Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Who knows what Friday the Thirteenth will bring, but yesterday, Thursday the twelfth, was rather nice despite a gloomy, Octobery day.  The highlight, a first poetry acceptance for me by STAR*LINE new editor Vince Gotera, for a “horrorku” titled “Wet Work.”  Horrorku?  Well, it’s sort of supposed to be horror plus haiku though it’s really more just a three line poem with a vaguely 5-7-5 syllable count (mine is 5-7-4) on a horror subject, which in my case would more likely be epigrammatic, although not always.  But to the point, even if lacking walruses (cf. October 1) “Wet Work” does have a mermaid.

Then Thursday night brought the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. June 8, et al.) with, this time, a special reading performance of PREMIUM TAFT, a two-act play by Tom Trent, with musical interludes by Jason Fickel.  PREMIUM TAFT is, to read from the Facebook description, “[a] fictional time-traveling comedy about William Howard Taft’s whistle-stop presidential campaign appearance at the Mitchell Opera House in 1908 . . .  or maybe 1958?”  Or science fiction meets farce, in this case with an Indiana small-town ambience with grifters, politicos, greed, and rock ‘n’ roll.  And lots of fun.

This was followed by “open mic” presentations of which mine came in fourth of six, to an audience of about 15 people.  Noting that it had been a gloomy, Octobery day, ideal as a precursor for Halloween, I read four poems from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “Night Child,” “La Méduse,” “Moonlight Swimming,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.”

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As part of the HWA’s pre-Halloween run-up, three poems of mine have been published this month in a four-poet mini-anthology “Gallery of Poems” in the October issue of the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  The poems, “Night Child,” “La Méduse,” and “Bon Appétit,” are all reprinted from my 2011 poetry collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) along with two illustrations by Marge Simon, albeit erroneously attributed to me as well in the HWA NEWS.  Oops!  The poems themselves were also reprints when they appeared in VAMPS, with original attributions appearing in this current publication.

The HWA NEWSLETTER is, alas, a private publication so I’m not including a link to it here, but if you have friends in the HWA, by all means ask them to give you a look (as well as at those of the three other poets, Marge Simon, Jill Bauman, and Sandy DeLuca, with mine appearing last in the column).

A time of revelry and reversal, Saturnalia represents the breakdown of what has been deemed the natural order.  HYPERION AND THEIA’s inaugural volume wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and turns expectations on their heads.  Submit a fantastical murder-mystery set in the biggest carnival in Atlantis.  Wow us with a sweeping romance in space where gods and goddesses serve their creations after a bloody war. . . .

Such had been the call some months ago and, last December, came the acceptance (cf. December 9 2016).  My “epic” poem DREAMING SATURN, originally published in the anthology DARK DESTINY (White Wolf, 1994) would not only be in the inaugural volume, but tentatively would be set as the opening item.  A contract would follow.

So you know how it is.  Life intrudes, delays happen.  But then, yesterday:  Sorry for the long wait!  I have attached the final contract for you to sign.  I will contact you again on the 27th of October with the cover and other promotional material.  Suffice to say, the signed 8451b32b-e3c4-41cb-8f3e-7c6834708f13contract went back in the email this afternoon.

In other news, a run through the e-bookstores this morning unearthed a 33-percent discount for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH on Barnes and Noble, at $9.99 — and that’s just the “official” price, with individual sellers’ new copies as inexpensive as $8.98.  There’s no indication how long these prices may last, so best take advantage soon!  Amazon, also, while listing the full price of $14.95 on its site, has several individual listings in the $10 to $11 range.  If interested, check out Barnes and Noble by pressing here; while Amazon can continue to be found, including several substantive reviews, by clicking TOMBS’ picture in the center column.

So, okay, this is another teeny horror/dark humor poem I read at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry” last week (cf. September 24), but this being the afternoon of October’s “First Sunday Prose” (more on which later this p.m. or Monday morning), why not?  Actually it came up while perusing “Bloodizabeth’s Meat & Greet Dinner Party” on SLASHERMONSTER.COM and seeing one comment mentioning The Beatlles and “I Am the Walrus.”  So having this variant, as it were, in the quiver, why not shoot it into the “Comments” section as a comment upon the comment?  (And thus here, as an “extra,” for you.)

