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Rhyslings - the Follow-Up Post

Nomination time is now open!

For the rules, please feel free to visit here: Rhysling Rules
This place will tell you the how-to's and what-for's for this event!

To peruse the eligible WC Roberts sf/f/h and everything else poetry from last year, post interest here  - a prepped .doc with the work is ready to be sent! Sorry, the only WCR stuff there to see is work eligible for the short form nom; no longer work hit the pubs last year.

Yep, give that file a gander - and if you have stuff eligible that you wish to have considered, please feel free to email a doc with it - send it to: wc.roberts.1@gmail.com .

Thanks, and have a great New Year!

WCR

Rhysling

It is Rhysling nomination time and once again I offer up the 2011 collected poetry or WCR for anyone willing to give it a gander!  Just message here and I will email over the document.  Also, if you have any works eligible, please feel free to email it over - don't post it here, send it.

Thanks!

WCR

Update - somewhat.

It has been some time since I updated here.  So, howdy, all! Many acceptances since Tesla's Waltz a year ago, all posted on my profile.  from now I plan to (hopefully) be a little better at communication here!

WCR

Interview Project: New Myths


A fine mag edited by an accomplished writer - lets discuss New Myths with Scott Barnes! 

~*~ 

For those readers who might not have previously discovered New Myths, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique? 

New Myths (www.newmyths.com) is a quarterly online journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I publish fiction, poetry, and nonfiction related to Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also publish book reviews every third week or so. I try to balance each issue with one hard and one soft science fiction story, as well as fantasy of various stripes. I prefer stories to be character driven, being as I believe that plot and character are essentially the same thing. (Put John Wayne and Mister Bean in the same scene and what they do, and consequently the following scene, will be completely different).

 * 

How did you become a poetry editor? 

I founded New Myths on the idea that there aren't enough paying markets for Science Fiction and Fantasy writers anymore, and this is double true for poetry writers. I can't claim any particular expertise for poetry; I like what I like. If a piece moves me emotionally it has a good chance of appearing in the magazine. 

* 

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why? 

I am a short story writer myself with some level of professional success and loads of training. The best course I went through was the competitive workshop Odyssey, which accepts 16 students a year writing in the genres of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. So I am more critical than a lot of editors, and certainly more than the average reader. A poem has to evoke an emotion in me, and clichés do not do that. Poor writing does not do that. Nor do poems filled with 10-dollar words that I don't understand. Robert Frost is my favorite poet. He can move me to tears with very simple poems. 

* 

What good is a fantasy? 

I've heard it argued that all fiction is fantasy. Fiction, then, is a distillation of life. Poetry is 150 proof life. 

* 

What scares you? 

Pain. Dying before my children are grown, married, and I can be reasonable sure they will be okay. Even worse, having my children die before me. 

* 

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future? 

Very little science fiction these days is what we call "hard" science fiction, meaning that the science is an essential part of the plot. Most of it ranges from "science fantasy" like Star Wars, where the science is thrown to the wind, or "soft science fiction," where the science is vague and unimportant to the plot. It might be right, but probably it's kept vague deliberately so that the author doesn't have to do research. 

Must science fiction is not about the future, it is about now. Taking current trends and extrapolating them to their logical extreme is a common trope in Science Fiction and one which can be eye-opening. Satirizing current trends, leaders, and regimes is also useful. 

* 

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why? 

Robert Frost is far and away my favorite. He writes in simple, power verse. His poems are not pretentious. He does use a strict rhythm and meter, which I prefer over free verse. 

* 

What makes a poem poetic? 

That is a million dollar question. I think that if you could really answer that you could unlock the human spirit. It's like asking "What makes sound into music?" Only God has a real answer. 

* 

How do you feel about rhyme? 

I prefer poems with a strict rhythm and meter. 

* 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms?  What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

Upwards of ninety percent of the poems I receive these days are in free verse, so if anyone attempts to write in a strict rhythm and meter, no matter the form, it's going to impress me more than free verse. 

* 

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements? 

I think I'd rather the imagery and lyricism in my poetry, while in the short fiction I'd prefer the narrative that's easy to follow. But I've seen great writers do both, and not necessarily the "pro" writers. 

* 

Is there an evolution in genre poetry - is there a difference in the style genre is written in today vs. classic? 

I don't really feel qualified to comment on the classic genre poetry. 

* 

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush? 

I'm impressed with the quality of most of the submissions that I receive. Big errors are surprisingly rare. As a short story writer myself, this is depressing. I wish it were easy to stand out, but it is not. As editor of New Myths receiving about three submissions per day, I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of pretty good writers out there. Moving from pretty good to really good is the trick. It's probably harder to go from there than from poor to pretty good, but it's the only way to consistently sell to the pro-zines. 

* 

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language? 

I don't get much poetry from overseas. As far as fiction, each region is different. Latin American and Asian writers tend towards beautiful descriptions and images but less conflict, more mood than story. European writers tend to have well balanced stories with conflict, character, and description. Australian, American and to some extent Canadian writers tend towards more action, sparse description and two-dimensional characters. But these are gross generalizations. Each writer is an individual. 

* 

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag? 

As every editor will tell you, read it first. I prefer poems that rhyme. I'm looking for poems that give me an emotional experience, rather than necessarily telling me a story with a beginning, middle and end. 

* 

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of? 

Just because you were having a deep emotional experience when you wrote something does not mean that it is great poetry. To be a great poet you need to study great poetry and write, write, write. And revise. I see a lot of streams of consciousness. 

~*~ 

-- Scott Barnes, New Myths
Let's visit New Myths, and check out the guidelines!


Interview Project: Jabberwocky


Can anyone who loves the fantastic and poetry not have read Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky? Here we talk with the editor of a fantastic magazine inspired by it!

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Jabberwocky, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Jabberwocky's creation was inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem of the same name, found in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. We mean to present language at its most intriguing, as a non-sensical, lyrical collection of words that tell frabjous stories in poetic form.

*

 How did you become a poetry editor?

Random chance? In 2005 a couple of friends and I started an online micro-zine publishing poems inspired and informed by fairy tales. I was offered the position as co-editor of Jabberwocky because my tastes matched those of Sean Wallace's, its original creator. He was short of time and asked me if I'd care to come on board. Of course I said yes! 

*

 What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I don't really have a definable background. I've held a diverse array of jobs over the course of my lifetime, from working with horses to managing mortgages at a now defunct financial institution. In 2005 I became self-employed as an artist and bookbinder - something I now realize I should have been doing all along. I have also been an avid reader for most of my life and it is this, I think, that influences my decisions the most. I know what I like, I know what the collection demands. Beyond that, my choices are mostly intuitive. 

* 

What good is a fantasy?

A fantasy allows us to see ourselves mirrored in a safe, unreal space. It also allows us to explore possibilities, to ask "what if" and to be answered. 

* 

What scares you?

I am an immigrant, from the US to the UK. As such, my life is somewhat dictated by the rules and regulations of the UK Border Agency. What scares me is that I live at the whim of sudden and often incomprehensible rule changes, and that shortly I have to take a test to prove my knowledge of life in the UK. I don't like tests. 

* 

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

It is not SF's job to help prepare us for the future, although in many cases, it serves to warn us against it. I don't know where the science is in science fiction. I am not a scientist. If it's in there, I won't recognize it anyway. 

* 

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, because I know exactly what they are talking about. Sherman Alexie because he knows exactly what he is talking about. All three explore certain themes that have recurred in my own life. If poetry can heal, theirs has done it. 

* 

What makes a poem poetic?

Syllables. 

* 

How do you feel about rhyme?

If it's done well, I love it. Too often it is not done well. 

* 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

How the poet uses language is the first thing that grabs me. The second thing is the topic of the poem. No matter how gorgeously the words are stung together, nor how interesting are those words newly created, the poem will not pass if the topic is too banal. 

* 

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

These two elements are extremely compatible. For Jabberwocky we look first for the lyricism, but to have that without a narrative is like having icing without the cake. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but for us it's just too sweet. Narrative is the meat, the thing that keeps one going, it is what causes one to want to get to the end. In Jabberwocky there is a strong focus on lyricism, but the narrative must be there.  

* 

What do you find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

A great many of the people who submit to Jabberwocky seem to be under the impression that we are strictly a literary publication. If there is no element of the fantastic or the mythic in the submission, it is an instant rejection. We do not want a straight retelling of your day at the grocery store, or the hospital, or of how you lost your keys. 

* 

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language?

We do receive submissions from all over the world, but I never concern myself with anything except the poem until it's been accepted. The one region that does stand out in the submissions is the American midwest. These poems are usually quite gritty, and tend to draw heavily on the landscape and surprisingly, the vehicles used in that landscape. 

* 

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Read Lewis Carrol's poem, but do not try to imitate it. Also, read previous issues of Jabberwocky. This is truly the best way to get a sense of what we are looking for.  

* 

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

More myth and far fewer poetic renditions of what it's like to lose your keys. More myth and fewer personal revelations about how taking out the trash affected you. Unless, of course, you meet Orpheus by the bins.

~*~

-- Erzebet Yellowboy, Jabberwocky
Let"s visit Jabberwocky, and check out the guidelines!

 


Interview Project: The Literary Hatchet


Join me today as I talk with Stefani Koorey about a fine magazine focusing on the Thriller, Horror, and Mystery genre...

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered The Literary Hatchet, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

The Literary Hatchet began three years ago in response to an overwhelming number of submissions in the fiction/poetry genre for my original magazine The Hatchet: A Journal of Lizzie Borden & Victorian Studies. I had wanted The Hatchet to contain about 20% fiction/poetry, but the quality of the submissions was such that I decided to start another publication solely for the purpose of working with new writers and publishing their mystery/suspense/thriller/horror works.

We are an online magazine, but people can purchase a print-on-demand hard copy through our partner CreateSpace. The Literary Hatchet, in its online format, is free. We pay authors for their work as I feel it is important for writers to know that we value their work.

*

How did you become a poetry editor?

