Tuesday 8 November 2022

Ki Russell, "The Wolf at the Door"


Ki Russell earned a PhD in Literature with a Creative Writing emphasis from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2012. Since the fall of 2012, she has taught Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature at Blue Mountain Community College in eastern Oregon, where she also serves as department chair of English, Writing, & Philosophy. Ki researches fairy tales and then butchers them for her own uses. She steals time from grading to wrestle with words, converse with the cat, dance with the dog, and paint. She believes people should laugh more.

Ki is active on Facebook hereOther samples of her work can also be found here

About The Wolf at the Door

In 2014, Ars Omnia Press released Ki’s hybrid genre novel The Wolf at the Door, which combines fiction and poetry to present the interrupted narrative of Lana, a contemporary revision of the Little Red Riding Hood figure. Each snippet of Lana’s story weaves her life ever more densely and intimately into the weft of a wider world of fairy tale-inspired figures, against which the protagonist’s story unfolds and through which she discovers who and what she is. Interwoven between the sections of this narrative are poems exploring other fairy tale figures, the perspective of these poems alternating between the contemporary and the timeless time of fairy tales. Baba Yaga appears in her hut in the woods and also as a Kali-figure living among us in the suburbs: devouring, monstrous, sexual, divine. She subsequently appears in the fairy tale tavern where she guides the heroine of the disrupted narrative, who works and interacts with other fairy tale figures traditionally cast as villains. Ultimately, Lana must come to recognize her own identity as both the maiden (Red Riding Hood) and the crone (grandmother) which allows her to draw power from both of these extremes of the female archetype.

From The Wolf at the Door, by Ki Russell

How to Become Baba Yaga

Build a log hut and stuff
the cracks with mud, straw,
rags. Twine hair through dirt.
Decorate with skulls.
Sculpt a pair of chicken legs
from river clay and rooster
blood. Place them beneath the floor.
Rig ropes with winches and puppet
your home wherever you please.
Compose chants and curses.
Mumble them as you tug tendons.

Pull your nose to your chin.
Pinch veins until the skin blues
and people miss your eyes.
Hunch your shoulders:
a hill that slopes
to your head. Oil
your hair till it snakes
around your face. Knock out
every other tooth. Sharpen
the rest. You’ll need them to tear
flesh from bones.

Train your palate: melt
flesh on your tongue.
Savor the juice of roast
torso, mop the drippings
with bone-flour bread. Lick
your fingers clean. Pluck lips
from your teeth. Devour
their sins. Gulp
them down. Absolve.

Reflections of a Suburban Witch

I smelled the blood of an Englishman today.
        The old red odor bled through his cologne.
I didn’t mention it. My spice grinder can’t handle bones these days.
        Besides, who has time to bake?

At the office, two emails from the cat:
                                It’s raining and the noise against the window disturbs my nap
                        and later:
                                The dog won’t give up the remote. I expect you to rectify this.

Of course those clumsy gray paws can’t type. 
                                He uses voice command software.
Today’s talking animals don’t bother with rhyme.
        No one repeats what they say.

The house: vinyl-sided wood. 
                                No insurance on gingerbread—who has the money for those 
The oven is electric, small.
                                It lacks flare, but it’s safer when the kids get pushy. 

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