National Poetry Month, Day 30

What a great month it’s been! I wanted to close out my National Poetry Month posts with a classic. Have a great day, everyone. And remember: You ARE a poet. You just don’t know it. xox


Phenomenal Woman
by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a womanPhenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


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National Poetry Month, Day 19

I never read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but I knew very well who The Guy was. When I discovered this poem in my twelfth grade textbook, I fell in love so hard I even wrote a poem of my own in response (I’ll post that tomorrow).

I stole that textbook.


The Hollow Men
T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

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National Poetry Month, Day 13

This is just to say…that what I really wish I still had is Josh Rayner’s parody of this poem he wrote me in 10th grade that started out, “I burned your newly-finished novel yesterday…”

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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National Poetry Month, Day 8

I thought this poem particularly appropriate for this year, with its particularly loooong winter.

A Robin said: The Spring will never come,
And I shall never care to build again.
A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,
My sap will never stir for sun or rain.
The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,
I neither care to wax nor care to wane.
The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,
Because earth’s rivers cannot fill the main.–
When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,
And trilled a lover’s song in sheer delight.
Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might
Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.
The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,
Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.

–Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)

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National Poetry Month, Day Two

Goop GirlAnother of my heroes: Gelett Burgess.

Table Manners

THE Goops they lick their fingers,
And the Goops they lick their knives;
They spill their broth on the tablecloth-
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew;
And that is why I’m glad that I
Am not a Goop-are you?

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Nominate Princess Alethea…for everything!

Okay…not *everything*. But I am happy to report that I have more than one work this year eligible for award nominations! Yay!

*Hero, October 1, 2013

Best Novel /Andre Norton Award

HERO (Fantasy, YA) — Second in the Woodcutter Sisters series of fairy tale mash-up novels. (Think “Once Upon a Time” meets “The Princess Bride”) Saturday Woodcutter is a girl with a sword who is mistaken for a boy through the whole book. She has to rescue Peregrine of Starburn (mistaken for a girl through the whole book) from a witch and a dragon. IT’S AWESOME AND FUN.


Best Short Story

There are a handful of original short stories from my WILD & WISHFUL, DARK & DREAMING collection that just released from Alliteration Ink. I will list them all here, starting with my top choice, and what categories they would fall under (depending on which Awards you’re nominating for).

Wild & Wishful, Dark & Dreaming--story collection by Alethea Kontis* “The Were Four” (SF/F, YA) — On Dec 21, 2012, the world didn’t end. Instead, 90% of the people on Earth became a were-creature of their totem animal. This is the story of four high-school aged, misfit, REALLY LAME weres (platypus, piranha, sloth & mosquito) who enter a local Battle of the Bands.

“Blood, Sweat & Tears” (Contemporary, Horror) — The story of a young Romany woman who ghostwrites bestselling novels with a magic potion literally made of of blood, sweat, and tears.

* “Alligator Baby” (Fantasy, YA) — Deep in the Louisiana Bayou, a young orphaned girl petitions the local voodoo priestess to find out what really happened to her parents.(Really hard for me to choose between this one and “The Were Four”–I love them both!)

* “183 Million Light Years from Home” (SF) — A tired young father on a dark, nearly-deserted stretch of TN highway accidentally kills a stranger…and saves the world.

“Confessions of the Ex-Future-Mrs. X” (Fantasy) — A secret, in-depth interview with the woman who almost married Willy Wonka.


Also Original to WWDD:

* “Deathday” (Fantasy, Poetry) — A dark love letter to the soul of a girl’s mother on the day she was born.


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Pick A Letter, Any Letter


Google Alerts sent me to this really great review of The Wonderland Alphabet over at GEEKS OF DOOM.

The review is gushing…which is ALWAYS nice…but the reviewer chooses J as her favorite poem. Which is funny, because when I first wrote the poetry for Janet’s art show, J was my favorite too.

I do not fear the ticking clock
But lo, I fear the Jabberwock
I keep my vorpal blade at hand,

 To slay the scourge of Wonderland.

Now, I’m torn between A…and M…and all the other letters too. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite.

I’ve definitely memorized them both — as well as J. My goal is to memorize ALL OF THEM, and then randomly going around conventions quoting myself with INCREDIBLE PRETENTIOUSNESS. *glee*

Do you have a favorite poem from The Wonderland Alphabet?

