A couple of weeks ago, I caught a little slippery sea story by the Floating Harbour in Bristol. I reeled it in but, heading straight to Stoke, I had to leave the tale of ‘seal blood soup’ for my return.
And on my return, I found it splashing about on the crystalline waves, plated up and ready for teatime. I lapped it up and I can tell you, this thick and silky (selkie, even?) soup was bloody delicious.
I had been to see a panel discussion at Arnolfini on The Bloody Chamber, part of Bristol’s festival of the short story, Shortstoryville. Kirsty Logan was on the panel which also featured Cassandra Parkin whose New World Fairy Tales is published by Salt, Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts from UWE English Department and Bidisha, who chaired the event. Beautiful, beautiful.
The debate rattled through a history of ‘reclaimed’ fairy tales, halting briefly to examine the validity of ‘reclamation’ and the taut thread of feminism that binds the effort of everyone from Carter to Parkin herself. Kirsty Logan was right to remind everyone of the Grimm reality: sex, death; fear of sex and death; femininity and fear of female sex and death. And from there the debate wheeled round to readings from the panel, from both Angela Carter’s seminal collection and their own work.
I can’t share the works they read then, but I can share ‘seal blood soup’ with you, as Kirsty’s story is up on Emprise Review. And if lines like “Seal-blood soup is sweeter than your bunched fists” lick you up the right way, more of Kirsty’s achingly sea-sad stories were featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning, as part of a week-long series on ‘Women Writers in Scotland’—one of those neat, focussing Venns that can sometimes lift up something bright and unexpected.
If you want to listen to today’s broadcast, it’s here, and for those of you outside the UK or perhaps with a more urgent need for tiny fictions, the original recordings are with the Scottish Book Trust.
And as for my little lo-fi Logan original, I am grateful to Kirsty for offering to let me keep it. Thanks! I’m inspired—I may start a little zine press of my own. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll listen to ‘The Light Eater’ again.