This is the second post featuring content from the August 2022 issue of Worlds of Possibility. You can listen to the podcast for audio narrations of the pieces, and you can also read a full transcript of this episode below.Listen to "Wheat Fields on Fire by Lesia Korol and What It Takes to Stay Wild by Die Booth" on Spreaker.
Wheat Fields on Fire
by Lesia Korol
The featured image for this post is traditional Ukrainian art depicting wheat fields on fire, to show that the Russian army is deliberately burning Ukraine’s wheat.
Artist Statement from Lesia Korol:
I'm an illustrator from Ukraine, who moved to Poland because of the war. Here I'm trying to build my life anew and tell the whole world about the horrors that are happening in our country. My country is experiencing a genocide. We ask the world to help us and stop it.
The Prytula Foundation is an organization collecting funds for domestic and military aid in Ukraine. Please donate if you can.
What It Takes to Stay Wild
by Die Booth
One time, I met this old lady at a bus stop. It was raining. The sheets of water turned the glass grey, like a dirty shower curtain, streaming. The bus was late. I sat beside her on the plastic shelter seat and steamed. Each car that sluiced past sent up a little tidal wave and I felt myself sinking, this flailing feeling in my chest as I tried to stay afloat.
The old lady – she had a clear plastic raincoat, and one of those shopping bags on wheels, a tartan one – she smiled at me. Her eyes were faded grey as the rain, but kind. Patting the spot above her heart, she said, “We all have a bird inside. When you feel it flutter, that means it wants to come out – it’s frightened, or it’s happy, or it just wants to fly.” I felt, for a moment, more afraid. Like she could see through me, to my ribs and my heart rattling the bars of its cage. “Watch, my dear,” she said. “This is what it takes to stay wild.” She opened a door in her chest and out it flew: a little darting bird, yellow and brown and blue. It circled the frosty bus shelter dome and chirped. Perched on the Bank Holidays and Sundays timetable. She said, “Now you.”
Her plastic mac glittered, chromed cage bars swung out like a brooch. I pressed my chin to my chest and opened the door that had always been there, I’d just never known. Out it shot, in a flurry of feathers, a released breath. The lady laughed and clapped her hands, even though it looked scared. It flapped around our heads and bounced off the safety glass roof. It stormed and panicked like the night outside, until, slowing, down it flew, settled, and stilled on my shoulder, trilling.
I was afraid to move. It was so small and bright, red-plumed and singing, tiny throat ruffling. I sat and listened. I’d forgotten to be frayed. Then the bus arrived and its headlights turned the raindrops to molten gold. The old lady stood and said, “This isn’t my stop.” She closed the door in her chest, her bird tucked safe inside. She said, “Even when it’s cold and dark, don’t forget to let your bird fly.”
Die Booth likes wild beaches and exploring dark places. When not writing, he DJs at Last Rites – the best (and only) goth club in Chester, UK. You can read his prize-winning stories in anthologies from Egaeus Press, Flame Tree Press, Neon Hemlock and Prime amongst many others. His collections ‘My Glass is Runn’, ‘365 Lies’ (profits go to the MNDA) and ‘Making Friends (and other fictions)’ and novel ‘Spirit Houses’ are available online, and his cursed new novella ‘Cool S’ is due out in August 2022. You can find out more about his writing at http://diebooth.wordpress.com/ or say hi on Twitter @diebooth
The narrator for this piece was Jennifer Mace, who is also a previous Worlds of Possibility contributor. As a bonus for this episode, I asked her to also narrate her poem, heat death, which was published in March. You can read that at https://www.juliarios.com/heat-death-a-poem-by-jennifer-mace/
Jennifer Mace is a queer Brit who roams the Pacific Northwest in search of tea and interesting plant life. A three-time Hugo-finalist podcaster for her work with Be The Serpent, she writes about strange magic and the cracks that form in society. Her short fiction may be found in Baffling and her anthology Silk & Steel: A Queer Speculative Adventure Anthology, while her poetry has appeared in venues such as Uncanny Magazine and Reckoning. Find her online at www.englishmace.com.
