Posts Tagged ‘Speculative Poetry’

No, it isn’t an early April Fool’s trick and it is a new name (slightly), but the name was especially voted on to keep the initials the same.  And so, as announced today, by fairly hefty vote margins the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) has become the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA, though there was a minority vote to add an extra F for SFFPA).  The change is simply a long-time-coming recognition that a lot of SFPA members actually write fantasy poetry, if one wants to be picky, and the name change parallels a similar change made some years ago by the SFWA (which is to say, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, once the Science Fiction Writers of America, which for a brief time then initialed itself the SFFWA with occasional members pronouncing the name as if they stuttered).  So what’s in a name?  For nostalgia hounds, here presented is the old logo, which may take a little time to update and, new name or old name, the group still can be found by pressing here.  (And between you and me, I write horror poetry, and I’m still a member.)

This was to be the one on poetry, last month’s premiere “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local tavern and music venue Players Pub, being dominated by prose fiction — including, ahem, my opening reading of “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS (cf. February 10).  And so it was, mostly, with even its musical component being poetry-based via Evansville Indiana group SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY, a “poetry band” reminiscent of 1950s coffeehouse safe_image.phppoetry accompanied with jazz (albeit in this case, guitars and hand percussion), who we’ve met before at the Bloomington Arts Festival Spoken Word Stage (see September 4).  The featured readers this time out were Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer whose poems included a Pushcart Prize nominee, local poet Eric Rensberger who began his reading with a guitar accompanied “Medicine Show” spiel introducing bartender “Dr. Joe” and the pub itself before continuing with the more “serious literary part,” and First Sundays Prose Series Chair Joan Hawkins breaking the pattern with two prose “creative memoirs.”  Then the open mike session added four readers of whom I was second, reading three pieces from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “La Méduse,” “Émile’s Ghosts,” and “Night Child.”

Then for another quick note, I’ve added two pieces to “Poetry (Essays)” under PAGES in the far right column, my ILLUMEN feature “It Begins With the Sound” (see November 5, et al.) and “What Is a Novel in Stories” (see February 13), the latter admittedly really about my upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but springing from Edgar Allan Poe’s essay “The Poetic Principle.”

Another month and, on a crisp but sunny afternoon, it was time for February’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (cf., e.g., January 29, et al.).  Co-sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington and the Monroe County Convention Center, some 18 to 20 people attended, with the featured poets Indiana University MA/PhD student Nathan Schmidt reading a long poem, “Because I Would Not Stop for Him,” its title based on an Emily Dickenson line “Because I Would Not Stop for Death,” followed by Nancy Chen Long, author of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry winner LIGHT INTO BODIES and other poems and chapbooks, with seven shorter works, several on subjects related to “home.”  Following the break were nine walk-on readers (including Tonia Matthews with a delightful series of variations on the theme of “chocolate”) of which I came in at number six with four previously published poems loosely about death:  “Dust to Dust,” “Firelight,” “A Little Night Music,” and “The Instrument Maker.”

And so, to Mardi Gras and March!

It came down to this, finally,
the fight of all fights,
Godzilla against the King. . . .

So begins the poem as published in DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES for May 2016 (cf. August 6, et al.), “Godzilla vs. King Kong.”  Then, today, came another missive:  Congratulations on having been nominated as a candidate for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2017 Rhysling Award, given by king_kong_vs_godzilla_1962member vote for the best speculative-genre poem first published in 2016.  While the award does not include a monetary prize, those included in the anthology receive a contributor’s copy, a 50% discount on further copies, and may join SFPA at half the normal rate.  The email went on to explain the details, the poem would be published in this year’s RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY, I would get a copy of it but no extra money for reprint rights, the anthology, in turn, would be distributed to SFPA members for use in voting.  And, one should add, even just being a nominee carries a certain amount of prestige so, the bottom line, I sent back my permission for the republication.

The Rhysling Award is actually two annual awards, one for shorter poems, one for those fifty lines long or more (at 26 lines, my poem will be in the short division).  These are voted on by SFPA members, by analogy to other genre awards like the Nebulas and Stokers(R), but with this one difference, that every nominee is distributed in the anthology, so every voter will have a chance to have read all the candidate poems.  More on the Rhyslings can be found on the SFPA site by pressing here.

As for who won the fight, however, Godzilla or King Kong, the answer will be in the poem itself and, even if not yourself a SFPA member, there will be a chance to buy the anthology when it comes out.

And it’s not really new either, only missing but now restored as a Valentine’s Day extra.  VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) is a book of poetry about vampires and things vampiric, sexy, deadly, and by moi.  This is the White Cat edition which should eventually be updated, with new cover, etc., but the upgrade has been taking some time and no need to not buy the book now if vampscover001one wishes.  In print it only costs $7.00 (plus probably postage, but still a good price for a small love token for that special person) and even less in a PDF version.  Just click  its picture in the center column.

