Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A look at the poets of the 2017 Rhyslings: Part 1 of 6


We recently closed the nominations for the Rhysling Awards for Poem of the Year for 2017 and now the Science Fiction Poetry Association moves to the epic task of organizing the Rhysling Anthology for our members and the public to read and and review before making their final votes. At least 92 poems were nominated in the short poem category and 60 poems were nominated for the long poem category. 

Our editor, David C. Kopaska Merkel must now do the final review to ensure the nominated poems were indeed published in 2016 and are properly categorized, attributed and we have the permissions to reprint them as necessary for the review of voting membership (who can be found on 6 out of 7 continents). This is no small task.

I am very proud of our members who took the time to find new poems from last year that they really loved, and I already can see why so many of them were chosen. I'm impressed by the diversity of voices and themes reflected in each of these, and I find myself reaffirmed in the tremendous power speculative poetry can have in our lives today to inspire wonder and the imagination, to expand our sense of the possible and to consider what we must remember for the next generations ahead.

So, this series is going to be a rather long post, looking at the profiles of twenty of our nominees at a time, in order to get a sense of them and their journeys, that we all might more fully appreciate what we are reading when the 2017 Rhysling Anthology arrives. So, starting with today's poets, going from left to right:


John C. Mannone
 of Tennessee is one of our distinguished members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This year he was nominated for his short poem “Stellar Quake” featured in The New England Journal of Medicine 375:1305 and also  “Adam’s Rendezvous with Dante” in the Last Darn Rites Anthology (Whitesboro Writers, 2016.) What follows is only a fraction of his amazing literary contributions, and I've been honored to work with him in a variety of capacities in the SFPA.

He has over 500 works in venues such as Drunk Monkeys, New England Journal of Medicine, Inscape Literary Journal, Windhover, Artemis, Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, Negative Capability, Tupelo Press, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Event Horizon Magazine, Syzygy Journal and others. Author of two literary poetry collections—Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing) and Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wing’s Press) He is an active member of both the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild (President-elect 2016/2017) and the Knoxville Writers’ Guild.

Outside literary circles, he is a professor of physics and a nuclear consultant. He is active in astronomy outreach and research, he served as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador for the Great State of Tennessee (2008-2014).He is noted for using poetry in the astronomy classroom and is often an invited speaker to astronomy-related events. He had served as senior editor for the Journal of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomy (2006-2011).


Ace G. Pilkington has published over one hundred poems, articles, reviews, and short stories in five countries and more than sixty publications. He was nominated for his poem“Orpheus," which appeared in the June 2016 issue of The Horror Zine.  Ace is an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and his poetry has appeared, among many other places, in The Christian Science Monitor, America, Poetry Wales, and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. He is Professor of English and History at Dixie State University and Literary Seminar director at the Utah Shakespearean Festival Most recently Ace and Olga have lectured together on International Shakespeare and also on The End of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the New Russia. Ace’s play Our Lady Guenevere was first produced in 1997 in the Utah Shakespearean Festival's New Plays series. He has an M.A in modern drama from Utah State University; an M.Litt. in English Renaissance drama from Middlebury College in Vermont; and a D.Phil. in Shakespeare, history, and film from Oxford University.

Ken Poyner is a member of the SFPA and the author of Constant Animals, and his latest collections of poetry—Victims of a Failed Civics and The Book of Robot—can be obtained from Barking Moose Press, Amazon, or Sundial Books.

He often serves as strange, bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power-lifting affairs. His poetry of late has been sunning in Analog, Asimov’s, Poet Lore, The Kentucky Review; and his fiction has yowled in Spank the Carp, Red Truck, Café Irreal, and Bellows American Review. 

This year he was nominated for his poems “Adolescence” in Star*Line 39.4, “The Robot by the Fireplace” in Eye to the Telescope 20 and “At Issue, the Miramo” in Dreams and Nightmares 103.



Shannon Connor Winward  is the author of the Elgin-award winning chapbook Undoing Winter and a two-time runner up for the Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship in literature. Her work has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, The Pedestal Magazine, Monarch Review, Literary Mama, Star*Line and elsewhere. In between writing, parenting, and other madness, Shannon is also an officer for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, a poetry editor for Devilfish Review, and founding editor of the Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal. She was nominated this year for “Terran Mythology”in  Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 2016, and “Thirteen Ways to See a Ghost,” a winner of the 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest.


Jane Williams was nominated for  “The Memory Machines”which appeared in The Pedestal Magazine 79.  Jane Williams was born in England and lives in Tasmania, Australia with her partner Ralph Wessman. Since the early 1990s her poems have been published in most major Australian literary journals and newspapers, in periodicals and online in countries including Ireland, USA, Canada, England, Japan, Sweden and India. Her first collection Outside Temple Boundaries won the Fellowship of Australian Writers Anne Elder Award in 1998. In 2005 she was awarded the D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellowship and the Bruce Dawe Prize for poems in her manuscript The Last Tourist which was published by Five Islands Press in 2006.

 A selection of her poetry Some Towns and other poems was published as a chap book by Picaro Press in 2007. In 2008 her third book Begging the Question was published by Ginninderra Press. City of Possibilities was published by Interactive Press in 2011 and received an Australian Council grant to fund an Australian reading tour. Her most recent book is Days Like These – selected and new poems 1998-2013 published by Interactive Press.

