How to make an origami swan in 40 steps

To celebrate the release of Elizabeth Train-Brown‘s poetry collection, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman we’ve pulled together some instructions for making an origami swan. Why? Well you may ask! Paper swans are a recurring motif in the collection, as seen in the poem ‘Daphne’ (extract here)…



if they found my body
folded over like a paper swan in a storm drain
they would try to piece together
my bones my hair my hands
call me jane doe, smooth out my skin
lay out this sliver of parchment
where the world can read me
call me a tragedy, slather me
in formaldehyde, bury me
under concrete, one man’s height
below where the sun,
that ginger tom,
can butt its head against my leg
when you tangle in my leaves
tumble into the hollow neck of my tree
and fall into my body’s arms.
don’t scream
don’t point them to this coffin,
whisper another name for the sun
for a god
and let me rest
the rumbling purr of a star
in my chest

Becoming Not Quite a Woman

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As recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph, Salmacis, one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing; consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman.

An Eclectic Pagan, for Elizabeth Ovid’s fables are more than fiction, and form a framework for exploring identity. Drawing on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman is a stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity.

this is my lake salmacis, and i am the wild nymph
with a hollow in her belly and nothing between her legs