Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poetry Planet No. 14 - Elgin Award Showcase 2014 Part 1

This week on StarShipSofa No. 367 you'll hear the next Poetry Planet. In it I showcase the winning and placing poetry collections of the Elgin Award 2014. I read at least one poem from each collection and talk a little about the collection itself and the poet. Below you'll find links to the collections and poets as well as the reviews I've done of the collections on Amazing Stories, which contain more audio examples.

Winner:
Demonstra, by Bryan Thao Worra.

2nd place:
Unexplained Fevers, by Jeannine Hall Gailey. Review on Amazing Stories (with more audio).

3rd place:
Dark Roads - Selected Long Poems, by Bruce Boston. Interview (Part 2) on Amazing Stories (with more audio from Dark Roads). Do check out Part 1 as well!

I'll follow up with the chapbook winners and honorees in a few weeks! Stay tuned!

* * *

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes on Amazing Stories and other news

So, after taking last week off, I'm back with a post about an anthology of poems based on the familiar Cinderella Jump Rope Rhyme, a production of Cabinet des Fées and published by Papaveria Press. If you ever jumped rope in a schoolyard in the USA, at least through the '80's you'll know this rhyme. Some talented poets have lent their twisted minds to creating some new verses. They are fun! And the proceeds go to a good cause. Have a look and a listen - I recorded excerpts. The artwork for this, by Adam Oehlers,  is great. Go there just for that, if nothing else!

*** 

In other news, I finally finished a long-ish story narration, complete with faux-gregorian chant! "Trial By Fire," by Matthew Iden is part of a shared-world anthology - Walk the Fire 2 - May the Ferryman Take You - created and edited by John Mierau. I backed this anthology when the editors ran a Kickstarter to fund it. They didn't reach the stretch goal to make the audiobook available for free to all backers, but I'm expecting as a co-creator I'll get a copy anyway! :-) The book and the audiobook will come out later this month (I believe) and I will let you know when it does.

So that's 2 things (sort of) down from the list I created in the last post. Yay!

Remember, if you would like to listen to anything that I've recorded, be it music or narrations you can go to my website (shiny, shiny) and follow the link "Recording" there. Most everything is available for free. I've only done a few things that you would have to buy to listen to, but that's clear on the website. 

Not so interested in Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror literature or poetry? I haven't done much that isn't, to tell you the truth, but you may be interested in one particular story, especially if you are a musician or music buff or just interested in a good story. Kim Stanley Robinson wrote the wonderful "The Timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic, 1942" which ran on StarShipSofa No. 249, despite not being an SF story at all. If you like Beethoven's 9th symphony, go check it out.

* * *


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Amazing Stories - Poetry Review: Mourning Jewelry, by Stephanie M. Wytovich

So, I don't have multiple items for you this week, just one article published on Amazing Stories Magazine: Poetry Review - Mourning Jewelry by Stephanie Wytovich.

This is the first mostly negative review I've published. It's not that it's bad poetry per se (although it's not excellent either), it's just a little over the top for me. Death, death and more death. And then death again. BUT if this is your thing, then you'll probably enjoy this collection and perhaps even the review. Feel free to let me know in the comments there, if you have a different opinion and can tell me why.

And now, because I have a dearth of things to announce, how about I list the items on my To Do List?


  • Narrate Trial by Fire by Matthew Iden from the shared world anthology Walk the Fire 2
  • Record and put together the next Poetry Planet(s) - Elgin Award Showcase, Animals & Creatures, SFPA Poetry Contest, Rhysling Award Showcase (because by the time I get the Elgin Award one finished they'll have announced the Rhysling Award...)
  • Record Cthulhu Haiku II and other Mythos Madness (OMG this has been on my plate for so long, but it's not my fault, really!)
  • Narrate The Potter's Daughter by Martha Wells (!) for Far-fetched Fables (podcast)
  • Update website to list the poetry recorded (got my website updated - yay!)
  • Write the next Amazing Stories post (and the next and the next!)
That's enough to keep me busy well into next year!

