A few brief updates: teaching, publications, a reading, and a corgi in the snow!

Hello All! January was one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it months. We’re back in session for the spring term, and I’m teaching some of my favorite things–History of the English Language, the Medieval Literature seminar, the senior capstone in English, and a new general education seminar, “Viking lit” that features the Old Norse Icelandic sagas and eddas. Since my “Viking lit” class is a new prep, this has meant a lot of extra work (good work! The kind I got into this business for in the first place!): reading, prepping lecture notes, finding resources and developing new activities for my students to help them engage with these texts and understand something of their historical and cultural contexts. And of course while the other classes are all repeats in my course rotation, I still spend a not-inconsiderable amount of time revising and updating them. I am sure there are people out there who are faster and more efficient at course prep than I am, but I enjoy it too much to race through it (and anyhow, my anxiety won’t let me; I have to feel certain I’m doing the very best I can by my students for each class session planned, each assignment developed, which means a lot of thinking through possible intended and unintended outcomes before settling on any given approach or assessment tool). Of course, that also means I have, constantly, the “how can there only be 24-hours-in-a-day?!” problem. I’m probably spending about 25-30 hours weekly just reading and pulling together lecture and discussion notes across my four courses and putting together the assignments and discussion boards and quizzes in Canvas. That’s aside from actually teaching, meetings, and email (Reader, I’ll level with you: I don’t love email.) And that’s all before we start thinking about how much time it takes to assess and assign grades to things (let’s not start thinking about grading. I’ll do that later, so you don’t have to.) The upside of all of this is that my students are so clearly appreciative of my efforts on their behalf and really seem to be engaging on a personal level with the readings and subject matter and with one another in discussion, and that’s a delight. I want them to have a good experience–I mean, I always want my students to have a good experience, but it seems especially important they do now, after so many disruptions and difficulties in their academic trajectories throughout this pandemic. I want each of them to walk away with something they loved about their work this term.

While most of January has been filled with teaching, I do have a couple of new publications to share with you! My poem “Never Was a Princess Girl” (yes, the title’s a shout-out to Tori Amos!) appeared in Star*Line 45.1. I published a personal favorite of my poems, “Winter Thesaurus,” in Gyroscope Review 22.1. And S.T. Yoshi graciously accepted three of my poems, “Mukkelevi,” “Date Night,” and “Starfall,” for Spectral Realms 16, also published in January. Here is a link to Star*Line‘s webpage; here is a link to Gyroscope Review‘s webpage, and here is a link to Spectral Realms‘ webpage, for those who would like to visit these publications and have a look around.

Also, I’m thrilled to be participating in two Science Fiction/Fantasy Poetry Writers’ Association panels at Capricon 42. Together with some of my fellow poets I’ll be reading selected published and unpublished works in the first panel on Friday night, and then talking about the creative process and where we get our ideas from on Saturday night. Both sessions are virtual, and virtual registration is free, so if you’ve got some spare time on Friday or Saturday night this week and want to pop in to her some speculative poetry, you’re very welcome! Here is a link to the Capricon webpage, for those who are interested in learning more about this event.

Photo of a screenshot showing the Capricon schedule with the two sessions I am participating in listed.
My schedule for Capricon 42

Finally, it’s snowing here in our little corner of the world! Those who know me know I absolutely adore snow–in my view, there are few things in life better than a glorious several-hours tramp through the snow, followed by a giant cup of tea and a book. Utter bliss. However, this morning I learned two things about Korra, our corgi: 1. Korra Does Not Approve of mommy rubbing Musher’s Secret protective ointment on her paws; 2. Until we get out in snow up to her chest, at which point her disapproval transfers wholly to that white stuff. It looks like I will be taking that snowy hike as a solo venture this afternoon! Here is a photo for you of a cute but deeply disapproving corgi in the snow:

Photo of a red-coated corgi standing in snow up to her chest. She is shown from the side looking at the camera. She is wearing the look of corgi disapproval.
It’s a “no” from her: Korra disapproves of snow up to her chest

Happy Thursday to you all!


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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