I am the editor of The Hatchet and publisher of PearTree Press. I became a poetry editor in this capacity. I am not a poet myself, but love to read poetry. I am considering hiring a full time poetry editor, mainly because the submissions have increased dramatically and I could use the assistance.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I am first and foremost a reader. I love the horror/suspense/mystery genre and devour anything Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Poe, Lovecraft. I am a huge true crime reader as well, which got me involved with the Lizzie Borden case when I was a teenager. I am also a fan of poetry: Ginsburg, Rita Dove, Langston Hughes, Anne Sexton. When I was a librarian, I was given all the poetry books to review as most of my colleagues were not poetry people!

I am not more critical of one genre over another, as I am primarily on the lookout for good writing. I am more interested in creativity and new ways of seeing than with standards and practices. I judge a work by whether it moves me, if it speaks to me. If it does, then it will speak to my readers. I trust myself to know good writing when I see it.

I have a Ph.D. in theatre history and dramatic criticism, an MS in Library Science, and MA in Theatre Arts, and MFA in Theatre Management. I love higher education and consider myself a life-long learner. There are so many books to read, so many subjects to study, and not enough time in life to do this.

*

What good is a fantasy?

I don't understand the question.

*

What scares you?

Stories about the unknown and unknowable that are so real and well written that they could happen. The end of the world, the monsters within, the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. I am scared by disasters, real and imagined.

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

Science fiction is supposed to be cutting edge. So many amazing creative ideas have come from SF that it should be required reading for an engineering degree. SF is already preparing us for the future---especially end of the world SF!

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Langston Hughes for the sheer beauty of his voice. Hughes speaks to me in so many ways. My favorite poem is "Mother to Son."

I am also a big Alan Ginsburg fan and have taught HOWL to college students. I appreciate the political nature of his work and revel in the rhythms.

I love Anne Sexton because her life was so messed up and she wrote about it honestly. Her work is sharp and true. You can chart her emotional life through her words.

I adore Emily Dickinson because her writing is excellent. She looks at the world as no one else, and sees things as they are, and not as she would wish them to be. She is profound in every way.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

Some might say rhyming makes a poem poetic, but I find I like both prose and poetry. Poetic is a level of writing. If a poem is as true as it can be, if it sings or shouts its way into my brain, my gut, my heart, it is poetic. It must capture something in some perfect way.

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

I love rhyme. Rhyme shows whimsy, even in serious works. Shakespeare's sonnets are a great example of how rhyme can be serious and beautiful. I don't require rhyming in the poems I love, but I certainly appreciate it. I grew up on Dr. Seuss and can recite many of his books by heart.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

I like it when poets make up new words, new ways to express the ordinary. I do like poems that tell a story, such as a ballad, and would consider the lyrics of Bob Dylan to be poems. I like to be surprised. It is hard to explain because my reaction is so personal. I don't compare authors or think of poets in terms of categories. I read each work afresh and am eager and open to being moved.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

The Literary Hatchet is an eclectic mix of both types of writing so I am always open to what comes my way. I rarely remark on the style, unless it does "blow my mind" and seems so unique that it is worthy of that type of criticism. The two elements may very well be compatible. It is all in the talent, voice, and vision of the writer.

*

Is there an evolution in genre poetry - is there a difference in the style genre is written in today vs. classic?

Classic poetry was about as many different things and written in as many different styles as poetry today. The urge to create something new, something that has never been said before, has always been with us. Perhaps the greatest change is that modern poets might not be as well versed in the classics, and, instead, feel that they are able to or should be able to create their own artful expressions without knowledge of what came before. I think that is a tradition that is not very well considered as most art is a reaction to the art of the recent past. One cannot create in a vacuum and having a literate mind means that you read other writers, know the history of the art form, and can grow from those influences.

*

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

I would hope that submitters craft a polite introductory email that introduces themselves and their pieces. I have seen this odd trend of writers withdrawing their submissions. They don't say way, so I am totally confused as to why. Did I take too long to reply? Have they double submitted? Have they changed their minds. I don't want cross submissions. I would hope that once a piece is submitted, the rule is until I get back to you one way or the other, I am the only possible publisher. This is a bit of a breach of protocol, in my opinion, and it makes it really hard to keep track of what I am to review for publishing and what I am not. It makes my job as a publisher and editor very complicated.

*

With accepting electronic submissions, you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language?

I have an author who was born in the Ukraine and his stories are so very different from anything I get from an American born author. I love the change of subject matter, the change of perspective, the way in which he looks at the world based on his personal past.

*

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Be polite in your query letter. Don't withdraw your submission without an explanation. Be patient, as you don't know the problems on the other end that could make the approval process extended beyond what you might expect.

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I am getting a nice range of material to The Literary Hatchet, but I guess I would have to say that I would like to see more mysteries and horror short stories.

I am not at all adverse to controversial themes in works: religion, politics, social issues. I don't see enough of this, actually. I want every author to know that you cannot offend me. So don't worry about being judged this way. My only restriction is erotica. I do not wish to publish material that is meant to arouse in a sexual way. But arousing in a fear-inducing way is perfectly fine by me!

~*~

-- Stefani Koorey, The Literary Hatchet

 Want to explore - but beware the falling hatchet!  If you live, check out the guidelines...


Interview Project: The Fifth Di...


Today we talk with J. Allen Erwine, editor and author regarding The Fith Di... and The Martian Wave.

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered The Fifth Di..., can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

The Fifth Di...
is an on-line zine that has been publishing science fiction and fantasy fiction and poetry for almost 13 years now. The Martian Wave had been an on-line zine for almost as long, but is now an annual print zine specializing in science fiction that centers around the colonization of space.

*

How did you become a poetry editor?

On accident. I sold my first short story to James Baker of ProMart Publishing. When he sent the acceptance letter, I told him if he needed anything, just to let me know. My thought was that he would want me to review the galleys or something, but instead he asked me to come aboard as an editor...and poetry was a part of that. When he passed away, Sam's Dot Publishing took over what he was doing, and I went along for the ride.

*
 

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?  

--- 

What good is a fantasy? 

Fantasy gives us an escape from reality. It can also be used to draw attention to problems in the real world by using an alternative setting. 

What scares you?  

 Our current political situation scares me more than anything, but as far as horror and such, I don't actually read it. 

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future? 

 Science has to be a major part of any science fiction, and although SF can be escapist, a truly good SF story or poem will draw attention to a potential problem that the human race is facing, or could face in the future. Quality SF can pave the road, or at least show us where the bumps are, as we head into the future. 

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why? 

 I've always tended to go for the more classic poets...Shakespeare, Poe, Frost, etc. 

What makes a poem poetic? 

 The language. 

How do you feel about rhyme?  

 I may be one of the few to admit this, but I actually prefer rhyming poetry. I know it's viewed as being out of fashion these days, but I've always tended to be one to buck the trends. 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?  

 I actually don't like a lot of experimental verse. I tend to like more "classic" structures. 

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?  

 If I can have both, then that's what I would want, but if I could only have one, then I would want the narrative. I'm more fiction oriented than a lot of "poetry" editors, so story tends to work best for me. 

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines? What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag? 

I get a lot of horror submissions, and we don't publish horror. But I also see a lot of poets who are trying too hard. It can be so obvious when someone is trying to force their verse, and not letting their language flow. 

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of? 

 I would like to see more SF, especially "mundane" SF. I really wish people would stop sending horror...
 

*

-- J. Allen Erwine, The Fifth Di..., The Martian Wave


Interview Project: Other Poetry Magazine

For this week you can find not just one interview, or even two -- today we have for you three interviews posted as a holiday treat! Our third interview takes us across the pond the the UK to speak with Rod Burns of Other Poetry Magazine! 

~*~ 

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Other Poetry Magazine, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique? 

Other Poetry strives to present excellent poems, articles and collection reviews without reference to fashion. Quality and originality is all. 

* 

How did you become a poetry editor? 

Spending time on the dole in 1999, I heard about the magazine and volunteered as an unpaid dogsbody. Things went from there. 

* 

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?  

I have a PhD in English and MA in Creative Writing. Between us, the editors (currently five) of Other Poetry have published around 15 collections of poetry. The great thing about OP's philosophy is that it allows - indeed, demands - the production of an eclectic magazine which is not bound by fashion, discipline, style or subject matter. About the only admitted prejudice of the magazine is Japanese short-form poetry - the genre in which I write myself! 

* 

There is a strong growth in the speculative fiction genre in poetry - when does the surreal imagery leave mainstream and enter this area? Do you feel it helps, or hinders a poem when it is genre? 

No - it neither helps nor hinders. We have published lengthy speculative poems, poems with an occult theme, religious verse and everything in between. 

* 

Do you find humor done right a difficult thing in poetry? What are some of the issues you've noticed working with this genre, and what would you suggest to those poets who just miss regarding this in their work? 

Yes, but when done well it enriches the magazine and the soul. I'd say it is far harder to accomplish than po-faced, self-regarding 'serious' work, however, and consequently real specimens are much more rare than you'd imagine. 

* 

What good is a fantasy?  

If it drives a lively poem which deploys fresh and original language and ideas, a great deal of good. If it supports limp, unoriginal conceptions and flat language, no use at all. 

* 

What scares you?  

Being in a job I detest which wears me out so I cannot write. Fleas. 

* 

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why? 

Philip Larkin, Issa, Doreen King, George Swede - acuity, original use of sparing language, aspiration and humour. 

* 

What makes a poem poetic? 

Quality - density or lightness of language used with fresh application, thought and verve. 

* 

How do you feel about rhyme?  

As with humorous poetry, metrical and rhymed verse can be exceptionally good, but is also difficult to do well. A friend of mine spent 15 years writing his first collection of sonnets, amassing more than 200 polished poems in the process. He included 48 in the book. 

* 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?  

Tanka, sedoka, free verse, prose poetry. Quality and freshness of language and vision catches our collective eye, regardless of form. 

* 

Which would you rather see in your slush: a narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?  

