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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 09:04 am:   

Well, why is there almost no interest in poetry among fantasy readers and writers? I mean contemporary poetry, and institutional rather than individual interest. That is, I suspect many of us read poetry in private, but the main fantasy magazines don't publish it, convention panels rarely discuss it, and none of the current movements in fantasy (all of which, I believe, reflect a common desire to emphasize the literary quality of genre literature) call for more poetry. And yet fantasy in poetry is older than fantasy in prose.

What happened? Is it that most contemporary poetry is so boring, so uninspired, that no one cares to read it?

I ask because I've been thinking, for a while now, of starting a magazine specifically for poetry of the fantastic, mythic, surreal . . . Because I think we need one. (I have to praise Mythic Delirium for being, so far, the only poetry magazine (that I know of) devoted to fantasy.)

About two years ago, I looked for an anthology I could use to teach from, which focused on fantasy in poetry. All I could find were (excellent and numerous) anthologies of fantasy short stories (although one included "Goblin Market" and a few other poems, all over a century old). The only poetry anthology I could find was one edited by August Derleth called Dark of the Moon (if anyone knows where to find it, other than Harvard's library, please tell me . . .). That was when I started to work on Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre. For which I recently found a strange poem by Ernest Dowson, which I will post in a separate message, sometime after today's appointment with the pediatrician . . .
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Tamar
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 09:23 am:   

Maybe it's because the fantastic, mythic and surreal are the norm in poetry rather than a category of it?
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Jamie
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 09:35 am:   

There are already The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Decompositions, Dreams & Nightmares, Poe Little Thing, Scifaikuest, and Star*Line.
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JV
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 09:56 am:   

I love poetry, the more fantastical, the better, but I tend to find it mainstream poetry journals--the really, really cool stuff. I agree with Tamar re the category issue.

Patiann Rogers is an excellent mainstream poet who usually has some sort of fantastical or non-realistic imagery in her poetry.

Here's her web site:
http://home.comcast.net/~pattiann_rogers/

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 10:04 am:   

Because there's very little audience for any sort of poetry any longer, even for the generally juiceless academic poetry that dominates what there is of a poetry scene in the US.

Because many contemporary poets have forgotten to love language in their urge to be clever; they have forgotten that language, when liberated, when written with full-on passion, often engages a more generous form of cleverness. Fantasy poetry, in my view, demands a passion for language more so than do other forms of the art.

Because the intent of poetry is, it seems to me, not primarly escapist, whereas fantasy, at least on the populist level, is all about escape. Most fantasy poetry I've read is celebratory in some way, albeit often darkly so, whereas the practice of celebratory poetry has gone out of vogue...except in goth circles and such, where much pastiche is practiced. In order to accumulate a decent-sized readership, an important readership (important in the sense of the audience's influence) I believe fantasy poetry would have to undergo a redefinition, step firmly away from its British and gothic traditions, from anything remotely stodgy and archaic, and find new, more persuasive, perhaps more cinematic expression. All this leads to my third reason:

Because the majority of the better contemporary fantasy writers, who might write such poems, can't afford to spend time writing them. :-)
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JV
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 10:26 am:   

...because being a good fantasy fiction writer has nothing to do with being a good poet, actually.

...because some people apparently aren't finding the good stuff in contemporary mainstream poetry, which is there--a lot of great stuff in the poetry journals. :-)

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 10:39 am:   

...and yet being a good fantasy writer does not preclude being a good poet.

As for the great stuff in poetry journals, I suspect our definition of geat may be at variance here. What I find in the poetry journals strikes me at best as interesting, somewhat spirited, engaged with language in a manner that fails the concept of poetry as music, even silent music for the internal ear. Of course I haven't read everything, but I read quite a bit of poetry, and often do so with the hope of finding a fantasist who provokes in me the sort of effect that causes me to recognize it as great. As opposed to clever.

But, hey, it's only a opinion.
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JV
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 10:47 am:   

(Didn't mean to come off as ultra-aggressive there, Lucius...)

True, true--re good fantasy writer/poet. But they seem to me to be such separate skills that it's important to make the point, because otherwise I think there's kind of a built-in patronizing going on--i.e., fantasy fiction writers would be writing great poetry if they but had the time. A bit harsh on *true poets*, but which I mean those to whom poetry is a calling and everything else they write is secondary.

And, since I see fantasy in a fantastical metaphor in an otherwise realistic piece, I might be stretching the definition a bit.

I can think of a boatload of great poets--although I wish Alan DeNiro was here to list more contemporary names--from Seamus Heaney to Donald Justice to Richard Wilbur to Deborah Leventov to Enid Shomer to (shoot--got that name wrong) to the aforementioned Patiann Rogers.

