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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.




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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Liminality and Undoing Winter

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

Here's a snippet from my review of Liminality:

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

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

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


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

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Interview Part 2 and Reviews in print

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

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

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

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Narrations and Interviews

It's an eventful day, y'all!

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

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

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


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Amazing Stories - Poetry Review - Wolf Skin by Mary McMyne

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

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

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

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

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