They are necessarily compatible. In fact, even in the slightest forms such as haiku, poems need to be both lyrical and mobile. 

* 

Is there an evolution in poetry - is there a difference in the style poetry is written in today vs classic?  

No. Just excellence and dross across the ages. No two people will ever agree about what constitutes these categories. 

* 

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?  

Flat language, obvious statement, not paying attention to the submission rubric. 

* 

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language? 

Yes. Different countries clearly do produce different flavours of work, but there are probably greater commonalities in good work (though not bad) than there are significant differences. 

* 

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag? 

Please read what we say on the submissions page. Send 4-5 poems, pasted into the body of an e-mail. We try to reply within 6-8 weeks but please don't sit by your machine with a stopwatch. All the editors are volunteers with day jobs and families. We do our best! 

* 

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of? 

Attachments! Please, please do not sent work in Microsoft Word or any other attached file. It will come back with a note asking for the poems to be pasted into a single e-mail, and the irritable lizard inside each editor - while of course fostering noble impulses towards objectivity - is likely to remember your address. 

-- Rod Burns, Other Poetry Magazine 

~*~

 For some great poetry please visit Other Poetry, and check out the guidelines while visiting!


For this week you can find not just one interview, or even two -- today we have for you three interviews posted as a holiday treat! Our second interview introduces us to Matthew Carey and his uniquely themed magazine, Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine!

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

As the masthead mentions, Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine is the web's first magazine devoted to stories about life in giant artificial structures created by forces beyond human comprehension. It is also, incredibly, the only such magazine.

*

How did you become a poetry editor? 

When I started the site, it wasn’t obvious whether I should accept poetry submissions, but because I was imposing such limiting restrictions in terms of genre it seemed ungracious to be a chauvinist about literary form. I have a very narrative-based outlook, so for me, the difference between fiction and poetry was the difference between organized, consolidated narrative and inchoate, fragmentary narrative. In other words, reading poetry submissions as well as fiction submissions means being more scrupulous in the search for meaning, examining every shred of literature that can be sent my way. Accepting poetry definitely proved to be the right decision, though, as many of the site’s most memorable works have been poetry.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I was an English major, and I took it quite seriously. For many years I was a person of deep faith in difficult poetry, as well as in any obscure, complex literature generally. I use the word “faith” because I had a fairly dogmatic belief that with any work of literature, no matter how well one knew it, it was possible to go deeper into it and extract ever deeper meaning, and that this meaning was transcendentally important. I don’t recall exactly where I got that idea. Nowadays I tend to look at some of the same tropes I admired and see a reflection not of soundless artistic meaning, but only genre convention, social convention, politeness, nostalgia, pandering, decorativeness, even obfuscation—concepts that I once hardly would have believed a true “artist” capable of entertaining. But I still have a strain of fanaticism in me, so the kinds of poems I favor most are the kinds that, if you ran them up a flagpole, would make me want to salute.

*

What good is a fantasy?

I once read a critique of The Divine Comedy that said the various spirits Dante meets are more fully themselves in the afterlife than they ever got a chance to be in life. I think fantasy provides readers with a similar opportunity—not so much to escape from themselves or to experience being someone else, but to encounter themselves in a setting without the restraints that the real world puts on them. Or, possibly, with a different set of restraints.

If that’s true, then fantasy presents readers with a vision of how their relationship with the world could be different, an avenue for possible growth. But I’m sure that not all fantasies are good for you. The ones that are easiest and most appealing are probably the ones that make us lazier, more complacent, and even meaner. If fantasists want to accept that point of view and get a big head, believing they hold their readers’ moral futures in their hands, then they get to enjoy that private fantasy of their own importance as well. Everybody wins.

*

What scares you?

The prospect of overlooking everything of importance.

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

One doesn’t have to know any science to write science fiction. Obviously it helps, but you can also get by with just genre conventions. So the short answer is, there may not be any science. I think science fiction can help us prepare for the future in the completely conventional, unsurprising way of portraying possible futures and postulating what they’d be like. 1984 was a good example. I think science fiction might have also played a role in convincing people to forgo the excitement of nuclear war.

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

T.S. Eliot is probably my all-time favorite, from back in my vision-quest days. Milton, because I have a long-standing fantasy about what the perfect movie adaptation of Paradise Lost would look like (a bit like Dragon Ball Z, actually, though strangely I didn’t enjoy Matrix Revolutions). I don’t read any contemporary poets for pleasure. With the technology available right now for making art, I think poetry is the optimum medium for only a small and narrowing range of artistic expression. (I know this is a horrible thing to say! I’m sorry, WC!)

*

What makes a poem poetic?

After what I just said about poetry, I probably have no right to answer this question! But for me “poetic” simply means the words are chosen for their form or sound to create some effect in addition to their meaning. Prose can be poetic, but it rarely is for very long. That’s a dry way of putting it, I know. Again, English major.

*

 How do you feel about rhyme?

 I like it! I like wit, and it’s so much easier to sound witty when you’re rhyming. Of course sometimes in a slush pile rhyme is the sign of the absolute neophyte who doesn’t even know it’s not cool to rhyme. But that guy’s submission wouldn’t have gotten accepted anyway.

*

 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

Epic poetry is probably my favorite, but it’s not necessary to go to that much trouble. Probably the most common way submissions have grabbed my attention is for the author to dive into very specific imagery and come up with something surprising.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

Well, anything that blows my mind is better than anything that’s easy to follow. But as I said, I lean toward narrative.

*

What do you find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines? What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Too many submissions are simplistic and threadbare. Occasionally I get plots that trudge straight from point A to point B with no surprises or suspense. Poems that refer to a lot of concepts in only broad terms are usually in trouble. Poems that use a lot of words for emotions are usually in big trouble. My advice is pretty typical: be spontaneous, don’t hurt yourself, have fun.

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

More: Goats. Herds of goats.

Less: Rotating-blade booby traps.

-- Matthew Carey, Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine

~*~

Swing by, but plan to be aMAZED at Labyrinth Inhabitant Mag. While there, see the guidelines and try your hand at a really unique theme!

Interview Project: Dreams & Nightmares


For this week you can find not just one interview, or even two -- today we will see three interviews posted as a holiday treat! Our first introduces us to the incomparable David C. Kopaska-Merkel and his long-running, excellent magazine of speculative poetry, Dreams & Nightmares!

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Dreams & Nightmares, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Every editor makes personal choices about what to include and what to exclude. I'm not sure I could say explicitly what my criteria are. I try to be eclectic within the fields of fantasy and science fiction, but I have to admit that I tend towards free verse and poems that are rather dark.

*

How did you become a poetry editor?

When I started writing poetry in the early 1980s I didn't know anything about the field. I couldn't find very many magazines that published science fiction and fantasy poetry. So, I started my own. As the years went by I discovered that there had been several magazines publishing when I started that were completely unknown to me until later. Nevertheless, it's true that when the first issue of Dreams and Nightmares came out in January 1986, there weren't a whole lot of other venues.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

My background, with regard to poetry, is that I am self-taught. I never took an English class in college, for instance. This means I don't know a whole lot about many forms and genres. Also, by training and profession I am a scientist. I have a preference for science fiction and science poetry because it plays to my interests. I'm very critical of rhyming poetry that falls off its meter or forces the rhyme. For me, this ruins an otherwise excellent put poem. This is one of the main reasons I don't publish very many rhyming poems. I love rhyming and metered poetry when it's done well

*

What good is a fantasy?

What a question! It's a commonplace to hear people say that fantasy has no rules. Of course this is complete nonsense. It's just that the rules of a fantasy universe can be, and usually are, demonstrably impossible in the real world. But within the story internal consistency is required. Real motivations and behaviors are expected. A fantasy story can do everything any other story can do in explaining or relating tales of humanity. It just does it in a setting that, for some of us, is particularly entertaining or fascinating.

*

What scares you?

Another question I don't particularly like. I don't read or publish what I consider horror, so I'm not sure the question is relevant to the magazine I publish. I guess one thing that scares me is senseless violence; this is true evil. When a person, or a character, kills or tortures others for motivations that don't seem sufficient or appropriate for that kind of behavior, it emphasizes the idea that "it could happen to anyone." I don't like this.

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

The science in science fiction ranges from near-future applications of real technology that we have already in existence to something so distant it is practically unimaginable. As far as practical applications go, stories that explore what we could do with our present technology or with only slightly enhanced technology can show us outcomes that most of us would prefer to avoid. The stories can warn us against certain courses of action that might have consequences we had never thought about. I'm not sure this really happens very often, but, I feel certain that near-future science fiction has caused some people to think twice about actions that can be consequential in the world.

Stories set farther in the future can place ideas in people's minds. They can suggest desirable technologies or sociological constructs or scientific or social projects that could be beneficial.  I do believe that popular fiction can emplace ideas that bear fruit in people's future goal-seeking behavior.

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I hardly feel competent to answer. I am not widely read in mainstream poetry. I like William Ashbless, who is really Tim Powers. I like Roger Zelazny, Wendy Rathbone. But the world's most famous poets? They're good, and I've read a little of their work, but I'm not familiar enough with it to say this one is one of my favorites, and that one isn't.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

Like science fiction, poetry is what I am looking at when I say this is poetry.

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

I already touched on this. I do like rhyme when it is done well, but I have high standards for form and content.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

If a poem has rhyme and meter, what catches my eye is whether it follows the rules. Does it flow smoothly and melodiously? Meaning is secondary, though it is important. For free verse, or for traditional short Japanese forms (for instance) I want a poem to say something and do it euphoniously. As with fiction, if the first line is good, I am encouraged.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

I guess for me the narrative is less important. But I really need to see both elements. I will sometimes by a poem that sounds beautiful and means nothing. But that's a hard sell.

*

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines? What advice would you give to those submitting to Dreams & Nightmares?

Some people don't follow the guidelines. Some people have obviously never seen the magazine and don't even know that I publish fantasy and science fiction work, and not mainstream work. These failures are annoying.

