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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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Amazing Stories: Poetry Round Up June 2014

With this my 6th poetry round up since I started blogging for Amazing Stories, I guess I can call it a Thing. With astonishing regularity (every 2 months) I've trolled the internet to find great genre poetry. I showcase a bit of what I find and hopefully point people toward some poetry they might otherwise have missed.

Here's a snippet:


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one poet whose work I have admired almost since I discovered SF poetry was a thing is Sonya Taaffe. She writes short fiction and poetry, which can be found in ... She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons.

She pointed me toward five recent online publications of her poetry, as well as a couple of print anthologies, one of which I will review in the coming months. I’ve already mentioned two of the online poems in the previous iteration of the Round-up (in Goblin Fruit and inkscrawl), but there were three I hadn’t consciously seen yet and one more I (re-)discovered on my own....

Go here - "Poetry Round Up June 2014" - to read the rest!

Enjoy!

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daydreamer

My son is a daydreamer. Or maybe he's just a 4 year old genius concocting the next earth-shattering invention(s). If his Lego vehicles are any indication, it might be the latter, but I'll reserve judgement.

I lead with this because I'm happy I can claim it with relative certitude and that I'm not blogging about how my son was instead diagnosed with something (more) serious. You see, his perfectly wonderful and well-meaning teachers (and his classmates as well) had noticed his trips to La-la-land were pretty frequent and came sometimes at very odd moments. They called my husband and I in for a meeting to ask us if we'd noticed anything (well yes, but never thought anything of it) and to suggest we may want to ask a doctor about it and see if it's something more serious than going off to Outer Space.

First, I went to his pediatrician, the doctor here in Paris who knows him pretty well. She said she had no expertise in this area, but that the description called to mind Absence Epilepsy, which, in case you are, like me, clueless, is where the brain takes a break from connecting synapses for about 10 seconds or less. Apparently, it can develop into more serious forms of epilepsy.  So, she called another doctor to ask for a recommendation of a pediatric neurologist that speaks English. She made an appointment for us with her (at the American Hospital in Neuilly) and also an appointment for an EEG to be done at the public hospital in Neuilly a week prior. Unfortunately, the appointment with the specialist was for in a month's time at 18:30 (6:30pm) because she only does consultations on Wednesday evenings.

In the meantime, our son went off for 5 days and 4 nights on Classe Verte, the annual overnight field trip to spend time more involved with nature. He came home totally energized and the teachers said he was a different boy there - attentive, engaged and excited. He still wants to know when the next Classe Verte is!

The EEG test itself was a bit of an adventure in and of itself, but my boy was brave and tried hard to hold it together, even though people touching or messing with his head/hair is something he can't abide. He fell asleep during the test (which I guess is ideal) and the administer said there was no sign of absence epilepsy or anything else unusual. Phew. But we still had to go see the specialist with the scan/results.

Because both hospitals are outside of Paris (even if only just a bit) and very close to one another, I arranged to go to pick up the results of the EEG immediately before our consultation with the neurologist. The radiology desk closed at 5:30pm so we arrived around 5. Waited. 20 minutes. Only to be told the scan couldn't be found. I will spare you the rant about how unfriendly and unhelpful the woman was, raising her voice as if I were deaf and would understand French better that way. I eventually discovered that the doctor who administered the test wasn't in the hospital and I would have to call the next day to try and track the scan down. All she could give me at that time was a general results document. Great. So, I'm supposed to go to the neurologist sans scan?!? Yup. That's what I did. At least the results were negative!

We arrived at the American Hospital 45 minutes early and were told that the doctor was running late. OK, well I was prepared - I'd brought dinner for Dante at least and we had lots of books because we'd visited the library just before embarking on our odyssey. Little did I know we'd wait for 4 and a half hours to see the neurologist! We were the second to last people to see her and the secretary had gone home. The security guard wanted to lock up, but kindly said he'd come back later. The specialist said she'd had an emergency and was terribly sorry but glad that we'd waited. (Well, what choice did we have? It's too hard to get in to see her!)

The doctor had him do some standard things to test his symmetry and what-not. Walk on tip-toe, on his heels, toe to heel in a straight line. The latter he couldn't do, because he was laughing so hard. He thought the whole thing was hilarious. Because naturally, he'd reached Slap-Happy. Better that than desperate because he should've been asleep for an hour by then! Needless to say, she thought he seemed like a perfectly healthy boy with better than average language skills (speaking 4 languages as he does), with no other detectible abnormalities. She would have a look at the scan at a later date and if necessary we could come in again.

Luckily, we caught a bus immediately, but it was still almost 11pm when he was finally asleep. I decided to let him sleep in, instead of going to school on time the next morning. And it was a good thing, he broke his record by sleeping until 9:00am!

I'm exceedingly relieved that he's just, like his mom and his dad before him, a daydreamer.





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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Amazing Stories: Poetry Review - Scenes Along the Zombie Highway, G. O. Clark

I know I promised a non-Amazing Stories post as my next one, but time seems to fly by these days Scenes Along the Zombie Highway) has gone up and you can read it here. Here's a snippet:
and I haven't had a chance to sit down an write something that WASN'T for Amazing Stories... So now today my latest review (of G.O. Clark's

 
-->Scenes Along the Zombie Highway is his most recent collection, jumping on the bandwagon of zombie enthusiasm. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of zombies. I find the idea pretty disgusting and creepy and I don’t enjoy being grossed out. This collection, however, is not full of splatter, blood and guts (although there is plenty of gore – don’t ask me what the distinction is), so if you are looking for that kind of thrill you’d be better off looking elsewhere. Clark’s poems are first and foremost informative, then creepy, grisly and even a little bit tongue-in-cheek funny. At least that’s how they strike me.
I hope you enjoy!

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