June 14th, 2006

ozarque figure

Science fiction poetry; book review; and a poetry news note...

The 2006 Rhysling Anthology

Yesterday the mail brought my copy of the new Rhysling Anthology [full title: The 2006 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2005], edited by Drew Morse, and published by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in cooperation with Prime Books. It's a 146-page paperback, very nicely designed and produced, with all 89 poems nominated for this year's award inside. And almost every one of those 89 poems really is, even by my definition, a science fiction (or sf fantasy, or sf horror) poem. I was deeply impressed by the quality of the work in this anthology, and I recommend it without reservation.

Just a few of the many good things in this book:

"Prayer Causes Stars"
A poem by Greg Beatty that offers a substantial hypothesis linking stars and prayer, in only three lines...

"Colder"
A heartbreaking and beautifully-crafted poem by Jennifer Crow that lays out one of the hardest choices a woman could make in space travel, and its aftermath...

"Ratatouille"
A poem by James S. Dorr answering the question "What if rats could fly?"

"Baskets Full of Gods"
A wonderful poem by Rio Le Moignan about trading in gods, that "slumber in their wicker beds, not yet numinous," with special "cloth godlets" for babies...

"Fighting the Tide"
A sorrowing poem by Melissa Marr that re-tells the Silkie tale, from the point of view of the woman who loves him and bears his children and knows how it will all have to end, and makes it vivid and new...

"Thoughts, From a Sin Eater"
A poem by Pam McNew that not only tells us what it's like to eat sin, but also carefully outlines the etiquette of eating sin...

"South"
A fine love-and-global-climate-change poem, by Marge Simon...

"Cock"
A poem by Albert Goldbarth absolutely packed tight with science and narrative and history, that you can read over and over again without ever growing tired of it, always learning something new with each reading...

"First Cross of Mars:
A startling and impressive poem by Drew Morse, that begins with these two lines:
"I came to Mars, alone, for one reason:
To leave God on Earth to those who need it"...

"An Infernal Firmament"
A ingenious sort of tarot-poem by Tobias Seamon, telling us about The Dotard and The Dervish and The Black Cat and The Cross-Eyed Calf, and more....

"Shadowplay":
An unforgettable prose poem by Sonya Taaffe that takes a love apart and puts it back together again and takes it apart again, endlessly, one exquisite detail after another, with lines like "If you cut me out of your pictures, I could forgive you" and "If you were to raise your eyes to mine, even to curse me, I might reassemble like Ezekiel's clicking jackstraws in this dryest valley where once our words were rain..."...


Often, when I cast my vote for the Rhyslings, it's easy; the two poems (one short, one long) that I feel should get the awards just leap out at me from the anthology and there's absolutely no question in my mind. This year was different. There was so much excellent work that choosing which poems to vote for was almost impossible. There was so much excellent work that choosing which of the poems to mention in this review was almost impossible. As a science fiction poet, I can't imagine a more encouraging dilemma.

For more information -- to see the handsome Maxfield Parrish cover, and the full table of contents -- and to order copies, please go to http://www.sfpoetry.com/rhysling.html . The ISBN is 0-8095-6264-2.


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Poetry News Note

I just heard on NPR that Donald Hall is our new U.S. Poetry Laureate, and I am so delighted! One of my very favorite poets, Donald Hall....

Things -- poetry things -- are looking up.