Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Family: My brother's family in France

It's been a while since I blogged about anything personal. I've been pretty caught up in blogging for Amazing Stories and podcasting for StarShipSofa (and others), that it must seem like that's all I blog about anymore. Well, that changes today!

My brother, Tom and his wife, Barb and their son, Sam came to France a week ago today. They departed this morning, which is why I have a moment to blog in the first place. It was their first trip to the City of Light and only their 2nd trip to Europe (the last being for our wedding in 2006!) and it was all too brief. But boy did they (we) pack it in!

We spent the weekend on the coast of Normandy. My brother had one "druther" and that was to visit the historical sites of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 during WWII. We visited the Memorial Museum in Caen after a picnic lunch on Saturday.
 Then we drove to Bayeux and our hotel. From there we were headed for Omaha beach, but veered off to visit the American Cemetery instead. Omaha Beach is a long stretch beach which we could see from the edge of the steep hill above it where the cemetery lies. The Cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful, moving place to visit. Here are some pictures:

We had a nice Norman meal (not good for Tom's gout, however!) and called it a night.

The next day we went straight to Pointe du Hoc, where the American Rangers climbed the 90 foot cliff to seize the German's lookout and anti-aircraft missile launchers etc. Even 70 years later the devastation is still evident. It was sobering to climb into the cement bunkers and see the bullet holes (gouges, really) in the walls just inside the doorways. It's a beautiful landscape, however and we had gorgeous weather. Here are a few pictures:

After lunch at the only place open for miles and miles we went back to Bayeux to visit the Cathedral (Notre-Dame of Bayeux), which was very beautiful and to see the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

There was an elderly lady in the Cathedral who pointed out the stained glass window honoring all the nations that contributed to the liberation of France from the Nazis. She bowed her head, touched her heart and said, "Merci".

We then went and saw the Bayeux Tapestry (or embroidered mile of cloth to be precise), which is extraordinary. the have it in a horseshoe shaped hallway and you can view it with an audio commentary of the story the tapestry tells, which is highly recommended! They have a children's version, but I'm not sure Dante quite understood how it worked for quite a while. The English version was quite entertaining. It was delivered in a deadpan British voice, which reminded me of Monty Python: "The march went through a village where, lamentably, there were a few houses which had to be destroyed. Well, never mind."

It was all-in-all a very moving weekend!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Amazing Stories: Poetry Round-up April 2014

Just in time for National Poetry Month I've had another stroll through the interwebs in search of great poetry for my bi-monthly Round-up on Amazing Stories Magazine. Great SF poetry, that is. But there's also quite a bit of good poetry, full stop. Head over and read it here, please! Here's a teaser:
April is National Poetry Month (NPM)in the US. It always seems to catch me unaware or at least a little inaccessible. And this year I’ve been taking a quasi sabbatical from FaceBook through Easter, and so I haven’t been hyper tune-in to all things trivial and important lately, including NPM. It’s been pretty liberating, I must say, turning off FaceBook notifications on my phone and only checking in briefly in the morning and when I have something like this blog-post to promote. But I didn’t want to let April slide by (again) without doing my best to promote a bit of poetry. And there’s lots going on in genre poetry for NPM. I hope I’ll be able to point you in the direction of something that takes your breath away, gives you chills and perhaps even makes you chuckle.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Amazing Stories: Poetry Review - Blue Sunset by Mary Jo Rabe

I review an interesting collection of linked poetry about the first colony on Mars in this week's installment at Amazing Stories: Blue Sunset, by Mary Jo Rabe.

Here's a snippet:

I “know” Mary Jo Rabe through the Science Fiction Poetry Association, but only in the virtual sense. Because she also lived in Germany, where I was at the time, I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out we had several things in common: Being from Iowa (well, I was born there and have extended family there) and my aunt’s name is Mary Jo. Mary Jo the SF poet from Iowa and living in Germany is a warm, open and engaging person and those traits come out in her poetry.
You'll have to go to Amazing Stories Mag to read the actual review and hear the poetry - I hope you will! These are very enjoyable poems. If you liked The Spoon River Anthology and you like people, you'll like these poems. No interest in Mars or Science Fiction necessary...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Amazing Stories: Poetry Reviews - Where Rockets Burn Through and Spaces of Their Own, by Russell Jones et al

My latest post for Amazing Stories will go went up today! In it I review two books of poetry. The first is the anthology Where Rockets Burn Through, edited by Russell Jones. The second is Jones' own chapbook poetry collection Spaces of Their Own. It's a very long post with LOTS of poetry to listen to. I hope you'll read and listen to all of it. It's so worth it. You can find the post here (when it goes up!).

