This being my first proper post of the year, I’m woefully ill-prepared. I wanted to review some British Science Fiction Poetry, but I’m still reading a rather long anthology of the stuff and so will put it off another fortnight. Instead, I’d like to do a recap of 2013 and have a look back at my first year of blogging for Amazing Stories, and at my year in Science Fiction Poetry in general.
My first post here at Amazing Stories was introductory, but with the next post I launched into a review, complete with a recorded poem. This is my shtick, if you hadn’t noticed. I got my introduction to SF Poetry by reading and recording it for the StarShipSofa and it has shaped my opinion that poetry is best read aloud, or listened to. My first review was Samantha Henderson’s new collection The House of Forever.
After a very personal post (at the request of Steve Davidson, Amazing Stories’ editor) about my connection to StarShipSofa, I did a kind of a round-up of various anthologies and a collection that I’d run across in the past year — A Woman of Mars; Cthulhu Haiku, and other Mythos Madness; Apocalypse Now; The Moment of Change; and On the Brink of Never. I did a mini-review of some of them and merely waxed enthusiastic about others I was excited about reading.
At the get-go I’d said I wanted to interview various people important to the world of genre poetry. In fact, I only managed to interview two people – Bruce Boston (SFPA Grand Master poet) and Amal El-Mohtar, poet and editor of Goblin Fruit, but I’m pleased with those interviews. They are both fascinating people and poets and do amazing things for the field of speculative poetry.
In the first six months of 2013 I reviewed 15 collections and anthologies of poetry (if you include the 3 collections I discussed with Bruce Boston in his interview), which all included several poems to listen to. They are:
The collections mentioned above,
Dark Roads, Notes from the Shadow City and Athropomorphisms, by Bruce Boston
Out of the Black Forest, by F. J. Bergmann
Lovers and Killers, by Mary Turzillo
Cthulhu Haiku, and Other Mythos Madness (full-length review), ed. Lester Smith
Inhuman, Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, by Joshua Gage
The Edible Zoo, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Come Late to the Love of Birds, by Sandra Kasturi
The Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) created a new award, the Elgin Award, for chapbook and full-length book collections, excluding anthologies. Of my 12 reviews 6 were full-length reviews or one of 2 collections reviewed in a post. The rest were anthologies. Of those six, five went on to win or place in the first annual Elgin Award for best chapbook or full-length collection. Not a bad record, eh? And Bruce Boston’s collection Notes from the Shadow City (in collaboration with Gary William Crawford), which was one we discussed in the interview, came in 2nd place. Pure coincidence, I’m sure, but it makes me happy.
I took a long break over the summer and when I came back it was suddenly awards season, which kept me very busy on my blog and with my podcast, Poetry Planet. More on that later. In the 2nd “half” of the year I wrote a couple of round-ups (in September and November), pointing you toward genre poetry you can read on the web plus I reviewed three more collections:
Unexplained Fevers, by Jeannine Hall Gailey
Transmissions to the Mystic Nebula, by Christopher Vera and
Offspring of the Moon, by John W. Sexton
I was so busy with blogging and life in general that I didn’t do much pod-casting in 2013. Come the new school year, however, I found I had more time, plus it was Award Season – and there were many of them! I still haven’t gotten them all pod-casted. But these are the ones I did do:
Poetry Planet No. 10 – The Elgin and the Dwarf Star Awards Showcase (with an accompanying post here on Amazing Stories “Awards! Awards! Science Fiction Poetry Awards!“)
Poetry Planet No. 11a – The Rhysling Award Showcase (with a blog post here: “More Science Fiction Poetry Awards – The Rhysling Award“) and
Poetry Planet No. 11b – The Rhysling Award Showcase Pt. 2
This has been an amazing journey for me. When I decided to try my hand at reviewing SF Poetry, it was a purely altruistic endeavor. I thought surely there must be others out there, who, like me, aren’t poets themselves, but love poetry and would like to read more. Poets are usually reviewed by and for other poets. But I thought genre poets needed a spokesperson who was not “one of them”. Now, why I thought I had any business becoming that person, I don’t know, but I was on a mission. At first, I’m never quite sure what to write about the poetry I read, but when I put pen to paper (quite literally), something flows out. Whether it’s any good or not, I couldn’t say. I may not have the structured learning of an English major but I have learned so much (on the job) reviewing poetry, and in the interviews, and I hope that at least my enthusiasm comes through. I’ve discovered a whole world of invaluable riches, every rock I turn over leads me down yet another rabbit hole and I’ve enjoyed sharing what I find with you in this space. Thanks to Steve Davidson for allowing me to join the team of bloggers (despite my lack of experience) and thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me while I learn how to read, review and revel in genre poetry. I hope you’ll continue to accompany me on my quest for great genre poetry. I wonder where it’ll lead us?