Friday, July 13, 2012

What's the Best Spec-Fic Poetry? - Reading the Rhyslings

Did you get your Rhysling award votes in on time?  It certainly wasn't easy this year, given the excellent lineup in the 2012 Rhysling Anthology.

If you enjoy poetry about science-fiction, horror, fantasy, science, astronomy, slipstream, and the otherwise speculative, then you will want to take a look at the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  The SFPA is the society that produces the Rhysling Anthology, and one of the best perks of being a member is being able to both nominate and vote for poems to win this award.  Poems are nominated from those published in the previous calendar year of 2011.

This year the anthology holds 175 pages of entertaining, creepy, thought-provoking, bizarre, humorous, scary, technical, inspiring, awesome, quirky, and unique poetry in a range of forms and styles.  A lot of poetry anthologies come out every year, but if you are a fan of the spec-fic genres, then this one is a definite must.  You don't need to be a member to get a copy; they are available on the SFPA site.

I'm not going to give away my personal tops from the book ... but I am going to mention a few of the pieces that really struck me for one reason or another.

The Witch's Heart by Nichole Kornher-Stace is a nice slice of dread.  The witch represents a host of what humans grieve, regret, and fear.  The language is colloquial but not contrived, and the pace clips along evenly to the creepy end.

the more space by Ann K. Schwader is just a tiny thing, only five lines and sixteen words.  But with great conservation of language, it conveys a powerful sense of loss.  Taking it somewhat literally, it brings to mind the loss of the night sky to the light pollution of cities.

The Curator Speaks in the Department of Dead Languages by Megan Arkenberg is a well woven piece that brings the reader in immediately.  The speaker laments the struggle of translating ancient texts when the languages have completely vanished, yet the poem conveys the hope found in tenacity and fortitude.

Speaking to the Hangman is Not Permitted by J.E. Stanley is a poem describing a corrupt trial in a dystopian future.  The piece conveys apprehension that grows into horror when the reader realizes that either the (apparently innocent) defendant will be executed, or the whole jury.

Did you have a favorite poem published last year that didn't get nominated?  What (and where) was it?  Do you have your own favorites from this anthology to share?  Let me know your opinions.

Pax, all

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