For the record, I don't think there is such a category as "fantasy poetry." Or shouldn't be, if someone wants to say there is...

JeffV

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 11:29 am:   

I got no over-aggressive vibe.

Well, Seamus has the Nobel, so I guess that's great...

I don't know. I just don't see much I get passionate about. Kinda useta like CK Williams, liked that long line of his.

Categories, yeah...they suck. But if you use Poe, say, as a starting point for the US, you can see a tradition. Basically, though, I don't care what you call it.

And I wasn't being patronizing, I was simply responding to Ms. Goss's question in its terms. She seemed to be talking about fantasy poetry. I don't mean to imply that only fantasy writers have trouble financing a poetry jones. There are, I assume, many writers period who would write poetry had they more free time or if the pay were better. Sort of like, if you couldn't earn more money and have a less injurious career in the NBA, a lot of great small forwards might be great heavyweight boxers. Which helps explain why boxing in going down the tubes...

That's how you see fantasy, huh. Works for me. For my part, I see it all as "stuff." :-)
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

Agreed that the fantastic, mythic, and surreal are the norm in poetry, if we consider poetry historically. But I was leafing through a catalog sent to me by a poetry publisher recently, and noticed that none of the poems included in the catalog (one per book, as a sort of advertisement) were fantastic, mythic, or surreal--except among the translations of Latin American poets, where they all were. (So sorry, the catalog has been thrown out, or I would give more specific information.) The American poets were all practicing--I dunno, what to call it? Poetic social realism? Poems about family relationships, mostly. (How I wish I had kept it. I could have given more concrete examples.) So Jeff, if you have examples of poets publishing poetry of the fantastic (a cumbersome phrase, but I couldn't just write "fantastic poetry") in mainstream journals, tell me. I may be reading the wrong journals . . .

I've gotten The Magazine of Speculative Poetry and Star*Line in the past, and while they're valiant efforts, the production values are--well, I would love to see them looking as professional as any of the mainstream journals.

Categories. (I sit here, head in hands, trying to think this out.) Sorry, I can't help it. I like categories. They're to be played with. (This is what graduate school does to you.) Reading Dark of the Moon was fascinating because it did in fact reveal an American tradition of fantasy in poetry. But even more because it brought to my attention poets I'd never heard of before, and poems that, while perhaps not great by canonical standards, were fun. (Go ahead, cringe. By poets the academy now ignores, like Alfred Noyes. By poets the academy never heard of, like, yes, Robert Howard.)

I'm going to end this and start a post with some actual poetry in it. Because I don't know where this is going, but I think it's interesting . . .
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 12:27 pm:   

So, this is the strange poem I found by Ernest Dowson:

THE THREE WITCHES

All the moon-shed nights are over,
And the days of gray and dun;
There is neither may nor clover,
And the day and night are one.

Not an hamlet, not a city
Meets our strained and tearless eyes;
In the plain without a pity,
Where the wan grass droops and dies.

We shall wander through the meaning
Of a day and see no light,
For our lichened arms are leaning
On the ends of endless night.

We, the children of Astarte,
Dear abortions of the moon,
In a gay and silent party,
We are riding to you soon.

Burning ramparts, ever burning!
To the flame which never dies
We are yearning, yearning, yearning,
With our gay and tearless eyes.

In the plain without a pity,
(Not an hamlet, not a city)
Where the wan grass droops and dies.

I've included this in Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre, the (very much a work-in-progress) poetry anthology I started in response to the lack of any other book like Derleth's. I call it strange not only because it's intrinsically a strange poem but also because it's not at all the sort of thing I would have expected from Dowson.

I'll post a link as soon as I can figure out how the link function works . . .
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 11:27 am:   

Ha! I did it. Link to the online poetry anthology I'm working on, Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre, here.

(I know, "click here" is, to web sophisticates, like "groovy." But I'm just so proud that I made it work!)
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 06:11 pm:   

So Jeff, if you have examples of poets publishing poetry of the fantastic (a cumbersome phrase, but I couldn't just write "fantastic poetry") in mainstream journals, tell me.

Lawrence Raab is always good for some fantastic fantastic poetry.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 07:09 pm:   

FYI, Derleth did at least one other poetry anthology through Arkham House, _Fire and Sleet and Candlelight_.

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Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 09:55 pm:   

Nick and Jeff--

Many thanks for the recommendations. I trolled the web (because I spent my book budget on the hardcover edition of Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy so I could read Neil Gaiman's "The Problem of Susan"). I found a Lawrence Raab poem I like a lot: "Damage".