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Wonderland: My Favorite Bit

Where do you go to find decent fiction to read? When I’ve asked people this question lately, their answer is most often John Scalzi’s “The Big Idea.”

In the footsteps of that fabulous Idea, my dear friend Mary Robinette Kowal has launched a feature on her blog called “My Favorite Bit.” In lieu of asking authors the age-old question “Where do you get your ideas?”, Mary asks, “What was your favorite thing about writing the book you just had released?”

You’ll be surprised at the answers.

I’m honored today to be a guest on Mary’s blog, speaking about “My Favorite Bit” of The Wonderland Alphabet: Alice’s Adventures Through the ABCs and What She Found There. Is my favorite bit the same as yours? I bet it isn’t.

Click here to read my fabulous essay and find out!


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All Things “If”

A while back, I was contacted by Susan Bertram from because I had mentioned in a blog post that Rudyard Kipling’s “If” was one of my favorite poems of all time.

The poem was quoted in “See How They Run,” a British farce we performed at Spring Valley High School. My French Grandmother had a set of Rudyard Kipling’s complete works at her house (that I later inherited), so when we visited that summer, I memorized it.

The blog post Susan referred to, however, was published in 2009. Instead of editing that post and linking to THEN, I figured it would be much more fun to talk about them NOW.

And since I was already dressed up as a princess, I recited the poem for you LIVE.

To find out more about Rudyard Kipling and All Things If, please visit


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Purple Princess Poetry

GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, requested that people wear purple October 20 to raise awareness of the dangers of anti-gay bullying.  The issue was brought to light last month after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after roommates outed him online.

I have my own issues with suicide — for lack of a more appropriate phrase, it was the “trendy” thing to do in my high school. At least three of my very good friends all attempted suicide as a cry for help. That “Teenage Suicide” song from Pump Up The Volume? Not so much a joke in the early 90s.

But we’re taking today from a different side.

Also in the early 90s–about a year after I graduated high school, so I was still 17–one of my uncles decided to come out of the closet. In my immediate mixed-race family (if you don’t think Greeks and People Of Any Other Descent are mixed-race, you need to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding again), the homosexuality itself was really no big deal. What I hated most was that he felt he had to lie–both to us and to himself–for so many years. He was suddenly a different person to me–one that I didn’t know at all, but I was willing to make the effort.

I was going through my own emotional quagmire (as young teenagers do when they’re trying not to fail their first semester of college), and so I expressed my-emo-self the best way I knew how at the time: through poetry.

I had a dream about a monk who wrote a beautiful poem about a cloud at sunset. At the beginning of the poem, the cloud was an eagle. By the end of the poem, the cloud had transformed into an angel. I woke up desperate to write the poem…but I worried that–in some way–it would be plagiarism. Ultimately deciding it would be pretty tough to be sued by my own subconscious,  I wrote the poem anyway. (My penance is that the poem in my dream was far more elegant.) It is also inspired by TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men.

I’m not vain enough to try and submit my teenage poetry for professional publication, so here it is for your enjoyment. I dedicated it to my uncle. I’d be interested to know what it means to you.


Tears of the Hollow Men

Blue clouds at sunset
With silver-pink lining
Free as an eagle
On the wind shining
Real as each second
Soft as a dove
Hard as the truth
False as your love
Some woman said all the real men are dying
All I can see are the hollow men crying

Clouds are a-changing
The eagle is now
A heaven-bound angel
Taking a bow
To the powers before him
Which shower him gold
I cannot believe
The stories I’m told
Harsh white light
Showed the red-blooded taint
I cannot listen
To keep you a saint
I cannot hear
How perfection is fake
I cannot stand
The apologies you make
I cannot look
So I look away
What kind of madness
Has made you this way?
Some woman said
All the real men are dying
All I can hear
Are the hollow men crying

I don’t deserve
For you to forgive
Me for my feelings
About how you live
Your life is your own
Independence, be proud
I look up to you for that
As I look to you now
An eagle, an angel
High up in the sky
An eagle, an angel
How high can you fly?
Some woman said
All the real men are dying
All I can feel
Are the tears that I’m crying

–A. Kontis, 1994

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