Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Ah, June!  And with Wednesday evening it was time again for the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” at Bears Place (cf. May 2, et al.).  The musical guests were the VLF (drummer John Valdez, bass Park Law, and guitarist and sometime voice Jason Fickel) Trio, sharing the stage with poetry by Tim Heerdink, author of RED FLAG AND OTHER POEMS plus another collection, THE HUMAN REMAINS, and first novel LAST LIGHTS OF A DYING SUN due in the near future; creative nonfiction (and sometimes mixed with a little fiction too) from Juliana Crespo with work in or forthcoming in a number of literary journals; and more poetry from local Bears Place server Brian Boucher, with a novella, “Wahoo,” serialized in THE RYDER Magazine plus poetry book ARROGANT ENLIGHTENMENT AND A CRY FOR PURPOSE on Instagram.  Then we, the walk-ons came with, in fifth place out of seven, new fille à la caissette Yvonne making her debut in a brief, 1830s-set New Orleanian tale of blood and absinthe, “The Darkness, Forgotten.”

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The email from John Mannone started off modestly enough.  Congratulations!  The following has been nominated for the 2019 Dwarf Stars Anthology:  Never Trust a Vampiress.  The poem, “Never Trust a Vampiress,” had been published in Spring 2018 in STAR*LINE (cf. May 16 2018, et al.), the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and John Mannone is the Editor/Curator of the Dwarf stars Award and associated anthology recognizing the best ultra short (1 to 10 lines) speculative poem published the previous year.  Unlike similar awards, however, the poets themselves send suggested work to the contest/anthology in the same way that one might offer work to a normal publication, and those the editor himself selects become thus the official nominees.

Confused?  Well, maybe, but here it runs parallel to the better known Rhysling Competition in that the resulting DWARF STARS ANTHOLOGY is then sent to all SFPA members, whereupon they vote and one of the poems is selected the winner.  Though probably not mine, the untrustworthy vampiress of the title preferring to keep a low profile unlife, beneath the attention of vampire hunters.  Indeed her poem is just six lines long.  Nevertheless, her fur coat around her in case it’s cold, she’ll skulk with the others and we’ll see who wins.

More on DWARF STARS and the competition (and SFPA) can be found here, while the sneaky vampiress can still be discovered in STAR*LINE for last spring, modestly situated on the right and toward the bottom of page 10.

Well, in its category anyway, and according to co-editor Bob Brown of B Cubed Press there’s a sort of funny story about it.  In his own words:  Alternative Theologies just hit the #1 Best Seller in its category.  (Amazon anyway)

This came about when someone raided my booth at MisCon and took about 15 copies.

I kind of wrote it off and posted about it.

That post went a bit viral and sales responded.

The book’s full title is ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES:  PARABLES FOR A MODERN WORLD and my own part in it is rather modest, a humorous poem called “Tit for Tat” (cf. August 14, August 11, et al.) — and a reprint at that, originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE (James Ward Kirk Publications, 2015).  But there’s lots of other stuff in there with it and reviews I’ve seen are extremely positive so, if you haven’t looked into ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES yet yourself, more information can be found by pressing here.

Or to quote from the start of the Amazon blurb:  Henry Frederic Amiel stated that “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”  And while this book explores theology and beliefs, it is written to be kind as well as thoughtful, and at times funny.  It will give you belly laughs, but it will also give understanding of the notion of believing. It will remind you that no matter what you believe, we make this journey together.

Just saying. . . .

