From Daily Drunk Magazine comes Kristin Garth and Nick Morrissey’s Wickerpedia. Wicker Man stans, look no further–this anthology of art and writing might be fun-sized, but it packs a powerfully horrifying punch. Whether you’re seeking some lite-academic musings, bloody flash fiction, or Garth’s signature twisted sonnets, Wickerpedia has something to satisfy every folk horror fanatic this Halloween. Read on for an interview with the curators about the inspiration behind the anthology, their favorite horror media, and why horror’s true home might be poetry.
“old gods never die / they just stop listening…”
<hobby horse> by Sarah Matson
DIANA HURLBURT: Having previously edited a Midsommar-themed anthology of art, poetry, and prose, what made you decide on The Wicker Man for your next outing?
NICK MORRISSEY: I didn’t work on A Drunken Midsommar, but I did tweet Kristin and say that if she wanted to curate an anthology for The Wicker Man I would love to help!
KRISTIN GARTH: Yes, I was still working on Midsommar when Nick tweeted me about The Wicker Man as an anthology subject. It seemed a natural connection between those movies, both horrors set in idyllic natural utopias in sunlight. They both represent communities with belief systems that do not adhere to the modern Judeo-Christian norm. I actually had a much longer history with The Wicker Man–having watched both iterations years ago. Midsommar I was only recently introduced to in the past year by a friend–though I’ll admit I became obsessed with it. The introduction came because, in fact, this person knew that I loved The Wicker Man and thought I would enjoy it. So when Nick messaged, it seemed a perfect continuation of a theme.
DH: Name a favorite horror movie and/or book.
NM: Horror has been a fixation for me since childhood. My earliest memory in life is of watching John Carpenter’s Halloween. However, I would have to say my favorite horror movie of all time is The Blair Witch Project. For my favorite horror book, in terms of things that genuinely scared me, I would probably say Bag of Bones by Stephen King or House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
KG: Oh my gosh, Nick, we have similar tastes because I love The Blair Witch Project too. I would say my personal favorite would be Rosemary’s Baby. And I am a huge fan of House of Leaves as well! I also love We Have Always Lived Inside The Castle by Shirley Jackson.
DH: What are some things you looked for in the submissions pile?
NM: I wanted a genuine connection to the source material. Whether you’re engaging with the films literally or dealing in their lore and themes, I wanted to see a personal stake in the writing that reflected something from the films’ ethos of deception, of finding the sinister in the daylight.
KG: Reading for an anthology, you are always seeking material that takes the source material to new and interesting places–doesn’t just regurgitate plot points but revisits the characters and the work with an interesting perspective. In Wickerpedia, we have entries that are straight horror, comic and sexual viewpoints, among others. As Nick says, though, the source material is honored in all of them.
DH: What natural connections–or opposing tensions–do you see between poetry as a form and horror as a genre?
NM: I think horror and poetry are naturally suited to one another as the act of consuming either one involves a certain anticipation, an unawareness of what’s coming. Both genres, when done well, should implore the reader to question possibility.
KG: The language and style of poetry are its bricks and mortar of a house, if honed and chosen with precision, creates and houses its own ghosts, the imagery. Sometimes the ghosts are friendly, and we call it a romantic poem or nostalgia. Sometimes the ghosts are about trauma, fictional or otherwise, and that structure we have built with our well-chosen words becomes a paper haunted house. I love both kinds. One is totally pleasurable to write. The other is more about an exorcism of our past and our nightmares. Even if you don’t have a particularly dark past, we all have nightmares. Writing and reading, and thinking about horror, in any genre, helps us to process and dismantle those.
DH: Did any particular themes or motifs emerge as you began assembling this collection?
NM: There’s a fairly prominent theme of fire, which is very much in line with the subject matter of the films. I also saw a lot of very deliberate rhythms and phrasings that seemed to mirror this sort of quasi-formal Romantic approach to poetry that I love.
KG: I am very obsessed with the theme of fire. I have a book coming out in 2024 with Really Serious Literature about the punishment of fire and how it has been used against women historically. I go into my own reasons for my obsessions with fire in that book, The Stakes, but I will certainly say that The Wicker Man definitely speaks to me on a familiar level with its fire imagery. It’s interesting in the 2006 film, the storyline is changed from the 1973 version to make the film more about a matriarchal society gone amok. The fire in this film is used against the men in the film. Men are completely subjugated. In both films, it’s a man that dies in flames, but only in the 2006 version is the society that inflicts this punishment a matriarchal one. It was an interesting counterpoint to my own project and something I find fascinating about the 2006 film.
DH: What other media have inspired or inflected the curating of Wickerpedia?
NM: I think folk horror at large has been a huge driving force behind this collection. Once you start with The Wicker Man, you then have all these access points into Midsommar, into The Witch, into this old English folk music and this dark pastoral art aesthetic that really blurs the edges of the horror genre for me. Working on this anthology really elicited a very specific mood in me that I think I’ll be continuing to chase for a long while.
KG: It was such a cool process to work on Midsommar and then look to these films, which I believe are source material for that film. In doing a lot of research into the Wicker Man films, I read that Nicolas Cage had the idea that he should be burned in the bear suit that he wears at the end of the film. Midsommar includes a character (something of a spoiler alert here, so skip ahead if you don’t want that) who is put into a bear suit and burned. It’s such a resonant image in the film and one that Cage envisioned in 2006. It’s an example of the kind of winks and nods to the source material of the Wicker Man films that I feel our contributors achieve in their own works in Wickerpedia.
If this anthology sounds like exactly your blood type, queue up the perfect playlist and start reading! Wickerpedia is available to download for free from Daily Drunk, but you can also add a hard copy to your spooky shelves. Thanks to Nick and Kristin for their insights, and happy reading, ghouls!