Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Liminality and Undoing Winter

Last week was a weird week. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I had enough material and reviews/articles half written that I could post on Amazing Stories every week for a little while. I was all set to finish up my review of Liminality: A Magazine of Speculative Poetry on Tuesday but not without a computer! A sequence of problems locked me out of my computer and I couldn't access my article text or the poetry recordings, so Steve Davidson (the editor of Amazing) graciously said I could submit it when it was finished and he'd put it up whenever. Whenever came on Friday. Unfortunately, I was at a wedding in Germany (where I don't have a data plan and didn't have wifi) Friday afternoon when the article was published. I didn't get home until Saturday evening. At which point I thought I'd just combine that review with the next one.

Here's a snippet from my review of Liminality:

I’ve reviewed a single issue of a magazine (and thus, by default the magazine itself – Mythic Delirium). This time I’m reviewing an entire issue of a brand new online magazine. Liminality – A Magazine of Speculative Poetry, edited by Rhysling-winning poet Shira Lipkin and Dwarf Stars Award-winning poet Mat Joiner, just published it’s inaugural issue in September. It is, as advertised, a magazine, which focuses on Speculative Poetry. Each quarter poems “that touch the heart as much as the head; poems of the liminal, the fluid, and the fantastic.” (From the About Us page of the site) By “liminal” they mean poetry that isn’t easily categorized, that “shifts shape”, changes or is transformative, and which embraces diversity. They want to hear from new writers, but publish established poets as well. I welcome another magazine on genre poetry. We find ourselves in an era where poetry can blossom from every crevice and be showcased quite successfully.

I take a look at the lovely cover art. And I've recorded 4 poems for your listening pleasure!

This week, I've reviewed a little chapbook, Undoing Winter, Shannon Connor Winward. There are only 11 poems in this little book, but they are so worth it. Go read the review, please. There are also 3 complete poems in audio. Here's a snippet:


This chapbook is probably the least speculative of all so far (although you might remember that John W. Sexton’s The Offspring of the Moon and Sandra Kasturi’s Come Late to the Love of Birds aren’t really genre). I believe it is worth including here simply because it is of such high quality and Shannon’s body of work tends toward the Speculative. Several of the poems of a more speculative nature have been previously published in the magazine Pedestal MagazineIdeomancer and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, so who am I to deny it a space here?
Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Interview Part 2 and Reviews in print

Today the 2nd part of my interview with Elizabeth Barrette came out on Amazing Stories: "Interview with Elizabeth Barrette Part 2" . Here's a snippet from the beginning:

Thank you for joining me as we continue our conversation with Elizabeth Barrette, Poet and Wordsmith. If you missed part one, you can find it here.
Today, Elizabeth tells us more about her activities in Crowdfunding her poetry, the poets who have been influential in her own writing, recommendations for further poetry reading and the usefulness of publishing your poetry on clay tablets.
Sound intriguing? Go read the rest of it! Thank you.

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In other news, I've officially begun my reviewing career with the SFPA's journal Star*Line. In it, I review a collection horror poetry by the poetry editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press, Stephanie Wytovich. It will be printed in truncated form in the print magazine, but you can read it in full on the SFPA website: Mourning Jewelry, by Stephanie Wytovich. You'll have to scroll down, the posts are in alphabetical order by title.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Narrations and Interviews

It's an eventful day, y'all!

I just found out that my second professional narration is up on Audible! For those who don't know, Audible.com is the major provider of audio books.

Size Matters is an Erotic Fantasy set in Chris Lester's Urban Fantasy world Metamor City written by Nobilis Reed. I've listened to a lot of the Metamor City podcast and it's a fascinating listen. I've done several narrations for Nobilis Reed. He's a good and patient employer. So it was a yes-yes opportunity. Nobilis didn't tell me until after he'd finished production on it that he was submitting it to Audible. I couldn't be more thrilled. This means that I have a bit of an in as I set myself up as an Audiobook Exchange Narrator. The audiobook costs $6.95 or £4.99 (on Audible.co.uk). 