Patiann Rogers is harder for me. I like "Shrine" best, although I like the River Bench project even better. But for me, her poetry is clever and academic. I can see the cleverness of it, the consonant sounds that function like the parts of puzzle pieces that lock the puzzle together, only here the puzzle pieces are words.

But the question for me is: what am I going to take away from the poem? From Raab, I'm going to take away the creepy, but somehow elegant, image of the woman who wants to saw her leg off. The poem doesn't give me the music that Lucius wanted from poetry--contemporary poetry rarely does. But it does give me a memorable image. From Rogers, and I don't mean to criticize, just to explain my experience of it, I get neither a concrete image (there are too many competing images) nor that music. But it's unfair, of course, to judge based on the three poems of hers I've read.

Last points:

What Lucius wrote: "As for the great stuff in poetry journals, I suspect our definition of great may be at variance here. What I find in the poetry journals strikes me at best as interesting, somewhat spirited, engaged with language in a manner that fails the concept of poetry as music, even silent music for the internal ear. Of course I haven't read everything, but I read quite a bit of poetry, and often do so with the hope of finding a fantasist who provokes in me the sort of effect that causes me to recognize it as great. As opposed to clever."

Agree with this completely.

Also wanted to mention a poem I read recently that I liked very much, Alan DeNiro's "Wolf, with Saint" in the first Flytrap. It reminded me of Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish poet (who also won the Nobel).

(Finally, I should make clear, for anyone not familiar with him (though on this board I'm writing to the overeducated), that Dowson is not contemporary but died in 1900, probably of problems caused by tuberculosis and drug addiction. He tends to get a short mention in the major anthologies.)
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ben peek
Posted on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 11:18 pm:   

i also reckon (in relation to the why there is no interest in fantasy readers question) there's the way poetry is presented to people as another cause for the lack of interest. this being that it is often presented as high brow literary work that has to contain a cultural value of some sort.

(i've also noticed that this way of looking at poetry often results in people saying, 'that's not poetry,' instead of just saying, 'what a shit poem.')

anyhow, i agree, mostly with the fantastic elements comment of tamar, but i also figure that the cultural importance level given to poetry, and then to fantasy/science fiction/horror does ensure that the audience in the second is never looking for first.

or not. just an opinion.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 02:54 am:   

Sort of like the "My kid could do better than that with a crayon, so it's not art" school of criticism, often heard (when I was growing up) in the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art.

I think you're right that poetry is high art and fantasy is low art (or popular art), and the two are assumed to exist--almost on different planets. (The "studying at school" and "reading at the beach" planets, maybe.) Which isn't so good for either of them, I think. At least, I see fantasy writers who want their writing to be taken seriously, as having cultural value. And poetry not being read so much, outside of classrooms. Which is sad. Somewhere, we lost the sense that poetry can be--fun? (Which is why I like Patiann Rogers' River Bench project, in which she collaborated with an artist who created a stone bench shaped like a river, and she wrote small poems to embed in it. I want one of those in my garden . . . Well, first I want a garden.)

I wonder, too, if part of the problem isn't, and here I hope Jeff will forgive my quoting him in this way, the idea that there are "true poets" who eat honeydew and drink the milk of paradise for breakfast. I wonder to what extent that's a Romantic invention, the poet with flashing eyes and floating hair. (And the rest of us have to look on him with holy dread, which is how undergraduates do, often, look at poetry.) So we assume that poetry belongs to a sublime few capable of writing and experiencing it. (And we don't critique it, because we believe we aren't capable of judging.)

Two things I would wish on contemporary poetry: music, as Lucius mentioned, and a greater sense of fun.
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T Andrews
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 09:26 am:   

Hello Ms Goss~ I've been peeking in on this discussion.
Yesterday, a beautiful warm, sunny summer day, my three year old son and I were walking along the sidewalk, when my son quite suddenly stopped, stretched his arms out to the sky, closed his eyes, tipped his head back and took a deep, closed-mouth sniff...he then gave me an enormous smile and said:

'Mommy, taste the wind!
Do it!
It taste wike SNOW!!'

I thought of his choice of words, and his joy, and thought: uh huh. Poetry. Out of the mouths of babes. Because sometimes, the kids CAN do 'better than that with a crayon'.
Poets sometimes strain so hard to be clever or slyly layer meaning so thick that it's too much like work to appreciate.
For me, it's like reading a good story. Flashy flourishes of stylish writing removes me from the story and becomes all about the writer. I like poetry that leaves you feeling and thinking about the subject matter and not the poet's prowess.

Poetry is fun to make; it's great to try new things and experiment. I think sometimes it's handled too delicately...I agree with your idea that the idea of the good poet as some demi-god with the flashing eyes and floating hair sometimes affects how people approach poetry, unfortunately.
Poetry, like all art, belongs to everyone and we should feel freer to explore it and enjoy it. Like three year olds.