Because there are 19 poets represented in this post, I couldn't give any of them individual airtime, so to speak. I'd like to make up for that in this post, so if you are interested in any one poet from my review, you can read more here and follow links to their work. I know poets appreciate the time you take to look into what they are doing, so thank you!

Russell Jones - an Edinburgh-based writer, editor and researcher. His first collection of poems, "The Last Refuge" was published in 2009 by Forest Publications. He is guest editor of The Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. His most recent collection of sci-fi poems is "Spaces of Their Own" (Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2013). Russell has researched and published on the science fiction poetry of Edwin Morgan. (From his website)

Edwin Morgan - Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) published many volumes of poetry including Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems (Glasgow: Third Eye, 1979), as well as collections of essays, most of which are available from Carcanet Press and Mariscat Press. Morgan translated poetry from Italian, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Hungarian, French, German, and other languages. Among other achievements he was made Glasgow’s first Poet Laureate in 1999 and was named as the first Scottish national poet — the Scots Makar — in 2004. (From Where Rockets Burn Through WRBT)

Alisdair Gray - is a Scottish writer and artist. His most acclaimed work is his first novel, Lanark, published in 1981 and written over a period of almost 30 years. It is now regarded as a classic, and was described by The Guardian as "one of the landmarks of 20th-century fiction." His novel Poor Things (1992) won the Whitbread Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. He describes himself as (despite critical comments regarding the influence of English immigrants to Scotland) a civic nationalist and a republican. "From Wikipedia)

Steve Sneyd - His most recent SF poetry collection is Mistaking The Nature of The Posthuman (2009). SF-related readings include the 1995 National Year of Literature, Swansea, Radio 4’s Stanza in Space, Newham Libraries SF Festival, and SF conventions. He has written many books and articles about SF poetry and has been a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association since 1977. MA in Poetry (1999). (From WRBT)

--> Jane McKie - Her first collection, Morocco Rococo (Cinnamon Press), was awarded the 2008 Sundial/Scottish Arts Council prize for best first book of 2007. Her other publications include When the Sun Turns Green (Polygon, 2009), and Garden of Bedsteads (Mariscat, 2011) which was a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice. She won the 2011 Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition and is currently working on a third collection of poems.  She is also interested in writing short stories and reads with the Edinburgh-based Writers' Bloc.
--> James McGonigal - is a Glasgow-based poet, editor and critic. He has published on Ezra Pound and Basil Bunting, Scottish religious poetry and Scots-Irish writing. Recent work includes his biography of Edwin Morgan, Beyond the Last Dragon (Sandstone Press, 2010, 2012) Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year; Poetry: Cloud Pibroch (Mariscat Press, 2010) winner of the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet Award; The Poetry of Edwin Morgan and 'Life Sentences' in Black Middens: New Writing Scotland 31.
Sarah Hesketh - Sarah Hesketh was born in 1983 and brought up in Pendle, East Lancashire. Her first full collection of poetry Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf, was published in 2009 by Penned in the Margins and was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2010. She currently lives in London and works part time as the Events and Publications Manager for the Poetry Translation Centre as well as teaching creative writing for the Open University.

Andy Jackson - Andy Jackson (b.1965) has had poems published in Magma, Gutter, Trespass, New Writing Scotland and other journals. His collection The Assassination Museum was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2010, and he edited Split Screen : Poetry inspired by film & television, published in 2012, also by Red Squirrel Press. He blogs at "Otwituaries".

Simon Barraclough - is the author of the Forward-finalist debut, Los Alamos Mon Amour (Salt, 2008), Bonjour Tetris (Penned in the Margins, 2010) and Neptune Blue (Salt, 2011). He is the editor of Psycho Poetica (Sidekick Books, 2012) and co-author of The Debris Field (Sidekick Books, 2013). He is currently poet in residence at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey and working on a book and event entitled Sunspots. An Article in Pages Of Magazine. An Interview.

Jane Yolen - Jane Yolen is a widely published author of 300+ books. Her poetry has been in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. Two-time Nebula winner for short fiction, she’s also a World Fantasy Grand Master and a Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master. Six colleges have given her honorary doctorates.

