Archive for February, 2013
To quote from the blurb on Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s website: “To the Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney, in his Defence of Poesy, ‘lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, [the poet — or, indeed, the artist in general] doth grow, in effect, into another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature, as the heroes, demi-gods, cyclops, chimeras, furies, and such like.’ And so it may be proper that the book we have here, The Tears of Isis, begins with a poem about a sculptor, a modern Medusa, and concludes with the title story of another sculptor who travels a continent for inspiration, in search of the goddess, ‘the Weeping Isis,’ and ends with discovery of her own self.” For more information including a gloss of other stories to be found herein, as well as a link to the publisher’s bio of me, click here. (Cf. also January 2, December 13, et al.)
So is it UNIVERSE HORRIBILUS (see February 7, with its illustration of the cover) or UNIVERSE HORRIBILIS (see January 5)? Actually the latter as its appearance on Smashwords bears out, with new cover picture to prove the point, but either way (to quote from Smashwords) “[t]he new science fiction, fantasy, and horror short story collection, ‘Universe Horribilis’ from Third Flatiron Anthologies, takes you on a whirlwind tour of cosmic irony. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and . . . prepare to be crushed by the semi full of cows skidding your way.”
As it happens I wrote a story once about a truck full of cow parts, on its way to a rendering plant (see re. “Stink Man,” September 12, July 2 and 18), but that’s not this one. My pup in this pack is called “The Reading” and is about the finer things in life, poetry and . . . well, one does get nervous before an audience, especially if what one reads is horror poetry. But see for yourself via Smashwords by pressing here, with an additional expectation by Editor Juliana Rew for “Smashwords to distribute the book to Barnes and Noble, Sony, and iTunes soon,” though with the caveat that “Barnes and Noble seem to be the slowest, often taking six weeks.” Also, for Kindle, the book can be found now on Amazon while, officially, it will be announced on March 1 on publisher Third Flatiron’s own website.
Well, make that “Where the Vile Things Are,” but nevertheless it was a homage of sorts to the late Maurice Sendak and it, along with the micro-poem “The Werewolf Explains,” arrived today in the April issue of NIGHT TO DAWN (cf. July 25). Also with “Vile Things,” but on the verso behind the poem so it might not be obvious they’re connected, is an illustration by Marge Simon that it inspired (July 27). Not to worry, though, either item does well enough by itself. Still to come, too, perhaps in the fall for Halloween, should be a third poem, “Werewolves vs. Vampires.”
Meanwhile I spent much of Friday afternoon working on a new interview featuring THE TEARS OF ISIS, but also with some mention of vampires (ah, now) and VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE). Conducted by Rebecca Byfield, this was the kind that suggests many questions but gives a choice of the ones you want to answer, and so, as I had warned her, I ended up picking only eleven (out of a possible 46) but gave my answers in some depth. I’ll still go over it on the weekend but get it in probably Sunday night. As for when and where it will be published, I had suggested March or early April as ideal for me, but as Rebecca supplies several blogs and has a number of other people on her schedule the actual time and place will be up to her. Details will appear on this blog when I know them.
Who could forget PROSPECTIVE: A JOURNAL OF SPECULATION and its CTHULHU: A LOVE STORY theme issue (if you have, cf. January 10 2013 and September 21 2012)? So last evening brought word I’ve had two more poems accepted by PROSPECTIVE, this time for their upcoming WHEN SIRENS CALL issue. But what kind of Sirens? Editor Lauren Stone offered this answer: “You can use any part of the title. Sirens as the mythical creature or sirens like an ambulance or nuclear bomb warning. Or thematically it can be about control or love or lust, something indicative of the mythology. Or it could be about the ocean. Or it could just be a piece that you love and don’t think really fits the theme, because it may be perfect when viewed through a different lens.”
