Speculative Poetry Round-up 2/2014: (Mostly) British

Another Round-up! If you haven’t figured it out already, I do a round-up of interesting Speculative poetry I’ve found on web when I haven’t managed to get my review done in time for my scheduled post. Rather than risk you noticing my absence, I take a moment and show you the random stuff I’ve found recently following rabbits down holes. Sometimes I’ll include more prominent, easily found poetry that has caught my fancy.

I’ve been working on a review of an anthology of British Science Fiction Poetry since early January. It’s a big book and I really enjoyed it. There’s so much good poetry in there that I wanted to savor it too. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get everything in place for the review to run today, and I decided too late to even get another back-up review done. But reading this collection, I was inspired to investigate British science fiction poetry a bit and what you’ll read today is what I stumble across over the past month. This is not a comprehensive look at what’s going on in the SF poetry scene in the UK. Not by a long shot. In fact, most of the stuff I found on my wanderings is quite old, but miraculously still available on the web.

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First, we have a very small ‘Zine, a Newsletter really (only one sheet of paper printed on both sides!). It’s called Handshake and it’s produced sporadically by John Francis Haines,. I found a little introduction written by Haines which states:

HANDSHAKE started in 1992 after discussions between myself and Steve Sneyd, as we felt there was a need of some kind of “British” equivalent of the USA based Science Fiction Poetry Association.

I found this intro to the pamphlet on a webpage no longer maintained by John Howard in which he collected the poetry printed on Handshake into the Handshake Anthology. There’s lots of great poetry to be read there by Steve Snyde, Giovanni Malito (and Italo-Canadian active in Ireland at the time), Douglas Forward, Andrew Darlington and others as well as the well-known US poet Bruce Boston:

Handshake Anthology

John Howard produced a short-lived WebZine called House of Moonlight, which also has some nice poetry by British poets you can still read online:

House of Moonlight

These poets seem impossible to find and further digging has uncovered that some of them have passed away – Giovanni Malito is regrettably among them. John W. Sexton, a prolific Irish poet whose collection The Offspring of the Moon I reviewed on this blog told me that Malito wrote especially striking Haiku, but that most of his poetry is languishing in anthologies and print journals uncollected. Here are more of his poems. I especially like the third one “signals”:

Three Poems by Giovanni Malito

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But before I get too far down the rabbit hole, let me back up. I skipped a passageway.

Steve Sneyd has been active in the British (and American) SF poetry scene for over 25 years. And is, as a matter of fact, still publishing. You can find his name all over the web, but sadly not the man himself. He is completely off the grid! No email and his website is a one page biography. And he’s not on FaceBook! What is the world coming to?!? I would really like to interview him for Amazing Stories. I may have to do it the old fashioned way and write him a letter.

As said, Steve Sneyd has been a seminal figure in science fiction poetry since time immemorial. He has published reams of poetry – his own and others. He’s written essay after essay on Science Fiction Poetry. His poetry has been nominated for several Rhysling Awards, and he’s been published numerous times in Star*Line as well as many other journals and magazines. Here is a brief Introduction to Science Fiction Poetry he wrote:

Introduction to SF Poetry

A long review of the poetry of Brian Aldiss:

Insights Sharp As Tsetse Flies – The Poetry of Brian Aldiss by Steve Sneyd

Here is the contents list of an anthology edited by Sneyd. There are 4 poems you can read if you click the links (scroll down), including one by Sneyd himself:

Dreamers on the Sea of Fate

Sneyd is also the publisher of a SnailMail FanZine dedicated to all things poetry, which I must figure out how to get my hands on, called Data Dump. You can read the contents of each issue of Data Dump as well as the address (of his small press Hilltop Press) to write to about subscribing:

Data Dump from Issue 100, plus the Data Dump Award.

Here’s another poem by Steve Sneyd:


Difficult stuff, huh? Despite his obvious importance to British science fiction poetry and SF poetry in general, I’m having a hard time warming up to his poetry. It demands a lot of the reader with its lack of punctuation and erratic line breaks. But who said poetry was easy?

* * *


Maelstrom Next I came across Malcolm E. Wright, who edited Maelstrom, a Magazine that focused on Science Fiction and included poetry. I couldn’t find much else about him on the web, but some of his poetry is available to read on the very old Maelstrom website:

Poems by Malcolm Wright

He seems to have been an active member of the Southend Poetry Group. He had a poem published in nearly every one of their yearly anthologies between 1989 and 2005. Several of his poems are published on their website:


Chiron / Sea Of Love

The Sand Witch


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I have no idea how I got to this interesting, if dated, essay about Speculative Poetry  by Stephen M. Davis. I’m not sure when he wrote this (that’s the problem with the internet, isn’t it?) probably around 2008 and many of the links he provides are defunct, but he also includes several examples, including examples of the kind of bad poetry you can find on the web, which is easily done. There’s one thing he writes which I recognize: “I have no idea what that means, but the beauty of poetry is its ability to inspire recognition, even when cognition fails us utterly.”

The State of the Art: A Look at Speculative Poetry on the Web

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And to finish with some more contemporary poetry:

In my last review of Dan Smith’s collection “The Liquid of her Skin, the Suns of Eyes” I linked to the United Haiku and Tanka Society’s first issue of Cattails. Here is a link to the Contents page. It includes poetry by poets from all over the world.

Cattails Premier Issue, January 2014

There are three poems on Kaleidotrope, a WebZine I just discovered. One each by Marge Simon, Ada Hoffmann and David Barber.

Kaleidotrope Winter 2014

Happy Rabbit-holing!!!

Next time I plan to bring you a review of Mary Jo Rabe’s collection of linked poetry Blue Sunset.


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