Science Fiction Poetry

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Unlike most of the other bloggers here at Amazing Stories, I’m just a fan-girl. Not a writer. And I don’t claim to be a particular expert on anything (except maybe Hildegard von Bingen and Baroque vocal music – but that’s not really what you’re here to read about, is it?). However, I have a passion. And a mission. And that is to disseminate information on and get people excited about science fiction poetry. So, here we are.

As a singer I’m not a stranger to poetry. The type of music I sing is often poetry set to music as opposed to lyrics written for a song. However, I was introduced to SF or speculative poetry in 2008 while doing a regular gig narrating stories for Tony C. Smith over at StarShipSofa.com . I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Tony asked me more and more often to recite poetry for the show and I found a new love. Due to some life circumstances, I had to take an extended break from narrating, and in the meantime Tony let poetry on StarShipSofa lapse. I’m not sure why, because I wasn’t the only one who recorded poetry for him when I went silent, but at any rate, he wasn’t running poetry anymore, and didn’t really want to. I think because cobbling the show together is a lot of work and poems are rather short, the rate of return for the effort didn’t add up. I thought this was a crying shame, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. In a quiet moment over New Year’s in 2010/11, an idea was hatched: I could create a regular article for Tony to include in the show, which would feature poetry. I became a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and started writing my first show. I had no idea how much work a real podcast is. I mean, until then I’d just recorded a story or a poem. No music, no introduction, no nothin’! Now, I know what the cobbling together of a podcast costs in time and effort. But it was a lot of fun, and the amount of appreciation I received from the poets was reward enough. I’d found a mission and off I went. Poetry Planet is a semi-regular part of StarShipSofa.com podcast magazine. You can listen to the very first one (Show No. 184), and all the rest by visiting the website here. And here I am, grateful and excited beyond words at being accepted into this project here at Amazing Stories, and taking my mission to the next level.

sfpoetryOur society doesn’t value poetry very much, it seems. I was surprised by this when I first heard a poet say it, but the realities of trying to earn any money as a poet seem to speak for the assertion. I must have had a poetry enthusiast as an English teacher in school, because I thought identifying and being recognized as a poet was the highest grade a writer could achieve. I still believe that. The care and attention to the language that is required of poetry, in addition to making an impact despite (or because of?) its brevity, seem, in my humble opinion, quite difficult and demanding of much skill. A poet might spend as much time on a few poems as a novelist does on her novel.

That said, the time you spend with a poem must be proportionate by (nearly) the same amount, if you hope to get as much out of it as the poet puts in. Our society and culture, however, doesn’t want that much anymore. Too much work! We are told on many fronts, mostly not in so many words, that gratification must come as close to instantaneous as possible. Not I! I look at the beauty around me, and think about how much time the stone masons must have spent on those Corinthian columns, and also how long it takes for a maple tree to grow and show me those beautiful colors in the fall. For me, there is much joy to be had in re-reading and ruminating over a poem. Oh, I love to just rip through a great novel, don’t get me wrong! However, the layers of the onion are revealed ever more the longer I spend with a poem, which I find touches a spot inside me that reading a novel can’t.

If you are yourself a poet, I’m sure you can relate. I’m here to help the world realize poetry’s worth once again.

If you aren’t a poet, I hope I haven’t lost you already. I want to help you (re)connect to poetry – what more enjoyable way than through science fiction poetry?!? We’re going to have so much fun, you and I, exploring what is so wonderful about SF poetry, meeting the greats and the new, young stars of the genre, and discovering moving reading experiences. I will be reviewing collections, chapbooks, and magazines, interviewing poets, and delving into the formal aspects of poetry. I hope you’ll join me for the ride! It’s not ALL hard work!

Next I’ll be reviewing a collection by Samantha Henderson, The House of Forever, published by Raven Electrick Ink.  Following that, I have an interview with eminent SF poet Bruce Boston in store for you.

In the meantime, why don’t you have a look at a few of my favorite online poetry zines?

ad astra
James Gunn’s Ad Astra, Science and Science Fiction
goblin fruit
Goblin Fruit, poetry of the fantastical sort
stone telling
Stone Telling, multi-cultural and boundary-crossing speculative poetry
scifiquest
Scifikuest, scifaiku and related forms

Inskscrawl, minimalistic speculative poetry

If you would like me to interview a certain poet or review a poetry collection or you would like to see me include anything relating to poetry don’t hesitate to contact me!

See you in 2 weeks!

4 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, this world often moves too fast for me. I like that, J Jay – measured thought. That's beautiful, thank you for that. That definition is, if incomplete, very valid. I know there are places where poets are still esteemed, I just don't think America is one of them, unfortunately.

    "Poetry, as measured thought, may be a slow path to our souls, but it is a sure path."

    That is stunning. I wish I'd written it!

    Thanks for reading you two! You might be the only ones! 😉

    • Would you rather have 50 people yelling at you that you can't use "Baroque" because it means something rude in Klingon, and they're going to invade the Earth if you persist? ^-o

      😉

  2. Yay for slow coherent thought! I get yelled at in internet forums on a regular basis for posting posts that are too long and too thoughtful. Maybe I should try poetry? – and — really? The rest of us are writers? Thanks! 😀

  3. Despite your disclaimer, since I am reading what you wrote, I shall choose to think of you as a writer. I also think an exposition by you, on your experience in producing podcats, might be an informative read that I would look forward to.

    As for the value of poetry, society has become such a fast-paced medium that poetry may have suffered because of its intrinsic nature. Poetry is self-defining as 'measured thought.' It is 'measured' in both its creative process and in a reader's experience. At least, I've always considered poetry measured thought.

    At one point, while I studied Eastern European history, I came across essays on Romanian and Bohemian poetry. Poets in these cultures were highly regarded, despite whatever flaws in character they might possess. Oral histories are a time honored tradition in preserving a culture's past.

    So in some ways, I see SF poetry is a type of secret history. We may not know what we know until we study our songs and our poetry. Poetry, as measured thought, may be a slow path to our souls, but it is a sure path.

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