Posts Tagged ‘Marge Simon’

The illustration is by artist and poet and current Horror Writers Association trustee Marge Simon, who some years ago challenged me to write a poem about it.  The result, titled “Émile’s Ghosts” (the title was also Marge’s, for the illustration), was published originally accompanied by the picture in ILLUMEN in Spring 2008 and also appears in my 2011 poetry collection, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).  And now it, still with the illustration at my suggestion if Marge was willing, has been published again in the HWA’s October NEWSLETTER, a special expanded Halloween issue, with a full dozen poets included, including such names as Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti, Michael A. Arnzen, Christina Sng, Stephane M. Wytovich . . . the list goes on.  So for HWA members, just press “Gallery of Poets” in the October NEWSLETTER (fourth from the bottom in the issue’s contents), then scroll down and down until you see the picture, the only illustration that’s there, with the poem to its left.

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).

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:


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!

A few loose ends as the year winds down.  Proof sheets went back Friday to Editor Kara Landhuis for MEET CUTE (see December 11, November 26, 23), the illustrated anthology of eccentric meetings scheduled for early 20splatter217.  My part in this, “Butterfly,” is a rather gentle tale as stories by me go and will be, I understand, illustrated by Marge Simon.

Then later in the evening Grey Matter Press weighed in with an announcement that their nouveau splatterpunk anthology SPLATTERLANDS:  REAWAKENING THE SPLATTERPUNK REVOLUTION (cf. October 22 2015, et al.) can now be obtained free by both new and old e-readers with Kindle Unlimited.  My tale in this one is the far less gentle “The Artist,” for more on which, and the book in general, one may press here.

. . .  because poems work on rhythms and sounds, the same as music, even without having tunes to accompany them. One hint, though, when reading poetry, try reading it out loud. Or at least (if, say, there are people around you and you don’t like being stared at) pronounce the words under your breath, the way you’re taught not to read in school. Because the point of poetry is not just what it says, but the way it says it.

So there’s rap music, too. And poetry slams. And, when I was much younger, poets sometimes read poems with jazz in the background. A muted piano, stand-up bass, a drummer for accents with cymbals and brush, an alto sax, maybe, while the poet recited the words over it, not as lyrics, but for their own sake, the musicians having the job to make sure their own sounds worked with them.

So there! (said I) to answer the rhetorical question, if you like music why should you like poetry too?  Of course I go on with it a little, and even throw in an example or two, and that was the essay, “It Begins With the Sound,” that we might recall was one of those featured in this Fall’s issue of ILLUMEN (see November 5, October 8), along with another by fellow poet and poetry essayist Marbloodspades_logoge Simon.  But Ms. Simon is also editor of the “Blood and Spades:  Poets of the Dark” column in the HWA NEWSLETTER and, as it happens, asked for reprint rights for the January 2017 issue (cf. November 12) to spread the good word to the horror writers.  And so, today, for pre-New Years Eve readers, the January NEWSLETTER has just come out.

Of course there’s a catch.  To read it there you have to be a member of the Horror Writers Association yourself.  It is, incidentally, at least the third poetry essay I’ve had published in “Blood and Spades” (I think actually the fourth, the first being one on Edgar Allan Poe many, many years back, but pretty well lost in the dust of history) and quotes in part from one by me in June 2010, “Edgar Allan, Allen Ginsberg, and All that Jazz,” which is noted in the current issue too.  (Then, for completists, there is one yet more recent, “Vamps:  The Beginning,” that appeared in January 2012.  Both this and  the 2010 one, incidentally, can also be read by clicking POETRY (ESSAYS) in the PAGES column on the far right.)

However, for those who aren’t members of HWA, “It Begins With the Sound” can also still be read in its ILLUMEN version, which can be purchased by pressing here.

As Editor Kathie Giorgio puts it (from the “Introduction”),  Think of all the words we have for time, phrases that many of us use and hear every day:

Time to go.  Time’s running out.  All the time in the world.  Time and tide waits for no man.  It’s singularirreghigh time.  A question of time, a race against time.  All in good time.  Ahead of your time.  The right place at the right time.  Better luck next time.  