I guess my advice would be: keep trying. I might not follow that advice myself, but it is still good advice. I have a couple of submitters who, at least for a number of years, sent me something approximately once a week. I might have bought one poem in 50, or even fewer, but I did buy some. And that may not make good financial sense for paper submissions, but it's not a problem with e-mail submissions.

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Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I would like to see less poetry that is not really genre poetry at all. Of course, the authors of such things probably don't read this blog, but maybe some of them do. I really can't think of anything else. I have been getting a good mix of different sorts of poems lately.

-- David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Dreams & Nightmares

 ~*~

Give David an D&N a look-see, and please give his guidelines a read!


Interview Project: Neon

To start December we talk with the editor of Neon, a fine British magazine that publishes spec poetry in addition to contemporary experimental

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For those readers who might not have previously discovered Neon, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Neon publishes weird contemporary fiction and poetry, experimental stuff, speculative stuff. What makes it unique, I suppose, would be its particular aesthetic, which I always struggle to describe in words.

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How did you become a poetry editor?

I have been since the magazine started. Initially I wanted Neon to be more focused on prose, but over time the stunning quality of the poetry submitted won me over, and I now publish far more poetry than fiction.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

The poetry I read for my own enjoyment has always been immensely varied, including both literary and genre poems. Until recently I never really made a distinction between different classes or genres, and even now I find it somewhat ridiculous to hear someone say that they never read science fiction, or only read fantasy. As such I'm willing to look at absolutely anything for the magazine, and I'd like to think that I consider everything fairly.

*

What good is a fantasy?

I don't know. It's not something I've thought very much about. Superficially I could say that fantasy serves as a kind of escape from reality.

*

What scares you?

Spiders. And terrorists. More the former than the latter.

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Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

Right at the centre of it. I think that, as far as preparing for the future goes, SF serves a unique purpose, by exploring the more human side of the new technology and changing culture.

 *

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

 There are many, many poets whose work I admire and yet oddly enough I cannot think of a single one.

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What makes a poem poetic?

I think it is the intensity and complexity of the language that sets poetry apart from prose. Ideally if you remove the line breaks from a poem and set it out in paragraphs it should still "feel" like a poem.

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How do you feel about rhyme?

I'm not a great fan. Rhyme often seems terribly forced and flippant, and I feel that when it is not done with great skill it can sap a poem of much of its power.

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What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

Above everything else, I'm won over by a sense that the writer is confident in their work and comfortable in their style. I want to feel that this is their voice, not one that they are adopting because they believe that it is fashionable.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

For me, the imagery and lyricism would be more important. Although I enjoy reading poems with strong, clear narratives, the language and tone of the work is far more important for me as far as the magazine is concerned. If a piece has both (and many do) then so much the better.

 *

Is there an evolution in genre poetry - is there a difference in the style genre is written in today vs classic?

I think the prevalent styles of different genres naturally vary over time. Exactly how they have varied though I couldn't say.

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What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

The most common mistake people make is to send their work as an attachment. It's stated in the submission guidelines that submissions should be in the body of the email, so when I receive an attachment it makes me think that it's unlikely the writer has read the guidelines. By extension, if they haven't read the guidelines it is hard to believe that they will have read the magazine, and thus they put themselves at a great disadvantage.

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With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is a universal language?

There are definitely variations in the kind of submissions received from different countries. Painful as this is to say, American submissions are generally better than British ones: more adventurous, more honest, less trivial and domestic.

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What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

I think the best advice I can offer is to read the magazine before submitting. It's free, after all.

 *

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I'd love to see more experimental forms, more innovation both formally and in terms of subject matter. At the same time, fewer generic submissions and less spam email would be wonderful.

-- Krishan Coupland, Neon

~*~

 Please hop on over and check out Neon, and once there give the guidelines a checking-out!


Interview Project: Poe Little Thing


Here we are - a couple of days later than usual, my apologies! - with the 8th of our interviews with editors of magazine that publish awesome spec-fic poetry.  Today we are talking with Donna Burgess, editor of Poe Little Thing!

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered POE LITTLE THING, can you tell us a little about it? What makes POE LITTLE THING unique?

The previous incarnation of POE LITTLE THING was simply a thin digest containing ten excellent poems and a cool cover image. It sold for about $1.25. But with the increased interest in e-publications, I have taken POE to a higher level, with flash fiction as well as poetry. It will be a more substantial, perfect-bound, themed anthology, available for all e-readers as well as print. The upcoming issue's theme is IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM, which is essentially space-horror.

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How did you become a poetry editor?

I've been doing this small press thing for a long time, plus I've always enjoyed reading and writing poetry. I guess it was bound to happen.

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What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I'm an English major, but frankly, that has little affect on my decisions on acceptance or rejection. I prefer free verse, rather than metered work. I'm not a big fan of rhyming poetry -- it comes off as a bit cheesy most times. I like a speculative element rather than high fantasy or hard science fiction.

*

What good is a fantasy?

Everyone loves a story of the common man or woman thrust into strange situations. Like Sookie from the True Blood novels, or the kids from the Narnia books. Characters need to be easy to identify with. 

*

What scares you? Is fear and the scare difficult to imbue into horror without falling back on tropish gore or creature horror? What makes the good horror poem stand out? Do you have pointers for those who come close, but miss the mark in their work?

Almost anything can scare me, if I think about it enough. I don't think gore or creature horror is necessary for a good scare (although I love a gruesome zombie kill-fest). Subtle horror is much more effective, really -- capturing everyday thinks and twisting them just enough to create some discomfort. No real pointers for those who miss the mark, except keep reading, keep writing and keep submitting.

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Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

Good science fiction is almost like a crystal ball, isn't it? Think about William Gibson's work, or all the way back to Jules Verne.  

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Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I love Anne Sexton and T.S. Eliot, but I also enjoy the poets I have accepted for my publications. I thrive on reading new work.  

*

What makes a poem poetic?

Wonderful, uncommon combination of words and interesting subject matter.

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

If it is well-done, it is beautiful. Anything less can be painful to read.

 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

I'm wide open, from haiku to epics. I hate clichés, so originality always catches my eye.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

It depends -- you really don't want anything that loses the reader because it is so confused. I think both elements can be used, if carefully written.

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Is there an evolution in genre poetry - is there a difference in the style genre is written in today vs. classic? 

Obviously, the subject matter is different -- what scares people has become more complicated, I think. But really, the style remains the same.

*

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

Everyone follows the guidelines pretty closely. I'm not a stickler -- if I can read it or access the file, I'll take a look.

*

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language?

Good poetry, or writing in general, is universal. With technology, the world is a much smaller (and unfortunately less diverse) place. Often it is difficult to determine where the author or poet is from just from reading the poem.

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What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Edit it and send it, but be patient -- my response times are slow. Be sure to submit during open reading periods.

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Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

For the Naked Snake Press novels, I'd love to see more steampunk and near-future work with a "scary" element. Less sloppily-edited submissions. Lots of typos/grammar issues is a sure rejection. For POE, just check the theme and reading periods.

 

-- Donna Burgess, Poe Little Thing

~*~


For more on Poe Little Thing, watch their listing on Duotrope!

Interview Project: Tales of the Talisman


For our interview this weekend, we are talking with David Lee Sommers of the fine magazine, Tales of the Talisman.

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Tales of the Talisman, can you tell us a little about it)? What makes Tales of the Talisman unique?

Tales of the Talisman is a quarterly magazine of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  We feature an assortment of new and established writers.  What I believe makes us unique is that we really explore the gamut of speculative fiction from fun and lighthearted to more serious and literary.  Another thing that makes us unique is that we feature quite a bit of poetry.  Typically we buy at least one poem for every short story.  The poetry is not merely filler.  We look for poems that compliment the themes that run through each issue.

I should note that it’s something of a mistake for poets to try to “target” specific themes that they think might be in a given issue. What I find exciting is that I can often match poems and stories from different writers who are unaware that they’re tapping into common themes. When writing for the magazine, write poems that interest you and submit them. I’ll worry about how the themes compliment what’s already in a given issue.


*

How did you become a poetry editor?

Back when Tales of the Talisman was first founded in 1995 under the name Hadrosaur Tales, a number of the writers I knew happened to be poets.  They were doing interesting work and some of it had a distinctly SF/F character.  I had also recently discovered the poetry of Ray Bradbury.  It seemed there were things that could be explored in poetry that couldn't be done in fiction, so I decided to accept poetry to the magazine.  I've been learning more and more about poetry ever since then.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

My degree is in physics, but I've been writing short stories as long as I can remember.  However, I felt intimidated by poetry for a long time.  The only poetry I really liked was by Edgar Allan Poe.  I didn't really become a fan of poetry until I heard Ray Bradbury read some of his poems when I was in high school.  There was a tremendous power when he spoke that I hadn't seen when I looked at words on a page.  Even then, I still felt intimidated by the idea of actually writing poetry.  I tinkered with poetry here and there, but I didn't really write seriously until I decided to accept poetry for Hadrosaur Tales.  Basically, I realized if I was going to accept poetry for the magazine, I ought to understand it better and I should get to a point where my poetry is picked up by comparable magazines.  After a few years of practice, I placed some poetry in places such as Star*Line and The Santa Clara Review.  I've won awards in local poetry contests and was recently nominated for the Rhysling Award given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  Basically I'm a self-taught poet who has graded himself through his sales and awards.

I don't really have a favorite poetic form.  I think it's important that a poet not force their poem into a form.  I've read too many poems where the rhyme scheme smacks you in the face and actually detracts from the poem.  However, I'm really impressed when I read a poem and then suddenly realize after the fact that it was a rhyming poem or followed a particular meter.

Because of Tales of the Talisman's broad focus, I look for poetry that works in all of the speculative genres.  One thing that's interesting is while I tend to see more fantasy short stories than other types of stories, I actually tend to see fewer fantasy poems than horror or science fiction poems.  One trap that some people fall into -- and I've fallen into this as well -- is that there is a fine line between science fiction poetry and science poetry.  Science poetry might simply be about a new discovery in astronomy, physics or biology.  To cross the line to science fiction poetry, it must speculate about how humans will change in response to new or possible future science.

