The Witch of Eye Playlist

I’m so grateful to largehearted boy for inviting me to make a The Witch of Eye playlist.

In “The Invention of Mothers,” an essay from The Witch of Eye that is close to my heart, I wrote about Rhiannon, the fairy queen accused of eating her own child. The victim of a coup, she fell asleep and woke smeared in blood and surrounded by the bones of a dog her accusers said was her baby. For this was she bridled like a horse at the gates to the city until her son grew up to escape from captivity and return home to her. She is best known, though, for having called forth the Alder Rhiannon, those three magical birds who sing so beautifully they send the living to sleep and raise the dead from their slumber.

So of course a The Witch of Eye playlist must include Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” But how to represent so many other wrongfully accused women – the midwives, healers, activists, leaders, philosophers, and successful business owners – whose ways of being in the world gave some priest or friar or judge or king a bedeviled feeling? Whose songs would call to mind Lisbet Nypan, who, even under the most dire circumstances, refused to apologize for herself or for her work healing the sick with rituals of salt. Whose voice could echo that of the midwife Walpurga Hausmännin’s as she confessed to every crime the village had ever known, every stillbirth, every miscarriage, every sick cow or hail storm, so that the inquisition of Dillingin, Germany could be snuffed out with her? Is there a song in the key of Agnes Naismith laying a dying woman’s curse on the mob gathered to watch her hang, then burn?

You can read the little piece I wrote for largehearted boy about this playlist here. Or just go straight to Spotify and start listening here.

Published by Kathryn Nuernberger

Kathryn Nuernberger's latest books are THE WITCH OF EYE (Sarabande), an essay collection about witches and witch trials coming out in February 2021, and RUE (BOA, 2020), a collection of poems about plants historically used for birth control and pissed off feelings about patriarchal bullshit. The End of Pink (BOA 2016) won the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection of lyric essays is Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past (The Ohio State University Press, 2017). A recipient of fellowships from the NEA, American Antiquarian Society, Bakken Museum of Electricity in Life, H. J. Andrews Research Forest, She teaches in the creative writing program at University of Minnesota. Recent work appears in 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Paris Review, The Southern Review, and Waxwing.

%d bloggers like this: