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Entrance Exam

Entrance Exam
after The Book of the Dead
by Shelly Bryant


Who is he
whose roof is of fire?
Who is he
whose walls with serpents writhe?
Who is he
whose floor is streams of water?

            coolly calculating
            speaker of truth
            unmoved and unmoving

Let hearts in his hands be weighed
            and not found wanting
Let pure minds enter the way
            by the just one broken

* * *

Shelly Bryant splits her time between Singapore and Shanghai, sometimes teaching English literature, and sometimes studying Chinese language. Her first poetry collection, Cyborg Chimera, was released in 2009, and her second is due out later this year. Besides working with speculative poetry, she does some nonfiction writing. Her loves for travel and writing intermingle in the Pocket Guide to Suzhou, which was published in May 2010 in Shanghai, China.

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre?

I think the attraction to the fantasy genre lies in the way it triggers the reader's imagination, even as it hints at (never exhausts) the ranges of writer's imagination. It gives us a safe place to explore issues in the "real" world — those hard realities that are better examined when removed from the here and now, if we hope to gain the sort of distance that gives us a suitable perspective for proper contemplation.