Diane

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Various and Sundry - Poetry Planet: Dwarf Stars, and Fearworms

Last week was almost another week of vacation for the adults of this family. Dante went to school, except for Tuesday, because it was a holiday here in France, and so my husband took Monday off as well because why not?!? The organization he works for was moving its offices on Friday so he was home from work then as well.

We went to see Interstellar on Monday morning (at 9:30 am)! We weren't the only couples with that idea - the theater was almost full! I really liked it, although there are the requisite problems that arise from thinking too much about the flow of time. I had one BIG problem with the movie and I've read a total of 2 reviews of the film and both mentioned the same thing: the music was mixed too loudly. There were times when I couldn't understand the dialogue for the booming music. That said, the music was amazing. Quite effective, except when I was thrown out of the narrative conscious of the loudness of it. Sigh. And on top of it, Matthew McConaughey, really has turned into quite a fine actor.

Tuesday we did the Eiffel Tower. Finally. Magnus and I visited about 8 years ago, pre-Dante, but we hadn't been up with Dante since we moved to within spitting distance. It was wonderful. Dante really enjoyed the excursion.

Friday, Magnus and I went out to a fancy restaurant for lunch. Quinzième, Rue Chautry, 70015 Paris - chef Cyril Lignac. The food was wonderful, traditional, but quite interesting French cuisine. The chef came out to greet us. Check out this amazing dessert:



Today, I have 2 items of interest if you are a poetry lover:

First, a new edition of Poetry Planet (No. 14)! It's been awhile, and this is not the one (Animals & Creatures) that's been in the works for over a year, but rather "The Dwarf Stars Awards Showcase 2014". It's a short and sweet one, due to the nature of the short short poetry. You can find it on StarShipSofa Episode No. 363 - together with a story by Megan Lindholm aka Robin Hobb! I swoon.

The next Poetry Planet will be the Elgin Award Showcase for 2014. Last year, I put the two awards together in one podcast, but it was taking me to long to get it together, so I decided to split them up, especially, since I thought it might run way too long if I did it all in one. After that, I'd like to slip the Animals & Creatures one in before tackling the SFPA Contest 2014 and The Rhysling Award Showcase editions.

Second, a review of an upcoming poetry collection by Robert Payne Cabeen, Fearworms - Selected Poems went up on Amazing Stories today. I've recorded 2 of the 12 poems collected and linked to the audio of two more, so I hope you'll go read and listen.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"The Dritty Doesen -

Today I bring you something different - my friend and fellow Sofanaut (someone who does regular pieces for StarShipSofa.com), Matthew Sanborn Smith has published his first collection of short stories. It's called the Dritty Doesen. I'm posting the "title" story in full below. I hope you'll take a few minutes and read it and then go and check out the rest of the collection here at Amazon. Matt tells me "Dritty Does" is a pretty surreal story, but perhaps it would appeal to the poetry types who read my blog. The whole collection is a wonderfully bizarre set of stories as only Matt can tell them. But first, a little introduction by the author himself:

Thank you, Diane, for sharing my story! The Dritty Doesen is my first collection, full of my least reasonable stories. As you might imagine I named it in honor of the following story, because Dritty Does is the least reasonable of them all. The collection contains eleven more stories (most of which are easier to understand than this one), and behind the scenes looks at how each of them came into being. If that wasn't enough, you get a gorgeous cover by the great Galen Dara! Enjoy!
And as an aside, if you don't know Matt's podcast "Beware the Hairy Mango" and love a good manically weird story that will only take 5 minutes to listen to, this is the podcast for you! 

Now on to the story!

Cover art copyright © 2014 Galen Dara

DRITTY DOES

Dritty heaved and drew heaven-long strings of lights in from across the nocturnal sea. The ocean-wide song of them rocking in the water sang itself, played itself out as it poured off the world stage. It didn’t need to be done. Nothing needed to be done but in Dritty’s mind. He who put old batteries in all of the stars so they might flicker overhead in the formerly dead night when comets and meteors tired of their running, panted tongue-sweaty and drank the waters just beneath the horizon. And he who swept those same slackers in his mastodon nets to haul them in and swing them back up into play. They hated him for it and would have plotted his destruction had they more than a jackal’s sense and distractions.