I AM A WALRUS

i have a walrus mustache,
& am hot for mermaids

An unseasonably warm sun-drenched day greeted September’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf. May 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, four local writers were featured this time, Jenny Kander, Thomas Tokarski, Doris Lynch, and Roger Pfingston, billed as “The Tuesday Poets” and offering a variety of styles and subject matter.  After the break, four walk-ons stepped up to read, offering a symmetry of sorts as well as a similar range of styles, of which I was the last with a series of very short, horror-related pieces, on tracking zombies, mermaids and vampires, Erzebet Bathory, and other such subjects, the best received of which — why not? — I’ll present here as well:

LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

It wasn’t bad
till they released the bears;
the cats came
of their own accord.

And so the autumn season begins. . . .

Two items today, to look for in the near future:  The first is courtesy of Steph P. Bianchini’s blog THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, reminding us that the Cassini space probe will be sending its last signals to Earth just eight days from now.  Or from, as it were, the horse’s mouth, “on September 15, with its fuel tank now almost empty, the probe will make its final dive straight into Saturn, heading for the gas giant’s surface.”  And so, via THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, this sendoff:  “Cassini’s 13 Years of Stunning Saturn Science — In Pictures,” by Alexandra Witze on NATURE.COM.  To read (and see), press here.

For the second, we hark back a couple of months to an email from artist, poet, and sometime blog commentator Marge Simon:  Would you have a couple of vamp poems previously published that you could let Kathy Ptacek use for the HWA October newsletter?  If you’ve got an illo to go with it, great.  Maybe something we did for VAMPS?  The reference is to my poetry collection, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), hopefully to be coming out in a second edition but for info on which, for now, click on its picture in the center column, and so I sent Kathy three favorite poems plus two of Marge’s illustrations.

So then a few days ago came the reply:  thanks, james! I appreciate you sending these to me!  and that’s great that marge sent the artwork for them!  this is going to be a fun issue, I think!  heh!  The issue in question will be the October Horror Writers Association NEWSLETTER with an extra flourish to celebrate the coming Halloween.  And the poems (with initial publication information):  “Night Child,” TOMORROW SF, Feb. 1998; “La Méduse,” ASYLUMS AND LABYRINTHS (Rain Mountain Press, 1997), with a note that it also serves as sort of a foreword to my THE TEARS OF ISIS (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013); and “Bon Appétit,” GOTHIC.NET, Aug. 2002).

While Saturday started off a bit cool and clouded for my taste, the sun had established itself by a little past noon and Sunday followed sunny and warm too, a beautiful weekend for this year’s Bloomington 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts and, with it, the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. below, August 30).  Along with a number of poets both days, Saturday also brought Bloomington High School South’s Poetry Out Loud (getting the new generation on our side), children’s theater with the Merry Mac Players, FRANKENSTEIN as presented by the Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players, and poetry “band” Shakespeare’s Monkey.  Then Sunday introduced more prose fiction readers, including Joan Hawkins and Shayne Laughter who we’ve met before (cf., e.g., various First Sundays Prose readings, for which in a way today’s Spoken Word session was a substitute), and . . . somewhat late in the day at 3:30 p.m., me.  In my case, I read three excerpts from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, the back cover blurb and the introduction to Section II — by way of a sort of introduction — followed by the Section II story-chapter “The Last Dance.”  This was the same as the reading I presented last July at NASFiC in Puerto Rico (see July 13) and it seemed to go over well to an audience that started out on the small side, but grew as I continued, a good sign as these things go.  Next month, also, I’ll probably read the same first two parts but a slightly shorter story-chapter for October’s First Sunday.

Then speaking of TOMBS, Saturday’s email brought an “eligibility check” from the Horror Writers Association for works submitted to the Bram Stoker Award(R) Jury.  This consisted of questions concerning publication date, length and content, and prior publication (if any) of parts of the contents, all of which I was able to answer in the affirmative and send right back.  While this will be checked by the Jury people, with an official “acceptance” probably not for two weeks, one possibly ambiguous thing has been decided.  Although TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is a novel-in-stories, akin to Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB, under the technicalities of the Stoker rules, it will be voted on in the Fiction Collection category.

So what that means in the here and now:  If you’re a HWA member and have read TOMBS, and have a hankering to recommend it for a Stoker, please do it for “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.”  But even if you’re not a HWA member, while/if the spirit moves please also consider reviewing it for Amazon and Barnes & Noble (both of which are offering wildly discounted prices on TOMBS, by the way, while they last), as well as on Goodreads.

