A few Science Fiction haiku of my own

Hi,

One of the things I really want to do with the re-opened blog is to post more of my own specfic writing than I used to do.

So, for the first post, I’ll put up some Science Fiction haiku/’scifaiku’ that I wrote a few months ago, for an anthology call-out. By now, it has become apparent that my scifaiku didn’t get included, so I’d like to give them a new and different chance to reach some readers. 🙂 SF haiku is both inspired by and different from the original nature-oriented  form of haiku and also a bit more casual than the strict ‘old school’ 5-7-5 syllable form that was/has been taught in many countries’ schools for so many recent decades.

I’ll do a separate post about SF haiku, as I’m really enjoying the form and what creative possibilities it can offer, both in its own right and as it relates to Speculative Fiction in general.  For now, here are the first ones:

Opera scene:

of two space-ships, gliding

towards a star.

***

Forgotten space:

chambers of a deserted

cargo terminal.

***

Small islands:

A mad scientist makes a bridge…

nothing is safe.

***

Volcanic temper

of a leading colonist

dooms fine dream.

My own poem: ‘Three monks in a castle courtyard’

Hi and welcome again to The Green Castle. 🙂

One of the reasons for re-starting this blog was to create a space for sharing some of my own new writing that relates to or has in some way been inspired by various parts of the Speculative Fiction range and that this would also be true for also Speculative Poetry – i.e, verses in any form that drew on the same range as any prose pieces.

So, for this post I’m going to offer a poem I have written today. It describes some types of scenes that I have thought about in connection to my own reading of the Epic Fantasy tradition, especially when it comes to actions and characters in and around castles.  Beyond that, I wanted to present a picture of some monks as characters who might  offer more story-telling potential than men simply chanting in choirs or hunching themselves over vellum pages in a scriptorium. Those are both fine in their own ways and well-known to be authentic to the lifestyle of so many different orders of monks, but I felt there can be more to it than ‘just’ that.  Given how complex some political alliances can be in Epic Fantasy and in the original worlds that inspired and continue to inspire that tradition, I became intrigued by the possibility that a meeting between monks would not be entirely or even mostly about debating a finer point of scripture.

To add more intrigue to both the scenes in the poem and the writing process, I decided to not give myself any narrator’s privilege of knowing what the monks said but not revealing it to any other readers. There is also the issue that not all monks in a story or poem, or “in real history” back in Medieval Europe, would simply get along well with each other just because of all of them being ‘men of the cloth’.  Finally, some abbeys and monasteries could and did become very bound up in castle-based politics and so monks could, at least possibly, be used as couriers or spies, or both, and that could be without, or sometimes even with, their knowledge and agreement.

I hope you enjoy this early version of the resulting poem. 🙂

Three monks in a castle courtyard 

Three monks huddle

in a castle’s icy courtyard:

two monks in white robes,

their visitor in green.

They whisper, gesture, pull on their robes,

steal quick glances at soldiers

up on the castle’s walls.

 

The monk in green makes a final sign,

then stalks away.

He is noticed by a guard in the gatehouse, but neither man speaks.

 

In the next warm season,

an invading army closes in on the castle;

the guard remembers the monk who left early,

but not the exact shade of green.

Is there a link to the army’s flags?

 

An arrow robs him of any answer.

Fantastic verses: some collections of Speculative Poems

Hello again. 🙂

While I was having fun browsing various dealer tables and stalls at Worldcon in Chicago last year (Chicon7), I discovered some fine and intriguing collections  of poems among all the anthologies, novels and books about Speculative Fiction. I ended up buying four different collection of poems: two solo collections and two anthologies. I’ll give a brief overview of each book and, for the first three, a short note about the respective poets. The anthology has its own list of biographical notes and there are too many individual poets to reasonably cover in this post. Each book title will also show publisher/s and year of first or publication of  most recent/current edition.