I myself for extended years smothered, too tied up in the Kepla fires to overly concern myself with any of it. Over time they burned black sigils into both of my souls, scarring me with forever regrets and excuse enough for a free responsibility ride my whole crawling slow life. I did revel in Dritty’s water music, however. Its turquoise spray cooled my skin, made my flames pop. His tropical winds washed the ash from my body. I rolled and I lolled and before I knew it, I forgot the bindings and they burned themselves through. I fell free again and damned myself to no avail. Terrifying scary. I ran to find the next prison so I could curse and cry and scream at injustice once more. So I could feel safe again.

In time I came to hate Dritty, though I couldn’t point to why. The troubles into which I sank myself never seemed deep enough, the drink never drunk enough. I cried chilling in sweat-soaked beds, I scratched at my father’s eyes, felt the acupuncture thirst and still I starved. Maybe down in my intestines where I never saw, only felt, I held some Dritty-shaped lump of blame in there. I didn’t like to think of him.

I always thought of him.

When the Dread locked down the weevils, they fled scamper-shot into their wholes and all talk of Revolution became all talk. Dritty cranked the World on its axis with a creaking and groan of that old wooden wheel that made the savage thunder meep in comparison. There lived villages out there, I tell you, villages that knew what went on and flew their kites high into the black sky beyond the blue to catch the super orbital photon winds which came only one time in a Dritty mood. In all the little worlds of frying eggs and falling loves and the sweet taste of coconut, each and every thing of us made a little world in each and only event. We all ran worlds, just a question of their scale. Dritty made the big world happen.

In my grey wanderings I fled from my own void up the skystep to find the old Dritty cotton-candying the winds. I felt the weight of everything there in his red barn lair. His single rooster, a Rhode Island Magnetite Red, perched permanently overhead, bowed and dizzy. Straw floors gritted and stabbed my bare feet. A googly-eyed froggy magnet pinned one single paper to a vast rippling expanse of refrigerator door that doubled propping up the Moon. The paper, done on the Indonesian Postal Service in fat orange crayon, sported a B-minus in red ink and a smiley sticker above the words “Good Try!” This, of all of his accomplishments merited the door. My eyes ran. So sweet. Simple.

Watching him there I contemplated the even bigger world, the climb of magnitude up that made ones like us look out and wonder. Well, I just felt the weight of even everythinger. I nearly fell faint with the crushingest pressure that the universe knows as Anxiety. But I saved me by a glance of Dritty’s mighty oaken limbs, muscles bulging from muscles, hewn from the iron cores of stony worlds and they worked. They worked our corner of cosmos like the watch-spring whipping tensions of spiral galaxies, forces of nature, natures of force, and habanero pepper seeds. And there came no fatigue in those old bones. Lactic acids splashed off of him, beaded up and rolled from his Armor-All D.A., impenetrable!

Power and potential never occurred to him. He just felt the need to work those big machines and he galumphed off, from one to another, spinning plates on their poles while gamma radiation bursts played the circus music behind him. Beneath his fingertips, life tasted lemon sharp and ran pug wild and Dritty never even knew it. He just lived. Just lived. His lungs drew hard and his hot blood forced itself through supple, long arteries, roaring rivers pounding dams to dust. He bellowed from Hindenburg lungs to rock the space-time foundations until a little blip in the vast infinity/eternity saw dinosaurs riding cowboys in Tokyo Bay. One wonder-spitting child, racing from thing to glorious thing as if his life could never fit it all.

Only when I took in the absolute of him, that entire life captured in his body, the oppressive wholeness spilled off of me like it never soaked into him. I went to him, rubbed his vast Volkswagen shoulders and I thanked The Allness for him, for that great Paul Bunyan chest, for the magma heart that burned white within it. He was too busy working worlds to shrink before their masses, more alive than that whole damned writhingeatingfuckingshitting biosphere.

