Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

STAR*LINE 42.3, the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, has been available in PDF form for SFPA members for several weeks, but now the print version has been released too.  This is the Summer issue and, rolling with the season, concentrates a bit more on lighter verse than the average issue according to Editor Vince Gotera.  And with the print issue its web page is up, with a list of poems and information for purchasing for non-SFPA members who might wish to do so.  If interested, one can press here.

I have two poems in the pack myself (see July 26, et al.), both humorous — or, perhaps, better classed as tragicomic.  One, “Enemy Action,” concerns a certain gluttonous mermaid vampiress who we’ve met in STAR*LINE before, while the second is about an iconic young couple, beloved by American girls near and far, and is titled “Roadkill Doll.”

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Came the 7th, the first Wednesday in August, and with it the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. July 3, et al.), co-sponsored by local Bear’s Place tavern, with music provided by “experimental/mod classical” group ORTET.  The featured guests were Michael Dauro with excerpts from his speculative epic-in-progress spaghetti western inspired SIERRA AMNEZIA (hero:  “The Woman With No Name”); Rachel Ronquillo Gray who, “evoking her muse,” read poems on the theme of girls, girlhood, what it means to be a good girl, and what happens when good girls stop being good; and Indiana University’s Dr. Jen Maher with a wonderfully funny essay on the connections between infertility and recreational shoplifting.  Then at “Open Mic” time I came seventh of a perhaps record thirteen readers with part two of my “casket girls” story “A Moment in Time,” of the vampiress Lo and, as we found out, who the “nice sailor man” Mel really was who she’d met in New Bedford Massachusetts in late 1840.

The wheels of time progress.  Today’s email brought a PDF proof copy of STAR*LINE 42.3, for Summer 2019, with two poems by me in it (cf. May 7, 1).  The poems, “Enemy Action” and “Roadkill Doll,” located at the upper right corners of pages 14 and 18 appeared to be okay, my name spelled correctly there and in the contents as well as in a “Congratulations” box for STAR*LINE poets in the upcoming DWARF STARS contest anthology (cf. May 29), so about an hour ago I sent an “all’s fine” email back.  STAR*LINE as we may recall is the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, currently edited by Vince Gotera, while the two poems cited are about a mermaid vampiress (who we along with readers of STAR*LINE have met before) and about the cruel fates of two iconic American toys.

Walt who?  You know, the American poet and possible father of modern poetry, that Walt Whitman, who, born on May 31 1819, is celebrating in absentia a slightly late 200th birthday this summer and autumn.  As for the picnic, that’s a Bloomington Writers Guild summer tradition (see July 22 2018, et al.), a relaxed potluck lunch with perhaps some readings — as well as a reminder that, with a resumed “First Sunday Prose” at the start of August (August 4, I believe, but I don’t have a calendar with me, followed only three days later by another “Spoken Word Wednesday at Bears Place” reading), plus the Spoken Word On Stage extravaganza at the Labor Day Weekendish, early September Bloomington Arts Fair, a busy fall season is not far ahead.

But as for Walt Whitman?  Well, after the eating part of the picnic came a mike-less “open mic” session, featuring a crowd somewhat smaller than usual possibly due to *very* hot weather (heat index, I think, in the low 100s though threatening thunderstorms which did not come) plus area road construction making the site somewhat hard to get to.  Part of the idea was to read bits of Whitman’s work should the spirit so move, which was taken up on by four or five people (I not among them as, by sheer coincidence, a short piece from SONG OF MYSELF that I’d brought with me proved also to have been chosen by another), along with some discussion of the poet’s life which I did join in briefly.  Then two or three people followed with bits of their own or others’ work, for which I had also brought a short poem but, seeing the drift of most present, kept in my pocket in favor of just leaning back and listening to what others offered.

In short a pleasant but lazy, if sweaty, Sunday afternoon shared among writer friends.

The DWARF STARS anthology is a selection of the best speculative poems of ten lines or fewer (100 words or fewer for prose poems) from the previous year, nominated by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association membership and chosen for publication by the editors.  From this anthology, SFPA members vote for the best poem.  The winner receives the Dwarf Stars Award, which is analogous to the SFPA ds19Rhysling Awards given annually for poems of any length.

Thus the announcement today with a link to obtain a PDF copy that voting officially has begun for 2018’s best ultra short speculative poem.  And I do have, myself, a dog in the hunt or at least a sort of canine companion, the 6-line “Never Trust a Vampiress” (cf. May 29), initially printed in the Summer 2018 STAR*LINE, the SFPA’s own poetry magazine.  Voting continues until August 31 2019 for SFPA members.  The moral therefore, should you be a SFPA member yourself, the untrustworthy bloodsucker could use a little love!

Or, for more information about the Dwarf Stars Award as well a list of this year’s contenders, plus ordering DWARF STARS if one so desires, one may press here.

On 4th of July Eve, the Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 5, et al.) was heavy on poets at local tavern Bears Place.  The musical guests were Hoosier Darling (a.k.a. WFHB GoZpul GurlZ), while the featured readers were Shana Ritter with an excerpt from her novel IN TIME OF LEAVING plus poems from her chapbook STAIRS OF SEPARATION, John James with poetry from his book THE MILK HOURS and elsewhere, and local poet Ross Gay with, as a change of pace, a selection of essays from his collection THE BOOK OF DELIGHTS.  Then when it was “Open Mic” time, my series of “casket girls” tales came in fifth place out of eight with the only one long enough to need to be divided into two parts, “A Moment in Time” (Part 1), in which we met New Orleanian vampiress Charlotte, a.k.a. Lo, and a half-remembered conversation with a “nice sailor man” in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1840.  But to find out more, we must wait until next “first Wednesday” on August 7.

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.”

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).




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