Robot: poetry by Jason Christie (Edge, 2006&2007):  a collection of Science Fiction poems focussed on various features of robots, the possible nature of robot existence and troubled relations between robots and humans. This collection is full of intriguing and sometimes disturbing ideas and scenarios about what robots mean, have meant and could later mean to people and ‘each other’. For me, the overall feel of the poems is a bit closer to the darker stories of Ray Bradbury than to Asimov’s cheery confidence in the Laws of Robotics. Christie’s robots seem to have little patience for being held strictly accountable.

Robot is published by published by a Canadian firm: Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, based in Calgary. Within the past decade, Jason Christie has been making a name for himself as an avant-garde Canadian poet.

The Animal Bridegroom, by Sandra Kasturi (Tightrope Books, 2007): Strongly inspired by myths, Northern-European folklore and many dark dreams at night, American-Canadian Sandra Kasturi’s first poetry collection offers some bizarre and beguiling tales in a variety of verse forms. There isn’t a single ‘title poem’ poem, as such, but from my reading the title was inspired by various themes that run through the collection. The poems are gathered in four sections, each with its own set of tales and imagery:  ‘Into the Woods’, then ‘Lying with Wolves’, on to ‘Spells and Enchantments’ and finally ‘The Unbinding’ of Spirits’.

Two of the stand-out poems for me are ‘Estonian Witches’ (p.22) in the first section and ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’s Wife’s Therapist is Happy'(p.64; after I heard the poet read this at one of the panel sessions I attended, I was ‘sold’ on getting a copy to take home) in the third section. For me, both these poems show a sly humour in the way Kasturi  presents her ideas and in how she plays with traditions and stereotypes about Witches and the mythology that has built up around Mary Shelley’s novel. I’ll also mention ‘The Birch Tree’ (p.20), for its sparse, clean and beautiful imagery.

The author note at the end includes: an impressive resume of awards and creative projects in a variety of media, founding member of a poetry workshop group, does work as an editor and publisher (Kelp Queen Press, based in Toronto) in addition to being a poet with a mix of Estonian and Sri Lankan family backgrounds.

Ancient Tales, Grand Deaths and Past Lives: a collection of speculative verse by Colleen Anderson (Kelp Queen Press, 2001): this collection ventures into and in between Fantasy and Science Fiction worlds in the poet’s exploration of  various human concerns in the contexts of mythical or non-Earth settings and various eras. This isn’t a comforting collection, by any stretch, but it does offer plenty of concepts and images well worth re-visiting and musing over with other readers as well as on your own.

As in Kasturi’s own collection described above, Anderson very effectively uses a variety of verse lengths and patterns to tell her stories and challenge readers’ sensitivities.  The moods I came across range from pensiveness to revulsion, with a fair bit of sombre reflection and regret along the way.    

The biographical note at the end of book includes: writing plays, doing Performance Poetry, workshop presenter at Clarion West, raising ‘slime creatures’, bookshop buyer and being the pet human for a cat called Figment.

The Stars As Seen from this Particular Angle of Night: an anthology of speculative verse, edited by Sandra Kasturi (Red Deer Press/Bakka, 2003):  at the stall where I found this book in the gigantic Dealers’ Room at Worldcon, this anthology quickly stood out as one that had a huge and fascinating  range of topics and poets, making it an ideal choice as a kind of survey of Canadian speculative poems. The Editor’s Foreward and a different poet’s Introduction give some interesting context for how the collection  was assembled, who is represented in it and why it can be considered a significant addition to Speculative poetry, especially (but not exclusively, as shown in the biographical notes at the end) written by Canadian poets.

A very brief look through the subjects of various poems written in an interesting variety of tones and using many different rhythms: imaginary cities; poetry likened to black holes; a personal look at the Shahrazad character as supreme and dangerous story-teller; a geometrical analogy applied to a troubled marriage; naming a starship; invisible geese and magicians’ tricks; spectral ships; android sex show; a witch meditates on her imminent burning.  Poem lengths range from a very short eight lines for Carolyn Clink’s super-compressed epic in ‘Stars’ (p.43) to several pages for Jason Taniguchi’s expansive prose-poem set, ‘The Genre in Brief (100-words stories)'(pp.81-86).  

I highly recommend all these books of Speculative Poems. 🙂