SETI Hits Paydirt by David C. Kopaska-Merkel. 2014, Popcorn Press, perfect-bound, 32 pp. $9.95 popcornpress.com
David C. Kopaska-Merkel is a figure that looms large in SF poetry. He is the most recent former Science Fiction Poetry Association president and he publishes the longest running genre poetry print magazine on the market (Dreams and Nightmares). He has been active as a poet since the 80’s (at least). But how many collections and chapbooks and collections has he published so far? I don’t know for sure, but I’m assuming many, if his rate of publication the last few years is any indication. Each one is a fine sampling of his work and style(s). In fact, this short collection is full of poems mostly published in various venues in the 00’s.They have a distinct flavor, which is quite different from that of his previous collection Luminous Worlds (2014). And what flavor would that be? Well, one thing that Kopaska-Merkel does supremely well, at least I enjoy it, is to take familiar tropes of SF or an aspect of science or the animal world or really anything that many people are familiar with and show us just how absurd it can be. Satire, in a word!
here, the right-hand
not only doesn’t know
what the left hand is doing,
it doesn’t know which left hand to check
– “Unfolded Worlds”
They fly, swim, crawl, bore, burrow, do it all,
Will they write verse as well, after our fall?
I’m sorry, Darlene,
the alien nano I picked up on Io
has messed me up sumthin fierce:
– “hillbilly invasion”
There are poems about stealthy alien invasion, alien colonization, trans-dimensional relationships, Amazons, gods, hillbillies and hicks, horticulture, uplifted animals, and bugs – lots of bugs.
Segmented Worm Defense League
There are fibonacci poems, a sijo (a Korean form) and haiku as well as regular free verse; SF, horror and weird poetry – everything we’d expect from Kopaska-Merkel! All have been previously published, most in journals, some on the author’s blog or web representation.
Designation and Succession among the Gods
I have long admired Kopaska-Merkel’s poetry for its wit. These are light verse, but always grounded in the scientific with a keen eye for the foibles of human nature and thus they are not superficial. These poems are funny and will delight you – if you get it. And most anybody will understand more than I tend to. So, if you are well-read and appreciate a good bit of satire and fun-poking you are very likely to enjoy this chapbook. There is very little not to like.