“Mady (Marie Bourdages, b. 1966) is a Montreal-based artist who creates expressionist-inspired works in chalk, pastels, charcoal, and oil paint. Her work expresses highly personal emotions and sensibilities, and often dwells on life, death, lesbian and autoerotic sexuality, spirituality, and memory and its distortions. Mady’s work was first shown in 1985 at the Université du Québec Montréal and has since been exhibited in dozens of shows and galleries in Montreal, New York, and Germany.” (glbtq Encyclopedia)
Mady is a great artist, in this Editor’s opinion, in Mady’s opinion (watch her dear video, The Greatest Painter of the Century at The Cheapest price !!!! MOUHAHA !!!!), and in the opinion of another Editor, “For this exceptional result, we find only on the palettes of significant artists, paint, conscience and care mixed in equal proportion.” (Robert J. Lewis, Editor of Arts & Opinion)
Being a great artist is no fairy tale, as Mady hilariously suggests in this video. Mady’s series of seascapes “expresses the artist’s yearning for the comforting world she remembers from her childhood in the seaside village of Bonaventure in Quebec’s Gaspesia region.” (glbtq Encyclopedia) Mady’s video, Berceuse pour Alzheimer, an extremely poignant portrait of her ailing mother, gives us Mady’s true voice in a beautiful song.
Also included in this issue are fantastical visions by contemporary artists Nancy Macko, Jessica Burke, Ali Liebegott, Laurie Lipton, Stefanie Schneider, Jane Lewis, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Catherine Eyde, Shareen Knight, Robert Giard, Katie Badenhorst, Shantell Martin, and Carla Steiger, plus extraordinary historical artwork by John Bauer and Gustave Doré. Lady Clementina Hawarden's photograph, which graced the cover of an edition of Lillian Faderman’s Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present, is the fairy tale of a lesbian couple circa 1864.
The poems I selected for this issue are portraits of souls in distress, queer folk and fairies in terrible trouble, questing and conjuring means of escape. To tempt you into reading more, here are lines from the poems:
you’re a burnt child already / in a soggy quagmire (Rhéa Ess)
Her hand uncurls, a spindly woodland lily (Rose Kelleher)
Honeycombs and lemons she gave—rich gifts (Lauren Joslin)
my curve prow craves to / part the crystal dream (Larry Blazek)
the tornado who throws the pine trees down (Mary Cresswell)
Let sea-wrack settle and wreckage rest (Jan Steckel)
whose language no one understood (Siham Karami)
She turned stone cold around me (Carol Brockfield)
shadows of misunderstanding (Ed Bennett)
The stitching never ends (Risa Denenberg)
Jane was the loveliest girl at Girton (Mitchell Geller)
every path he strolls is strewn with flowers (Timothy Murphy)
a dwelling she defended against any—mostly men (Barbara Egel)
Her lips grew rough, bark-covered as they prayed (Gail White)
I thought if we behaved, we would escape (Eleanor Lerman)
When the Editor took a bite from a story by Rachel Steiger-Meister, she fell into a dream possibility. Why not ask the writer of this dazzling story to guest edit a special fiction section for Issue 4? Rachel Steiger-Meister turned out to be a PhD student in Creative Writing-Fiction at the University of Cincinnati whose work frequently incorporates fairy tales and fairy tale motifs. Hello, Rachel!
Hello! First, I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful fairy tale leap Mary took in inviting the girl who sent in a fiction submission in response to a call for poetry and art to edit her very own fiction section. How lucky I am to have her as my e-zine fairy godmother! In addition to granting my wish for publication, I was given the opportunity to assemble a magical array of tales. It was the perfect editorial gig for a girl who’s been gaga for fairy tales ever since she can remember—second wish granted! As you probably know, fairy tale magic often comes in 3s. So what’s my third wish? That you, reader, will enjoy the issue at least half as much as I’ve enjoyed playing a part in putting it together.We hope you enjoy the magic riches in this issue.
While working on the issue, the word that kept coming to my mind was transgression. Lesbians, dykes, queers of all types resist and transgress the heteronormative pressures and expectations of society in the course of our daily existence, in a world still plagued by hatred and misunderstanding. Fairy tales, too, are filled with acts of transgression. Earnest young women and men set off on adventures, leaving their homes behind them, transgressing the “social station” they were born into in pursuit of something different. People wander into forbidden territories: deep dark forests, ghostly castles, fairy other worlds. Older women devour children; people are transformed into animals and back again; the rules of the regular world don’t apply. Queerness abounds, making fairy tales a fitting medium for LGBTQ writers.
The fiction in this Fairy Tales issue reclaims happily ever after, questions happily ever after, and dives deeply into the strangeness and beauty fairy tales offer. In Sarah Schulman’s story “Why Not” a quest for a fairy tale happy ending goes awry in contemporary L.A.; in Lucy Corin’s “A Woman with a Gardener” the “real world” becomes enchanted; and in Leopoldine Core and Eileen Myles’s “17 Fairy Tales” the possibilities for magical tale telling seem infinite (or at least number 17!). Carolyn Gage (“Becca and the Woman Prince”) creates fairy tale worlds where romantic love between women can exist. Susan Stinson shares the power of dream and wonder with us in Martha Moody, and Catherynne M. Valente paints a haunting picture of desire and death in “Bones Like Black Sugar.”
Mary Meriam, Editor
Rachel Steiger-Meister, Guest Editor