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Alan DeNiro
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 10:45 am:   

Hi Dora and all...

I don't know if there's a linear spectrum between the bland realism and venturing into highly formalized, pre-raphaelite notions about what myth and fantasy ought to be in the first place. Poetry goes beyond that and poets have been engaging with this type of material and language for a while in more modern forms. Ultimately, I think that these little offshoots are valuable to know about, even if they're not talked about much except in certain small communities.

Poets like Jack Spicer, his grail sequence back in the 60s was just incredible. J.H. Prynne is an amazing British poet with tons of books since the 60s. This is the only poem online by Prynne that I could find, feel free to ignore the commentary below it, which is hit n' miss. OK, so this poem isn't exactly "fantasy" but it sometimes feels like it, although also tied to the textures of political realities. Cruise of the Pnyx by Robert Kelly is a bizarro hybrid work that might be of interest to some people, online as a PDF. Tessa Rumsey's recent-ish book Assembling the Shepherd is another favorite that plays with ideas of the pastoral (though the pastoral is a whole other set of questions). Lisa Jarnot is one of my favorite contemporary poets, her books Ring of Fire and Black Dog Songs--talk about a good ear ("Swamp Formalism" and "Indian Hot Wings")

But I don't think it's worth it--at all--to clump these all together in terms of "fantasy"... adjectives slide off describing poetry with startling ease.

How much does subject matter matter? All in all, what matters more in poetry isn't the material itself but the line as a unit. In exploring (and sometimes skewering) myth as part of their process, I think these poets show that we don't have to necessarily go to a 1890 metrical argument to incorporate these concerns, that they can be made new. Though that can be fun, at times. Prynne understands formal concerns and units of breath but he's not wedded to them, like I think many of the zombiefied, recent "New Formalists" are, who I just can't stand.

I'm glad you like that poem Dora, although it feels really old (8 years) to me...this is something more recent that I posted on my blog.

Finally, I'd say that poetry really isn't high art, and there are a fair amount of poets who don't consider it as such, which doesn't mean that the speech in the poems has to be "everyday" and highly narrative, but that it can incorporate very idiosyncratic vernaculars and still speak to people. Anyway, that's what I've got.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 07:40 am:   

T Andrews: How lovely! And very much like Japanese nature poetry. When I was in law school, I was part of the Big Brother/Big Sister program. One day, I took my Little Sister and her cousin, a boy who must have been about seven, to the art museum. We went through the old art, which they liked well enough (we made a game of it), then came to the modern art gallery. The boy stood in front of an enormous canvas of brightly colored squares and circles and said, in a sort of awed voice, "That's beyoootiful!" It wasn't the sort of painting I admired (too Pop), but I think that kid discovered art! I don't mean to sentimentalize children (which I've seen a lot of lately), but they have an amazing freshness of perception that can make adult cleverness look stale. (So, let me know when your son's chapbook comes out!) :-)

I have to admit that I come out between you and Alan on the content v. style issue. I like stylistic flourishes, but don't think that style matters more than subject matter. I know it's terribly old-fashioned of me, but I want more from poetry than an aesthetic or intellectual experience. I want to actually care about whatever the poem is about.

Alan! It's great to hear from you. I hope things are going well?

I have to admit that our tastes in poetry are quite different, but I tend to agree with you about the New Formalists. I'm sure you're more familiar with them than I am, but they do seem particularly dead to me. Partly because their formalism sounds like prose poured into meter. Sort of like singers who happen to be tone-deaf. They write in traditional forms without having a feel for them. (But I haven't read that widely among the New Formalists, so I don't know how legitimately I can criticize.)

One thing I find interesting is that there seems to be a shadow participant in this discussion, someone who hasn't spoken, but whom there have been arguments against (sorry, awkward phrasing but I'm not sure how to put it). He's the proponent of a sort of gothic formalism, influenced by the romantics, the pre-raphaelites, anyone dark and broody. Including, of course, Poe. Someone who is writing, say, vampire sonnets. Now, I like the romantics and pre-raphaelites and Poe, at least in their proper eras, and may have introduced him by including the Dowson poem. But I'm definitely not arguing for more Poe pastiche--or vampire anything. I think it's interesting, though, that we assume that's what fantasy in poetry will turn out to be, unless we argue against it.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 08:06 am:   

And I wanted to link to two poems I like very much, not contemporary but at least modern: H.D.'s "Helen" and Anne Sexton's "Her Kind". The Sexton is pretty gothic, I'm afraid! :-)
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 09:58 am:   

I don't have much to add or much time in which to add it, but 'fantasy' poetry is alive and well in the mainstream of literature--it's just the fantasy readers who aren't turned on to it. An example off the top of my head: Mappa Mundi by Philip Gross, which is all about imaginary lands. Full disclosure: 1) Philip mentored me for a bit, which is why this is the first book of 'fantasy' poetry that comes to mind, and 2) I, erm, didn't really like it much. But the point is it's out there and published by Bloodaxe, which is the (or at least a) holy grail of UK poetry publishing. So as usual it's the sf side that's lagging in terms of acceptance.

