Author Playlists

Katherine Factor’s Playlist for Her Poetry Collection “A Sybil Society”

“…here is a playlist that populates and re-stakes a claim of females forgotten, unknown, and those reigning where it matters most.”

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, and many others.

Katherine Factor’s poetry collection A Sybil Society is as inventive as it is smart.

NewPages wrote of the book:

“Factor’s is a poetry that strikes with the speed and charge of lightning. Ping, sting, and tingle. Afterward, a ‘flush and flow.’ Yo, goddesses, witches, and sisters—behold, Katherine Factor’s poetic effort to rematriate!”

In her own words, here is Katherine Factor’s Book Notes music playlist for her poetry collection A Sybil Society:

My debut book of poetry, A Sybil Society, is riddled with music. Some poems describe being immersed in music; others suggest that music will redeem us, and most are driven by language as an instrument. This work demanded listening, layering and re-ordering, pasting, transferring, and mirroring—mixing 

“the masters” and mistresses until what emerged was darker, smuttier, and funnier than I knew my work to be. This was the way to recast a society, poetry as an act of resistance against an ongoing tyranny of power. A Sybil Society must laugh at itself, be aware of its civility, take prisoners, and smother them in love and notes. It is an act of rematriation, imagining a post-patriarchal landscape. It tarries in ruins and modernity, populated by chanteuses, sirens, vixens, larks, coquettes, dancers, and those transgressive. And so here is a playlist that populates and re-stakes a claim of females forgotten, unknown, and those reigning where it matters most.

“God is Alive, Magick is Afoot” – Buffy Ste. Marie 

This hefty incantation—this “folk” figure—is the heart of my work. Indigenous activist and the first woman to nurse a baby on national television, when Buffy first used the word “genocide” in relation to the US annihilation of natives, she was silenced. 

“Sing Wrath, Goddess” – Bettina Joy deGuzman 

I discovered this multi-instrumentalist and Classicist, Bettina Joy de Guzman, who composes using ancient instruments in replica— and Greek poetry. As inculcated as we are with classical culture in western thought, prepare your ears for some seeming dissonance– both for her work and my poems. 

And with this opening, we honor the work of Eva Palmer, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Hilda Doolittle, whose work with antiquity—sometimes reaching, sometimes accurate, fed the concept and my contempt against dominant constructs. Follow @ Ancient Greek LyricandLyra. 

“Bloodwitch” Amber Asylum

I can’t generate poetry without aspects of silence, but I can percolate or play around, preferring it to be instrumental. The more atmospheric— or dank-spheric— the more duende the better. Amber Asylum is one such friend whose song “Blood Witch” soars and drags in a neo-classical mode. So often, I feel blind in my work, scrounging around in the dark, not knowing what words will arrive, what passages of language, and what worlds we can make out of the unknowns and depths. This song embodies that. Sink also into Shannon Joy and the Beauty Marks and Ligeia’s Eye of Nix. 

“She Moves through the Fair” – Anne Briggs 

Anne Briggs is a Celtic minstrel muse; she is transportive, singular, and our great mother in British Folk Rock. Hear also: Sandy Denny and the folk-baroque of Pentangle and the semi-erased Laura Nyro and Juddee Sill (whose new documentary insists on her rightful place in folk.) 

“Stones” – The Ace of Cups 

The Ace of Cups is one of our first all-female rock bands; they were never offered a record deal until 2018, when they reunited to release (thanks, High Moon!) their debut album. Though I prefer the vintage performance in the exploratory film Revolution, one can’t talk Haight-Ashbury without a nod to these mamas. Hendrix gave them accolades as they opened for him and their “brother bands” like Santana and Quicksilver. In southern California, Birtha was bringing the heavy, and Sacremento’s Fanny had their day in the sun, all ablaze against the masculine paradigms. See also sister bands: The Slits. Ligiea, and Blackwater Holylight.

“I’ll Be with Thee”- Donna Jean Godcheaux 

Donna Jean is my red herring. If anyone rips on her, I know they either don’t know she was an accomplished singer, hailing as a harmony singer from Muscle Shoal’s Fame—or they’re dumb to the fact that she couldn’t always hear her monitors when in front of the Grateful Dead’s infamous, Owsley-concocted, towering Wall of Sound. She had to sing louder, stand out, and stand her ground. In this Jerry Garcia Band rendition, she’s the real deal: full of gospel, devotion, and courage. And Godchaux is perhaps the only woman to perform rock at the Pyramid of Giza. And that is what the speakers in my poems are doing—caterwauling in ruins, charging them up. Discover also Signe Tolly Anderson of the original Jefferson Airplane and our “lost” gem, Jade Castrinos. 