Time dominates us and directs us.  We are ourselves timepieces, our hearts are our pendulums, beating out the seconds we have on this earth.

What time is it for you today?

Well, you get the idea:  IT’S ABOUT TIME.  Yes, that’s the anthology’s name, and yesterday, Friday, it made its appearance in ye olde mailbox to kick off the Veterans Day Holiday Weekend (yes, technically a postal holiday, but packages get special treatment).  And as might be inferred, quite the eclectic collection it is, with scads and scads of mostly short stories and poems of all aspects of time, so that even my story, a science fiction/romance including time travel, seems mundane and routine.  A reprint titled “Curious Eyes” (cf. September 20, et al.), it has been around, though, with four prior appearances starting with THE FICTION PRIMER way back in December 1988.

But to see more for yourself, press here.

Then speaking of re-appearances, today’s email also brought a confirmation from Marge Simon, editor of the “Blood & Spades” poetry column in the Horror Writers Association’s monthly NEWSLETTER.  We had been talking about reprint rights for my “It Begins With the Sound” essay (currently in the Autumn ILLUMEN, see November 5), and it is now officially set for the January 2017 issue.

The Autumn issue of ILLUMEN, received with Friday’s street mail, brings a new policy along with essays by poet and artist Marge Simon and by me.  As Editor Tyree Campbell explains, the focus remains on poetry, obviously.  But beginning with this current issue, in addition to poems, art, and articles, I’ll present writings addressed to readers, inviting them into — or further into — the joys and sorrows of reading poetry.  I firmly believe that one reason folks avoid poetry, or at best illumen-25-tyree-campbell-200x300tolerate it, is that they don’t understand it, or are afraid they won’t understand it . . . a fear of being found out by their peers. . . .  A failed understanding, he goes on to suggest, that he feels may be nurtured by the way poetry is introduced to schoolchildren, as early as the third or fourth grade.

And so, now there will be a series of essays written by poets themselves to, as he continues, “demystify” poetry, some addressed to more experienced readers, some intended to reach a younger audience.  These essays will present the case for poetry; that answer The Question:  Why should I read poetry?

I was one poet Tyree reached out to for a possible essay (see October 8, August 31), Marge Simon — who also is a previous editor of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s STAR*LINE — another, and so we are both featured in this issue.  Tyree bats first, ending his editorial with a short reflection on reading and language, then Marge with “Illuminating Poetry:  Why Bother” on how we may “know” poetry more than we thought, with examples from her own work on how it can speak to certain classes of readers, children, lovers, lovers betrayed, or mothers and sons.  Then, finally, my essay “It Begins With the Sound” recommends reading poetry aloud, reveling in the sound of the words and how they can amplify the meaning, and ends with two poems of mine, “Metal Vamp” with dancing and jazz (plus a review from STAR*LINE by Daniel C. Smith) and “La Méduse” (also, to give a quick plug, the foreword to my collection THE TEARS OF ISIS) with its series of s-sounds to, hopefully, echo the serpents that compose its subject’s hair.

Actually they’ve already met, thank you, in the person of actor John Astin — Gomez Addams in the macabre 1960s TV sitcom THE ADDAMS FAMILY — a fan and somewhat scholar of Poe who has also starred in the one-man play EDGAR ALLAN POE:  ONCE UPON A poecoat1MIDNIGHT.   In fact just a few days before Poe’s birthday (as celebrated here just a few posts below, January 19), THE BALTIMORE SUN published this article/interview updating some of Astin’s recent doings.

This is also a lesson of sorts in why it sometimes pays to comment on blogs (e.g. this one) or at least skim the comments of others, in this case one on the 19th by Marge Simon pointing out a fairly in-depth piece on Poe by Marilynne Robinson in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS.  This in turn made me search for a copy I had of Poe’s relatively little-known work EUREKA, which came back to John Astin who wrote the introduction to it.

Then finally, back to Astin’s characterization of Poe, a sampler of some of the reviews of EDGAR ALLAN POE:  ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT can be found here (and, after skimming, be sure to press the link for the full review from THE LOS ANGELES TIMES).