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The next big thing for today is that my most recent article on Amazing Stories has come out. I interviewed Elizabeth Barrette and it will appear in 2 parts. Today in Part 1 you'll hear 2 full poems plus Elizabeth and I talk about her myriad writing activities, her inspiration and process as a poet. She has some advice for new poets on attitude, publishing and submitting as well. Enjoy! 


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Amazing Stories - Poetry Review - Wolf Skin by Mary McMyne

I have a new review up on Amazing Stories - a wonderful chapbook by Mary McMyne: Wolf Skin. I really enjoyed this little volume, I hope it comes through in the review (which comes complete with 3 poems read, in their entirety by moi). Here's a snippet:

I don’t know how long it’s been going on, but a lot of Alternate Fairy Tales come into my To-Read-and-Review Inbox. (I know I said that about Horror Poetry too, but it’s true, these are the two main sub-genres I receive, and sadly, little actual Science Fiction Poetry.) Like most people, I’m familiar with most Fairy Tales in a basic way, but unlike many people in the writing biz I didn’t grow up with an intimate love of them borne of the possession of some beloved volume. Additionally, I believe I basically grew up knowing merely the Disney Versions! Oh, the horror! The poor deprived soul! (I can just hear you now!) I know. But as an adult I have indeed remedied that by reading much of the Brothers’ Grimm (in German) as well as others, albeit less systematically, and have perhaps delighted more in the alternate versions by modern writers as a result. Would I like these twisted fairy tales at all if I had a beloved “original” version that I’d known from childhood? And no, Disney doesn’t count, because while I love those movies, it is not at all a stretch for me to realize that they are almost unrecognizable when compared to the originals. I’m much less forgiving when it comes to adaptations of books and stories.
My re-education, as it were, stems mostly from poetry not novels, although I’ve read a few novel-length retellings – most notably Beauty, by Sherri Tepper and Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen. But I love the succinctness, the brevity of what it takes to subvert a well-known fairy tale in a poem. I love what a capable poet can do to give a character added depth, more back-story, which totally changes your emotional attachment or simply to re-invent the tale altogether, spinning it onward from the traditional ending or telling it from an alternate point of view, in such a narrow space. Mary McMyne is one of these capable poets.
Mary McMyne begins and ends Wolf Skin not with alternate fairy tales, but with poems about those ethereal winged creatures: Butterflies (and moths). They are not fairy tale creatures in the least, but I think she uses them in a way which mimics our feelings toward the characters found in fairy tales. Fluttery, flying creatures serve the same purpose, meaning that they’ve become Fairy Tale Creature allegories for some innate desire – mostly of Flying.
 Please head over to Amazing Stories to read the rest and to listen to the poetry! Enjoy!

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In other news, I'm slowly whittling away at all the narrating gigs I signed up for. Finally finished that paid gig and am told that it's being submitted to Audible! That would be quite awesome if I can claim to be an Audible narrator. I've been toying with the idea of signing up to be one of the narrators on Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) and now I think I must. But I really have to fix my set-up first! The room I record in is really too loud (traffic) and boomy for truly professional recordings.

I'm also making head-way on the next Poetry Planet (Animals 6 Creatures). I hope I'll be able to get it up before the end of the year - Ha! No really, the SFPA has just announced the winners of the Dwarf Stars Awards and the Elgin Awards, so I really should do a podcast on those. Or maybe I'll just write a post for Amazing Stories and record some poetry for it. Ah we'll see. So many plans, so little time!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WorldCon72 - LonCon3

So, a week after the fact, I'm still basking in the glow that was the World Science Fiction Convention in London. Thanks to my long-suffering husband, whose idea it was I go by myself without my family in tow. While I would have loved to spend the time with them, I think Magnus would've been bored and the boy too. There were some things for kids to do, but not quite as young as he is (almost 5), and the bulk of activities were clearly for adults.

