Ambalila Hemsell /
October 11, 2019
"Queen of Hearts" and "Libra Season"

About The Author

Ambalila Hemsell

Ambalila Hemsell is a poet, essayist, and high school English teacher based in Tacoma, WA. Her poems have appeared in Columbia Journal, The American Literary Review, Ruminate, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection, Queen in Blue, was a finalist for the Brittingham and Pollack Prizes, and is forthcoming from University of Wisconsin Press.

Many of the fairy tales I grew up with were Hindu folktales. While finalizing my manuscript, I kept feeling like there was a Shakti poem missing, and trying, unsuccessfully, to write it. I had already written a number of poems which blurred my voice with that of the Queen of Hearts from Alice. Suddenly, I saw the parallel between the story of Ganesha getting his elephant head, (which includes two beheadings), and the Queen’s infamous “Off with her head!” It seemed natural that Shakti and the Queen—two powerful, angry, women from my own two storytelling lineages—might be friends.