essay, memoir, poetry, flash: un peu de tout from me to you

Coming out at the other end of the academic teaching year, a summer course, and a bout of Covid, I am (finally and gratefully!) emerging from the accumulated mental fog and physical exhaustion. I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to be in 2022, until this past week when I’ve been able to re-establish something like a regular routine, but I have been writing semi-steadily, and there are things out there for you to read that were written by me and published by very nice folks alongside the work of many other wonderful writers, if you are interested. As usual, they span multiple genres and forms. I’m never going to be “Melissa, who writes X.” I’m always going to be “Melissa, who writes across the alphabet unapologetically and with great zest and vim and verve and joy.” This makes it almost impossible to “brand” me for the modern publishing landscape, but we might go with the lovely French saying “Melissa, she writes un peu de tout“–a little of everything.

Many scholars who write creatively, and writers who produce scholarship, and writers who write across genres and forms, keep these things distinct, either publishing across several noms de plume, or using one name for scholarly work and another for creative work, or maintaining different digital and social media spaces for their scholarship and their creative work, or not discussing them together, or only publishing in an area or two they’ve become known for. There are a lot of valid and wise reasons for taking one or more of these approaches, but I don’t, and won’t. You could view this as a failure to be serious and create a personal brand as a scholar (I don’t), or you could view this as a failure to be serious and create a personal brand as a writer (I don’t), or you could view this as a success in writing what I need and want to write and trusting whatever I’ve written will find its readership (I do). If you’re here for the scholarship, you’ll find it. If you’re here for the poetry, you’ll find it. If you’re here for the personal anecdotes and slice-of-life stuff, you’ll find it. If you’re here for craft essays, you’ll find it. If you’re here for pedagogical things, you’ll find it. If you’re here for flash stories, you’ll find it. If you’re here for speculative and weird things, I’ve got you covered! In short, if you have read something I’ve written and are looking for more of that, whatever that is for you as a reader of my writing, you will find more of what you are looking for. And hey–as long as you’re here, why not try something you ordinarily might not read, if it’s something I also write in addition to something I’ve written that you already know you like? You never know . . . maybe you hate scholarly essays and think academic writing is boring, but you love my weird poems, so you check out a scholarly essay I’ve written and I sway you into appreciating scholarship as an art form? Or, maybe you only read realistic “literary” fiction, but go ahead and check out a few of my poems and get hooked on speculative poetry!

Or, maybe not. But at least you have the option of trying, because I’ll keep writing un peu de tout.

So, without further ado, here is a roundup of recent things I’ve written across several genres and forms; I hope you find something or even several somethings here that you enjoy, but if not there will be more coming soon!

First up, a work of scholarship I’m proud of and really loved working on, published in a new collection of essays on female friendship in the Middle Ages out this month from Ohio University Press’s New Medieval Cultures series. My essay in this collection, “Female Friendship in Late-Medieval English Literature: Cultural Translation in Chaucer, Gower, and Malory,” examines alterations these three writers made to their continental source materials, arguing that their changes to the representation of women in their stories both render women more positive agents and mirror the networks of patronage and influence developed through women’s relationships, specifically women’s friendships with one another, in their own time. The far more negative tone of the earlier continental writers of women, together with the absence of such representation of women’s relationships in the earlier versions of these stories and its incorporation across several English writers’ work, points to a clear shift in the representation of women in late-medieval English literature. I am deeply grateful to the volume editors, Karma Lockrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala, for including my essay in this excellent collection, and definitely recommend the whole volume to anyone interested in historical women’s studies, medieval women, and medieval literature and culture. Also, you should absolutely judge this book by its cover because it is gorgeous:

Here’s the link to the press webpage for this book: https://ohiostatepress.org/books/titles/9780814215159.html

I had the wonderful opportunity to contribute a memoir piece to Past Ten, a project in which writers revisit a day ten years ago; my return to “May 22, 2012,” an emotional memory for me, appeared, appropriately, on May 22 and can be read online here: https://www.past-ten.com/single-post/melissa-ridley-elmes?fbclid=IwAR2HLNlPUKmakM5xJhOpo3fXShQSNAyAfMDncPGFUSPfCDRZfLKNKfci7XI

Several of my poems have landed in wonderful venues over the past few months! I was invited by one of the editors at the “Listen to Her” project at the University of North Florida to contribute two poems, “A Sensorial” and “What the Old Woman Knows.” The project promotes the creativity and individuality of women, and you can check my poems and the overall project site out here: https://lieberman.domains.unf.edu/s22/a-sensorial-what-the-old-woman-knows-by-melissa-ridley-elmes/?fbclid=IwAR0cByrmuGFdtPA3Kh8ljZGojO3Lk36T3vZfXQ6pfv4sv-Pkcd28qwxpPVQ

“Every Light a Threshold,” a poem contemplating the worlds we can visit in changing lights through the blinds of an apartment window, was published in Haven Speculative Magazine‘s issue 4, and you can check out the magazine here: https://www.havenspec.com/issue-four and purchase it here: https://ko-fi.com/s/f371bb536b

“Dragons and Drams,” an apocalyptic poem featuring two of my favorite things, dragons and whiskey, was published at Liquid Imagination and can be accessed both in written form and as an audio file here:

And “Drown Skin Girl,” a selkie poem, appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Illumen. You can find it for purchase here: https://www.hiraethsffh.com/product-page/illumen-winter-2022-edited-by-tyree-campbell

Finally, “Settled, Unsettled,” a flash story featuring a storm and a conversation between a husband and wife, found a home at “Story in 100 Words” this past March and can be read online here: http://entropy2.com/blogs/100words/2022/03/07/settled-unsettled/?fbclid=IwAR21bbVir17ELvYW4pWiWw94WgHd4TiLYgJfFhojM8h67DHDNYvCjnE-EwY

Happy reading!

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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