Introduction to the Editors: Brigid Burke
I have been an Assistant Editor here at Metapsychosis for a few years now, and on this site I have published a couple of essays, offered one class on underworld mythology, and also currently produce the bi-weekly Chthonia podcast, which focuses on darker aspects of the “Feminine” (capital F intended, as this includes more than “women” in a gendered sense). I do have graduate degrees in Religion and Psychology, and in Literary Studies, though my speciality tends to be ancient religion and the underworld in particular. To get a sense of my other work and more on where I’m coming from creatively, feel free to visit my website, chthonia.net.
My reading preferences are all over the map, but I gravitate toward fiction works that deal with the supernatural or liminal, and also writings that are really rich in description or experimental. I like certain nineteenth century writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, and Washington Irving. Among more contemporary writers, Paul Tremblay is definitely a favorite, and I find myself imitating his writing structure in my own work. I love Muriel Barbery’s work for its rich emotional atmosphere as well. While I’m not a huge science fiction buff, I do love Ray Bradbury’s “October Country,” and “Something Wicked this Way Comes,” as well as the works of Philip K. Dick. I love the supernatural/weird fiction of M.R. James and Robert Aickman, and the experimental works of writers like Italo Calvino and Mark Danielewski. I would consider myself a fan of H.P. Lovecraft as well, though sometimes he’s a bit too melodramatic for me.
On the poetry and essay side—I absolutely love the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, and tend toward that “contemporary” group of poets from the early to mid-twentieth century: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, and Gary Snyder. Anne Sexton’s “Transformations” is a special favorite, with her reworkings of fairy tales. And…this also surprises folks…I do have something of an affinity for Alfred Lord Tennyson, possibly because I did my English Honors undergrad work on his use of poetry as a grieving tool. I like aesthetic essays like Mark Doty’s “Still Life With Oysters and Lemon,” though I am also drawn into philosophical essays with well-written and thoughtful arguments.
When I select pieces for Metapsychosis, I am very open to different ideas and styles. I gravitate toward works that are experimental, weird, that tend to either make me think long after I’ve put the work down, or transport me to a different mental or emotional space. This is true whether the piece is fiction, poetry, or prose. Probably the most important quality I’m looking for is authenticity; whether the piece really fits my personal preference or not doesn’t matter as much if I can get a real sense of the author and where they are coming from. There is no need to “try too hard” to be edgy or experimental; just be yourself. If you’re writing an essay, take the time to really think about your topic. There is too much polarization and polemic on the Internet, and in our culture in general; it is refreshing for me to read something that has been carefully considered and researched. I welcome new ideas, and interesting twists on old ideas.