March 25, 2020

Will swords rise up
from the mists of time?
Swords, knives, helms
tossed into
watery depths —
at the end of the world
will they be reforged?

Mist rising in wisps, forming
hilt and blade
Swords of fire and earth
rusted away, ages ago
in lakes long vanished,
pools of myth.

Forged anew of
water and air,
on the last day
will weed-draped
ladies of the lake
rise to hand them forth,
girding the worthy?

J.R. Sparlin

I started writing when I was about ten years old. I liked e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay. In college I discovered Sylvia Plath, Rita Dove, Dorianne Laux, Louise Gluck, and Denise Duhamel. I found my true home when I found out speculative poetry was a thing – thanks to editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, who included my work in their early anthology, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (and I will always be grateful!)…

I’ve always liked shorter forms – I’ve tried plays and fiction, I worked as a tech writer, copy editor and journalist, but I’ve always come back to poetry as my one true form…

The challenge is finding an audience. I’ve never had trouble writing – I tend to write more under stress, not less – but finding an audience for that work, that’s a little harder.

Jeannine Hall Gailey
Interviewed by Colleen Anderson 1st February 2020

The Three Little Pigs

March 25, 2020

The little pig began to pray
But Wolfie blew his house away.
He shouted, “Bacon, Pork, and Ham!
Oh what a lucky wolf I am!”
And though he ate the pig quite fast,
He carefully kept the tail till last.

Roald Dahl
Revolting Rhymes

The pain was quite extraordinary. And yet also weirdly welcome and restorative, bringing him news of his aliveness and his caughtness in a story larger than himself.

Jonathan Franzen

Good question

March 25, 2020

Most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out from between their pages – a special odour of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers.

Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore

one for the completists

March 25, 2020

Samuel R Delaney has Dhalgren, Vladimir Nabokov had Ada, or Ardor, and James Joyce had Finnegan’s Wake, or simply “the Wake,” as the true fans prefer. (Their funeral). Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin is another dense, late-career doorstop of a book considered in equal parts the summit of a life’s work and “one for the completists.” At 525 pages, including field notes, stories, maps, charts, poems, plays, histories, romances, interviews, and interpolated texts, all of which are housed in the front of the book, as well as a “Back of the Book” section, to house the sheet music, recipes, studies of flora and fauna, “generative metaphors,” the glossary, and a made-up alphabet with a guide to pronunciation, it’s easy to see Le Guin’s study of the Kesh people from the Valley of the Na, once the Napa Valley, as a folly, the work in which she gave into the temptation of all science fiction and fantasy writers — that of pedantic world-building, a sort of “map = territory” madness. Like many a masterwork that came before, the book is a storehouse of the author’s themes. But the one thing you couldn’t accuse it of is that classic combination of authorial self-indulgence and apathy towards the reader. (For one, Le Guin pointed out you don’t have to read her book front to back; approach it however you like.) Always Coming Home isn’t one of those masterworks that heaves through our culture like the spaceship Rama, to be explored but never understood by the puny humans who crawl across its unfeeling surface. With Le Guin, the door home is open, if you know the way.

Mazin Saleem
I never did like smart-ass utopians — on Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

valuing realism more

March 25, 2020

I continue to think that realism is a fashion that arose during the nineteenth century and was emphasized in Spain over the course of the Franco dictatorship because, since the newspapers were censored and muzzled, novelists thought that their obligation was to replace the work of journalists by speaking out about the sad socio-political reality being lived in the country. The fantastic was considered “escapist” and, as a result, superficial, trivial, cowardly.

Today, although a majority of critics insist in valuing realism more (one need only look to see how year after year the Nobel Prize in Literature is given to realist authors who tackle “difficult” subjects, as if the literature were the subject and not its treatment), I also think that the younger generations already don’t let themselves be as swayed by “official” opinions, and they read whatever they want to, which in many cases is fantastic (of whatever sub-denomination: dystopia, horror, fantasy, etc.)

It seems to me that, deep down, it is a case that the reading public has now again realized that literature should be pleasurable and that, whatever its theme or subject, all good literature deals with the human condition, with the situation of humankind in the world (present, past, or future), the decisions that leave their mark upon individuals’ lives, the possibilities that open before one or another, the transcendence of the individual and the species.

The good and sweet is as realist as the bad and terrible, and everything has its place in literature. Now there is a much greater diversity of material and of kinds of audiences. In my opinion, what’s most difficult under these circumstances is maintaining the literary quality, the aesthetic pleasure that derives from the appreciation of the literary art. I think that a serious problem is that increasingly it is being forgotten that literature is an art and doesn’t merely consist of intelligibly recounting events one after another.

Elia Barceló
In conversation with Ricard Ruiz Garzón
Trans. Lawrence Schimel