Sofanauts!!!
I had ambitions and the desire to attend a million panels on various subjects and with my favorite people in the the field of Science Fiction. I had checked a minimum of 2 events that interested me for each hour of the con! Some hours as many as 8 events (panels, concerts, plays, kaffeeklatsches, etc.) were of interest. In a way, this is great. It meant that the organizers were in fact organized. There were many, many interesting topics (YA literature, Gender politics/issues, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) and many people involved who I respect and admire and wanted to hear speak and discuss live (rather than just reading their books, blogs, status updates and tweets). On the other hand, it was impossible to choose. And when it came down to it, I chose to hang with my fellow Sofanauts and to participate in small group discussions via Kaffeeklatsches and Literary Beers.

I didn't arrive until late afternoon Thursday, so I went straight to registration, which thankfully didn't take long. I then rushed to get a private rehearsal for the Retro Hugo Ceremony, which would be that evening. Then I rushed off to find Amy H. Sturgis' hotel room (very nearby). Amy is the creator of "Looking Back at Genre History", which runs monthly on StarShipSofa. I love her talks and her bubbly personality, not to mention that the topic is just fascinating (Go listen!)!! Anyhoo, so she's much more petite than I imagined her! But just as warm and delightful as in cyber space. She let me change into my (ok, I'm going to say it) my CosPlay outfit. Ha! I put on a sort of old-fashioned floor length chiffon dress, and did my hair and make-up 40's style. But it was more effort than a lot of others put in. teehee! We went over to ExCel and met Tony C. Smith (do I need to tell you? He's the host of StarShipSofa) and Steve Bickle (a long-time Listener-Sofanaut) and went in to the reception for the nominees. It was lovely. I introduced myself to Mary Robinette Kowal (who was one of the hosts of the ceremony) and gawked at Connie Willis. And had this picture taken:

 When we went into the auditorium for the Awards none other than Connie Willis sat next to me! And she was delightful! She has been around and involved in SF fandom for a long time and she let loose with little pithy remarks through-out. I sat next to probably the two most knowledgeable people when it concerns this award year. It was so much fun!

Alas, Raymond Palmer didn't win the award and so I didn't get to rattle off the speech Steve Davidson wrote for me (complete with words like "fen") or hold an actual Hugo Award (better than the Oscar if you ask me!). I did get all nervous when they were announcing the nominees though, so it was a bit of a disappointment. Vicarious diva-ness is also fun!

I had managed to procure a hotel room nearby, so I didn't have to make the hour and a half trip to Richmond to stay with my friends Roy and Anna. I did stay with them for the remainder of the con though and it was wonderful to see them.

The next day I got to squee in fan-girlish delight right at the very beginning. I checked the registration desk to see if one of Sofanauts who said he'd be there was (he was not), and who do I see sitting on a table fiddling with his smart phone? None other than Kim Stanley Robinson! I was very uncertain whether I should approach him and bother him but while I was dithering, he looked up and caught me staring. I introduced myself and said it was a pleasure to meet him. Why yes, a pleasure, says he. Of course, I really didn't expect him to know why he should know me, but I'd failed to say it right away, so the blank, gracious smile I received was warranted. When I told him that I had narrated his story "The Timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic, 1942" he jumped off the table he'd been sitting on and gave me a big hug! I hadn't expected that! So, I'll spare you the word-by-word conversation we had, but I discovered he was waiting for some friends to arrive. One arrived very soon, an author I didn't know, Michael Blumlein, MD, and when I heard who else they were waiting for (Alastair Reynolds), I decided to outstay my welcome and wait for him. His story, "The Sledge-maker's Daughter", is one of the first narrations I did for StarShipSofa. We all had a great chat. I was honored to stand there with these 3 great authors. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur.

