This is the April 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, featuring links to my work online, exclusive looks at work in progress and recommendations of other people’s writing, as well as giveaways and subscribers’ discounts.
Current subscribers have just received the May edition of the newsletter, an edited version of which will appear here once the June issue goes out. So by signing up you get a look at what I’m up to & thinking about before anyone else.
Greetings from the abandoned goldfields of Central Victoria, welcome to anyone who’s new and welcome back to those of you who continue to not unsubscribe.
This is episode four of Adam’s Occasional Poetry News.
I’m a little late this the month, but we’re still calling it “April” because, well, it’s still April.
So let’s have a bit of the old TL;DR:
- What I’m working on: I have written 59 space-cyborg poems (yes you heard me)
- Acceptances & rejections: Unloved by Overland and the New Yorker
- What I’m reading: Nathan Curnow and Claudia Rankine and Ta-Nehisi Coates, oh my!
POEM: Spaceknight – Update
I have just hit publish on the 59th poem for Poem: Spaceknight, which means I’ve responded to 57 of the 79 regular issues plus 2 of the 4 annuals. Which means 20 poems to go.
It’s been a time of exhaustion and self-doubt as I slog through this self-imposed and mildly ludicrous task, but also a time of joyful abandonment and swearing-“fuck-you”-at-the-moon levels of wilful hubris.
Here’s one from the latest batch I’m kind of keen on at the moment, and not just because of the supervillian/cyborg snog.
(ROM Spaceknight #32, July 1982)
the kiss catches
them both by surprise
she expecting the familiar rush that
comes with the use of her power
to absorb other people’s abilities
involuntary catch of breath
subtle crackle of static through her hair
he expecting to remain cold and impassive
like the metal he allowed to replace
his long-lost star-crossed humanity
unmoved by physical contact
artificial heart steady in its measure
lost or forgotten
wakes after so many years
altruism and self-sacrifice
liveliness and warmth
if she can still see the difference
between right and wrong
she can still make a choice
if he can still be moved
by another’s touch
there may still be hope for him
if a stranger in a snowstorm
can stir such feelings
in the heat of battle
if he is still capable
of this quickening
with unfeeling circuitry
if she is still capable
of this recognition
they both have much
to think about
and more than enough
reason to stop fighting
You can read the other 58 here on Poem: Spaceknight.
I have had so much more positive support for this dinky little project than I ever had a right to expect, for which I am unspeakably grateful.
Poets whose work I deeply respect have said nice and constructive things.
Fellow Rom fans from the wilds of social media have actually retweeted me and replied to me to say they like what I’m writing.
A comic news website that I’ve read religiously since it was launched wrote about Poem: Spaceknight and told people it was good (they made a Shakespeare reference in the title of the review, even!).
Finally, the brother of the man who actually wrote these comics in the first place left a comment on my website saying he’d love to have a print copy of them so he could show them all to Bill (it’s a long story, but Bill Mantlo suffers from an acquired brain injury and his brother has been his primary carer for years).
The original plan was to have all of these poems done by 7 May, which is only 10 days away as I type this, which works out to 2 poems a day with no days missed if I’m gonna get there, which I’m not saying I’m not, but motherfucker I’m tired.
Anyway, if you know anyone who’s a fan of Rom or anyone you think might be interested in helping spread the word, or who just might want to read something like this, email your leads to email@example.com.
Hasn’t been much sending out of poems lately, what with the writing of so much spaceknight poetry writing and such.
I still haven’t heard from the Age or Southerly about those poems that they might maybe one day publish, but despite the fact that it’s a bit of a gamble as to whether even the Age itself will be around at the end of this year, I’m still hopeful.
Meantime the lovely New Yorker said no to a bunch more poems and Overland knocked back an admittedly flat and obvious article about Facebook’s new “reaction” icons, and that’s it, really.
For those of you who might be looking for places to send your own stuff, might I recommend the following:
- Going Down Swinging wants your words, but you gotta get them to them by 29 April so be quick!
- The Josephine Ulrick prize out of Griffith Uni has extended their competition deadline to 6 May so be quick!
- The Lifted Brow is currently looking for comics and visual art and also their experimental nonfiction prize is also open until 29 May.
What I’m reading
You would not be surprised to hear that it’s still mainly been Rom comics. BUT!
When able to tear myself away from spacepoemknighifitaionage I’ve managed to poke my nose in/at these:
The Apocalypse Awards by Nathan Curnow, which is a dark, surreal, angry, funny and tight collection of poems about the end of the world. Not for the faint-hearted, but also for the faint-hearted if you see what I mean. Nathan launched this in Ballarat on the 24th of April and a certain someone had been invited to make the launch speech. The whole thing was quite nicely captured by the Ballarat Courier. And also you should buy this book.
Citizen by Claudia Rankine, which is a great portrait of the depth to which casual racism is embedded in Western society. As well as being an amazing example of contemporary poetry that messes about with form in a smart, smart way, as a white guy who wants to get better at checking his privelige I have to say this was a also good reminder-slash-wake-up-call re: taking a close look at the assumptions I’m not even aware I’m making. You should also buy this book.
And then I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, which also tackles similar themes, albeit as a prose memoir, and I gotta say I didn’t mean to read them one after the other in any deliberate thematic way, but they really complemented each other in that they’re both books by awesomely talented contemporary US authors and they both tackled similar pressing themes. You should also buy this book.
I’ve been enjoying the States of Poetry series on the Australian Book Review website. I’m a little behind, having only read the South Australia and Victoria instalments so far, so apologies to ACT, Qld and WA – I’ll get there I promise. Favourites include Kevin Brophy’s contributions for Victoria and Kate Llewellyn guernseying up for SA.
You must read Emilie Colyer’s “In the Slip”, which is featured in Dimension 6 issue 7, which you can download for free so don’t even. It’s an excellent twist on the old bodyswap/genderswap trope that takes the superficiality of “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and goes somewhere genuinely meaningful and inspirational with it,
I highly recommend the Turkey City Lexicon, a fantastic (pun intented) glossary of science fiction tropes, developed by some of the genre’s leading lights and assembled by the stellar Bruce Sterling. Particular favourites include “Call a rabbit a smeerp” where you give normal things weird names to make them sound exotic, and “Squid on the mantlepice”, which examines the tension between Chekov’s assertion and the necessities of world-building. I am certainly guilty of some of the misbehaviours listed here, but having been made aware of them, hope to eschew them in future writing.
It’s probably worth pointing out that if, like me, you may not have the readies to buy every book that some random urges you to in their newsletter, you can contact your local lending library through their website to ask them to buy the book so you and many others can borrow it. I did that recently for the Ta-Nahesi Coates book up there, and it worked a treat. Just something to consider.
Finally, here’s Every Meal in Wuthering Heights arranged by sadness.
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If you have any comments, criticisms or suggestions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More of my writing can be found at theotheradamford.wordpress.com. I’m also at twitter.com/adamatsya and instagram.com/adamatsya.
Thanks for reading.
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