Because I am trained as a scientist and because I tend to see more of it than other genres, I'm probably somewhat more critical of science fiction poetry than poetry from others genres.

*

What good is a fantasy?

Fantasy is an essential escape.  It lets us see that there is a world beyond our world.  At the very least, fantasy helps us grasp the enormity of time and space.  We can image worlds and places very different from our own.  Fantasy lets us give name and voice to those hard-to-grasp spirits and forces that exist all around us.  Sometimes such forces are called magic and the spirits are called fae or elves.  However, fantasy has essentially no limits and the fantasy poet has a lot of room to create new mythologies or worlds.  What good is a fantasy?  Fantasy helps us humans understand those things that science has not yet explained or may never be able to explain.

*


What scares you?

In addition to editing Tales of the Talisman and writing, I work at an observatory.  One night, while walking along a road with a dim flashlight, I saw what I thought was a big, slow-moving animal.  It was one of the scariest things I'd ever encountered.  I'd heard that there were mountain lions prowling about the area and thought this could be one, or something worse.  It turned out the thing was a fairly small branch, but covered by lots of leaves.  It looked like a big animal because of my expectations and the way the light hit it and the way the wind moved the leaves.  My point here is that the very best horror is about atmosphere and the way an author builds up your expectations.  Dracula scared me when I first read it, not because it made me believe in vampires, but because it made me conscious of the small noises in the dark and made me question what they could be.  Do that, and you've written an effective horror poem in my book!

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

To me, what distinguishes science fiction from fantasy is that science fiction looks at things that could happen given certain changes to technology or our understanding of science.  Fantasy imagines that forces outside our science or easy understanding are at work.  Science Fiction helps us prepare for the future in a couple of ways.  Sometimes it cautions us, telling us what could happen if we're not careful.  Sometimes it gives us hope for the future and tells us what we can look forward to if things are done well. 

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I've already mentioned Ray Bradbury.  I don't think anyone weaves words together like he does.  He brings together a passion and a power to the way everyday people encounter the future or the fantastic that few other poets have captured.

Edgar Allan Poe is fantastic.  He uses language very effectively and creates the atmosphere and expectation I was talking about in horror poetry.

Christina Sng is a contemporary poet who captures both the wonder of things that might come to pass through exploration and also creates genuinely atmospheric horror poetry.  When reading her work, you feel as though you are viewing wonders or horrors through her eyes.

Gary Every is perhaps one of the best contemporary fantasy poets I know.  He draws from a wide range of mythological sources including Native American and European lore and imagines people in the modern world interacting with the spirits of those worlds.

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What makes a poem poetic?

I think a good poem has a sense of rhythm that somehow compliments the subject matter. The piece as a whole should engage the reader emotionally just as a good song will. On one hand, poetry allows you to shift gears without being constrained to musical notes or styling. However, poetry also has to do its work entirely with words. You don’t necessarily have a musical instrument to help you carry the emotions.

 *

 How do you feel about rhyme?

I don’t feel rhyme is a requirement for good poetry. In fact, if rhyme is too obvious or forced, it can be a detriment. However, if rhyme is used well, it can compliment a good poem. Going back to the idea of rhythm, some poems really benefit from the lyricism of rhyme. Other poems can find a rhythm that doesn’t require rhyme. Do what works for the poem at hand.  

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What are some of your favorite poetic forms?  What catches your eye when you read a submission? 

I enjoy sonnets, villanelles, haiku and even limericks, but I don’t really give a lot of thought to those forms when I buy. For me, a poem has to create some emotional response on the first reading. If it fails that test, I don’t look at it again. If a poem creates an emotional response on the first reading, I’ll go back and read it again. If there is some deeper sense of craftsmanship -- such as form used effectively or a second layer of meaning I didn’t catch the first time -- there’s a good chance I’ll give the poem strong consideration for purchase. That said, if the form does not enhance the poem, then it could be a distraction. 

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Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

In an ideal world, I’d love to see a poem that accomplished both jobs. That said, I would probably gravitate toward the SpecFic narrative that’s easy to follow because it’s the kind of poem that’s most likely to work for me on one reading. Still, if a poem’s imagery and/or lyricism really blows my mind on the first reading, it doesn’t need the easy-to-follow narrative. So, I don’t really see this as an either/or question when I’m selecting poems -- but I probably do have a slight personal leaning toward the narrative. 

*

 What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush? What advice would you give to those submitting to Tales of the Talisman?

I don’t have a lot of problems with poetry submissions as a rule beyond the occasional person who just can’t follow guidelines. I give people basically three options for submitting stories and poetry to the magazine: In the text of an email, attached to an email as a rich text format document (which can be generated from essentially every word processing program with a “save as”), or via snail mail. Since formatting is so important to poetry, I would tend to recommend that poets submit their poems as a rich text attachment or via mail. Formatting does have a tendency to get lost in the body of emails.

This is not specified in my guidelines, but when a submission is made as a rich text attachment, I prefer that all of the poems be collected into a single document. It’s easier for me to click one attachment and read the file, than to click on several, separate attachments.

Basically my best advice is, follow the guidelines and be courteous and to the point in your correspondence. A short biographical statement of who you are in your cover letter is nice to see. A lengthy discourse on your poetic philosophy should be saved for your blog. I don’t want or need it in your cover letter. 

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I would really like to see more fantasy poetry. I see a lot of science fiction and horror poetry -- please keep it coming -- but I don’t see as many people trying their hands at fantasy. I’d love to see more poets who are inspired by mythology -- especially non-European mythology. There’s a whole world of possibility out there, I’d love to see more of it explored poetically.

-- David Lee Sommers, Tales of the Talisman

 ~*~

Please stop by Hadrosaur Productions to check out Tales of the Talisman!   And while there, see the submission guidelines for open reading periods.

 


Strange Horizons


"Tesla's Waltz" accepted by Strange Horizons.

The Big Pulp, MLM, Apex


"Nether Air Ambush" accepted by Big Pulp
"New Kind of War" Accepted by Midwest Literary Magazine (and immediately reprint in their HC anthology.)
"Still Life for Gustave Moreau" Accepted by Midwest Literary Magazine (and immediately reprint in their HC anthology.)
"Cancelled Flight" accepted by Apex Magazine for their December issue.

For this Saturday, let's head to Australia, and talk with the poetry editor at ASIM

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine is the most regular and, in terms of issues, longest-lived of any Australian SF/F magazine. It's anonymous slushing technique, assuring that submissions are assessed without regard to their author's name, the way in which there is a three-stage reading and the rapid response time make it unusual in the field, as does it's collective, rotating editorship.


*

How did you become a poetry editor?

I chose to become poetry editor because I felt best-qualified for the job.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

Apart from teaching poetry for 25 years, I'm also a published poet and a critic. I have an academic background in poetry, along with many other things. This provides me with a depth of knowledge by which to assess the poetry contributions to ASIM, and a view from several directions. It has made me more sensitive to epagogic poetic forms, but I'll still choose those if they're good enough. It also makes me aware of the many, many forms of poetry and what works and what doesn't in formal poetry. I'm fairly strict with formal poetry; if the rules are broken, they should be broken for a good reason, and people should be aware of what scansion and rhyme actually constitute before they attempt them. I'm also aware of what's been done before, and endless repetitions of the same tropes will not find favor. Nor will endless variations an a currently fashionable theme; once it was dragons, then elves, now it's vampires and zombies. Humorous poetry had better actually be funny, rather than pathetic.

*

What good is a fantasy?

If this is meant how it reads, fantasy is a way of exploring ideas and people, as is science fiction. If it's meant to be 'what is a good fantasy?' then I see a 'good' fantasy as one which is original and has some depth, not endlessly repeating the same ideas.

*

What scares you?

Very little, these days. Most horror is not very scary, because it doesn't get to the root fears of people. It seems to be just an endless round of monsters and gore, without pointing out that the worst monsters live right inside us, as do the worst fears. If you write something and it genuinely scares you - *genuinely* scares you - it will probably scare me. Possibly the only thing that really scares me now is the idea of making a decision of consequence, without knowing how to do it. Having to choose between who would live and who would die - Sophie's Choice - would scare me.

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

It's the first word of the term that describes a field of literary endeavor. SF has a fairly poor record of preparing us for the future, because the future is fairly difficult to predict. According to SF, we should be flitting around the solar system, if not the stars by now, but we're not. SF didn't predict on-line games addiction; well, maybe Phillip K Dick did, or many other things that have happened, while it predicted a lot of things that have not happened or happened quite differently.

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

God, that's an incredibly tough question. My tastes in poetry range from Chaucer to the next one I read. Shakespeare, for one, Byron, Browning, Chesterton, Eliot, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Corso, Strindberg, Dante, Lorca; the list goes on. Why? Because they write poetry that tickles something inside me, while being sufficiently technically proficient to avoid jarring.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

Nobody knows. The only real difference is that the poet controls the line-length.

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

It's not essential to a poem, but if done, it should be done well. There is nothing that grates on the inner ear more than poor rhyme.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

I don't really have a favorite form. What catches my eye is whether the poem is actually saying something. Technique can always be fixed, if it's not so bad that the whole thing needs to be done again, but the poem must say something genuine, in a way that's not trite or hackneyed.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

I'd prefer to see both. They're not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are utterly compatible, as many writers have proved.

*

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

They haven't done background reading in the field, either in poetry or fiction. There's a long history of both, and publishable works have to be original in some way, not just rebadged.

*
 

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is a universal language?

If I get another zombie/vampire poem I'm going to be very, very unkind to it. Because all poems are slushed without their origin known, I don't really identify regional variations, but there is an overweening trend to follow fashion. The tendency for thumping fantasy poetry about princes and battles and such is one that could diminish without harm to the field.