“I’m in Love with the Ooh-Oo Man” The GTO’s 

Girls Together Outrageously was a real gag. Zappa’s groupie-led outfit coalesced what was wrong and right about young women of Sunset Strip and Laurel Canyon. I can’t argue against that dancing, smut, and male worship certainly have their place in my poetics. The GTOs (Miss Mercy, Miss Pamela, Miss Cynderella, Miss Christine, Miss Lucy, Miss Sandra, and Miss Sparky) released Permanent Damage. This campy, ridiculous track is complete with an unforgettable line (which easily could have been one of mine): “Remember girls, Never Stop Humping.” Find ‘em off Spotify. 

“WordyRappinghood” – Tom Tom Club 

Words! Words are trouble! Wisdom from the oracle Tina Weymouth.

“Plant that Flag” & “Games” – Abronia 

This band bookended my lockdown, wherein I edited a final go-round of my book. These lyrics know how to spell cast with the syllabic, and spondees proliferate—perfect for the battlefield and Keelin Mayer’s voice, on and off her saxophone. She’s co-founder of the inclusive Dundee Lodge Campout, is an arts educator, and a pagan-punk shero. Scream also: Lydia Lunch, Jarboe, but make sure they’re grounded by a bit of Toody Cole’s bass. 

“Aurelia”- Witch Mountain 

Witch Mountain is a place that exists in our Sybil Society (every society needs a mountain of witches), but in the case of my book, Mount Parnassos shows up in the poem “Higher Ground.” While it is most known to be the home of the muses, located at Delphi, the bottom of its trails lead to the Corcyian Cave, where the earliest chthonic oracle was consulted. Witch Mountain is a pioneering doom metal fixture, and their song “Aurelia” – and its original chanteuse Utta – takes us through an operatic, cavernous, but redeeming horror. Witness also: Velor, SubRosa, Otolith, and Folium Limina. 

“Silver Machine” – Hawkwind and Stacia Blake 

Hawkwind is as close a band to replicable civility as there is: Willingness to experiment, longevity, woodwinds over riffs, and visionary poetics. Our work shares the Romantic impulse. Stacia the-artivist, naked, painted, unabashed, and on stage, mixing with the men and ensuring we are safe in the space rock extravaganza. When Nik Turner passed this year, she guided us and helped us grieve. 

“Shakti Yoni”- Gilli Smyth 

Yes! This mistress-full album, Mother (1978), essentially mirrors every voice in my book. Get lost also with The Space Lady. 

The Double – Lucy Adlington

Female sound pioneers lack visibility all too often. Lucy Adlington, a UK composer, luthier advocate, and collagist, set her music to footage from the Nevada atomic test site. Interim’s Test Site poetry prize (that selected my book) is named after this most-bombed place on earth. At the heart of A Sybil Society is the Gaian origins that proceeded over Delphi before Apollo came with his nuclear blasts of sanitizing sun. Adlington runs Crystal Cabinet records; her work can be supported on Bandcamp. For instance, Ventricles is a whole album of sonic excoriation via samples of her actual ventricles. 

Blue Nile” Alice Coltrane 

I simultaneously finished A Sybil Society while completing a mid-grade novel about ancient Alexandria, the Egyptian pantheon, Cleopatra, Hypatia and her astrolabe. However, someone visiting me dissed this queen, calling the music noodly. He’s now banned!

Katherine Factor is a writer, editor, and educator. She is the author of three Choose Your Own Adventure interactive novels and Dragonlark for young readers. Her poetry book, ‘A Sybil Society,’ won Interim Poetic’s TEST SITE Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Nevada Press.

Factor has her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has held positions as the Poet-in-Residence at Idyllwild Arts Academy and as the assistant editor of inter|rupture. A recipient of an Iowa Arts Council grant and a Community of Writers scholarship, she has taught writers from all over the world in arts high schools, summer camps, and colleges.

Her poems and audio work can be found in print and online at Interim, The Conversant, Quarterly West, Poets for Living Waters, The Equalizer, DIAGRAM, the Colorado Review, Coldfront’s Poets off Poetry, and on WFMU. Poetry, art, travel, and ancient cultures inspire her work. Find out more at

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