One quick note and one just for fun.  The quickie, as of Sunday a new review is up on Amazon for TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, by Andrew Suhrer, a fellow author.  And it’s for five stars too!  In fact, all reviews both here and on B&N (three reviews there) are 5-star reviews, if I may so brag.  (Though to keep myself honest, there are two on Goodreads that aren’t quite as glowing.)  Nevertheless, for the ones on Amazon one may press here.

And then the fun part, fellow poet and Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association member (and one-time editor of the SFPA journal STAR*LINE) Marge Simon posted a challenge a little while back, to compose a poem of twenty lines or less using the words “Vermin,” “Theremin,” “Decision,” and “Vitamin,” for e-publication in SFPA’s newsletter.  The best, also, would get an ice cream prize.  A half dozen or so of us responded and while, no, the prize-winner wasn’t mine, it was one of two that got honorable mentions.

Alas, I don’t think there’s a link to see all the poems if you’re not a member, but for more on the SFPA (see also, March 29, 22, et al.) one may press here.  And to read at least my poem, it’s right below:

MUSICAL SUMMER

Vermin infested the theremin,
roaches by the look of them,
probably the same that invaded the drugstore’ s
vitamin counter
two weeks before.
So now these super bugs
bursting with good health and bad decisions,
operating the instrument from inside,
wailed their hatred of all that was human
out beyond the stars.

 

Enjoy, enjoy!

You saw the announcement in part in the comments in yesterday’s post, now hear it in full:  my prize-fight poem, “Godzilla vs King Kong” (see March 29; August 12, 6 2016, et al.), has battled its way to . . . well . . . a three-way tie for third place in this year’s Rhysling contest for best short poem.  That’s not the height of the fighters, mind you, but rather means poems of fewer than fifty lines, and Kong would tell you a third is a third and, even with others included, that’s still a share in the purse.  Or . . . but let’s let the sponsors put it in their own words.

The Rhysling Anthology Editor and Award Chair, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, and the officers of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Rhysling Awards.  The organization was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science-fiction poetry.  This year, there is a 3-way tie for Third Place in the Short Poem category.

Each year, the SFPA publishes the Rhysling Anthology, comprised of works nominated by its international membership for the Best Poems of the Year.  The Rhyslings were first established in 1978, named for the blind poet Rhysling in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth.”  Rhysling’s skills were said to rival Rudyard Kipling’s.  In real life, Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater near their landing site “Rhysling,” which has since become its official name.

Winning works are regularly reprinted in the Nebula Awards Anthology from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Rhysling Awards are considered in the speculative literature field to be the poetry equivalent of the awards given for prose — achievement awards given to poets by the writing peers of their own field of literature.

The Rhysling Awards will be formally presented at DiversiCon, in St. Paul (Bandana Square Best Western) by SFPA President, Bryan Thao Worra and other members of the SFPA executive committee. All members are welcome to attend the ceremony.

Short Poem
1st:  “George Tecumseh Sherman’s Ghosts”
Marge Simon • Silver Blade 32

2nd:  “Build a Rocketship Contest: Alternative
Class A Instructions and Suggestions”
Wendy Rathbone • Asimov’s SF January

3rd (tie):
“Godzilla vs. King Kong”
James S. Dorr • Dreams and Nightmares 103

“Richard Feynman’s Commute”
Jon Wesick • The Were-Traveler Dec. 21

“The Box of Dust and Monsters”
Beth Davis Cato • Devilfish Review 17

Long Poem
1st :  “Rose Child”
Theodora Goss • Uncanny 13

2nd:  “The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner”
Adam Bolivar • Spectral Realms 5

3rd:  “Not Like This”
Mary Soon Lee • Apex Magazine Aug. 4

For more on the Rhyslings and SFPA one may press here.

On a pleasant near-summer’s night, the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. May 12, et al.) started off comparatively noisily with a trumpet performance by local musician Kyle Quass, followed by two poets and one fiction writer.  The fiction was by Tom Bitters with a quiet romantic tale of himself, his wife, and a local benefit performance by John Mellencamp; with Nashville Indiana full-time poet Andrew Hubbard next with four or five self-described “cross[es] between character studies and short-short stories”; and, after a musical interlude by Kyle Quass again, a group of more conventional poems by local writer Antonia Matthew.  These were followed by seven open mike readers of which I was fourth — square in the middle — with a fairy tale variant originally published in RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS (Pink Narcissus Press, 2011) called “The Glass Shoe,” or, translated to modern political terms, alternative facts meet Cinderella.




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