Tag: poetry

Phone Poem

Ciro is the most of my favorite is not responsible.

(This was produced by the predictive text of my phone. It’s a computer-generated poem in the Dada tradition.)

Angela J: I don’t have time on twitter I just miss quiz.

Matt: Have you been able to read the sandbox for the gameplay that is not going on at the end?

Lauren: I’m a huge fan on three years of the new bar in brightest minds to be.

Kirsten: I don’t know if you are a good person or a person who is a good person.

Edward: The fact I can see you soon as possible, and to get my nails, are you doing it wrong?

John: Ciro and I am not a good one who is still not happy with her sight words.

Rebecca: I have a lot of cards and I have the education and experience you disprove the show I mentioned at the last rehearsal dinner with a director of the day in a fevered dream state.

Strange Horizons Submission Call

Send me your poems! I am now on duty reading Strange Horizons poetry submissions for May and June. Full guidelines at the link, but basically, if you have unpublished poetry that exists in a science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, gamer, or supernatural horror space, and you think it’s good (where good could mean personally revealing, or funny, or formally innovative, or the kind of vivid that sticks in your head), kick it my way. Maybe we’ll change the world.

Here are some quick answers to obvious questions:

1. There’s no particular advantage or disadvantage to submitting early or late in the reading period. You’ll hear back from me pretty quickly if I’m sure it’s a pass, but anything “maybe” will get held to early July, when I send out acceptances.

2. I’ll consider anything, as long as it’s not previously published. Yes, published on your blog or on facebook counts. But I’ll look the other way if you made like 10 xeroxes and sold them for $2 to people who live in your neighborhood. Don’t push this.

3. Never say never, but I read a LOT of poems about birds. Birds and the ocean and misunderstood fairytale characters. Sometimes all in the same poem. I don’t hate any of those things, but if you’re looking to stand out, maybe go a different direction.

4. No submissions fee. Ever.

5. It’s possible to write a cover letter that gets my attention, but leaving one off doesn’t hurt you at all, nor do I especially care whether you spell my name right.

6. Normally, people say something like “read our past issues to get a good idea of what we like” but I’ve been on sabbatical the last couple of years, so reading recent poems won’t help you guess what I like. If you really want to deep dive, look at archived poems from 2014. Not all of those are my acceptances, but if you look at the poems from July 14 through September 1 that gives you a pretty good cross section of my tastes. (I love those poems. I linked them in the comments. Worth your time to read just for the sake of reading them. Here’s another one I like a lot.) Still, really, it’s not necessary that you think that hard about the “perfect” submission. Just send it in. What’s the worst that’ll happen?

7. We pay $40 on acceptance.

Editorial Note on a Chair Fall

I’ve been editing a manuscript (somebody else’s), which means it’s my job to be a tremendous stickler and point out anything that could possibly bother or confuse anybody. Which is all well and good – but it does mean I have to suppress my personal preferences as an absurdist poet who is delighted and energized by oxymorons and stark illogic.

Last night, I ran across this particularly lovely bit of unintentional nonsense. The narrator is seated, but in a moment of surprise says: “I fell to my feet.”

I’m fairly certain the author originally wrote “I fell to my knees” and then revised to “I leapt to my feet” (or vice versa) but accidentally left half the old sentence in.

Despite knowing that, “I fell to my feet” derailed me and Ciro for at least three minutes as we tried to re-enact the movement (including Ciro’s interpretation that this could describe a fall of one’s entire body into a prone position, where “my feet” is a way to indicate the relative location of the ground at the beginning of the fall). We tried a few different ways of saying or singing the sentence. We raised our eyebrows and waved our hands around.

It is with a heavy heart that I recommend revision. It’s a wonderful sentence.

Still-Vital Radical Black Queer Poetry

For the final day of black history month 2017 (I’ll miss you, black history month 2017), I’d like to share a couple of poems by Pat Parker, an African-American Texan lesbian feminist who died of breast cancer at age 45 in 1989. (Hooray, being black and being lesbian are both factors that make it likely you won’t get appropriate early medical intervention, although I can’t say whether that was the case with Parker or just bad luck.) She was amazing. There’s a poetry award named after her.

Even though her poems are 30 and 40 and 50 years old, they feel completely contemporary. The glass half empty side of that is: we haven’t come far enough in confronting the problems she railed against decades ago. The glass half full side is: sometimes you can write a poem that is truthful and unswerving and it still cuts to the heart of someone many years after your death, confronting a problem that needs your knowledge.

This one is called “For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend” and it is from 1978 (from a collection called Movement in Black) but lord if it doesn’t sound like it could be on a blog talking about the women’s march or cultural appropriation, with perfect concision. It’s cutting and funny and kind.

The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

You should be able to dig Aretha,
but don’t play her every time i come over.
And if you decide to play Beethoven – don’t tell me
his life story. They made us take music appreciation too.

Eat soul food if you like it,
but don’t expect me to locate your restaurants
or cook it for you.

And if some Black person insults you,
mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you,
rips your house, or is just being an ass –
please, do not apologize to me
for wanting to do them bodily harm.
It makes me wonder if you’re foolish.

And even if you really believe Blacks are better lovers than
whites – don’t tell me. I start thinking of charging stud fees.

In other words – if you really want to be my friend – don’t
make a labor of it. I’m lazy. Remember.


The other poem you should read today, the day of President Trump’s first address to Congress, is “Where Will You Be,” also from Movement in Black (1978). It’s long, and so I will link to an external site. It includes the stanzas:

Citizens, good citizens all
parade into voting booths
and in self-righteous sanctity
X away our right to life.

I do not believe as some
that the vote is an end,
I fear even more
It is just a beginning.

Brush Off Your Keyboard

I’m pleased to say that I’ve rejoined the editorial staff of hugo-nominated SF magazine Strange Horizons. I won’t be on submissions duty for another few months (and during that time, we’ll be transitioning to an exciting new submissions system that will leave everyone more sure that submissions have gotten through), but if you want to get the jump on writing poems, here’s what I’ll have my eye out for:

I need big dreams. I need five steps ahead. I need science hard and soft. I need a beacon in the wilderness. I need powerful words that put fear into evil. I need rage and grief. I need a good laugh from time to time.

We’re living in a time when myth and metaphor are tremendously important. Our fantasies for the future need to be vivid enough to do battle in a world of charged words.

Get writing. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to read.