If you are enjoying Worlds of Possibility and you can afford to subscribe, you'll receive the ebook versions of each issue before the contents appear online, and you'll also be helping to make it possible for me to keep paying creators to creat things! If you can't afford to support financially, I totally understand, and I am committed to making the contents freely available over time. Please show your support by subscribing to the OMG Julia podcast, and by telling anyone else you think might enjoy these works!
Below is a transcript of the podcast
Hello and welcome to the OMG Julia podcast ,where we discuss creative lives and processes, and this is our second episode featuring content from the August 2022 issue of Worlds of Possibility, the magazine that I started kind of by accident, because I started posting stories and poems and other pieces of artwork to my personal website based on requests and pledges from subscribers, and supplemented by my own pockets, because I love publishing short stories and things like that.
The first big issue came out in August. Originally I'd just been doing things one at a time, which I started in January of 2021, and they were pretty haphazard, but then in April of 2022, I ran an open submission call. I accepted sixteen stories and also accepted a couple of other things from people I had solicited long before who just got back to me, and now I basically have a surplus, so I'm able to plan out more in advance and do actual issues. I've also been working with artists to get art for these issues, and they're kind of shaping up into something really special and interesting.
If you are a subscriber and you have one of the paid plans, you get access to the ebook versions of these, and you get them earlier than they come out on this podcast and on the website. But if you're not a subscriber and you can't afford that, I totally understand, and that's why it's important to me to also make them all available free, and if possible to make them all available as audio as well as text.
If you still want to support, even if you can't pay, one great way to do that is by subscribing to the podcast, and also telling everyone that you know.
The first story that we released publicly from the August issue was Keyan Bowes's story, Bidaai ki Chicken Curry, which came out a little while ago. Keyan read that herself and then we did an interview together where she told me about what that story means to her. That was a really great episode. If you haven't listened to it, I encourage you to go and check it out. All the episodes are free and available online, and if you subscribe to the OMG Julia Podcast, you might have already heard it, which is great!
Today, I'm bringing you two of the shorter pieces from same issue. One is artwork by Lesia Korol, along with an artist's statement. And the other is a piece of flash fiction by Die Booth. I'll read to you a little bit from the note from the editor that I included in the Ebook version:
This issue highlights art by Ukrainian artists. Ukraine is a country at war, yet people who live there must still find ways to work and continue with their lives. for the four artists in this issue, this means continuing to create beautiful art. They want the world to know what is happening there and to help stop it. Please do check out their other work by following the links in their bios, and if you have the ability to donate to the organization suggested by Lesia Korol, please do that too.
A note specifically about Lesia Korol's piece: I Generally try to include works that leave me feeling hopeful in this project, and I know that in some ways a piece specifically about war may seem to run counter to that intention. In this case, I feel that acknowledging this war, and boosting the voices and desires of people directly affected by it, is where the hope comes in.
Also, Lesia makes beautiful art, and beauty is in itself a balm.
So that's what I had to say about the art in the editor's note. I did also include art from three other artists. None of them are going to be featured today, but if you stick around, the next episode that I do with content from this issue will have art by two of them, and the final episode for the August issue will have the art by the third artist that isn't Lesia, so you will get a chance to see all of the art pieces online and to hear all about them on the podcast.
But for today we're just going to talk about Lesia's piece, which is called Wheat Fields on Fire. If you want to click through to the show notes for this podcast over at juliarios.com, you'll be able to see the artwork in full.
It is a traditional Ukrainian art style with blue and yellow, the colors of Ukraine's flag, and it also is sort of like abstract patterned art. It's very pretty and also alarming because it is a picture of a wheat field that is up in flames.
Traditional Ukrainian art depicting wheat fields on fire to show that the Russian army is deliberately burning Ukraine's wheat.
I'm an illustrator from Ukraine who moved to Poland because of the war. Here I'm trying to build my life anew and tell the whole world about the horrors that are happening in our country. My country is experiencing a genocide. We ask the world to help us and stop it.
