Imagining The Fantastic

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On the weekend of April twelfth, I left three feet of snow behind me, and traveled to Northern Michigan University. I was presenting at a conference about imagination and mythology called “Imagining the Fantastic 2”. Other presenters were writers M.T. Anderson, Holly Black, and Ari Berk, artist Charles Vess, actor Charlie Bethel, and harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry.

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It was a remarkable group of people. Other than doing our individual presentations (I did one about how to forge a dragon slayer’s sword) the conference was a conversation between us, loosely based on various subjects. We talked about the difference between darkness and depth, how stories have saved our lives. Elizabeth-Jane told the story of the handless maiden­— a folktale about a girl whose father sells her to the devil, and how she survives.

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At one point during a discussion of music, Elizabeth-Jane and Tobin warned the audience against playing the diminished fifth — the chord of evil!

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After the conference was over we spent a day hanging out and sharing inspiration. Charles showed us a book of thumbnail pencil drawings for a graphic novel he’s writing. We spent the day at Ari Berk’s house, which looks fairly normal from the outside, but once entered reveals itself to be a portal into an alternate dimension, filled with paintings, and masks, fetishes and at least a-hundred-thousand books, each on a subject more arcane and fascinating than the last.

And there were hats.

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When I came home the snow-world I had left was melting away, taking the roads with it. The culvert by my house was three feet under water. A whirl-pool formed, sucking debris down into the corrugated shoot and throwing it out the other end in a geyser of white plumed brown water. In three days the snow almost completely melted away, rushing down to flood the lowlands.

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In my house in the hills the water passes, and I work, digging up bronze artifacts from my imagination, in the world of ice and thaw.

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photos of the conference care of Tracy Ford.

 

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Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.

3 Comments:

  1. Love the photos!
    This appears to have been the type of event I love to attend. One day it would be wonderful to catch you in a similar scene.

    Except for the flooding …

  2. beautyful!!!

  3. Yep..I would have been at this with bells on!

    Harps,Swords,Dragon tales etc etc…great pics!

    Strangely I love the one of the Mud Maelstrom best!

    Don’t know what that says about me?

    Cheers for this Jake!
    Owen Bright? Eoghan Flynn.

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