As for the matter of a magazine dedicated solely to fantasy poetry, not to be negative, but wouldn't it have a really miniscule target audience? I mean, fantasy magazines and poetry have two of the tiniest of tiny readerships. To combine the two and get a decent number of readers seems a bit. . . well, masochistic. Which doesn't mean it isn't worth doing, just that it would, I think (insert extra disclaimers, 'IMHO', etc. here) not have very much of an effect. A few eccentrics (such as populate this board! ;) might subscribe, but beyond that. . . I just don't see your average fantasy reader spending his or her money and attention on an airy-fairy thing like poetry.
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Alan
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 10:12 am:   

Hey Dora, yeah I think our tastes are pretty different but in a good way :-) in that we're both reacting to the "prose with line breaks" blandness that seems to be the dominant form (sometimes known as the "School of Quietude"). I just try to avoid it whenever possible and thankfully there are plenty o' small magazines that are producing some really interesting stuff.

But you should really read some Lisa Jarnot and Jennifer Moxley. I think you'd like them actually.

Oh! And Muriel Ruhkeyser (I know I spelled that wrong). She was doing stuff in the 40s and 50s that no one else was doing, using myth and feminism in a really sharp way.
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Alan
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 10:23 am:   

Sorry for the double post...

Back to Spicer...in 1957 he ran a "Poetry as Magic" workshop in Berkeley. Assignments went something like this:

1. Write a blasphemy
2. Create a Universe
3. Become a flesh eating beast
4. Choose a character from the Wizard of Oz who wants something and impersonate him in a poem.

The editor of his collected poems said this about the workshop: "For all the magical interest of the workshop, magic, it became clear, was a matter of disturbance, entrace and passion, rather than abracadabra. Jack once commented that there was no good source from which to learn magic; it was something we did among ourselves...The practice of blasphemy as a formal matter tears up and reproposes the contents of what is other than ourselves."

And how great is that last sentence?

If people writing "fantasy poetry" were even aware of his existence, this sub-lineage (to oversimplify things... Spicer's drawing on H.D., Yeats, as well, and fusing them with the Beats, who were concurrent in San Francisco), then I think poetry, in whatever field, would be very, very different. My loss, too--I didn't start reading his stuff until somewhat recently.

As a side note, Spicer also hung with Philip Dick when he was in Berkeley, which is just great.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 09:02 pm:   

Hi Nicholas!

"I don't have much to add or much time in which to add it, but 'fantasy' poetry is alive and well in the mainstream of literature--it's just the fantasy readers who aren't turned on to it."

Why is that, do you think? Because it's not as accessible? And yet we're having a renaissance (or maybe just a naissance) of challenging and sometimes inaccessible fantasy prose in the small press . . . (Prose that, in fact, uses words like poetry.)

"As for the matter of a magazine dedicated solely to fantasy poetry, not to be negative, but wouldn't it have a really miniscule target audience? I mean, fantasy magazines and poetry have two of the tiniest of tiny readerships. To combine the two and get a decent number of readers seems a bit. . . well, masochistic."

Definitely. Like something only someone who, for example, left a career in corporate law for the fame and financial rewards of writing fantasy would take on. :-)

Theodora M. Goss
(My real middle name is Esther . . .)

"Hey Dora, yeah I think our tastes are pretty different but in a good way :-) in that we're both reacting to the "prose with line breaks" blandness that seems to be the dominant form (sometimes known as the "School of Quietude"). I just try to avoid it whenever possible and thankfully there are plenty o' small magazines that are producing some really interesting stuff."

Agreed! And you win on Lisa Jarnot, since I've been going around for a whole day with "The dreams of the chickens are bright as the sun . . ." going through my head. :-) "School of Quietude": What an interesting name. Deserving of a more interesting application . . . (She writes, planning her next short story.)

I've heard of Spicer only from Alex Irvine. I think it was in the manuscript of his second novel (which may still be called One King, One Soldier?). It began in the San Francisco poetry scene. If you read the novel, you'll see how Spicer is relevant!