*

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Read more, of everything. Think more before you write.

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I'd love to see more works that show some intelligence and consideration along with mature feeling, and less rants and attempts at technical effects that don't work. Oh; I just remembered, villanelles scare me, because they're bloody difficult to do well and too many people try to write them.

 

-- Ian Nichols, ASIM

http://tinduck.wordpress.com/

~*~

Please head on over to ASIM to see an awesome magazine, and while there, please check out the submission guidelines!

Interview Project: Polu Texni

In this weeks interview Ms. Dawn Albright tells us about Polu Texni.

~*~



For those readers who might not have previously discovered
Polu Texni, can you tell us a little about it? What makes Polu Texni unique?

Polu Texni is Greek for many arts or many crafts. (Sort of. OK, it's bad Greek.) It's a magazine about speculative fiction and art, and the community around them. I'm mostly interested in things that cross different media and genre.

*

How did you become a poetry editor?

The crass answer is that I can afford twenty bucks, and twenty bucks is competitive pay for a poem so I get good submissions. A lot of other things that I'd love to work with are out of my price range. This has skewed Polu Texni strongly toward poetry.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I am a geek girl through and through -- a statistician in my day job, SF fan, con go-er, bringing up a second generation of gamers and geeks. As such, my brain is very concrete. I like strong visual images and a narrative sense. I'm very sensitive to over writing. Lots of poetry strikes me as being "just words" and I can hardly stand to read it.

*

What good is a fantasy?

There are a lot of answers to this one, but in short I've just never been interested in mainstream literature, no matter how good. I figure I live in the real world, so I don't need to read about it. I'm not saying I'm only interested in escape -- good fantasy lights up reality -- but if it comes too close to what I see in the cubicle farms and my suburban neighbors, that book is going to get tossed hard.

*

What scares you?

I think one of the most frightening things is realizing that the world is not what you thought it was. Think about when you were small and afraid that there was a monster going to get you -- was the fear of any actual physical harm or just in knowing that monsters were real?

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

Actually, some of my favorite SF that I've published (Michael Burstein's Collapse) hit other editor's "not SF" button. I thought it was pure SF in that it was fiction where science (and the life of scientists) was a crucial element, even though there wasn't a scrap of fantasy or the future in it. So while I do like to emphasize science I'm not sure I would emphasize preparing for the future at all.

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Is it a cop out to say the ones I have published? It's true.. I get to pick just what I want.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

I am probably the least qualified editor in your group to answer that question.

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

It usually doesn't work for me because it draws too much attention to itself, but I try not to be prejudiced.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

I love a poem that can tell a full story in brief forms. It's amazing how even ten lines can give a full story with a complete plot and characterization.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

Narrative, for sure. I like visual imagery but a lot of people go very badly wrong when they try for lyricism.

*

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?

Honestly, as a small press who has not had much visibility in the places where wannabe writers hang out, I would say that nearly all of the submissions I get are decent. I hear from serious poets who are paying attention. I get stuff I don't like, but I don't get submissions that I think are bad. Some people miss the speculative element that I'm looking for and send me mainstream poetry, but not much of that.

*

With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is a universal language?

I don't get a huge amount of them, so can't really tell.

*

What advice would you give to those submitting to Polu Texni?

Some of them? Write more, submit less. Don't send dozens of entries of varying quality, send the ones you really like. It's great to write every day, but not every day is going to give you a terrific poem.

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

I'm pretty happy with the poetry I get. I'm struggling to get non-fiction that I'm interested in. I'm working my way through a backlog of fiction so can't use any of that.

 

-- Dawn Albright, Polu Texni


~*~

Please head on over and peruse the fine work at Polu Texni!  And here are the guidelines, should you like to send in poetry for her to consider.

Interview Project: Scifaikuest

This week we talk with Teri Santitoro, editor of the fantastic spec poetry magazine, Scifaikuest.

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Scifaikuest can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Scifaikuest is a MINIMALIST genre poetry magazine. It is published both online and in print, and both versions differ in their content. It is published four times a year. Scifaikuest is unique in that it not only accepts scifaiku and its related poetic forms, but it also is devoted strictly to sf, fantasy and horror themed poetry.

*

 How did you become a poetry editor?

I became the coeditor of Scifaikuest after years of learning how to write scifaiku (and related forms) on the Scifaiku List online, and after coediting Random Planets for Sam's Dot Publishing. When my coeditor, L.A. Story left Scifaikuest, I became the sole editor.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I have loved science fiction since I was a kid. TV shows, books, movies, comics, anime--I love them all. This love of sf has led me to a certain preference toward sf and horror poetry rather than fantasy, so I'd have to say I'm more critical of fantasy poetry. A fantasy poem has to really grab me in order for me to want to accept it for publication.

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What good is a fantasy?

 IMO a good fantasy has to be believable. Otherwise it's just a fairy tale.

*

What scares you?

Intense suspense.

*

 Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

Don't even get me started! Great science fiction is colored by possibilities and imagination based on actual scientific fact and/or theories. So many of the dreams of past sf writers have come to fruition by scientists who read their stories and were determined to make those dreams into realities.

 *

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Most of my favorite poets are contributors to Scifaikuest! People like Loyd Daub, Charles Reed, Scott Nicolay, Tom Brinck, John Dunphy, Joanne Morcom, Stephen M. Wilson and Lauren McBride, all of whom write immediate, poignant and/or sentimental poetry in a few perfect words.

*

 What makes a poem poetic?

 To me a poem is poetic when it is colorful, concise and immediate, when it evokes strong emotion, and when it flows.

 *

 How do you feel about rhyme?

It depends on the poem. I can like rhyme very much, but it's not really an acceptable form in haiku/scifaiku, so it doesn't apply to the kind of poetry that I like to write, read or edit.

 *

 What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

My favorite poetic forms are scifaiku, sijo, cinquain, tanka and haibun. What catches my eye when I'm reading a submission? Unique subject matter, concise expression and a great "ah-ha" moment.

*

 Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

Wow, that's a hard question. I like easy-to-follow-imagery-that-blows-my-mind. LOL! I think these two elements can be very compatible, if the writer/poet is talented and imaginative.

 *

 What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush? What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Like most editors, I hate it when the submitter doesn't follow the guidelines. One of my pet peeves is the poet who doesn't sign his/her work. Especially if they want to use a pen name. My biggest word of advice is to SIGN YOUR WORK! Also, take a look at an issue of Scifaikuest and find out just what kind of poetry we publish. If you've never written anything in the scifaiku and related forms--try to learn how to do so correctly. Scifaiku is NOT just 5-7-5 syllable count!

 *

 Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

 I'd certainly like to see less 5-7-5 sentences! That is NOT was scifaiku is all about! I'd like to see more great "ah-ha" moments that embody the true haiku spirit.

Thanks so much for allowing me to participate!

 -- Teri Santitoro, Scifaikuest

 ~*~

For a great collection of short-form poetry, please stop by Scifaikuest!  And if you have a batch of neat speculative fiction haiku, tanka, fib, or other short poetry, please visit the Scifaikuest guidelines.


Interview Project: Abyss & Apex


In the third of our on-going series of interviews with editors of magazines that publish speculative fiction poetry, we are talking with Trent Walters, Senior Poetry Editor of Abyss & Apex.

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Abyss & Apex, can you tell us a little about it? What makes A&A unique?

What makes any magazine unique--if it is unique--is the editor's tastes. Since I own my own tastes--intrinsic to my being in part--it would be hard for me to step out of the frame I live in and be completely objective. However, I do know (or delude myself into thinking I know) a few things about my tastes.

In speculative poetry, I am as interested in the speculation as the poetry. Perhaps I emphasize the poem as a stand-alone aesthetic piece more than most poetry editors. I desire poems that surprise, function on a number of levels, and hit the head, heart and/or gut. But even that's not true as I have selected poems that simply captured a spooky moment or conceptually challenged what was thought to be poetry.

When I read SF poetry magazines--if my tastes differ--it's usually because the speculative conceit alone was not enough to carry the poem. And really, if the speculative idea were simple enough to convey in a poem, someone has probably already done it. If it hasn't been done before, it will soon be forgotten as soon as someone with a better sense of aesthetics tackles the conceit. So the poet may as well have focused on the aesthetics, anyway.

Finally, my selection process may be unique (or possibly different) in that I want poems you can read over and over again. Each poem I accept usually has language I can appreciate, novel conceits or treatments or perspectives, and something to think about after the poem is over. Also, I don't select poems based on poets. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or not. But I focus on the poems, not the poets. Poems are pooled semi-anonymously into a pile that I read over and over, both nitpicking and seeking ways to read the poems more deeply. Sometimes selected poets are cellophane new, sometimes old hands; sometimes literary, sometimes speculative. I like being surprised at who gets selected. I dislike rejecting poems by friends (or really anyone because I realize they are artists just trying to make their way).

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How did you become a poetry editor?

My first editing job was with Mythic Circle (which included poetry and fiction). I also did an editing stint with Tony Tost and Zach Schomburg at the short-lived "Smokestack Lightning" poetry zine. As for Abyss and Apex, I seem to recall that I'd just had my first chapbook of poems published by Morpo Press, and Jude-Marie (Kelly) Green and/or Wendy Thies asked me if I'd like to read poetry for A&A. I said, "You bet."

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

My background includes science and literature and education. I've always been interested in all of them. If this background affects any decisions, it's that I may be critical of weak or mistaken scientific aspects or of poor aesthetic execution, but as a teacher I have to believe that people can improve themselves and their work. So I don't take flaws too seriously. Someone may revise a poem into something I might want. It happens.

 

One subgenre I've never been crazy about is S&S--at least when the language gets too bombastic. But it can be done well. Also, I try to see past any biases I may have, so I may sit on poems for awhile in the hopes that I might gain objectivity. 

I should note that I do like horror, but the magazine on the whole does not choose to publish it (except maybe for an October issue). You can try on 

*

What good is a fantasy?