Or, as one might say, the last “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” of the current season, the series going on summer hiatus for June through August.  Presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington in collusion with The Monroe County Convention Center, there were two featured poets this wonderfully warm end-of-May afternoon:  the first, Nancy Chen Long, author of LIGHT INTO BODIES along with a chapbook CLOUDS AS INKBLOTS FOR THE WAR PRONE, both of which were available at the reading, read six poems from her latest project, WIDER THAN THE SKY, about memory and the actions of the brain; this then followed by Writers Guild regular Eric Rensberger reading from the most recent “sequence” — a chronological grouping of fifty to sixty poems — from his ongoing internet collection ACCOUNT OF MY DAYS.  Then after the snack break a larger than usual group of seven poets offered their work, of which I was sixth with three summer (or at least with summer mentioned in them) poems, “Dust to Dust” about a fire in a cemetery, “Summer Cancellations” concerning seasonal ways to die, and the vampirically-tinged “The Esthete,” the last of which also appears in my own VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).

Another step, this on the road for poetry, to resolve some questions involving commas in “Roadkill Doll,” one of two poems being set up for STAR*LINE (cf. May 1) from Editor Vince Gotera.  The trick with poetry is oftentimes not the just the words themselves, but how they’re presented and why they’re presented so.  And so, too, the importance of punctuation — and whether a poem is something that’s to be seen on a page, or if it’s to be sometimes read aloud:  that is, grammar versus flow.

So it’s complicated, but questions answered, reasons given, and just sent back, with “Roadkill Doll” (and companion poem “Enemy Action”) now that much closer to publication in a future STAR*LINE.

So after a busy, busy May 1, last night also featured the third “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” at its new time and venue, at local tavern Bears Place (cf. April 4, March 6).  And it was a stormy night as well, but dinner and poetry helped keep as many as 17 participants dry, including musical interludes by the Kyle Quass Quartet (their final performance accompanied by one of the poets as well).

The featured readers — all poets this time — were multi-published Hiromi Yoshida, a semi-finalist for the 2018 Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize and a winner of Indiana University Writers Conference Awards as well as an active member of the Beat Generation and Daily Haiku Facebook Groups; Indianapolis poet Jason Ammerman with three collections, ALL GROWN UP, MICROPHONE OR BUST, and BATTLE SCARRED, a spoken word album REVIVAL, and more of each in the works; and David L. O’Nan with two poetry and short story books, THE FAMOUS POETRY OUTLAWS ARE PAINTING WALLS AND WHISPERS and ALL OUR FEARS AND TUNNELS, as well as a new poetry and art book project, THE FAVORS OF THE MIND POETRY & ART DIGEST, in the works for later this spring.  These were followed by four walk-on “Open Mic” readers of which I led off with the third in my New Orleans “Casket Girl” series* in which we meet Marie, who has qualms about becoming a vampire, until she is calmed by hearing the tale of an adventure original vampiress Aimée had once had when visiting Rome.

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*For those interested, the original “Casket Girls” first appeared in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION on April 10 2014. A reprinted version (with better renditioning of accented vowels) from ARIEL CHART, February 2 2018, may be read by pressing here.

Two pieces of news to start a new month, the first from STAR*LINE editor Vince Gotera:  Sorry for the long delay.  I’m behind but catching up.  I’d like to accept “Enemy Action” and “Roadkill Doll.”  Could you please let me know if those are still available?  STAR*LINE is the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and has been noted on these pages before, while “Enemy Action,” I might also note, adds to a series of three-line haiku-ish poems about a mermaid vampiress and her various acts of gluttony, several of which have also appeared in previous issues of STAR*LINE.  (“Roadkill Doll,” on the other hand, is a stand-alone celebration of two iconic American not-quite people and, more to the point, yes, both poems were still available.)

Also, it being the first day of May, the spring mammoth royalty season has begun, bringing. . . .  Well, surprise, surprise, right off the bat a fully two-figure payment to PayPal, not the first ever (see, e.g., January 25 2018, et al.) but easily enough to buy a nourishing if modest dinner,* and that’s something worthy of celebrating.  In this case the payment is for book sales over several months, but a book that’s been on the market for some years so it’s not exactly in the midst of an advertising blitz.  And it all adds up, yes?

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*That is to say, no cocktails beforehand, but maybe enough for a small dessert after.