His poetry class sounds fascinating.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 09:17 pm:   

I wanted to split my post in two, to make sure I don't lost much when I try create links, so here's the rest.

I like Rukeyser, though I'm not so familiar with her poetry. (You have me looking back through my Norton, always a good thing.) Two other poems I really like:

Louise Bogan's "Medusa" (an annoying link because of the line numbering, but I couldn't find a good copy elsewhere).

Allen Ginsberg's "The Lion for Real" (your mentioning Spicer reminded me of this).

Also, I have to take back what I said about vampires. Completely by chance, I came across a Stevie Smith poem called "Great Unaffected Vampires and the Moon" which is a sort of pseudo-Shakespearean something and has the following middle section:

Beneath the deathly slopes the palings stood
Catching the moonlight on their painted sides,
Beyond, the waters of a mighty lake
Stretching five furlongs at its fullest length
Lay as a looking-glass, framed in a growth
Of leafless willows; all its middle part
Was open to the sky, and there I saw
Embosomed in the lake together lie
Great unaffected vampires and the moon."

Which I think is strange and interesting. (I couldn't find a link, and I'm sure the poem is under copyright, so I just posted a small piece.)
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Luke Taylor
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 04:16 pm:   

My thoughts on the reasons for a lack of fantasy poetry.

Poetry has changed scene the epic poem of iambic pentameter John Milton wrote concerning the downfall of our race, both is song and in standard poetry. It told a story many times, but now it often describes a mood a feeling, or emotion (I know this because for a year I belonged to a group of poets sharing work via the internet, approximately a thousand of them, and the majority was as I said.). I look at this only as a change, not a bad thing Fantasy on the other hand has also changed, it once was a mood or feeling but now it often is no a blood n’ guts and girl in skimpy clothing masquerade that the genre’s founder would be ashamed of. Like two flimsy logs adrift in the angry sea of modern literature fantasy and poetry drift apart. There are a few who struggle to do both and I do earnestly wish them the best.
No fantasy in poetry, or the “”Surreal” is not the norm. Common, yes, but so are the New York freaks, not the mode. It is only a facet, a section. Poetry, like prose can cover so many things, from anger to looking at a snake to the will of God. No the surreal is common but I find many poems, today and in history, directly about the most common objects.


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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 10:49 am:   

No offence, but I'm not seeing how any of those are 'reasons for a lack of fantasy poetry'.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 08:36 pm:   

I think what Luke is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) is that poetry and fantasy used to be concerned with the same things. For example, explaining God's ways to man, and our state of (according to Milton) sinful fallenness. Or, our desire for escape from the boredom and anxiety of human existence, into a world more magical than ours (I'm thinking both "Ode to a Nightingale" and "The world is too much with us . . ." here).

In other words, both poetry and the literature of fantasy (a term I know I'm using VERY loosely) used to be involved with ultimate questions: questions about the meaning of human existence, the reason for suffering, whether there is escape from death, etc.

But poetry, after the Moderns, who were deeply concered with the ultimate questions of modern (post-industrial-revolution, war-torn) life, became personal and confessional. And fantasy went off in a different direction, becoming more commercial. So the twain are not, at the moment, meeting.

I don't know if that's what he means exactly, but that's my interpretation of his email. Luke?

(Also, not sure what you mean by New York freaks?)

p.s. I think the period of confessional poetry is pretty much over (as a fashionable style, that is--deeply personal poetry will always exist). But it's certainly still the norm in places like undergraduate poetry classes, and I suspect on many poetry websites.

p.p.s. I have a different take on this, which has to do with the fact that poetry isn't a part of, say, con programming and most of the professional magazines don't take poetry because this is after all an industry, and poetry doesn't pay. Neither to write nor to publish.

p.p.p.s. Of course, to Milton, his religious poetry wasn't fantasy but fact.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 01:02 pm:   

Dora,

I enjoyed exploring your fantastic and macabre poetry site. Very cool. Thank you for the link!

In connection with your interest in starting a fantasy poetry magazine, have you considered starting it online first? You'll have very little overhead and lots of flexibility. If things go well, you can change to a print format later. Just a thought.

By the way, my webzine, LONE STAR STORIES, publishes speculative poetry (3 poems an issue). I even pay a little ($2 a poem) for it. ;-)

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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:28 pm:   

Thanks, Eric! And thanks for the link to Lone Star Stories. I have to add that I'm glad you pay (and who pays much for poetry?). I think authors deserve to make money, even if it's just enough to buy a cup of coffee.