I interpret this question as asking if there were inherent value in a thing being a fantasy. As has been pointed out before, all fiction is fantasy--even biography which is impossible to know with certainty that the events happened in just the way stated. If one accepts one untrue event, then other untrue events (at least as a category) beg, "Why not accept me as well?" The reason we accept the untrue is for the sake of artifice.

If the question distinguishes realism from fantasy, with reality being superior, then why not move the fiction further into nonfiction, which is more realistic still? I don't generally buy superficial limitations on what makes good fiction.

If the question asks for the opposite--what makes fantasy better than other fiction?--I'm not sure I believe it is superior. It's just something I learned to love while reading L. Frank Baum as a kid: Dorothy plucking lunch pails off a tree still flips my brain. Perhaps the exercise of believing "six impossible things before breakfast" is pointless. But perhaps it gets us outside of being trapped inside a prescribed set of thinking. It's too easy for anyone to think they've got it all figured out.

*

What scares you?

I don't think I've ever analyzed my fears and frights. (See the above comment on A&A's policy on horror.) 

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

SF seems to be, largely, less about the science than the philosophical impact of science and technology on society. I have no intention of being prescriptive, but if society desires to advance science and technology, it would do well to spotlight engaging and close looks at the sciences and their impact. We can't expect new generations of scientists and technological progress if we don't lay the groundwork.

That said, I'm not going to vote for publishing something that forwards the cause of science unless it has a good aesthetic, a keen poetic sensibility. 

 *

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Albert Goldbarth and Heather McHugh for their playfulness. Emily Dickinson's strange mystery. Wallace Stevens' use of image, symbol and language. Karl Shapiro when he bites. Speculatively, David Lunde for his emotional core and Bruce Boston's more ambitious work.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

Whole books have been written on this. Many introductory books on poetry are available. Succinctly, I look for imagery, language, line, sense, speculation, and compression. Poems that make me turn my eyes from the page and into my head stand a good chance. I like to chew on the words.

 *

How do you feel about rhyme?

The problem with rhyme is that it can have an unfortunate chime. Rhyme should occur as a surprise at an unexpected or silent time, seasoned with a spicy dash of chili lime. We should ask: "Wait. Was that a rhyme?" We shouldn't think: "Here comes another clunky chunk of uninspired rhyme."

Rhyme should also be accompanied by meter. Regularly repeated rhyme without a meter is like watching someone play himself in a game of pong, without the net. Often the poet wastes words in padding or falls away from the poem's power by trying to make the next line rhyme. With meter, the poet plays tennis with the net up. Form should challenge. The poet has to pay attention not only to the sound and content but also do so within a preset confines. 

One could do worse than read Philip Larkin.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?  

I don't know that I have favorite forms. See "poem poetic" response above for the answer to the second question.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

This isn't the kind of question I ask myself. I read poems with two different aims in mind. 1) On the first pass, I look for good language imagery, emotions, and arc (or at least the feeling of completeness). It can be narrative or not. 2) On rereading, I'm looking for something that will stay with me, keeping me invested in and investigating the poem.

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What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following guidelines that recurs in the slush? What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

Most often wrong for our magazine are a reliance on abstractions (not imagery) and a single-mindedness (focus solely on speculation or rhyme or easy "poetic" words, etc.).  

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

What I find strange in 98% of speculative poems is the reliance on punctuation and other obvious places to end lines. Why don't more poets try to surprise?

-- Trent Walters, Abyss & Apex.

~*~
 

For excellent poetry and fiction, please don't hesitate to visit Abyss & Apex!  Also, check out their guidelines for submission windows and other cool stuff!
 

 


Interview Project: Stone Telling


Today we have the second of our on-going series of interviews with editors of magazines that publish speculative fiction poetry.   We are talking with Rose Lemberg, editor of Stone Telling, a new speculative poetry magazine that has made a recent and exciting debute.

~*~

For those readers who might not have previously discovered Stone Telling, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?

Stone Telling is a new magazine of literary speculative poetry. From the guidelines:

"Stone Telling is looking for literary speculative poems with a strong emotional core. We focus on fantasy, science fiction, surrealism, and slipstream, but would consider outstanding science poetry and non-speculative poetry that fits the flavor of the magazine. While we are open to all speculative poetry, we are especially interested in seeing work that is multi-cultural and boundary-crossing, work that deals with othering and Others, work that considers race, gender, sexuality, identity, and disability issues in nontrivial and evocative ways."

In addition to poetry, we also offer non-fiction columns covering speculative poetry around the world, as well as reviews and interviews.

I am not aware of any other publication in the field that is purposefully doing what we are doing.

*

How did you become a poetry editor?

I talked to some of my favorite speculative poets, who felt frustrated that their most intriguing, daring, thought-provoking poetry did not sell. And I wanted to see more diversity in the field of speculative poetry. So I thought I'd put my skills to good use and start my own market.

*

What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?

I was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated twice, settling in the USA in 2001. Like many Russian speakers, I was exposed to the classics of Russian poetry before I could walk - or talk. I fell in love with epic poetry at the tender age of five, when my parents introduced me to the Iliad in an excellent translation by а 19-century Russian poet N.I.Gnedich. Later, I studied a fair number of ancient, medieval and modern languages. I started to teach myself Old Norse in high school in order to read the Poetic Edda, and Old Norse remains one of my favorite languages. I hold a Ph.D in a field related to these interests, and currently teach at a large research university in the Midwest.

How does all this affect my editorial process? My life experiences are very rich, and my reading multilingual and extensive - as a result, I know what works for me and why; and I am very picky. In my slush I am looking for feeling, ideas, imagery; and of course, I am looking for multi-cultural and boundary-crossing work. While I am open to pretty much everything, some things will be a hard sell: very short or very long poems, poetry that feels too familiar and too European-centric, rhymed poetry, non-speculative work focusing on the mundane. There are exceptions to every rule. In Issue 1, Emily Jiang's "Self-Portrait" is perfect at just 13 lines. Samantha Henderson's "The Gabriel Hound" explores the folklore of the British Isles, and has some rhymed sequences. I will consider everything I receive.

*

What good is a fantasy?

Fantasy is crucial to the neurotypical cognitive development in humans. Engagement in pretend play (also known as imagination play) is fundamental for developing language and social skills. This is why, in every culture and society, you will find creativity that involves the fantastic. To ask "what good is fantasy" is akin to asking "what good is human cognition?"

*

What scares you?

Death.

*

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?

There may be as many definitions of SF as there are SF writers. As I understand it, science fiction asks the "what if" question. The "what if" doesn't have to be scientific - it can examine changes in society, human creativity, ecology. I do not believe that SF's mission is to prepare us for the future. Good science fiction is a thought experiment that opens our eyes to something we have never before considered about ourselves and the world.

*

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I answered this question extensively in my Outer Alliance interview .http://blog.outeralliance.org/archives/583

But to briefly recap, if I had to name three, these would be Egill Skallagrímsson, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Ted Hughes. I cannot imagine my life without these poets.

*

What makes a poem poetic?

I am not sure I understand this question. 

*

How do you feel about rhyme?

I feel enthusiastic about rhyme in the Russian poetry of the Golden and Silver ages; just as I have tender feelings for alliteration - in Old Norse poetry. I'd rather not see rhymed poetry in my mailbox, because I usually feel that the poet spent a great deal of effort searching for rhymes when s/he should have paid more attention to crucial elements that would actually make me want to buy the poem. While I'd rather not receive rhymed poetry, I will consider anything.

*

What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?

What catches my eye is not the poetic form; I am looking for imagery and power.

I do enjoy experimental poems, prose poems and visual poems, and definitely do not receive enough of these, maybe because they are very hard to get right.

That said, I am not looking for flash fiction; please do not send me your oft-rejected flash in hopes that I might accept it as a prose poem. If you are in doubt about this form, check out Lehman's Great American Prose Poems and Stuart Friebert and David Young's Models of the Universe: An anthology of the Prose Poem.

*

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?

As a rule, I am not looking for narratives that are easy to follow. In general, "easy" is not an adjective that I feel should be applicable to Stone Telling poems. I want my readers to be able go back and reread a poem several times, and find something new in it every time; this is how I choose poetry for ST. I am most emphatically not looking for storylines everybody saw a hundred times already. Strong imagery is always a big plus for me.

 *

What do find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush? What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?

I guess I see mistakes what every other editor sees - people not following the guidelines, for example sending me more than three poems at a time. People respond to a rejection with a fresh submission - it's definitely not a mistake to send me more of your work, in fact I often ask for it; but please send the new batch in a separate email. It makes my record keeping easier and results in a faster response.

Please make your introductory emails brief. Credits can be nice, but I am not swayed by them; I want to read your poetry, not your credits. If your introductory email is longer than 100 words, I will skip it to get to your poems. But please do write something - a poem without at least a "Dear Editor, please consider" is somewhat annoying. If you never sold a poem before, that's fine.

I think the worst thing that a poet can do is to take rejection personally. I like much of what I see in my slush, but can only buy a very small percentage of it. I have a very strong vision, and even if I love a certain poem, I will not necessarily buy it. Rejections are not personal.

*

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?

More diversity. Less mermaids.

 
-- Rose Lemberg, Stone Telling.


~*~
Head over to Stone Telling for some really fine poetry, and if you feel that you would like to try your hand at some verse that would fit, see the full guidelines!

Interview Project: Star*Line

Welcome to the first of an on-going series of interviews with editors of poetry magazines that specialize in speculative fiction poetry, and with magazines who are open to genre work.  Today we are talking with Marge Simon, editor of the SFPA's journal of speculative poetry, Star*Line.

~*~


For those readers who might not have previously discovered
Star*Line, can you tell us a little about it?  What makes your publication unique?

Star*Line isn't "my" magazine.   Yes, I pick the poems and get the articles and artists, deal with what comes up and so on, but it’s a production of volunteers in an association poets in the sf/f/h & speculative genres. (Note: The term, speculative may apply to all those genres.)