Sunday brought a new festival of sorts, a “Bloomington Street Fair” in which the Writers Guild, among other groups, had a booth.  I was not a participant myself directly, though I did lend several books to be displayed with other members’ to let the world at large (or at least locally) know of our various publications.  Among others, two favorite anthologies of mine were there, a very respectable-looking, hardbound GOTHIC GHOSTS (Tor Books, 1997) and an almost maniacally enthusiatically designed THE HUNGRY DEAD (Popcorn Press, 2010), the latter with both a story and a poem by me in it.

But speaking of poetry, Sunday afternoon also meant “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” time at the Monroe County Convention Center with, in honor of April as National Poetry Month, a special “Poetry Palooza” all open-mike session which I, having missed last month, did attend.  COME and read your own poems, or read poems written by someone else, talk all things poetry, laugh and listen and meet and greet.  I brought a couple of items there as well, should people wish to read from, say, a RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, but the turnout was actually on the small size, with eight attending, so chairs were arranged into a circle with all of us reading work in turn.  My selections were both from my VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), the first and last poems in the book, “Blood Portrait” about Max Shreck and the movie NOSFERATU in the first round, then “Chagrin du Vampire” about a vampirized Mina Harker for the second.

It’s a bit low key in its way, with only this the description on Amazon:  BÊTE NOIRE brings you the best in dark fiction.  In this issue we bring you William Delman, James Dorr, Kevin Hartack, Abhishek Sengupta, Bruce Boston, Pauline Yates, John Grey, Ken Goldman, Marge Simon, Alice Andersen, Bill Thomas, Ronald A. Busse, and Luke Chapman.  Marked as published on April 14 (the news travels slowly to match a late-coming spring) it’s a rather slim volume at 46 pages, but these containing some heavy hitters, Boston, Grey, Simon. . . .  My part in the patch is called “Even Odds,” a quietly apocalyptic speculation which (one hopes) will match the issue itself in being a long time coming (see February 26 2019; December 11 2017).

From my earlier post, BÊTE NOIRE specializes in fiction and poems that are (quoting the guidelines) well written, character driven and have a dark bent to them.  We are open to most genres as long as they have a dark side. This includes horror, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, crime, mystery or dark humor.  For more on which, or to order a copy one can press here.

Well, first off it’s now the final 86, two more slots apparently having been added since last we checked.  This is the LISTOPIA BEST HORROR ANTHOLOGIES LIST on Goodreads that we’ve been exploring to see if any with stories by me are in the lineup.  And, yes, there have been:  three in the first one hundred slots (as posted below on March 12), two in the second 100 (March 28, one of which was in a 5-way tie), and one in the final full one hundred (April 12, this one in a . . . wait for it . . . 58-way tie!).  But what of the rest, the 84 — oops, 86 — titles that remain?

The good news is yes, there is one more book, DANTE’S DISCIPLES, locked in a tie also with ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY READER, that includes not quite a story of mine but a poem.  A very long poem.

And herein is a tale, and perhaps a special spot in my auctorial heart (isn’t that a neat word — auctorial?).  It’s one I was invited to write, a “canto” in the style of the poetry in Dante’s INFERNO, which actually came out a little longer than Dante’s cantos at a bit less than 200 lines.  Also, titled “Canto (Evocare!),” it was written in the voice of Satan, giving a sort of overview of Hell is all about.

The thing is, I subsequently presented “Canto (Evocare!)” at a poetry reading at World Fantasy Convention where Dark Regions Press Editor Joe Morey heard it, inviting me to republish it in his upcoming THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASTIC FICTION, which I agreed to.  Then in subsequent conversation we discussed my submitting a collection — something I was at just about the right time to do — resulting in my first full-size book, STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (and which was, some years later, followed by DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, for both of which click on their pictures in the center column).

But back to the present, for more on DANTE’S DISCIPLES itself (which despite my poem, is mostly stories) and the 85 other books in this last batch, please to press here.




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