Song, the poem that opens Always Coming Home:

Two California Quail

in the fields by the river
from the meadows by the river
from the fields by the river
in the meadows by the river
two quail run

It is a beloved poem that is very close to my heart, and my heart is so full right now.

Beautiful Books from Papaveria Press

This post is about two small gods: Amal El-Mohtar’s The Honey Month, and a limited edition hardcover of Stone Telling 1 for Ursula Le Guin.

Stone Telling 1 and the Honey Month

Two books created by Erzebet YellowBoy of Papaveria Press

1. Amal el-Mohtar’s The Honey Month began as an  experiment to taste and write about 28 different honeys during the month of February 2010.  The entries first appeared in Amal’s blog, and then as a book from Papaveria Press:

Each day she uncapped a vial of honey, letting the brew inspire the words that became this book. Amal offers us much more than poetry and prose, however. Her words wrap around us like spiderwebs, gently pulling us into the web she weaves, where honey girls tempt and tease us, where things lost return and sorrow paints the leaves.

Others wrote beautifully about the book; my favorite review/prose poem is probably Dan Campbell. (Some other noteworthy reviews were written by  C.S.E. Cooney at the Interstitial Arts Foundation; Alexa Seidel at Fantastique Unfettered, and  Midori Snyder).

When the 2011 Rhysling award results were updated earlier this month,  Amal’s “Peach-Creamed Honey” took first place in the Short Poem category. There is no way right now to honor speculative poetry chapbooks, but Amal’s Rhysling win  underscores what many of us feel:  the Honey Month  was one of the  most significant speculative poetry events of 2010.

I won a copy of the Honey Month in the Goblin Fruit prize draw, and received it from Amal in the mail. Here’s the dedication page:

"May we always be makers and sharers and drinkers of mead" (amen)

The second is an artist’s book – an extremely limited edition (of one) of the inaugural issue of Stone Telling, created by Erzebet. It goes off to Ursula Le Guin as soon as I can muster the courage to profane the small god with my lowly scribbles write a dedication.

without a dedication for now

“A Mother Goes Between” is up

My story “A Mother Goes Between” is up at the new, online incarnation of Jabberwocky (Jabberwocky 6). It is a difficult and triggery story, but one I love very much, and I’m happy that Erzebet and Sean gave it a home. I’d love to hear what you think.


New website

I’ve redesigned roselemberg.net! I liked the old yellow version, but it was time to upgrade.

The new official (gasp) blog/site runs on WordPress, and cross-posts entries to my Livejournal. I am still fiddling with the template, but am pretty happy with it for now. In the future, I am planning a custom logo graphic (custom by me, unless someone volunteers to make me one),  more samples in the Samples folder, and perhaps a different navigation bar. Your thoughts and suggestions are welcome.



June seems to be a month for good news. I sold a 14k novelette, “Their names held close in syllables of light,” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This story will introduce readers to to my epic fantasy world, Birdverse, and to my novel in progress 🙂 I’ve been working on Birdverse for the last four years, and “Syllables of light” is the first piece of fiction set in Birdverse that will be published, and it makes me very happy.

Poetry news

My epic poem “In the Third Cycle” (the one that recently won the Rannu competition) has sold to Strange Horizons. And here’s a short prose poem of mine, “ If I had reb Yoel’s violin,” at the first issue of inkscrawl.


Sold an odd magic realism flash fiction piece, “Giant,” to Not One of Us.

Rannu fund win

You guys!! I won the Rannu Fund competition with my epic poem “In the Third Cycle” (which is currently on submission). Yes, this helps on so many levels.


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R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

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