So, what the heck, I went with the women of Classical nature and so came the reply: “I am pleased to inform you that we have selected ‘Medusa’s Daughter’ and ‘Terpsichore’s Daughter’ for publication in ‘When Sirens Call.’” And there we have it. “Medusa’s Daughter” has, herself, been around a bit, having first been published in the US in STAR*LINE for May-June 1997 and in the UK in MEDUSA (Hilltop Press, 2005), as well as my own STRANGE MISTRESSES collection. “Terpsichore’s Daughter,” on the other hand, has remained up to now, um, untouched.
Then in other news, proof sheets have come for Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s SO IT GOES Kurt Vonnegut tribute anthology (see January 3, 25), as well as a call for the authors to provide personal essays on Vonnegut — personal encounters, feelings about his work, etc. — to go on a website that should be up by next week. My own canine in this karass is a story about family values, more or less, “Dead Girls, Dying Girls,” but possibly you know about that already (and if not, fear not, you’ll learn 🙂 ).
No vampires or even zombies this time, but with Valentines Day still less than a week past, two films about romantic (sort of) dancing caught my attention. Both are worth seeing, especially the first, the almost absurdist by the end of it VALENTINA’S TANGO — at least in my opinion.
Eddie, who wants to become a priest, says, “My father is dying, I’ve just learned my mother is a nymphomaniac, and I’ve given her an orgasm.” (I’m quoting from memory, but words to that effect.) Eddie’s brother Victor, whose aspirations are to make good in local organized crime, wants to marry a girl named Tina who puts up with him because it’s an excuse to hang around Eddie who she really loves. Valentina, Eddie and Victor’s mom (not to be confused with Tina the girlfriend — pop’s name, incidentally, is Eduardo), is indeed what Eddie has just said, and moreover “gets off” fairly easily, notably when she’s dancing the tango. She and pop, originally from South America, own a Los Angeles dance club where they also perform exhibition dancing. They’re very good.
This is a family that has denial problems. And add one more element, Victor’s old girlfriend who doesn’t dump well, and what we have is VALENTINA’S TANGO, a film that’s both tragic and wildly comic, albeit running a bit toward confusion toward the end as we start to view events through the eyes of increasingly unreliable narrators. One, in fact, ends up in a mental hospital — but others end up dead — and perhaps the nuttiest of them all continues on as a sardonic ghost (well, in a sense anyway). Then add to that some great dance sequences (in my admittedly untutored opinion — others have complained that the dancing isn’t true Argentine style, but then the principals aren’t necessarily Argentinean either, identified only as from “South America”) along with good music. I liked it myself as a movie that’s both realistic in a gritty, demimondainian sort of way, and surrealistic.
And don’t even ask about Hugo, the plastic bathtub duck.
The night after I watched this, I made a point to rewatch ASSASSINATION TANGO, a different sort of film but one also combining a true love of dance with a background of gritty lethality. Here a hired hit man enjoys dancing as a family style leisure activity and, on a politically charged mission to Argentina takes advantage of unplanned for delays to brush up on the real spirit of the tango. Weird, and not as much fun as VALENTINA’S TANGO (or as tragic either, rather it’s presented with a colder, get the job done sort of feeling), but partner enough that the two are now on the shelf together.
Then for a final two words re. VALENTINA’S TANGO there’s Valentina herself, played by Guillermina Quiroga who also served as the film’s choreographer: muy exquisita.
Since this, the last day of our special ten-day Vampire Week, is also Valentines day, I’ll end with a short cautionary poem. But first let’s go back to Day Six and its link to the “finalists” for the Horror Writers Association/Bram Stoker Family Estate sponsored Vampire Novel of the Century Award. Are all bets in? Would readers care for a little more time — we will recall that Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (which by jury rules stood for the Lestat series in toto, remembering also that the main criterion is the influence a book or series has had on vampire and horror literature as a whole) came in second, to which I will add it did get one first place vote? It is a question that I can personally say was taken quite seriously by those making the choice, all (with the possible exception of me ;-)) respected as experts in the field of horror, with the ultimate “winner” being chosen as first by three of the five panelists, second by the other two (with one saying afterward that it was really a tie with the one he put first), and the only one of the final six novels to be in the top three of all five jurors.
