The Cabinet of Curiosities Literary Extravanganza was fabulous fun last night! Readings and giveaways and beer and signings and books and conversations and beer and very loud rain and Bull Spec and beer and… Bull Spec issue 6 is out in print–go get it if you haven’t got it coming by subscription!
Also coming out soon is the third issue of Fantastique Unfettered, of which I got a sneak peek at the poetry and an interview with Mike Allen, editor of speculative poetry ‘zine Mythic Delirium. Fantastique’s poetry editor, Alexa Seidel, has assembled a compelling selection of poems for this issue, and I look forward to seeing more poetry in Fantastique Unfettered. Here’s what’s on tap in issue 3:
There is a poignance in these poems: an ache and a loss, a love and a surrender, a luscious melange of sorrow and love. Bruce Boston’s “Relative Weights and Measures” starts off seeming cerebral science fiction poetry–until you reach the end and the simple contrasts of measures in the poem above becomes an unresolved tension in the image of a woman, presumably a loved one, cutting her hair after a certain length; this poem rewards one in multiple re-readings.
“Green Rushes”, by J.S. Watts, carries on the imagery of hair, of caring for it, of love and friendship mediated through the combing, plaiting, snarling of hair. There is a hint of folk tales in this poem, of a lover summoned by combing one’s hair at night “Apple core in one hand, brush in the other, / Just to see who came in…” and it, too, ends with a note of sorrow, and the cutting of hair.
The theme of love is picked up in Lisa Bradley’s “In Defiance of Sleek-Armed Androids”. There is a delicious ache in this poem: “I need to stub my soul on yours, / I need to lick the slivers in your wounds.” I love Bradley’s way of rendering emotion visceral, as she does in this poem and the others I’ve read (like “The Haunted Girl” in Goblin Fruit, Fall 2010 and “Kyrielle for a Cloned Baby” in Bull Spec issue 5).
“The Cartographer’s Ache”, by Robert Stutts, is also a love story and eeriely echoes the fragmented form-fitting evoked in Bradley’s poem. Here, the map is the territory, charting the emotions of two lovers, too distant: “now only overlays of you / remain within me”. I must admit that the end of the poem feels weak to me, compared with the rest, for dragons are plotted on the map but their significance to the lovers is not readily apparent.
Stutts’ second poem, “Blodeuedd, or the Maiden of Flowers”, is exquisite. If you are already familiar with the tale from the Welsh Mabinogion, the poem speaks from the myth beautifully, with a much sharper edge than the original. If you don’t know the myth, Stutts version of it gives one more than enough to sink into. Bees among flowers frame the poem. For me personally, the scents of the soil, of the green earth, of “honey and limes” hold a great weight and texture of meaning after reading Amal El-Mohtar’s The Honey Month. My favorite line of the poem comes from the middle. I must share it with you: “The only way to love you was to keep a dream of your death in my heart.”
Don’t get (entirely) lost in the poems, though–or, at least pause on the way to read the interview with Mike Allen, editor of Mythic Delirium and the Clockwork Phoenix series. Allen has been active in the speculative poetry community since (at least) the ’90s, both as a writer and an editor/publisher. Seidel’s interview covers the usual territory of such conversations, but do read it for a hint of how Allen performs his poems and an insight into the darkness present in his writing. I enjoyed learning more of Allen and how he approaches both editing and writing.