Captain America needs to work out more!
Over the course of the weekend, I spent time with the Sofanauts (Jeremy Carter, Katherine Inskip, Luke Smith, Laurence and his dad, Gary Main and finally Nick Eden), never managed to get together with any other Amazing Stories Bloggers, but I did meet Mari Ness and Fábio Fernandez for lunch and ran into Ian Watson in the hallway. I went to a panel discussion on InfoDumps and a Kaffeeklatsch with my man Stan Robinson (heehee) on Friday (he must have thought I was stalking him!) and tried to go hear Amy's Sherlock Holmes talk but the room was full when we arrived (before it had even started)! Such disappointment. I went to Kaffeeklatsches with Amal El-Mohtar (who I've interviewed and whose poetry I've podcasted and blogged about many times) and Elizabeth Bear (story narrations - "Tideline" and "Love Among the Talus"), which were great fun talking about cartoons and comics for kids with Amal and more about writing with Bear. I saw a great independent film screening of "Search for Simon". I met Mary Turzillo (poet, Rhysling and Elgin winner, whose work I've podcasted and reviewed) and her husband, Geoffrey A. Landis (whose work I've also podcasted) and introduced myself to Ken MacLeod (I narrated his story "Lighting Out" and more recently a poem for a review on Amazing) and his PR assistant from Orbit books was excited to meet me and take my email address for linky-linkage. I attended a great interview with Robin Hobb and her editor and later got the book I bought in the Exhibition Hall signed (killing my knees standing for an hour and a half in line!).

I managed to resist buying hundreds of books - only bought a few, but looking at them was fun:

First editions. That one with the hand? 3450.00 Pounds Sterling!!! 

 


Attending the Hugo Award Ceremony was interesting. I wasn't able to vote in all categories, because I didn't read, listen to or look at everything. But I was pleased with the results none the less. All the nominees were deserving of the awards, so I think I might have been pleased with the results regardless...

The Gate-crashing panels Panel - pre-Robin Hobb reading
Robin Hobb
I went early on Monday morning to the ExCel Center because I had time to kill before my train back to Paris at 1pm. Robin Hobb was reading and I wanted to get a seat so I went in well before 10am when it was scheduled. I was a little confused, because there were 5 young women sitting at the table in the front where the panels sit, but there's nothing scheduled before 10am, so who are these people and why are they talking in front of a full audience? They turned out to be the impromtu panel on Gate-crashing panels and they were hilarious! I think you can see part of the "discussion" on YouTube if it interests. They were just 5 people who thought it would be fun to pretend. It was. I think a lot of people were confused, including Robin Hobb, because she was about 10 minutes late starting...

The trip home was uneventful. I have to say that my first con experience was an overwhelmingly positive one. I met lots of lovely people and that's when I really had the most fun. I wish I could've gone to more panels for interesting discussions and I'm sorry I missed the orchestra concert - but I had dinner with Roy and Anna instead. You can't do everything at these things. Maybe if I ever plan to go to another one with more lead time, I could even help with a poetry track or something. I know there's been some bad luck and ill-planning in the past, but I think it's a shame to have almost nothing on poetry at a WorldCon. The one really good panel, "Better World-building through Poetry" was at the same time as the Retro Hugo Ceremony. Oh well.


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Friday, August 22, 2014

I have little excuse

Hello folks!

There's been a lot of activity here at Poetry Planet Headquarters (PPHQ), but I've had little time and and even littler head-space to process everything and report or announce. So, one thing at a time. In manageable doses. That's the ticket!

In a rush to read all the nominee books for this years Elgin Award, I was granted permission to post my article a day later than usual. So, that was last week Thursday. I wrote a short blurb about each of the books nominated, if I was able to read them. And yes, I read all but one, somewhat perfunctorily but I read enough to get a good impression and to give me something to write about. My goal was to give readers and idea of what each book was "about", if indeed there was a theme, and clue them in to what type of poetry they could find there. Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Humorous, formal, long and short, retrospective or narrative. It was all there. Go have a look - maybe there's a collection that intrigues you? You'll find links to all the books and where you can purchase them in the post.

Poetry - Elgin Award Nominee Showcase

Next: WorldCon / LonCon3 in London, England! My first convention ever...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Involuntary Hiatus, Vacation, Larry Santoro and Poetry Review. In that order.