So the winner is (drum roll please) . . . to be found in the entry for April 2 2012, a report on the 2012 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City (“at the Mountains of Madness”) where it was announced. The key phrase to use is “On Vampires, Poetry, and Goth Belly Dance.”
And then from the sublime, a lagniappe of caution for Valentines Day as well as to close out Jolie Du Pre’s wonderful Vampire Bite Blog Hop (and click on its name here or else the Lady in the Nightie above to go to others who’re posting today!). We’ve gone through ten days of vampiric aspects, in art, in music, in story, in legend, but suave and sexy as some vampires may be, that doesn’t mean necessarily that one should want to date one. Thus the poem below, written earlier this month and published here for the first time, to remember when meeting that tall, dark stranger — you know, the one with the especially well-flossed teeth:
BEST APPRAISE THAT DIAMOND FAST
love may be forever
but when vampires plight their troth
heart’s blood lasts one night
Or, as I put it as writer of the introduction to TELLING TALES OF TERROR: ESSAYS ON WRITING HORROR AND DARK FICTION (Ed. Kim Richards, Damnation Books, 2012, cf. January 7, et al. — and in which I also quote from the essay I cited in yesterday’s entry, the part you had to click on the link to Naomi Clark’s site to read):
“[D]on’t kiss the vampire and expect things to end well.”
Today, the next-to-last day of Vampire Week, we have a double-header. First comes a post from last June 6, with a link to a guest blog I did on “Vampires vs. Werewolves” for British author Naomi Clark, a werewolf aficionado herself (at least in terms of her latest novella), who asked guests to explain which they liked better and why. I, taking the vampires’ side (albeit ending by noting that in European folklore there may be less difference than people think), took the occasion to say a few things about VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), but I also include directions to a second poetry essay on VAMPS under “PAGES,” to the far right, that includes a few words about the history of vampires in literature and art in England. The essay in turn, quoted as well in the blog for Ms. Clark, includes this passage:
“In 1897 British artist Philip Burne-Jones, having been dumped by the popular actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, exhibited his latest picture depicting Campbell in what looks like a nightdress bending over the helpless, supine form of a young man in bed. He called it The Vampire. This inspired the artist’s cousin Rudyard Kipling to write a poem, ‘The Vampire,’ with these opening lines:
“A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)
“The poem in turn inspired a play which became the 1915 movie A FOOL THERE WAS, starring Theda Bara, whose performance popularized the term ‘vamp’ for a sexually predatory female. That is, one who sucks the life, or the love, or the reputation, or honor, or riches from her victims just as the vampires of legend preyed on honest peasants.
“1897 was also the year Bram Stoker published DRACULA, about a more traditional, literal blood-sucking vampire, while Theda Bara’s likeness, in its turn, inspired artist and poet Marge Simon’s cover painting for VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE). . . .”
But for more, you’ll have to use the key phrase, “Vamps in England,” and then use the link to find it for yourself.
And there’s more, still, under “Vamps in England,” a July 5 entry detailing the visit of five “vamps” to the British Science Fiction Association. The vamps in question are five vampire poems, all appearing in VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), all of which, hopefully, will also be in the BSFA’s magazine VECTOR. One in fact may be at the printer even now. While Poetry Editor Charles Christian spoke of an issue for last October, things got delayed, but just over a week ago I received a PDF of the upcoming poetry pages, and featured is my own “California Vamp” (for more on which see, below, “Got to Call It a Super Sunday” for February 4).
So anyway, now you know the story behind the picture for the Vampire Bite Blog Hop below in the column at the far right. (And for tomorrow. the last day of Vampire Week. . . ?)
Those who explored a bit on week four under “French Vampires” might have run across today’s entry already. It has to do with a power failure, a walk in the darkness, and reflections concerning werewolves and vampires, followed by the acceptance of a short vampire-charged romance for an anthology called MON COEUR MORT. So that’s the French part of it (or, probably every entry could be found by just using the key word “vampire,” except you wouldn’t know which one was which — and where would be the fun of that?). Be that as it may, today’s somewhat philosophical posting takes us back to June 17 2011, to be discovered by using the key phrase “A Good Night for Vampires.”