What makes it unique? We have a plethora of all types of poems, varying in length. Covers by professional artists, interior art (when possible). Articles on speculative poetry and specific genre poetry areas. We have convention reports, reviews, member news, etc. We promote poetry with our annual Rhysling Awards for sf/h/f & speculative poetry in a gorgeous perfect bound collection, free to members. And the Dwarf Stars collection which members may vote on, for poetry ten lines or less - winners reported in Star*Line.

 *

 How did you become a poetry editor?

I decided I could write good poetry. My mom loves my poems. And then, when a spot came open in a zine my boyfriend started, I said I would be the poetry editor. He was a happy camper. 

Seriously? Whenever there was a need for a poetry editor, I knew I could do the job. So I got the job. Even if it meant sleeping with the editor-in-chief. 

No, that's not true either. I'm not sure. It's a compulsion. When I see a mountain, I must climb. I've also been an art editor, as well as a fiction editor. Currently, my husband, Bruce Boston, and I again going to be guest editing the 2010 December fiction issue of The Pedestal Magazine.

*

What's your background?

MA in Fine Arts, minored in English Lit. But the courses didn't include SO many great poets and writers who have influenced the next generations, like C. Ashton Smith, Kerouac, Bukowski, more. But there were Hemingway and Steinbeck. There were sf writers like Sturgeon, Asimov, Bradbury, Henderson, Bester and Huxley to find on my own. Writers, like artists, provide a wealth of inspirations for poems.

In high school I was introduced to Stephen Crane, poet & author. Remember "The Red Badge of Courage"? Have you read his short poems?

A Man Said to the Universe 

A man said to the universe,
"Sir, I exist."
However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
a sense of obligation." 

So if you wrote a poem with an idea something like this, I doubt it will be as good. Period. If you wrote a story or book with that theme, that’s another matter entirely, for many have done just that, in one way or another. 

* 

Has your background affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types?  

I hope not. I am ever a willing student. I've educated myself about references that I wasn't sure of along the way. Sometimes a poem brings such a wealth of learning about something I wasn't aware of in myth or history or science, that I'm the richer for it. Of course, it has to be a good poem to instigate my curiosity. 

* 

Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why? 

Not particularly. 

* 

What good is a fantasy?  

A fantasy is good for what it's for. It depends - not on your age, but your bailiwick. I don't know what this question is asking.  

We all have fantasies. They do serve a purpose. Ask any psychologist. 

What is a good fantasy poem? You didn't ask that one. An ezine that features excellent fantasy poems is Goblin Fruit. (www.goblinfruit.net)

* 

What scares you?  

The Tea Party movement? Sara Palin? Glen Beck? Hurricanes? Heights? Mobs?  

* 

Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future? 

That's an old topic -- SF has been doing this for decades. Rhysling poetry winners like Bruce Boston, Robert Frazier, W. Gregory Stewart, Ann K. Schwader, Geoffrey Landis, Joe Haldeman, and others have been predicting or outlining future scenarios since the early issues of Star*Line, decades ago. 

* 

Who are some of your favorite poets, and why? 

Wendy Rathbone, Ann K. Schwader, Charlee Jacob, G. Sutton Breiding, Bruce Boston, Robert Borski, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Chris Conlon, to name a few. You will note that I don't mention Lovecraft. But I do love the way that Schwader has used his influence in her works. And Poe, he's a done deal on chilling stories and poems. BTW, who says a poem can't be a story and vice versa? 

Favorites vary widely, according to where my head is at for the moment. Why do I love these poets? They give me ideas and great pleasure. Reading their works fills my day with visions. You know what I'm saying? 

* 

What makes a poem poetic? 

I can give you one that isn't poetic: 

I have a roach that is cute so I gave it a rocket ship and it went
to the moon and then it came
back and told me that I needed to clean up mankind.
I got a big gun and I so then I ...(etc.) 

No line flow, no interior rhythm, nothing unique. You don't necessarily have to stick to rules, but give me some quality thought and texture. But sometimes the poem may have been well written and yet it doesn't spark that "Wow!" sense, for me. 

* 

How do you feel about rhyme?  

Meh. Rhyme is very expensive. Meaning, if you can write original rhyme, you may hook me in. For example, Mikal Trimm writes excellent verse. But forced rhyme or archaic rhyme, forget it. 

Here's an extract from the end of former Rhysling nominee Trimm's dark poem, "The Clockmaker's Wife" --but to fully appreciate it, you should read it in entirety: 

She cleaned the tools, avoiding strife,
Sworn to be the Clockmaker’s Wife. 

He works the leather, reticent flesh
That, dried and tanned, embossed and inlaid
Upon the framework he has begun,
Becomes the benchmark of his trade. 

She hunts the victims, wields the knife;
Born to be the Clockmaker’s Wife. 

* 

What are some of your favorite poetic forms?  

Free verse preferred. Narratives, prose poems. I'm not keen on experimental forms  

where         the    words
look                                        like
          t
           h
             i 
              s          and wiggle about. Just a personal thing, I guess. Of course, ee cummings did it. And t. winter-damon did it too, in his own style; his work is tops. He died two years ago. He is sadly missed. 

* 

What catches your eye when you read a submission?  

Sometimes I skim and focus on the last stanza. That should "bring it all home", make it resonate. I am so used to reading poetry, having edited many publications (for prose or poetry) over the years, that I read fairly rapidly. If it's a short poem, I can kind of breathe it in. That is, if it works.  

What catches my eye also is the format. If you have a poem that looks clunky, with one or two very long lines, and some very short two word lines, that is another red flag. Sometimes it simply lost the original formatting, though. If I like the poem, I'll question the poet about format. 

* 

Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?  

I'll take the latter over the former. To ask "how compatible" they are doesn't make sense to me. And what does "easy to follow" mean? Just wondering what you are asking. I rarely accept long poems. If I do, they must have imagery and style, which is a matter of personal taste. 

* 

What do you find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines? 

I don’t want to see preachy poems. Don’t mention Jesus or God. The gods are fine and any religious items from history but non-denominational, about history or a future history. I don’t like poems that are didactic, unless they are obviously meant to amuse. 

* 

What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?  

Star*Line isn't a "mag". I call it the digest of the SF Poetry Association. Call it what you may, but please, it's beyond "the land of the magazines" as Bierce explains poetry in The Devil's Dictionary. 

Advice?  

Okay. Don't submit religious poetry. Avoid using profanity. If you have to say the F word, better be absolutely necessary. I'm not a prude, but that's a rule for S*L as long as I'm editor.  

Please don't think that I've not ever debated how small we are in the eyes of the universe. When I see a poem that starts out, "Did you ever look at the night sky and realize how small we are" ---red buzzer. Refer to Stephen Crane’s poem previously cited.  

Ah, and using archaic language doesn't work for me.

"I spied you in a leafy bow'r

and o'r you spun a silvery wind.
When first I touched your ivory hand,
a fairy wand made it a sin.” 

That's by me. I don't know from whence it came. Actually, that could work. If it was to be a humorous, facetious poem. 

* 

Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of? 

I'd like to see more publications with intelligent poetry editors, paying good money for good poems. 

I'd like to see no more of this "your poem has made the first round, we'll be back in 2-3 months to let you know if it made round two." Ridiculous!! It's a poem, it's not a bill in the House of Representatives! 

But oh, you mean me? As editor of Star*Line, I'm very happy with what I've been getting for consideration. But I wish every poet would put their name and address with the poem(s) submitted.

I got a submission recently with only an email name like "hotbuns@sum.net" and when I asked them to please include their real name with their submission, they responded with "Everyone knows you can get that if you’re using “sum.net”. ????? I thought that was (1.) rude and (2.) stupid
 

Sometimes (rarely) I get a nasty response to a rejection. This also happened recently. I told the poet that his work was good, but not quite what I was looking for. Then I gave him email addresses of several other magazines that I felt his poems would be welcome. Instead of thanking me, he replied, "It's editors like you that make poets like me want to jump out of windows." 

I appreciate a brief, polite message with the poems. Include your email and snail mail address. We are now asking if you have PayPal, but it’s not required. You don't have to tell me how many degrees you have or how long you've lived in the Andes. Or that you have a bad knee and are out of work, love photography and have three grandchildren or one out of wedlock. 

I'm most sorry for those who don't have computer access. Everyone can avail themselves at their local library in this nation. I don't know what is holding them back from getting assistance, if they don't want to learn, or can't afford a computer, unless they are in prison or have serious health conditions. But it's their choice. I always make exceptions for those without internet access and read their poems outside of my usual reading periods. 

-- Marge Simon, Star*Line.

~*~

Check out the Science Fiction Poetry Association's website for news and current guidelines for Star*Line.
 


"No Child of Daedalus" accepted for an upcoming issue of Ideomancer.
"Symbiote" accepted and now live at Everyday Weirdness, for 10/8/2010.

And the announcement --

I sent out interview questionnaires to everyone's favorite spec poetry editors.  Check back here for their responses - the first will be up and running by this weekend!

Back!


Well, sure seems it's been a while since I last posted!  So, here's a catch-up on a few acceptances...

"Life Gone On" accepted for the first issue of Basement Stories.
"Shards" accepted for the Jan/Feb Star*Line.
"Point of Injection" accepted for Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine.
"Starchild(ren)" accepted for the December issue of The Fifth Di...
"Rebirth Pangs" accepted for the 2011 issue of The Martian Wave.
"Captive Audience" accepted for the November 2010 Scifaikuest, online edition.
"Clipped Wings" accepted for the February 2011 Scifaikuest, online edition.
"Prince Consort (PC) 2.0" accepted for the February 2011 Scifaikuest, print edition.
"Beyond the Fringe", "Echoes Within a Knot-wood Cistern", and "Seeker" accepted for the next issue of Liquid Imagination.

"Raft of Gore" accepted for Shock Totem.


Everyday Weirdness


"Starstruck" accepted at Everyday Weirdness for June 21, 2010.

Big Pulp


"In Our Cups" accepted for inclusion in The Big Pulp.

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