So now, for something (almost) completely different:  Word came this afternoon from British blogger Sonnet O’Dell that I have an interview scheduled for her “Meet A Writer Monday” feature on DUSTY PAGES, but not for a while yet.  So look for a bit more nitty on me and THE TEARS OF ISIS from the horse’s mouth as it were, but not until Monday August 17 — which one may be sure I’ll remind people of when the time comes closer.

Aimée et les filles à les caissettes, “Casket Girls” (cf. April 10), is now available to all readers in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION’s archives.  Just go to the main site at and press “Recent Stories” on the left to find it, or, alternatively, one can reach it directly by pressing here.  And while you’re at it, for those who don’t mind delving deep into the musty archives of years long past, two other ursuline1stories of mine dwell within: “Naughty or Nice,” the tale of a Parisian vampiress’s Christmas adventure, and “Killer Pot” about, um, skin treatments for the twenty-first century — but with Victorian roots as well.  Or, maybe the best thing to do is just read it. For these anyhow, go back to the DSF main page and this time put “Dorr” (or “dorr”) in the box on the right where it says “SEARCH.” (Hint: Don’t use “James Dorr” or “James S. Dorr” — through the magic of modern electronics you’ll get a scroll of every author with the name James, or in one case even just the initial J; similarly, while the titles of the stories will work, in the case of “Killer Pot,” you will first get a story called “Coffee Pot” — go figure).

Speaking of goofiness, it came to pass that after “Casket Girls” went to subscribers, fellow poet, artist, and sometime-commenter Marge Simon emailed me with the beginning lines of a poem honoring (in an admittedly silly, good-humored way) our Aimée, with an invitation for me, if I wished, to add a few more lines.  I did and sent it back, she added a few more, I added a few more and thus “Aimee, the Casket Girl” was written.  But that’s not all.  We tossed around a few places we might send it, I suggesting one that had published another sort of silly poem of mine with an illustration by Marge a while back (see “Well-Dressed Vampiress Finds a Home,” July 27 2012).  So it is that yesterday Barbara Custer of NIGHT TO DAWN e-mailed Marge back, “I’ve published James Dorr’s work before . . . [l]ove the one you did together and got a good laugh.  I’d like to publish it in NTD 27.”  And not only that, Marge may be supplying an illustration to go with this one too!


For horror poets and poets in general here are two announcements that may be of interest.  The first is from the Horror Writers Association via David C. Kopaska-Merkel and the Science Fiction Poetry Association (excerpted from the HWA’s press announcement):

“To celebrate National Poetry Month, the Horror Writers Association will be holding their inaugural HWA HORROR POETRY SHOWCASE in April 2014.  Open to all poets, the SHOWCASE will be accepting submissions throughout the month of April with four poems chosen by HWA member judges to be honored on the HWA website.

“We are looking for more than ‘blood, guts, worms,’ etc.  Just being ‘icky’ isn’t enough.  Poetry to fifty lines.  Free verse preferred; no forced rhyme or cliches.  Unpublished poems only (though previously published poets are, of course, welcome).

“Submissions will be accepted via Submittable from April 1-30, 2014 and all rights will remain with the poets.  In addition, at the judges’ discretion, an electronic chapbook of qualifying poems will be considered for publication under the aegis of HWA.  Each poem chosen for publication will be paid $5.

“For the 2014 SHOWCASE the judges will be Marge Simon, Peter Adam Salomon, and Jonathan Maberry.”

Then April is also the month of WRITERS DIGEST Poetry Editor Robert Brewer’s Poem-A-Day challenge (see November 1 2013, et al.), in which he supplies poets with a daily prompt to use as a springboard, resulting (for those who take the bait) in thirty new poems at least drafted by May.  In my experience, some of these will be crummy, some good, and a lot potentially good with a bit of judicial rewriting — but rewriting is part of the game anyway.  Perhaps more to the point, a number of poems I’ve written for these challenges have ultimately resulted in sales.

Brewer offers a similar daily challenge each November as well as, for the off-months, a weekly poetry prompt every Wednesday.  For more information — or to try it out (it’s run as a part of Brewer’s regular blog, so more goodies may sometimes be found there too!) — poets may press here.

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