What does “Blight” mean to Apparition Lit?

Greetings and salutations!

Blight has several meanings. It’s a noun and a verb. It’s rooted in plants but heavy in the atmosphere. It can be both treatable and devastating; far-reaching, but also only found on certain leaves. Apparition Lit is proud to kick off 2023 giving our writers the opportunity to sift through the many phases of Blight and make it your own. Once again, we have gathered our readers and editors to  provide their thoughts on what we hope to see in our submission pile for the upcoming submission window.

First, let’s meet our latest and greatest guest editor. Blight will be brought to you by the keen editing eye of renaissance person Brandon O’Brien. In a few words, Brandon is writer, creator and poet; but those few words wouldn’t do justice. Brandon is a cultivator of many worlds: in poetry, in fiction, and nonfiction, in a range of TTRPGs, with a dip into streaming and podcasting to boot. While we recommend you read Brandon’s works, personally I enjoyed looking over Neon Robin Bard Games, which features something for everyone.


Read on to learn what our editors and readers are looking for, for this issue: 

Brandon O’Brien (Guest Editor): “‘Blight’ in a poetic sense is a really intriguing word, because it can refer to both the destruction and the thing that destroys—it is the fungus eating your crops, but also the eating itself, the decay happening before your eyes. That, and the fact that so many actual blights are also the source of some good in the world—think penicillin—brings to mind a kind of reverse Midas touch, where someone is making the ickiest, grossest thing happen but maybe, somewhere in its pustules, is something powerful. 

So I’d love to see works that play with those dichotomies—the difference between the curse and the thing that curses, the difference between the ugly spread and the beautiful thing that grows from it, the difference between being cursed and not being defined by cursed-ness.”

Tehnuka (Submissions Reader): “Blight often refers to an object or an event that bothers you, or the decay and death associated with the growth of a pathogen. I want to see the outcome of blight—how does it manifest?—and, regardless of the interpretation you choose, I also want to know what’s behind it. What’s growing?”

Evelyn (Submissions Reader): “I’m a massive sucker for disease-type stories, so I’d be interested in seeing maybe a zombie-ish take on plant blights. At the same time, blight—especially ones massive enough to cause famine—is associated, in my mind, with forces of nature beyond human control. I’d love a version of blight as Mother Nature essentially stepping in and saying, ‘Stop screwing things up!’”

A. J. Van Belle (Submissions Reader):  “Since the topic lends itself to dark tales, I would like to see some surprisingly positive stories. Decay always leads to recycling of nutrients and regrowth, so it would be great to see some twists on the new life that rises from that which is destroyed by blight. I would also like to read about psychological and metaphorical interpretations of blight. Another fascinating angle I would love to see explored is that many medicines and other benefits are derived from fungal growths once viewed only as a blight. For example, the same penicillium that makes last week’s orange inedible provides lifesaving penicillin, and the ergot that destroys stored grain is the source of ergotamine, used to treat migraines.” (Marie’s note: the fact that A.J. and Brandon both mention penicillin is a ‘great minds think alike’ type of incidental moment. Take note!)

Léon (Submissions Reader): “Blight to me conjures the image of a blackened tree split in two…but I’m a lot more curious about what caused it and how it affects people, and the environment, than I am in the actual act of blighting something itself…”

Moriam (Submissions Reader): “For me, blight brings up imagery of degradation and ruin. I’d love to see this in environmental themes and within characters or communities. Perhaps this blight is unconquerable; I’m excited by the idea of a dark ending!”

Mary Anne (Submissions Reader): “Blight to me conjures rot and I’m particularly interested in ecosystems that have suffered due to political and corporate rot. Rot begets rot, if you will. Environmental racism comes to mind.”

Amy (Owner/Senior Editor, Poetry Editor, and Webmaster): “Blight to me means rot and overuse and hubris. My brain sees disease and famine all as an outcome of dominionist mindset. So I would love some tasty body/environment horror with deeper meaning.”

Clarke (Owner/Senior Editor): “I would love blight to take on a form that’s not corporeal. Think the psychological dread of Poe. Death and decay relating to one’s psyche or sense of self or humanity…but not the dehumanizing trope of mental illness equals evil monster. I also second Amy’s ‘…some tasty body/environment horror with deeper meaning!’”

Maria (Poetry Editor & Assistant Fiction Editor, Submissions Reader): “When I think of blight I think of a living decay: ergot-infected wheat, mold covering house walls, etc. Blight is fungal predation, blight is an apple falling to wet chunks in your hand…”

Tacoma (Owner/Senior Editor): “I keep thinking of the scene in Mad Max: Fury Road where Furiousa falls to her knees after learning that the green place only exists in her memories. The combo of an emotional and environmental blight sticks with me. So I would love a character driven piece where the blight aspect is incredibly personal.”


There you have it, folks! Blight opens for submissions on November 15th; check out our submissions page for all the details and get ready for the portal to open! 

Until next time, friends!

Blog Photo by Peter Herrmann on Unsplash   

  • Marie Baca Villa
    Marie Baca Villa Blogger/Submission Reader

    Marie Baca Villa is a Chicana writer and artist in California. She has a master’s degree in psychology and used her education to build a long career in crime victim advocacy. As a fan of speculative fiction, she loves anything involving strange worlds, complex characters, and unexplained phenomenon. She’s a bonified cat lady, covered in tattoos, and she loves cussing, beer, and flaming hot cheetos. You can find Marie on Twitter @okay_its_marie

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