So, it's been a while. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something, but I wasn't sure what, exactly. Maybe that I should slow down and rest and not stress out about things I've tasked myself to do, but which I do on a volunteer basis? Perhaps, but instead of slowing down, things came to a screeching halt. And I had a job, which paid actual money to do.

First, just as my husband went off on a long business trip, during which I could've gotten lots of recording and writing in, my The hard drive on my Mac decided to die a slow death. At first, I didn't know what the trouble was and it took awhile of investigation, chatting with the Apple "geniuses" and trying everything known to man to determine this was probably the trouble (or maybe the fan was broken) and I had to wait a week to get an appointment at the Apple Store. Hard Drive it was and fixing it could take up to a week. Ugh. Well, thankfully they only needed two days and I thought I was going have my computer back soon! Magnus had made a back-up just before it started acting strangely, so no worries there. HA!! When I flipped the switch on the external back-up hard drive nothing happened. Nothing. Just some flashing lights, but no whirring and no recognition that it was even on by the computer. Huh. A friend did some research for me and said this had apparently come up fairly often for this HD. The problem? Something in the start up software and it would either magically start up if you kept trying or it would need to be replaced. The end of this story is that miracles DO happen!!! And my computer is now in working order again!

I got one evening of recording in when a very bad cold hit me like a sledge-hammer, leaving my voice a ravaged mess. Needless to say, that was the end of that. Luckily, my paying client is a patient man. Likewise, with the myriad people waiting on me to produce various reviews and narrations.

We went on a 3 week vacation to Italy, to visit family and the beach in Bibione (on the Adriatic Sea between Venice and Triest). It was a very relaxing vacation, even if beach holidays aren't my favorite (too hot, too much sun for this lass of Irish decent). I read a lot. Not just poetry and Faceboook, though. I managed to read an entire novel (gasp!) in a week's time (keels over in shock!)! I re-read one of my favorite books (The Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin Hobb), so it was good fun.

Now we are back home and have settled in. Dante is still on summer vacation through the month of August, so the routine is not quite the same as normal, but still... And then my dear (mostly internet) friend, colleague (I think I'm allowed to call him that) and mentor, Larry Santoro passed away. He had been ill only briefly. He was diagnosed with Duodenal cancer only a couple of months ago, but it had already spread to his liver and kidneys and other spots and he was already to weak for the chemo to help much. He was taken care of by his wife of 11 years, the wonderful beautiful Tycelia. It's heart-breaking. We lost him too soon and too quickly. I was able to speak to him on the phone in June, but I had intended on calling him again this past Saturday, the day after getting home. He'd passed the night before. Reading all the tributes and the out-pouring of love to Tycelia just confirms what our brief friendship had already shown. That he was a warm, funny, compassionate, passionate, giving person, whose voice over the ether was like something of a by-gone era. His podcast, while the fiction was not really my favorite (again, Horror), was a pleasure to listen to, just because he made you feel at home and like he was chatting with you, a friend. I will miss you, Larry, as will more people than you knew.

But nevertheless, my most recent genre poetry review has been published on Amazing Stories Magazine. It is of Chad Hensley's dark poetry collection Embrace the Hideous Immaculate. Here's a snippet:

But what is horror anyway? We’ve been having a very interesting discussion on the SFPA Yahoo Group (which, by the way is actually open to others interested in genre poetry, not just members. It is, however, often used to announce and discuss SFPA business) about the nature of horror literature. Is it a true genre or rather a mood which is created. The general consensus seems to be that it sends but can be either or both. Michael Arnzen posted this, which, in addition to being a bit of poetry in and of itself, hits the nail on the head, in my opinion:
Horror is a church. Its blood-stained glass both colors and reflects its readers’ worldview. It sacrifices many readers on the altar of repugnance....

Go here to read more! Poetry – Embrace the Hideous Immaculate, C. Hensley

Now that I have one small thing on my list checked off I'm feeling the pressure of all the rest of the things waiting for me! Hopping to it!

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