Dark Dreams by Christina Sng. 2006/2011, Smashwords 2011, http://smashwords.com. 22 pp. $0.99 digital
Christina Sng is a prolific writer of science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry. Her work has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and received Honorable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She is the author of several chapbooks, including The Darkside of Eden (2002) and Dark Dreams (2013). Her latest book of poetry, A Collection of Nightmares has been acquired by Raw Dog Screaming Press and is slated for late 2016. She homeschools two children and writes in her “spare” time and is working on a novel.
Sng’s third collection of poetry entitled Dark Dreams was first published in 2006. The edition I’m reviewing was created for Smashwords in eBook format in a slightly altered form with 2 new poems taking the place of 7 others, which are no longer included. All told there are 13 poems here, all previously published in various familiar genre magazines. Three poems received Honorable Mention citations in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (editor Ellen Datlow et al) three years running and a fourth was nominated for the 2006 Rhysling Award (“Medusa in LA”). All of which is to say that this brief chapbook is full of successful poems.
Despite the dark content, Sng’s poetry remains pleasant to read. Some people really enjoy feeling uncomfortable or repulsed. Not me, as you probably know, dear readers, and Sng’s poetry suits me just fine in that regard! There is a detachedness to her poetry, which allow the reader to experience the unpleasantness of the horror without being blindsided by grotesque or repulsive images or language. As the title indicates there is often a dreamlike quality of observation of the weirdness of our psyches.
There is a wry humor in many of her poems. Listen:
Audio – “Sleep Takes a Vacation”
In many poems Sng almost makes the horror seem normal !!! In the opening Poem, “The Art of Weaving”, the narrator relates how she learned to weave human skin as though it were ordinary fabric; In “Seasonal Creatures” we learn of the life cycle of a myriad of grisly creatures as though they were Mayflies or June bugs. This works for me, but for those who enjoy the titilation of being made to feel uncomfortable or the visceral feeling of disgust this might fall flat.
The way that Christina Sng looks at the horror of life or fantasy situations makes it permissible to confront them without hysteria. To look at them head on and not be afraid or ashamed. There’s something off-beat in the way she looks at things, like in “Just like Papa Said.” Listen:
Audio – “Just Like Papa Said”
Her collected poetry focusses on the dark side of her imagination. But Sng has also published much science fiction poetry in
various print and online magazines, including Grievous Angel, The Pedestal, Star*Line, Eye to the Telescope, Dreams & Nightmares, Illumen, and Tales of the Talisman. Read some which focuses on Astronomy at the website of Astronomers Without Borders. She has told me that she’s looking into starting a Webzine dedicated to Astropoetry. I’m very excited about this idea! There are very few Zines dedicated to SF Poetry (as opposed to Fantasy or Horror) and this would be a valuable edition. I’m looking forward to her future offerings and if her chronicling on Twitter of where and how often she’s placing poems is any indication it bodes well indeed! You can visit her website to find out everything, follow her on Twitter and Facebook and read an interview by genre poet Bryan Thao Worra for more in-depth info.
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Next time I’ll bring you another review – of Carolyn Clinks ever morphing collection Much Slower Than Light.