One of my favorite blog discoveries last year was Wyrd Words and Effigies, a blog curated by Katie Metcalfe from Billingham, England. Next to quite an active blog (it’s highly recommended if you like all things grim, Katie finds amazing stuff!) Wyrd Words and Effigies is a magazine too, free to download from the website. The first issue, with ‘Death’ as its main theme, was released a few months ago. I downloaded the magazine on my iPad and it was love at first sight: it’s a mixture of interviews, art and creative writing right up my alley. I asked Katie if she’d be interested in sharing some thoughts with Bleaq concerning her magazine, favorite music and inspiration. Enjoy!
Bleaq: Hi! Could you introduce yourself and Wyrd Words and Effigies shortly?
KM: Hello there. I’m a writer, poet, editor and the founder of Wyrd Words & Effigies, a blog devoted to the strange and shadowy, the damned and unseen. I’m also the creator of an accompanying magazine also entitled Wyrd Words & Effigies.
– Katie Metcalfe
The first issue of Wyrd Words and Effigies explores death. I love how you’ve picked a theme and explored it with all kinds of art! Can you tell something about your fascination with death, the macabre and unsettling subjects?
KM: Thank you for such kind words! I’ve been a bit odd since childhood, and fortunately was supported and encouraged in my eccentricity, especially by my Granddad who would buy me books of ghost stories from car boot sales. I remember watching late night documentaries on serial killers with my Grandmother, and wistfully looking forward to the day when my auntie would give me the ‘ok’ to gorge on her VHS horror collection.
I suppose I’ve always felt a strong need to document my obsession with unsettling subjects, be it in journals or my creative writing. By 2013 establishing Wyrd Words & Effigies felt extremely necessary. I wanted somewhere where I could archive and share all of my finds. But I also wanted to investigate the people behind the works I was admiring. My fascination with unsettling subjects has never been as strong as it is nowadays. I’m always hungry for a new darkness.
– Trailer for the first issue of Wyrd Words and Effigies
I really enjoy how you mix several art forms in WW&E. An important part of the magazine is dedicated to music, and in particular black metal. Can you tell why black metal is so important to you and why you think it mixes well with the written and visual art you feature in the magazine?
KM: I first encountered black metal when I was in my early teens, a number of years before we had a computer with internet access. My encounter was through one headphone that was plugged into my friend’s CD walkman. The track I was listening to was Her Ghost in the Fog by Cradle of Filth. Before this introduction, I had been raiding my local record store for something heavier and darker than Marilyn Manson, but could never find anything. The penny dropped the instant I slipped the listening piece over my ear. That part of my life had ended in that moment and an entirely new journey had begun.
Black metal reaches a part of me that other things are unable to touch. It has enabled me to develop a deep and thorough understanding of myself. It also helps me to cope with what I hate about the world, and enjoy the things I love about it. I mean, what can be better than driving through mountainous regions blasting Windir? Or lying in bed with your partner post sex, and falling into the dark, masterful work of Urfaust?
Black metal is a musical genre with an approach to death like no other, an approach which is stark and terrifying, lonesome and respectfully accepting. These aspects of death are featured in the other words and visuals within the magazine, only they are approached in different ways. As a result, I think a good balance of perspective is achieved.
It’s probably like asking parents which of their kids they like best, but do you have a piece of feature in the first issue of the magazine that you’re most proud of? If so, why that one?
KM: I think I would have to say that my interview with funeral director Sarah Wambold. For the first issue of Wyrd Words & Effigies I really wanted to talk to someone who worked with the dead, and after a long search I found Sarah. I have to admit that I felt exceptionally lucky when she agreed to an interview. The insight of her life with death is enthralling, and in my view, extremely precious. I feel immensely proud that Wyrd Words & Effigies is a home for her words.
When can we expect the second issue for WW&E? Can you tell us a bit more about the issue already, for instance: have you already decided what the theme will be?
KM: The deadline for submissions is 1st February 2015 so I expect to have the magazine ready by April. The theme, I’m excited to announce, is shapeshifters, and I have started to make contact with writers and artists exploring this subject in their work. I don’t want to reveal too much yet, but I can say that it’s going to be an eclectic and extremely unusual collection of material.
Next to the magazine you also own a blog, and are active on social media websites such as Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. How important is the internet for WW&E?
KM: The internet is an extremely valuable tool, and I’m immensely grateful for all the gateways that are available out there for me to push Wyrd Words & Effigies through.
Can you share three of your favorite blogs and tell what you like about them?
KM: I have been a reader of Haute Macabre for ages. It’s a constant source of inspiration and fuels my fire when I need to be re-energized. Another favourite is Cult of Weird. I’m forever on the lookout for peculiar things to blog about, and Cult never fails in providing especially rich fodder. Finally, The Order of the Good Death is fascinating and oddly fresh for a blog all about the end of life.
Can you share three of your favorite visual artists and tell what you like about their work?
KM: I’m besotted with the strange, gorgeous work of photographer Bear Kirkpatrick, and have recently developed an infatuation with Elena Helfrecht’s curious, often fear inducing photography. Finally, I really admire the beautiful horror of Kate MacDowell’s nature inspired sculptures. How she captures a moment in porcelain is astounding.
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
KM: I watched Lars Von Treir’s Nymphomaniac the other month, and was utterly absorbed for the duration. It’s a work of cinematic genius. Von Trier is completely unafraid of smashing down boundaries; he’s also, perhaps most importantly, unafraid of showing what an actual human being looks like in the flesh, imperfections and all.
Thanks for reading! A major thanks to Katie for answering all my questions and creating such an amazing magazine, I’m happy to have found Wyrd Word and Effigies! Katie is currently looking for submission for the second issue of the magazine. If you’re interested in joining you can find out how to submit on Katie’s website.