INSTINCTS #5: ‘Setsubun’ by Kelly Matsuura

Hello everyone, hope you’re all having a good month so far. Things are a bit tough in Japan at the moment with lots of corona virus cases here in Aichi (Nagoya) where I live. I’m an ESL teacher so all my classes are cancelled this month as a precaution–but the shops are all open, I have a good stock of toilet paper,  and I really can’t complain about all the bonus writing time, can I? 🙂

But, I just realised today that I’ve messed up my schedule for INSTINCTS. I wrote the following haiku series last November I think, but then forgot to post it in February when it was actually setsubun! Doh!

Setsubun is a Japanese festival celebrating the coming spring. People like to wear masks and/or throw dried beans at ‘demons’ to chase away evil spirits.

Anyway here we go–my attempt at ‘horror haiku’, with 3 linked pieces.

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SETSUBUN

Kelly Matsuura

Every Setsubun 
Real demons, stalking children
Hide behind craft masks

Demon out! Luck in! 
Roasted beans scatter the ground
Missing true evil

Spring comes imminently
Blossoms adorn the victims
Of demons’ delights

~~~

About the author: 

Kelly Matsuura grew up in Victoria, Australia, but always dreamed she would live abroad. She has lived in northern China, Michigan USA, and over ten years in Nagoya, Japan, where she now lives permanently.

Kelly has published numerous short stories online; in group anthologies; and in several self-published anthologies. Her stories have been published by Ink & Locket Press, A Murder of Storytellers, Black Hare Press, Harbinger Press, and many more.
She majored in Asian Studies at university, and (sometimes) studies Japanese, Chinese and German. Her other hobbies include cooking, knitting, sewing, and traveling.

As the creator of The Insignia Series, Kelly aims to promote the quality and diversity of Asian speculative fiction/poetry by indie authors from around the world.
Kelly’s blog/website: www.blackwingsandwhitepaper.com
Facebook: Kelly Matsuura-Author
Twitter: Kelly Matsuura

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The Eagle owl (Bubo Bubo) and moon.

Would you like to contribute a poem? Check out our Submissions Page.
~~~

*Photo of Japanese masks by Finan Akbar on Unsplash.com

INSTINCTS #4: ‘At the Asian Art Center’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day!

February’s feature for INSTINCTS is a poem from the prolific Vonnie Winslow Crist! We’re proud to have her as a contributor of Insignia: Asian Science Fiction, and in our upcoming Japanese Fantasy Drabbles anthology as well.

This piece is titled, ‘At the Asian Art Center’ and is inspired by the work of artist Hee-Young Kim.

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At the Asian Art Center

by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Listen.
Hee-Young Kim has written
a poem
on four horizontal banners pressed
edge to edge like
river, grass, mountain, sky.

Look.
Strokes on these panels
translate odes
chanted by airy spirits
into the ear of Hee-Young.
And she, treasured interpreter, used
brush, paper, inkstone, and ink stick
to paint mementos of
the wind’s meeting
beneath the Coincident Moon
with shy bamboo—
beyond graceful
in her robe of silvered jade.

Wait.
In this quiet, glass-and-wood gallery,
if you tilt your head, just so,
you will hear
the lament of owl
as she hides midst pine boughs,
and touch
the essence of abandonment.

  • First Published 2009, The Chesapeake Reader

~~~

Vonnie 11-17 close (2)

Vonnie Winslow Crist is author of The Enchanted Dagger, Owl Light, The Greener Forest, Murder on Marawa Prime, and other award-winning books. Her fantastical stories have been published in Canada, Spain, India, Australia, Japan, the UK and USA. Born in the Year of the Dragon, Vonnie believes the world is still filled with magic, mysteries, and miracles. For more information check her website: http://www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

enchanted dagger

To read a very long excerpt from her fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger: https://www.wattpad.com/226314378-the-enchanted-dagger-an-excerpt

Then, buy a copy for your bookshelf: https://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Dagger-Chronicles-Lifthrasir/dp/1941559182/

For those who’d like to listen to or read a free fantasy story by Vonnie, here is the link to “Henkie’s Fiddle”: http://www.castofwonders.org/2016/03/episode-202-henkies-fiddle-by-vonnie-winslow-crist/

Website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/
blog: http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/WriterVonnieWinslowCrist
Twitter: @VonnieWCrist

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Do you have an Asian fantasy or science fiction poem you would like us to feature? Our INSTINCTS poetry series is open to submissions of original poems. Full details are on the submissions page.

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INSTINCTS #3: ‘Gobi Sands’ & ‘Kappa’ by DJ Tyrer

 

December’s edition of Instincts includes two poems from a new contributor, DJ Tyrer, who will also have a story appearing in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Drabbles.

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Gobi Sands

By DJ Tyrer

Great Khan on camelback
Has no fear of thirst
Dares all enemies to strike
Knowing none shall survive
Protected as he is
By the Great Blue Heaven
Taunts even Erlik
But, sands shift
Strange patterns
Great Khan on camelback
Stares in wonder
Marvelling till
Death Worms strike
Leaving nothing but bones
Bleached by the sun, acid
And, fading memories
Obscured by successors
Who shun desert sands
For the limitless horizon

Kappa

By DJ Tyrer

Water’s mighty pull
Good manners save from strange hands
Kappa loses mind

~~~

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, was placed second in the 2015 Data Dump Award for Genre Poetry, and has been published in The Rhysling Anthology 2016, issues of The Horrorzine, Scifaikuest, Sirens Call, Star*Line, and Tigershark, and online at Grievous Angel, Lonesome October, and Three Drops from a Cauldron, as well as releasing several chapbooks, such as The Tears of Lot-49. The echapbook One Vision is available from Tigershark Publishing’s website.