I thought about doing something online briefly, but I like to hold things in my hands, especially books and magazines. I like the experience of reading from paper. The great thing about an online publication is that it can reach an enormous audience quickly. The not-so-great thing is that no one will ever have that glorious moment of, in an old bookshop or someone's attic, finding the first issue, or an issue with a particular poem in it. (And then, of course, what happens when SkyNet becomes aware, and paper is all we have left? :-))

I haven't been able to work on Poems of the Fantasic lately, BOB (Because of Baby), but I'm hoping to add Hopkins and Houseman soon. I've already picked the poems by Hopkins . . . (With the anthology, I definitely wanted to go online. The point was to provide access to the poems for anyone who was interested. Many of the people who visit the site are from schools, presumably doing research papers. The fun of it has been discovering poems, and poets, that I didn't know about. For example, who knew that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote poetry? So he's not Keats. But a poem doesn't have to be great to be interesting or enjoyable.)
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:32 pm:   

Also wanted to mention that I like Tim Pratt's latest poem in Strange Horizons, especially the penultimate stanza.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:57 pm:   

Dora,

I understand your desire to publish a print magazine. I prefer to read works in print, rather than in electronic format, as well. But my choices for Lone Star Stories were to start an online 'zine or no have no 'zine at all because of time and funding constraints. (Also due to a complete lack of layout knowledge!) Even with the ephemeral nature of online publishing (I only retain rights for an issue of L*S at a time because I can't justify buying more rights than that for so little money), my 'zine has still managed to publish works that have reached new readers. That's enough for me to feel like my 'zine is doing something positive.

In addition, readers can always print issues if they really need the traditional tactile reading experience and ability to read it again long after the issue is rendered into electronic particles. ;-)

Good luck with your additions to Poems of the Fantastic! I'm sure it's gratifying to hear from your researching visitors. :-)

Oh, and I really enjoyed Tim's poem too. Cool stuff.

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Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 05:37 am:   

I'm sure you're going about it the sensible way, Eric! Just look at the print magazines that publish a couple of issues and then fold. (Or announce they're going to publish, buy stories, and then fold.) And Strange Horizons has certainly shown that an online magazine can be successful and respected.

I wonder why more people don't start their own online magazines, actually? I suspect it has to do partly with being intimidated by html, which I certainly understand. I know enough to update my website and Poems of the Fantastic, and I'm grateful not to be dependant on a web designer. But it's definitely not an intuitive process.

And I think any print magazine, nowadays, needs a web presence.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 09:54 am:   

Dora,

I think people see that even the online 'zines fold more often than not, and, as a result, shy away from the commitment. I remember that my initial announcement of Lone Star Stories on the Speculations Rumor Mill garnered a "Time to start the betting on how long this webzine will last?" reaction.

As for html, I cheat and use MS FrontPage. ;-)

I certainly agree that print magazines should have an online presence, if for no other reason than to provide submission guidelines. *grin*
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 08:30 am:   

And to tell you where to buy the magazine! Some print magazine can be hard to locate, and if there's no website, well, you may as well just give up!
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Eric Marin
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 07:43 am:   

Excellent point!
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 11:27 pm:   

Hi Dora,

Hope you don't mind an act of shameless self promotion: my poem (with fantasy elements), "The Haunted Chessboard" is now online at http://www.darkkrypt.com/darkkrypthh2.htm

Some might call it a pastiche rather than a poem, but I had fun writing it, and I hope you have fun reading it. :-)

Jason
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 10:19 pm:   

Hi Jason! Shameless self-promotion is always good. Where would we be without it, we masochistic, insecure yet egotistical, writer-types? :-)
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 10:59 pm:   

Yeah, we're each a catalog of neuroses, aren't we? [;)]

Do you know how far your chapbook is being distributed? I'd like to buy it, but I'd like to see if I can get it at, say, Dreamhaven Books (which is right in my back yard, hee!) before I order it online.

Jason
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:32 pm:   

Jason:

So sorry, I don't know about Dreamhaven, and Gavin is out of the country so I can't ask him. I think the best thing to do would be to call Dreamhaven and ask if they're selling it? Or I can ask Gavin whenever he gets back.

I know, not being much help here!
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 12:10 pm:   

Not your fault, Dora. Don't worry about it. :-)

And thank you for letting me post the link to my poem on your thread here. In retrospect, I should have asked first. You were very gracious.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:33 pm:   

Oh no! Please don't feel as though you need to ask my permission. I was hoping that people would post links on this discussion board, to things they had liked and were recommending, or to projects of their own. It would be quite a boring board if I were the only one linking to my projects.

Now, if you link to your three-volume self-published fantasy novel, The Adventures of Gorp the Barbarian, I may tell you that it's not exactly my sort of thing. (Though honestly, I probably wouldn't have a chance to read it, since my schedule has been completely crazy this month. I'm so, so, so behind on just about everything.) But if anyone else wants to post on Gorp, they should feel free to do so.