It isn’t listed on Amazon either in this edition, but probably will be when the new one comes out, although I believe print copies of this one can also be purchased through Alban Lake (for which one can press here).

Or, on this page with its link to White Cat Publishing (plus option for PDF), scroll down the center column, through books and chapbooks, to find an all-new category for Poetry.  And there it will be!

And why not, a little freebie for Valentine’s Day, in this case a portrait of Gloria Holden as DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, combined with a brief poem describing a scene that’s not in the movie.  Or in any vampire movie I’ve seen, come to think of it.

draculasdaughter

THE VAMPIRESS’S EMBARRASSMENT

she loved blood
but she hated the clots, when she laughed
and they came out her nose

Back for 2017, this afternoon saw the new year’s first “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” (see November 28, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured poets this time were Lisa Low, in her final year in the MFA program at Indiana University, whose reading covered such subjects as grocery stores, ghosts, and gold, ending with a group of poems from a work in progress about a girl named Ruby; and Stephen Hopkins, “born in Texas but raised in the Midwest, bloomingtonwritersguild[and] moved all over Ohio, often,” an IU PhD candidate who read works from his recent chapbook HYMNS OF PERPETUAL MOTION.  This was followed by snacks and an open mike session in which I was last of six participants, with five short, relatively light poems about vampires, “The Vampire’s Reflection,” “An Unsuitable Kiss for the New Year,” “Something New,” “Nothing Better,” and “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment.”

Also announced was a new Writers Guild “Second Thursdays” evening series to be held each month at Bloomington’s Players Pub, beginning February 9.  While programs will vary, the premiere offering will highlight prose readings,  including a short tale by me from THE TEARS OF ISIS, “River Red,” set in the same universe as my upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

Yes, a raise of the glass to Edgar Allan Poe, “who started it all,” January 19 1809 – October 7 1849 — and see, as well, my interview by Weldon Burge linked in the post just below, start-poecoat1ing quite by coincidence with a quotation from Poe.  Go ahead, take a quick look — I’ll wait!  Okay, and now to the business of . . . well, actually late yesterday, but posted today.

Wednesday afternoon’s email brought, from Bards and Sages Publishing’s Julie Ann Dawson:  When we launched THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES last August, we knew it was a bit of an experiment. We really didn’t know how readers would respond to the project. I’m pleased to say that the response has been wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that three of the stories placed very well in this year’s Preditors & Editors Reader Poll.

Chamber Music By Peter A. Balaskas earned 2nd place in the non-genre short story category
Raising Mary:  Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall earned 5th place in the horror short story category
By Force and Against the King’s Peace by James Dorr earned 11th place in the fantasy and sci-fi short story category

But the email goes on to say [t]he one question I keep getting asked, however, is “When will the print be available?”  A great many of our readers still prefer print (I know, shocking!).  Of course, individually, each story is too short to justify publishing as a single book.  But as an anthology, it would be perfect.

Which is why I would like to invite each of you to participate in THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES, Volume I.  This will anthologize all of the stories published in the first year of the project.  We would love to bring your stories to print and, potentially, audio formats. . . . 51hxoyeaatl

Then follow some details, plus an attached agreement which went in the mail today with my okay.  And, let’s not forget the neat Preditors and Editors news, not just for me but a huge shout out for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES itself!  This, we may remember (see, e.g., November 18, 2, October 3 2016, et al.), is a continuing series of electronic chapbooks for stories from 5,000 to 20,000 words long, both new and reprints (“By Force and Against the King’s Peace” is the latter, originally published in the December 1999 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), awkwardly long for some electronic markets but too short for novels.  A little more money would change hands too for the print anthology, which is always a sweetener for the writers, and since, judging from the Preditors and Editors standings, the stories themselves seem to be top drawer, some at least of them, it should be a good deal for readers as well.

Also,  for another quick “The Writing Life” extra, here’s a note from A Murder of Storytellers on my story-poem “Tit for Tat.”  James,  Wanted to let you know that I looked over this piece and saw no need for editing.  So, unless you’ve got a burning desire to fix something, it’s good to go.  What it’s going to is their upcoming THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 16).  And an editor’s pass with no changes at all is always good news for a writer to receive.

One final note for 2016, DISTURBED DIGEST (see December 6) arrived New Year’s Eve with my poem “Zombie Trouyearsedd2ble?” in it.  Also Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing has announced a special sale through Saturday, January 7, via DriveThruFiction for their New Year’s Eve-themed anthology, YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR (cf. March 19, et al.), with my lead-off story “Appointment in Time.”  The sale, which reduces the price from $4.99 to $2.99, is only available on DriveThruFiction and must be reached through a special, one-week-only link, for which 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.




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