#MARM 2020: Week 3

Things are starting to look a bit more promising this week – I have made some unexpected progress in the fourth row down.

I have been reading some of the interviews with Margaret Atwood from Waltzing Again. Because I can’t count it as watching or listening to interviews, I’m using it to mark off my “Post 1991” square. I’ve also been jotting down some new-to-me facts about MA that I’m hoping to use in a “listicle”, which would leave me with only one more square to mark off in that row. Suddenly it seems almost too easy!

The “One Essay” I read came from In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. I don’t read a lot of SF, but have enjoyed all the ones MA has written – I was curious to hear more from her on the subject.

The essay I read is called Dire Cartographies: The Roads to Ustopia. “Ustopia” is a word Margaret Atwood made up by combining “utopia” and “dystopia”. In Atwood’s view, “each contains a latent version of the other.” The essay gives a kind of literary history of utopias and dystopias, discussing the “monsters” we put at the edge of maps and how ustopias changed as our knowledge of the world changed and expanded.

I could point to this or that scientific paper, this or that newspaper or magazine story, this or that actual event, but those kinds of things are not really what drive the storytelling impulse. I’m more inclined to think that it’s unfinished business, of the kind represented by the questions people are increasingly asking themselves: How badly have we messed up the planet? Can we dig ourselves out? What would a species-wide self-rescue effort look like if played out in actuality? And also: Where has utopian thinking gone? Because it never totally disappears: we’re too hopeful a species for that. “Good,” for us, may always have a “Bad” twin, but its other twin is “Better.”

In Other Worlds was also the inspiration behind my attempt to ‘write something inspired by Margaret Atwood’. In the poem I’ve used as many MA titles as I could (sensibly) fit in.

(Titles are in blue print.)

Enjoy! 🙂

— — — —

In Other Worlds

In other worlds

True stories are not relevant.

A cat’s eye is pink, not green.

Dancing girls are negotiating with the dead.

— — — —

In other worlds

Bluebeard’s egg lies

on a stone mattress, in the tent.

Strange things hatch;

they are eating fire.

— — — —

In other worlds

They wait for the year of the flood

when food will be scarce.

Then, they will devour the edible woman.

She has good bones,

but the heart goes last.

— — — —

In other worlds

There will be moral disorder

and bodily harm.

There will be murder in the dark.

There will be no freedom

or happy endings.

Only survival.


— — — —

Margaret Atwood Reading Month is hosted here and by Marcie at Buried in Print and inspired by decades of reading Margaret Atwood’s words. From Sunday November 1st to Monday November 30th, we’ll be reading Margaret Atwood, and we invite you to join in!

Check out Marcie’s progress for this week! And don’t forget to eat some cake (or read or write or knit or go bird-watching) in Margaret’s honour on the 18th!

Week 1

Week 2

25 thoughts on “#MARM 2020: Week 3

  1. Rebecca Foster says:

    So fun — almost like the book spine poetry we’ve all enjoyed doing off and on. I’m nearly done with the MA short story collection I’m reading, so I hope to write that up along with the CWWA symposium soon. I’ll have to get some cake out of the freezer for Wednesday. What a shame 😉

  2. buriedinprint says:

    OhEmmGee, I absolutely love your poem! And what a difference a week makes: just last week you were thinking you’d never finish a line, and now you’re almost there. My squares are still a little all over the place, but I’m starting to see how I could narrow the gap by targeting some of the simpler squares. But I still have a couple of library loans to peer through, and I’m not sure they’re good fits for those “simpler” routes. Oh, well, I’m having fun just checking them off! Are you still working on a bio? I had in mind that you were…and I thought I requested the same one from the library?

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks! It was fun to “write”! And, just think, if we hadn’t done up a Bingo grid it would never have existed!
      I don’t have a bio – maybe you’re thinking of Waltzing Again? Or maybe I requested a book that hasn’t come in yet and I don’t remember requesting it. That has happened before… 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      I loved that one, too!
      I’m having fun reading bits and pieces (seemingly at random – ha!). And you seem to be doing really well with your MA reading over there!

    • Naomi says:

      It came to me while I was walking the dog, and once I got going it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be! And it was fun! Besides, it’s the only way I’ll ever write poetry. haha

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