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!


Interview Project: Labyrinth Inhabitant 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 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.

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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 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.

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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.

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What scares you?

The prospect of overlooking everything of importance.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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?

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What makes a poem poetic?

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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? 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

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