DJ Tyrer’s website is at https://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at https://atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com/

~~~

The Eagle owl (Bubo Bubo) and moon.

Would you like to contribute a poem? See details on our Submissions Page

~~~

*Featured Photo by Mike Yukhtenko on Unsplash

INSTINCTS #2: ‘Graveyard Shift’ by Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Welcome to our second INSTINCTS publication: a free-style poem by new contributor, Kim Whysall-Hammond.

Kim says the poem was inspired by Malaysian folktales told to her by a friend. Enjoy!

Graveyard shift

In old Malay, draped in forest

lies heat swamped George Town

along tree lined avenues

abandoned colonial mansions

forsaken, cracked, diminished

irrelevant to today

they rot in new technological haze

yet from shattered empty windows

evening jazz drifts across warm night air

inside, lights flicker

shadows dance over damp walls

slim couples flirt and smoke

your exploratory visit

brings silence

reveals vacant rooms

missing floors instead of lively dancers

they were the old tenants

hantu partying on the graveyard shift

~

Old hotel, four square and white

now with modern pool and spa

and the original private beach

golden, secluded, sunlit

it’s a long walk

but a short drive

a bus plies the mountain road

past green country and

decaying tombs behind

collapsing walls

the last ride of the day

is often full

today extra guests board

quiet individuals

some tall and lanky

a woman in a green qipao

halfway back, the bus empties

although the feverish driver

can’t remember stopping

his new passengers have

truly started their graveyard shift

~~~

Kim-2
Kim Whysall-Hammond  is  an expert in obsolete telecommunications arcana
and believes, against all evidence, that she is a good dancer.  She has
been published by Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron,
Amaryllis, London Grip New Poetry and Crannóg. She also shares poems at
https://thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com/

~~~

If you’re inspired by series and want to give Asian speculative poetry a go, check out our submission details here.

We also have an open anthology submission call for 100-word (drabbles) Japanese Fantasy stories. Submissions close November 30th.

We’d love to read your work!

Have a great week,

~Kelly~

~~~

  • Featured image from depositphotos.com (Fatt Tze Mansion in Georgetown, Penang)

October News & Updates

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

I work as an English teacher (part-time) here in Japan, so have been busy these past two weeks with Halloween lessons on weekdays, and parties on the weekend. In fact, I still have another party to attend THIS Saturday….that’s more than enough Halloween for me!

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UPDATE: ‘Japanese Fantasy Drabbles’ Submissions

As of this evening, we have accepted 41 drabbles for this anthology. I’m quite happy with the variety of themes too: yokai is of course the most popular, but there are also some good dragon and ninja stories, and a growing number of scifi pieces as well. (More, please!)

We’ve had a few Japanese authors submit stories, which is awesome! And Toshiya Kamei has been very busy translating for a few new, international contributors also.

The call is open until November 30, each author is allowed 3 accepted drabbles, so why not have a go? Even if you are doing NaNoWriMo this November, a quick drabble or 2 could be a good break or even a prompt for a bigger story!

As I said, we have 41 accepted stories, and I would like to close on the deadline with 80-100 drabbles. Any help to spread the word about this call would be much appreciated.

Our submission guidelines and further details on the theme etc can be found on the Submissions Page. Please check the guidelines carefully before submitting. I haven’t rejected anyone for missing a step, but it helps me a lot when I receive everything I need in the first email.

Good luck with your drabbles (and NaNoWriMo if you are participating)!

~~~~~

‘INSTINCTS’ Poetry Series

We are also still open for our online poetry series, Instincts. So far, 1 poem has been published this month (see here), and I have a 2nd to be published in mid-November. Submissions have unfortunately been slow, with several being rejected because they don’t have any fantasy/speculative elements. Poems MUST have both Asian and speculative elements for this call.

Full details can be found here

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Want to check out previous Insignia Series anthologies? We have 7 volumes, ebook only, available from most retailers, and all for US$.99c!!!

See all our books here

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Photo credit: David Menidrey on Unsplash

INSTINCTS #1: A Haiku by Stewart C. Baker

 

Today we’re sharing the first poetry contribution to our new online series,  Instincts: Asian Speculative Poetry. (‘Instincts’ for short).

Haiku are wonderful expressions of thought and beauty: adding speculative elements is especially difficult in this form, so I love the creativity of this piece. And if you’re into haiku, you’ll get the frog reference…

A Haiku (Untitled)

By Stewart C. Baker

Basho’s death day

the neural network stops

to watch the frogs

~~~

Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, speculative fiction writer and poet, web editor for The Heron’s Nest, and editor-in-chief of sub-Q Magazine. Stewart was born in England, has lived in South Carolina, Japan, and California, and currently lives in Oregon with his family­­—although if anyone asks, he’ll usually say he’s from the Internet. You can find him online at https://infomancy.net

~~~

 Stewart’s work in The Insignia Series Anthologies:

‘Love and Relativity’ (Insignia: Asian Science Fiction, July 2018)

‘Raising Words’ (Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts, Aug 2018)

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If you’re inspired by Stewart’s words and want to give Asian speculative poetry a go, check out our submission details here.

We also have an open anthology submission call for 100-word (drabbles) Japanese Fantasy stories.

We’d love to read your work!

Have a great week,

~Kelly~

~~~

*Frog image by Samuel Giacomelli on Unsplash