I read your poem a while ago (not that long after Clarion?), and though I have a hard time remembering anything P.B., I do remember thinking that anyone who took Poe's "The Raven" as a challenge deserved a medal for Courageous Folly, which I mean as a compliment!
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:23 pm:   

A medal for Courageous Folly? I gladly accept it, milady. I liked tilting at that particular windmill. (I have also tackled Poe's "The Bells", though perhaps not with as much success.)

The Adventures of Gorp the Barbarian? Sounds like a sequel to The Eye of Argon. :-D
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 09:47 pm:   

Arg! Midnight has come again without my responding to some of the posts on this board. (My apologies especially to Philip, whom I should have responded to ages ago. My excuse is that you've made me think, which can be a long and painful process . . .)

But I did want to link to two entries Matt Cheney wrote recently on his truly excellent blog, both about fantasy and poetry:

http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2004/10/poetry-and-speculation.html

(This one refers to Daniel Blackstone's review of the Rhysling Anthology at http://sfreader.com/db_ff101004.asp.)

http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2004/11/poetry-potpourri.html

(Disclosure: this one includes a link to my online anthology. Sorry, not at all intending to self-promote here.)

There's more coming from Matt about poetry. He's told me he wants to start a dialog about poetry in the fantasy field, which I'm very much looking forward to. When he does, I'll link to it!
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Eric Marin
Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 07:43 am:   

Thanks for linking to the Mumpsimus poetry entries, Dora. I would certainly be interested in any dialog Mr. Cheney begins regarding fantasy poetry.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 01:43 pm:   

Eric:

He's asked several people, including me, to write a couple of paragraphs about fantasy in poetry, and then he wants us to talk among outselves (electronically, I mean). Which should be interesting . . .

I'll let you know when he has anything else online. (And anyone out there, please link to any other discussions on this topic that you know of!)
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Eric Marin
Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 09:33 pm:   

Thanks for letting me know, Dora. I find this all quite intriguing. :-)

I enjoyed Mr. Cheney's interview of Sonya Taaffe, by the way.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, December 09, 2004 - 11:13 am:   

Me too! And I like Sonya's poetry. I especially liked a poem of hers called "Milochael," which I saw in an advance copy of her short story collection but which first appeared in Flytrap.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Thursday, December 09, 2004 - 12:40 pm:   

I enjoyed "Milochael" as well. (That issue of Flytrap is my favorite so far.)
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Phillip A. Ellis
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 07:32 pm:   

With Dark of the Moon, there are two places you could approach.

1) you could ask the Library of Congress to send you a list of holding libraries. This is useful for interlibrary loans.

2) look on abebooks. I just had a look, and founds copies from $125.

I hope that this has been helpful for you.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Wednesday, June 08, 2005 - 09:36 pm:   

Thanks, Philip! Also, I believe that Harvard is one of the universities collaborating with Google to put its holdings online, so eventually there will be a copy available for free. Hopefully . . . :-)

($125! I wish, but too steep for my budget at the moment.)
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MCisco
Posted on Wednesday, June 08, 2005 - 10:09 pm:   

Hello TG,
Long time no talk to -


You know James Thomson's "City of Dreadful Night," yes?

On the off chance you might not have gotten round to him, I highly recommend Georg Trakl, who is really extraordinary - not "Goblin Market" stuff, but unsettling, silent, pastorals. His prose poems are particularly good.

I'm often struck by the fact that people tend not to realize that the song lyrics they hum to themselves all day are poems. Lousy poems, for the most part, but poems. Rammstein (!) has a great song about a boy who's buried alive -

eine Melodie im Wind
und aus der Erde singt das Kind

(a melody in the wind,
the child sings from out of his grave)

And the Residents (!) have perpetrated a great deal of coy doggerel as well ("God in Three Persons" is a good example).

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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 08:29 pm:   

Hi Michael!

You know James Thomson's "City of Dreadful Night," yes?

We're aquainted, but have never, I believe, been intimate. Another in a long line of things I need to read or re-read!

Thanks for recommendations. I'll look up Georg Trakl. And although I never thought I would write this, I like the Rammstein lyric . . . :-)

Kendrick, after seeing a PBS special on the Carter Family, bought a CD. I'd heard of the Carters beforehand, but had never heard the music--all roots/folk music, collected from around the mountains of Virginia in the 30s and often presented in new arrangements, with a really odd vocal sound. It's pretty grim stuff sometimes (amazing how many women are murdered by their lovers . . .), but lovely writing. Sort of the 20th century version of traditional ballads.

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