--> Dilys Rose - Dilys Rose has published eleven books, including Red Tides, Pest Maiden, Lord of Illusions and Bodywork. Her work has received a number of awards. She enjoys creative collaborations and is currently completing the text for a song cycle. Her novel, Pelmanism, will be published later this year by Luath Press.
Aiko Harman - is a Los Angeles native now living in Scotland where she completed an MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. Aiko’s poetry is published in The Best British Poetry 2011, Anon, and The Edinburgh Review, among others.

Ian McLachlan - His illustrated poetry pamphlet Confronting the Danger of Art  is available from Sidekick Books. He has recently completed a story consisting of twenty-six poems about a London vampire and is currently scoping out publishers. Two poems from this collection can be read in the Spring 2014 issue of Magma. He tweets @ianjmclachlan.

Kirsten Irving - Kirsten Irving is one of the editors behind collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books. Her first collection, Never Never Never Come Back, was released in 2012 by Salt Publishing. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, translated into Russian and Spanish and thrown out of a helicopter. She is currently writing on a steampunk novel-poetry crossover and works as a freelance copywriter. She blogs at "Copy That".

Kona MacPhee - (a lifelong SF fan) grew up in Australia and now lives in Scotland. Her second collection, Perfect Blue (Bloodaxe 2010), won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for 2010. Her most recent collection is What Long Miles.

 WN Herbert - has been visiting this planet in a number of disguises over the last few millennia. Most recent cover story is he was born in Dundee in 1961, XXX is published by Bloodaxe Books, and teaches Creative Writing at Newcastle University. But he’s fooling no-one.

 Andrew J. Wilson - "Merciless" originally appeared in Split Screen: Poetry Inspired by Film & Television, edited by Andy Jackson (Red Squirrel Press, 2012), and then, after being selected for Where Rockets Burn Through, it was reprinted again in Weird Tales #361. His short stories, articles and poems have been published all over the world. Recent work appears in A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock and Split Screen: Poetry Inspired by Film & Television. With Neil Williamson, he co-edited the award-nominated anthology Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction.

Claire Askew - Her poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Guardian, The Edinburgh Review, The Istanbul Review and Poetry Scotland.  Her work has also been widely anthologised and won many awards, most recently the inaugural International Salt Prize for Poetry.  She works at Scottish Book Trust as a project co-ordinator, and blogs at One Night Stanzas.

Sue Guiney - Though a native New Yorker, she has lived in London for over twenty years. Besides science, her writing now focuses on modern Cambodia where she teaches for a part of each year. She is the author of 3 novels and 2 poetry collections. Out of the Ruins, Wardwood Publishing.

Ken MacLeod - Ken MacLeod has written more than 13 novels, from The Star Fraction (1995) to Intrusion (2012). In 2009 he was Writer in Residence at the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum. He is now Writer in Residence at the MA Creative Writing course, Edinburgh Napier University. His most recent novel is Descent.

Ron Butlin - is the Edinburgh Makar. An international prize-winning author, his novel The Sound of My Voice was included in the Guardian’s 1000 Books You Have To Read. He is also an opera librettist, short story writer and playwright. His new novel, Ghost Moon, will be published in April; and his new opera, Wedlock, will be premiered later this year by Scottish Opera.

Pippa Goldschmidt - is a writer based in Edinburgh. I used to be a professional astronomer and much of my writing is inspired by science. My novel ‘The Falling Sky’ about a scientist who thinks she’s found evidence contradicting the Big Bang theory was a finalist in the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012 and was published last year by Freight Books. My short stories, non-fiction and poetry have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Gutter, Lablit, New Writing Scotland and the New York Times.

Thanks for reading!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Amazing Stories: Speculative Poetry Round-up 2/2014: (Mostly) British

My latest blog post on Amazing Stories came out today. Since the reviews I'm working on, especially of the anthology of British Science Fiction Poetry Where Rockets Burn Through, are taking me longer than expected, I decided to do another round-up. This has become my emergency back-up plan, but it seems that they are also quite popular, so I don't feel too badly about doing it a week earlier than planned. I've had British SF Poetry on the brain lately, and I seem to have found a lot of historical stuff, so I hope you enjoy.

Now, however, I'll have to make sure I have poetry recorded for the review planned February 26 before we leave on vacation. My son has the last 2 weeks of February off of school and we are going to Italy to visit his Nonna and Nonno. Needless to say, I'd rather not miss a scheduled post and miraculously I'm pretty well-prepared.

