Category: mermaids

Mermaids of Colour

When the Disney studios announced that they had cast Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel, aka The Little Mermaid, for their latest live-action remake, there was a wave of reactions and most of all: criticism. Twitter hashtags #NotMyMermaid and #NotMyAriel became trending topics and Halle was ridiculed in words as well as in ‘anti-fan art’. And why? Not because anyone doubted the acting and singing talent of the 19-year-old R&B star. Nobody questioned the judgment of director Rob Marshall who praises Halle’s ”rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance, plus a glorious singing voice”. No, the hatred is based solely on Halle’s skin colour supposedly not matching the role. In my opinion, this online hatred of the new mermaid isn’t just racism based on white privilege, it’s rooted in whitewashing.

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Meirminnen – Zwollo/Couperus

Inspired by the image of the mermaid as a symbol for a forbidden love (that beckons as a siren, but will never become reality), I made many trips – from Stockholm to Saint Petersburg and from Helsinki to Azerbaijan. But not all treasures are hidden at a great distance. Last year, I boarded the train to my neighbouring city The Hague, for some good old-fashioned musicological strolling in the analogue archives. The gem that attracted me? A 1918 song called “Meirminnen”. For the Dutch journal “De Liedvriend” (the friend of the art song), I wrote a short article about this charming song, that just got published. Sheet music and piano in the YouTube below… enjoy!

The article in its beautiful lay-out can be read here (via my, but it is in Dutch, an English version will follow.

Qualupalik and the Father

In a remote village, some workers are building a bridge, but are scared away by vampire mermaids. Some are pale with long dark hair and glowing red eyes and their tails resemble snake tails. Others have green skin, and long fingernails, such as Qualupalik. Read this creepy story about a Vampire Mermaid written by Scott L Vannatter.

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Frankenstein Mermaids

Last week, I had to chance to brighten those dreary nights in November with a visit to Edinburgh and the lively “Fates of Frankenstein”, a two-day conference about Frankenstein’s legacies in popular culture. My presentation was about “Frankenstein Mermaids” and if you are interested, you can read read more about that in this article that was published in Foundation.

The Heroic Myth Index

Carol S. Pearson’s bestselling book “The Hero Within” combines insights from literature, anthropology and psychology to distinguish six heroic archetypes. Taking both Hans Christian Andersen’s and Disney’s versions ‘The Little Mermaid’ as case studies, this blogpost shall identify archetypes from Pearson’s Heroic Myth Index that can be traced in the main character.

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Achtamar – two poems

The first track of my solo album is about the story of Achtamar, which I learned in Armenia. Using the familiar trope of of star-cross’d lovers, the story of Achtamar is about a young woman named Tamar and the young man who loves her. They meet in secret on an island, until Tamar’s father discovers their trysts and sets a trap for the youth. He manages to escape, but he is mortally wounded and cannot swim across the lake. As he dies, his last action is to whisper her name across the water: ‘Ach, Tamar!’.

With the help of my friend Ofelia Melikyan, I translated the famous poem by Hovhannes Tumanyan about this story. And with the help of John Vandenberg, I rewrote it into a poem of my own, that could possible serve as a song text…? 🙂

Achtamar / Akhtamar
– a poem by Հովհաննես Թումանյան – Hovhannes Tumanyan – translated by me –

Their whispers are felt in her heart
The time has come… and once more
One into the waves does dive
While the other prays on shore.

“Who is the brave young man,
who, drunk on love,
removing pain and fear from his heart
cuts through the lake at night

He crosses the lake from across the shores
and kisses our Tamar so
He’ll take our lady from us, he thinks
What does he take us for?”

This is what was said in hurt
by the youth of the isle
And the fire Tamar had lit
the light was put out that night

Lost in the murky waters
Was the swimming man in love
The wind carries with it, brings forth
The moans of “Ach, Tamar!”

The voice is near, in deepest dark
under the sharp rocks of shore
Where the water rapids roar
His calling falling on deaf ears
but sometimes one cane hear a muffled
“Ach, Tamar!”

In the morn, the tides were calm
And brought forth the body of the man
On his lips so cold, so still
Two words were frozen:
“Akh, Tamar!”

And ever since, for this reason,
They call the island Achtamar.

This beautiful collage (including Achtamar as a mermaid playing with fire under the sea!) was made by Isabel Verhaegh. 🙂

Achtamar – a poem by me

Now grief fills the air,
here, where once a story of love dwelt.
Two lovers were lost in each other,
but the world conspired against them!

The two lovers –
a sister bird and her brother –
locked wings and rubbed heads
finding peace amidst the tumult.

Alas! The sister was a monarch’s daughter
and her brother was but a mere commoner.
Oh! Two lovers, joyful lovers they were! –
two shining hearts flying amongst the stars.

The princess waits with aching limbs,
when the night is high, along the shores of lake Van
Raising a burning torch in her hands
While the flames of love shine brightly in her heart

Her beloved cuts across the water
swimming every night to meet his Tamar.
He folds her in his wings with no fear.
The things a newly found brother for his sister will do.

Love flows like water falling from a cliff,
not knowing or caring about differences or any limit.
But the world abhors such bonds.
To humans, this relationship is a curse.

One night the world struck a blow against their bond.
Hatred extinguished the flame of her love
and left her beloved in the waves of the lake.
To die in cold as he wailed “Ach! Tamar!”

Her love was felled in hatred’s face
as Tamar’s torch was doused by her kindred.
And her beloved was left to die
while she was dragged away into the night.

When the loss of love became too much to bear
in search of her beloved, Tamar jumped!
Into the water to be with her lover
a mermaid to hide from the cruel world above.

To this day, the wind still tells their story.
“Ach! Tamar! Ach! Tamar!” is heard along the shore!
And grief still fills the atmosphere,
where once a story of love did dwell.

Sedna the Inuit Goddess (revisited)

In Oceanopolis, I encountered a beautiful and intriguing mermaid. It was an artefact of Inuit art – goddess Sedna. Touched by the small statue and the fascinating myth behind it, I would like to share the story of Sedna with you, by means of some creative writing on my blog.

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The cyborg mermaid – a chobits fan fiction

Another original piece of fan fiction on this blog. 🙂 Clonroise from Tumblr account @underneathoursouls wrote a Chobits fan fiction about the cyborg mermaid, with many Irish influences. The use of different fonts refers to inner monologue in this piece and the use of Irish will be translated at the end of the work and is written in italics.

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The Zombie Mermaid

An original fan fiction by Katelynn E Koontz, author of Wind Whisperer (2014).

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Zombie Reconstructions in Contemporary Society: the Zombie Mermaid

At this moment, I am working on a chapter for an edited volume called “Deconstructing the Zombie: Cultural and Ideological Approaches”. It can hardly be a surprise that I am working on the composite character of the Zombie Mermaid. 😉 As I am very keen on your feedback and suggestions (some more case studies, anyone?), I thought it would be nice to share some of my work-in-progress with you.

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