In that next instant he turned to me. His large, calloused hand cupped my face. I smelled the ozone on his breath till my pee hole burned and hot liquid ran down my inner thighs. So unknown, Dritty’s attention on me! Why?

He looked in me. I stood bare for the most intimate of all physical exams. My liver, my kidneys, my brains, all saw sunshine for the first time in their lives. All of us needed to cringe in his eyelight. None of us could, exquisite and painful.

Your beautiful fires,” he said, “They have become unkindled.” He held me, wrapped those tree trunk arms around me gentle as a kitten, scritchily licked the salt from my body. He healed my wounds, the runes on my skin and the ruins deep below its surface. I took him into me, me, long toes, long breasts and he wide and weighty. We disturbed the silk of caterpillar nest which held the heavens in place. Worlds shook with our exertions and gravity boiled.

When he moved on to the next piece of existence, I sat on the skystep and found myself for the first time devoid of have-tos. My former addictions, every niggling one, from morphine to blinking, scattered on the winds like dandelion seeds. Directions shot out of me like rays of laser, but I would sit here for a while and catch my breath. I stretched my corneas and watched my baby at play, five thousand miles away.

* * *

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Trip to Lyon & Posts on Amazing Stories


I went to Lyon, France with my family for a few days of tourism recently. We stayed in a nice little hotel on the Presqu'ile (the "Almost Island") of Lyon. The town is good sized, but much of it is within walking distance. They also have a great public transportation system with subway, trams and electric bus routes. We got a 2-day tourist pass, which gave us free access to many museums, the transportation system and discounts on other stuff. We made good use of it!

Before I get into it, with pictures and all I'd like to tell you quickly about the other things that have been going on lately:


I forgot to post about the Speculative Poetry Round Up that went up on Amazing Stories recently. In it, I showcase the website Niteblade, The poetry in Amy H. Sturgis' Halloween Countdown, The SFPA's annual Halloween Poetry Reading and their online journal Eye to the Telescope, a poem by F.J. Bergmann and the Mythic Delirium Anthology. Enjoy!

* * *
My most recent post on Amazing Stories ("Music - Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music, Vol. 1 Craig Leon") went up today. It's on the subject of Music, so something a little different. My friend and colleague Craig Leon has had some of his pioneering electronic music from the early 80's re-released (and improved) on CD and vinyl ("Early Electronic Works - Nommos Visiting" and "Anthology of Interpolanetary Folk Music, Vol. 1 respectively). Since the inspiration for the music is pretty Science Fictional I was given permission to feature the CD and record on my blog at Amazing Stories. 

* * *


This is what we did in Lyon (not necessarily in this order) with accompanying pictures.

We went to the Miniatures and Cinema Museum, which was great and a big hit with the boy (Whew!).



We ate MANY very good meals with way too much food. We tried many of the local specialties, such as quenelles (a sort of huge, oblong dumpling often served with a lobster sauce), Saucissons briochés (a sort of huge pig in a blanket), coussin (chocolate pralines) and way too much more at the special Bouchons restaurants as well as other places.















We went on a boat cruise on the Saone, but despite our intentions didn't go on any others (on the Rhone, for example). We meant to go to the Planetarium, but we got lost and ended up at the (free) zoo instead, which was really nice, but brief, because it was already late in the day.



















Dante had three trips on the carrousel. We saw the Roman ruins, which were amazing.
















We walked along the top of the hill trying in vain to find the Roman Aqueducts on the way to the Basilica Fourviére.















On our way back to Paris we stopped in Auxerre for lunch, which turned out to be an unexpected gem of a town. It was full of half-timbered houses and BIG churches. We only went into two of them. The first church (with the red doors) was empty except for us, so I sang a bit of Hildegard von Bingen. It was the perfect acoustic for her music - live, but not too much so.




* * *

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!

* * *