On day seven of our ten-day Vampire Week we go to a blog train celebrating the fifth anniversary of Rhonda Parrish’s e-magazine NITEBLADE. Any publication lasting as much as five years these days is worth a nod, yes? And as it happens I’d sold Rhonda poetry going back to its very beginnings so why not my entry, following Rhonda’s initial introduction the day before, to start things off? So, some (though not all) of my poetry she’d published being about vampires, especially two that had to do with vamps dancing to jazz, I had a natural for a topic too: the relation of vampires to that particular music. Not only that, but there’s a link in the entry to an interview I’d done for NITEBLADE the previous year — including information about VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) which had just come out at that time; instructions for finding an essay on poetry (under PAGES, elsewhere on this blog) on “Edgar Allan, Allen Ginsberg, & All That Jazz”; and, as a lagniappe, the text of the poem “High-Flying” that was one of two that appeared in NIGHTBLADE’s premier issue. For all this and more, take the Wayback Machine back to August 9 2012 by using the key phrase “Jazzy Vampires.”
Then speaking of interviews, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Or is that times change (for instance, a novel I’ve been working on seems less likely to see print now than it did back then) and, anyway, the questions asked are bound to be different. Sunday’s email included a note from Editor Chris Vera that an interview I’d done for him for THE MYSTIC NEBULA is scheduled to be up today, so here’s a chance to find out for yourself by clicking right here. And then, while you’re there, you might take some time to find out more about this brand new ezine of just a few months that (to quote from the “About” section) “represents and celebrates the creativity in us all, the natural, the unnatural and the supernatural things that inspire us to do great works. It is a place of light and darkness, joy and pain. It is a place to imagine the future and worlds that have never existed.” Also check the home page and some of the poems and stories and, for the writing folk among us, there’s also a section containing guidelines.
And yes, to answer the question above — about whether times change — I’d noted that VAMPS had been my latest project, dwelt on in some detail in the NITEBLADE interview. For MYSTIC NEBULA the latest news is my upcoming third prose collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS, scheduled to be out from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (cf. January 2, December 13 2012, et al.) in only a few months. So now you can read a bit more about it (at least two stories in which, by the way, have to do with vampires).
Well, there was Carmilla and, before her, Lord Ruthven, and let us not forget Varney and Geraldine and Byron’s Giaour, not to mention tales in other languages going as far back as Apuleius, but what really started vampires off for us in the 20th and 21st centuries was Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel DRACULA. Is there unlife post-DRACULA, though? To honor the centennial of Stoker’s 1912 death, the Horror Writers Association in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Estate decided to offer a special Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award™ at last year’s World Horror Convention on March 31 2012 for the purpose of “recognizing the vampire novel that has had the greatest impact since the publishing of DRACULA.” But vampires have come a long way since then, and so to choose which novel of all that were published in the last hundred years most deserved this honor, the HWA appointed a jury of five putative vampire experts to read, discuss, and weigh the evidence, coming up first with a short list of main contenders, and ultimately to decide on a winner.
By a confluence of accidents of fate (a major one, ahem, being that I had published a book of vampire poetry, VAMPS: A RETROSPECTIVE, only the year before, for which see picture at top of the column just to the right or look for more overt references to come as “Vampire Week” continues), I was a member of this jury. And so, for today, for more of the story I point you back to January 20 2012, and the key phrase “Vamp Fans Recommended Reading,” for an entry including an explanation as well as a press release announcing the six “finalists” we had narrowed it down to, all of which are worthy of reading for those who might have missed one or another.
As for the winner, well “Vampire Week” has ten days in it this year (how like a vampire, excessive in all things!) and so, to have patience, the announcement should be forthcoming in no more than four days. (One hint, however: the Anne Rice entry came in second.)