And then she links to prytulafoundation.org, which is p r y t u l a foundation dot org, an organization collecting funds for domestic and military aid in Ukraine. Please donate if you can.
Ukraine's been fighting this war since February of this year, and it's a really unjust war where Russia just invaded them, and it's very bad and hard. So if you can manage to donate to the cause, I encourage you to do so.
Next is a piece by Die Booth. And as I said in the editor's note:
Die Booth also gives us a story about healing, though on a smaller and more personal scale (as opposed to Keyan Bowes's story of healing on a much larger global and galactic scale). This flash piece about anxiety and self-acceptance made me sigh contentedly.
For that piece, I have asked Jennifer Mace to narrate it and so here she is:
[Narration of What It Takes to Stay Wild]
That was what it takes to stay wild by Die Booth
Die Booth likes wild beaches and exploring dark places. When not writing, he DJs at Last Rites – the best (and only) goth club in Chester, UK. You can read his prize-winning stories in anthologies from Egaeus Press, Flame Tree Press, Neon Hemlock and Prime amongst many others. His collections ‘My Glass is Runn’, ‘365 Lies’ (profits go to the MNDA) and ‘Making Friends (and other fictions)’ and novel ‘Spirit Houses’ are available online, and his cursed new novella ‘Cool S’ came out in August 2022. You can find out more about his writing at http://diebooth.wordpress.com/ or say hi on Twitter @diebooth
Jennifer Mace, our narrator, is a queer Brit who roams the Pacific Northwest in search of tea and interesting plant life. A three-time Hugo-finalist podcaster for her work with Be The Serpent, she writes about strange magic and the cracks that form in society. Her short fiction may be found in Baffling and her anthology Silk & Steel: A Queer Speculative Adventure Anthology, while her poetry has appeared in venues such as Uncanny Magazine and Reckoning. Find her online at www.englishmace.com.
Jennifer Mace is also a previous contributor to Worlds of Possibility, and as an added bonus, I asked her if she would be willing to narrate her poem heat death which appeared earlier this year. At the time I wasn't doing podcasts of the content, but I decided why not? We've got her on board as a narrator. Let's get this beautiful poem narrated, too. So that's coming up next.
[Narration of heat death]
That was heat death by Jennifer Mace. If you would like to read the text of that poem, I will include a link in the show notes for this episode.
All right, that's going to do it for this episode of the OMG Julia Podcast, featuring more pieces from the August issue of Worlds of Possibility. I hope you enjoyed it, and do come back next time. I believe the next thing we'll actually have is going to be an interview with two of the writers who created adventures for the D&D manual, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, and then after that I'll be posting the next pieces of content from the August issue of Worlds of Possibility.
I'm also hard at work creating the October issue. I'm basically doing these on a bi-monthly schedule. So the next one will come out in October, and you have plenty of time to subscribe before then. You can do that at juliarios.com. just click on the subscribe button, and it will take you to a page where you can decide how you want to do that. There are $3 a month, $5 a month, and yearly options. You could also choose to join me on Patreon if you prefer to support that way. My Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/juliarios, and all my patrons also get access to the early issues of Worlds of Possibility.
So anyway, if you'd like to do that, I love having subscribers and patrons! You get the ebooks early, I get to know that people actually want to hear and read these stories, and sometimes you get to vote on which ones I release next, or what kinds of things I should be looking for when I solicit or commission new work. So definitely, if you enjoy this, tell everyone! That's one way you can support, and if you have the means, sign up and be a subscriber.
If you don't have the means, again, the best way to support is by subscribing specifically to the podcast. I have a link to the OMG Julia Podcast on juliarios.com, and that has links to all the different ways you can subscribe on different podcatchers. So if you use Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or Spotify, there are links for all of those. If you susbscribe to the podcast and get the podcast directly in your podcatcher, that actually does help support this production.
Thank you for listening and I'll catch you next time.