From the Editor & Contest: Tamara Jobe's Hag
As suddenly & gradually as dusk births the dark, we’re overjoyed to share that Half Mystic Press’ latest poetry collection, Hag by Tamara Jobe, is out today. This book is a reclamation of language—how it holds sway over us, how it moves through everything, a gorgeous annihilation. It is a closer look at how we define femininity for ourselves. We choose our lives, & this collection shows us another way of doing so. We hold the hands of Fate every step of the way, guided by our own power yet to be discovered.
As has become a Half Mystic tradition, we’re celebrating launch day by giving away three paperback copies of Hag—but this time around we thought we’d switch it up a little bit with a contest over a traditional giveaway. To enter, simply post anywhere on your public social media your answer to this question:
What does monstrous femininity mean to you?
Please answer the question (in as many or as little words as you’d like) using the hashtags #monstrousfemininityis & #hagbook. Feel free to also tag us @wearehalfmystic if you want to be sure we’ve seen your post, but it’s not a requirement to enter! You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr to enter. The contest is open worldwide & ends next Saturday, August 31, 2019; you must be over eighteen or have parental permission to enter. The best three entries, selected by the author Tamara Jobe, will receive a paperback copy of Hag shipped to their doorstep. We can’t wait to share this new collection with you!
Thank you so much to every blogger & journal editor who hosted Tamara on the Hag blog tour. A few of our favourite quotes from reviews, interviews, & guest posts over the past two weeks…
“Tamara Jobe manages to sing seamlessly from memory without drawing a line through history and the making of it, acknowledging in poems like ‘Otherkin’ her ability of tying together emotion, making knots in the pit of a stomach feel like a song fit to bursting. Between love and grief, between wanting her truth told and wanting to rewrite it, she walks along the tightrope of the book’s spine like a conductor’s song along the end of their staff, leading the reader—her orchestra—into the place where you remember how silence made you feel but you don’t remember a time when the music wasn’t playing.” A review by River Adams for Oh Shadows
“Hag is a brave voice with the unique ability to both devastate and uplift, like a curl of candle smoke lingering in the air. There’s been a resurgence in the past few months of publishing works based on existing as a woman, and how we are able to define our own genders and live within those boundaries. Jobe is an exceptional addition to this expanding genre, using her words to forge a quiet power. It’s rare to find a writer who writes as if from a dead language, bringing forth an ancient flow that moves over her words. ... Jobe reinvents language as if establishing a haze of twilight to let every word sound as if a drum beat, following the rhythm of the heart.” A review by Rachel Small for Voices In the Attic
“Tamara Jobe’s Hag transports us through landscapes of light and shadow in a series of fecund poems where ‘nothing is holy’ yet everything is. These ‘feral hymns’ teach us how women are not taught ‘how to believe [we] deserve... more than the space [we’re] in’ and are conditioned to ‘smooth [ourselves] into less-than-human.’ Will we ‘not swallow that bitter pill, wet with void? Do as [we’re] told?’ or will we ‘[walk] forward into shadow without looking back?’ While reading this collection the reader will venture into Jobe’s visceral poems and come across themselves, come across the hag within. Will they then choose to follow her into the shadows?” A review by Crystal Vega-Huerta for Life In Poetry
“This is a poetry collection that familiarizes you with the god in your blood. Each poem pushes you deeper and deeper into a liminal space. Tamara Jobe plays with the imagery of the unknown, alternating between words you know and worlds you don’t. Mysterious worlds you are sure you can step into, if only you can linger on these words long enough. But you cannot, for they are fleeting images. I am left wandering among words, wondering. How can I understand—know—feel—things that do not exist? How can I taste a green apple tart poem in my mouth? How can I feel the pain of resentment ripped from the scalp? How can I see a beating heart I have never known? How can I feel a moon tucked under the tongue? And how is it that I can feel a sense of familiarity with this strange magic?” A review by Amogha Lakshmi Halepuram Sridhar for Much Amo About Nothing
“When I think of the word hag, I think of the greying light beyond the horizon before a storm. I think of possibility hanging heavy in the air. Of beastly power. Of our animal bodies, little microcosms of nature itself. Of ritual beating itself into a frenzy in the dead of night, of might and wisdom and struggle.” A guest post by Tamara Jobe on the Half Mystic blog
“Every single poem invoked a vivid picture in my mind, every single poem told a different story, and yet they all come together, they all exist beside each other and make each other whole. From an objective point of view, Hag is brilliantly written. Jobe truly has a way with words: she brings them to life in such a manner that can only be described as extraordinary. Her words sparked so many different emotions in me; they stayed in my head and refused to leave, even after I read the last poem.” A review by Hannah Rosenthal for Ink & Myths
“Hag is a collection of poems full of raw emotions, of pain, of magic, of what it means to be a woman, with all the happiness and all the heartaches. It’s about vulnerability, it’s about power, it’s about choosing your own fate. The poems are full of memories, full of nature, they fill your head with pictures and your heart with feelings. Some are heartwrenching, some are hopeful, some are so metaphorical they take you to magical lands.” A review by Liz Masson for The Rose Reader
“As I was putting the pieces of Hag together, I was also sewing up loose ends in my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; I was just beginning to feel some cohesion in my identity after the sensation of wandering for years across the wetlands and deserts of memory.” A guest post by Tamara Jobe for L’Éphémère Review
“The imagery is so on point it almost takes your breath away. The descriptions of nature are raw and not sugar-coated whatsoever, and I love it. I love when nature is shown as the force it is. You don’t mess with Mother Nature and these poems show the reality of that. But nature isn’t the only thing that is brutally depicted. Being a woman and everything that comes with that is described in the same painfully real way as well. Tamara Jobe doesn’t pull any punches about the hell that can come from being a woman in this world. She doesn’t just focus on the bad though. She also beautifully describes the power of women and the way we wield it. Excuse me while I go start a coven!” A review by Sarah Perchikoff for Bookish Rantings
“Memory occupies a huge part of our identities. Poetry so often calls on memory as a crucial device, whether to help us process our experiences or to redefine them entirely. Our memories are so romanticized and altered in our minds that going through them is very much like the experience of writing a poem. It’s not necessarily about what the words mean as much as it is about how we live the poem or memory. That’s how we tell our stories, and that’s also how we shape our futures.” An interview with Tamara Jobe on the Half Mystic blog
You can purchase Hag in paperback ($15) or PDF ($7) now. Thank you infinitely to those who preordered the book; it is a collection ever shifting, ever becoming, & we hope you find the darkest & truest parts of yourself inside of it. If you’d like to try your luck in the contest, don’t forget to answer the question “what does monstrous femininity mean to you?” on any public social media profile from now til August 24, using the hashtags #monstrousfemininityis & #hagbook.
As always, songbirds, we’re grateful for all the ways you’re holding this new creation close—& we can’t wait to hear all your wide-eyed & dark-dreaming definitions of monstrous femininity. Here’s to the ugly & the marvellous, loud enough to reach the edge of night.