Anyway, here's a little snippet of today's post:

First, we have a very small ‘Zine, a Newsletter really (only one sheet of paper printed on both sides!). It’s called Handshake and it’s produced sporadically by John Francis Haines,. I found a little introduction written by Haines which states:
HANDSHAKE started in 1992 after discussions between myself and Steve Sneyd, as we felt there was a need of some kind of “British” equivalent of the USA based Science Fiction Poetry Association.
I found this intro to the pamphlet on a webpage no longer maintained by John Howard in which he collected the poetry printed on Handshake into the Handshake Anthology. There’s lots of great poetry to be read there by Steve Snyde, Giovanni Malito (and Italo-Canadian active in Ireland at the time), Douglas Forward, Andrew Darlington and others as well as the well-known US poet Bruce Boston:
Handshake Anthology
John Howard produced a short-lived WebZine called House of Moonlight, which also has some nice poetry by British poets you can still read online:
House of Moonlight
These poets seem impossible to find and further digging has uncovered...
...uncovered what, exactly? Well you'll just have to go to Amazing Stories to read the full post:

Speculative Poetry Round-up 2/2014: (Mostly) British

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Poetry Planet - 2013 SFPA Poetry Contest

The show will go has gone up Wednesday 22 January 2013 ca. 10:00 GST! Alas, it is a botched version, having omitted the winning dwarf length poem by Lorraine Schein! The corrected version (minus all the great fiction on the StarShipSofa version) can be listened to through the SFPA site here.

Yes, I'm finally getting this edition of Poetry Planet out to the world. It's been in the works for a long time and basically on hold while I worked on several other projects. Poetry Planet No. 12 showcases the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place poems in three length categories in the 2013 Poetry Contest sponsored by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This was my donation to the prizes for the contest. You can listen here on StarShipSofa No. 321. You'll find it at about the 1:18.00 (one hour eighteen minutes). (edit: go ahead and listen to it for the fiction though!)

The poems you'll hear on the podcast are:

Dwarf length (10 lines or less):
3. "A Butterfly in Costa Rica", by Mary C. Rowin
2. "The Spell No One Said at Her Birth", by Jennifer Schomburg Kanke
1. "Dorothy’s Poem", by Lorraine Schein (please listen!)

The Short form poems (up to 49 lines): 
3. "Wolf’s Four Question", by Megan Arkenberg
2. "The Martian’s Wife", by Helen Patrice
1. "We Pay Our Fare in Apples Here", by Megan Arkenberg

And the Long Form poems (50 lines and above):
3. "The Dyson Tree’s Promise", by Bryant O’Hara
2. "Hungry as Living Sorrow", by Jenny Blackford
1. "The Girl Who Tipped Through Time …", by Robert Frazier

I give biographical information about each poet during the course of the podcast and also brief anecdotal background to the poems themselves. I encourage you to listen to these poems twice! The second time you can skip through every thing non-poetic!

 Some of these poets' names (at least) will be familiar to you, if you follow speculative poetry or have listened to Poetry Planet or read my blog at Amazing Stories regularly. Since I don't want to clutter the podcast with linkage, please find below recently published works by each of the poets and where you can find their websites and blogs etc. Please help support these poets and visit their sites and read more of their poetry. They work so hard!

Megan Arkenberg - Blog and Bibliography/News.
"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" (fiction) appears in The Lorelei Signal, January-April 2014.
"Necromancies" (poetry) appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Goblin Fruit.

Jenny Blackford - Website  and Blog.  
Star*Line Editor's Choice: Their Quantum Toy .

Robert Frazier - ISFDB Entry. Paintings. Collection Phantom Navigation
 Star*Line Editor's Choice: Lost in Holographic Storage.

Bryant O'Hara - Soundcloud poetry. "In the Era of the Silent" in Eyedrum Periodically. 
"How to Fix the Poet" feature about Bryant.

Helen Patrice - Blog
Poetry Collection: A Woman of Mars
Diane's review of A Woman of Mars

Mary C. Rowin - Blog
"Yellow Curve" in VerseWisconsin

Lorraine Schein - Book: The Futurist's Mistress from Mayapple Press
Anthology: Alice Redux Editor Richard Peabody
"Merlin" in Strange Horizons
"Three Glass Shards" in Enchanted Conversation

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Narration Fixation #2 - Poetry (+playlist)

I was recently interviewed on a video podcast dedicated to narration, specifically (in this episode, and because I was the guest) on pod-casting poetry. It was fun. I didn't hem and haw too much... I recite Ann K. Schwader's Rhysling Award winning poem "To Theia" about two-thirds of the way through.


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