She has read her poetry at reading venues and festivals around Australia and in Ireland, England, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Malaysia, and Slovakia. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Canberra University.


Sarah Ann Winn was nominated for her poem “Best of” which appeared in the Found Poetry Review: Bowietry.  She lives in Fairfax Virginia. Her touching and imaginative work has appeared or will appear in Bayou Magazine, Cider Press Review, Day One, RHINO, and Massachusetts Review, among others. Her work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and she was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Poetry Prize, and Ariadne’s Thread Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, Portage, was released by Sundress in February 2015.


Jeremy Paden was nominated for “Song of the Encantado”in Apex Magazine 83. He was born in Milan, Italy and raised in Central America and the Caribbean. He received his PhD in Latin American literature at Emory University and is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Transylvania University and also on faculty in Spalding’s low-residency MFA, where he teaches literary translation. He is the author of two chapbooks: Broken Tulips (Accents Press, 2013) and Delicate Matters (Winged City Press, 2016). The latter collection is comprised of translations. His poems and translations have appeared in such journals as Adirondack Review, Asymptote Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, California Quarterly, Cortland Review, Drunken Boat, Hampden-Sydney Review, Louisville Review, Rattle, and Words without Borders, to name a few. He is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and resides in Lexington, Kentucky.


“Werewolf” is a Rhysling-nominated poem by  K.A. Opperman that first appeared in Spectral Realms 4 and he was also nominated for “Invocation of Diana,” which appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Summer, 2016.  Opperman is a young poet living in California. His verse has appeared in Weird Fiction Review  and other venues, and he has been steadily making a name for himself applying many formal forms including the sonnet, quatrain, and rhyming couplet. Ann K. Schwader remarked on his debut book, saying “The California Romantic tradition lives on in this ambitious and varied collection. Whether questing for the Crimson Tome through an extended sonnet sequence, celebrating the heights – and hideous depths -- of romantic attraction, lingering in October shadows, or traversing lost Atlantis, these poems are surefooted and unabashedly exotic.” With influences such as Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft, I think it will be quite interesting to see where he takes his work in the future


John Reinhart  is nothing if not prolific among our member at the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This year he has two Rhysling nominations:“Exotic Heads Trimmed Neatly” which appeared in Eye to the Telescope 21 and “The Butterflies of Traxl IV” in The Pedestal Magazine 79. 

He supposedly lives on a farmlette in Colorado with his wife and children. He is a Frequent Contributor at the Songs of Eretz, editor at Poetry Nook, and was awarded the 2016 Horror Writers Association Dark Poetry Scholarship. The author of encircled from Prolific Press, he has three more books due out in 2017.


Terrie Leigh Relf is a lifetime member of the SFPA, an active member of HWA, and is fast at work on her new novel, Walks-with-Two-Spirits. “This year she was nominated for The Old Ones gather” which appeared in Scifaikuest in May, 2016.   

She has over 1,000 publishing credits that include non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Her articles and columns have appeared in local San Diego publications such as The Peninsula Beacon (and other San Diego Community Newsgroup publications), the OBRag, The Espresso, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, and Vision Magazine

Her genre work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including several anthologies and collaborative projects such as Confessions: A Nightmare in Five Acts, edited by Joshua Gage, and On the Brink of Never: An Anthology of Apocalyptic Poetry, edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel.  

She is the author and/or co-author of  Lap Danced by The Muse; My Friend, the Poet, and Other Poems About People I Think I Know; Jupiter’s Eye ;The Ice Queen ;The Poet’s Workshop – and Beyond; The Blood Journey Saga, Book I: Blood Journey co-authored with Henry Lewis Sanders The Blood Journey Saga, Book II: The Ancient One, co-authored with Henry Lewis Sanders The Waters of Nyr; Letting Out The Demons ;The Intergalactic Cookbook with Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca An Untoward Bliss of Moons; Search for a Kinder Muse with art by Marcia Borell Networking Tips for Writers: Envisioning Success; and The Wolves of Glastonbury, co-authored with Edward Cox. 

And she shows no signs of slowing down. 


Kathleen A. Lawrence hahad poems appear in the HIV Here and Now 2016 poem-a-day countdown, two Prince memorial anthologies, Crow Hollow 19, Altered Reality Magazine, The Nancy Drew Anthology, and the SFPA website. A colorful voice in the world of speculative poetry, Kathleen was born in Rochester—home of the Garbage Plate, Kodachrome, and Cab Calloway—and spent most of her youth in a plaid jumper. 

 She left briefly to get a Ph.D., then returned to Central NY in 1992, where she has been an educator for 30 years – teaching Communication, Popular Culture, and Gender Studies at SUNY Cortland.Her poem “Even Friendly Ghosts Can be Scary When You’re 7” won 3rd place in the Short division of the 2016 SFPA contest. This year she was nominated for a Rhysling for “Dorothy Delivered” in Altered Reality Magazine 1.


B.J. Lee has been many things throughout her life including a librarian at The Boston Conservatory, a piano teacher and, more recently, a jazz vocalist. But she has always written. Now she is able to pursue her first love, writing, full-time. She holds a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston. She plays classical piano and African drums. She now lives in Florida with her husband and their toy poodles, Clementine, JoJo, and Lulu. She was nominated for “Riding the Dark” which appeared in Frostfire Worlds in February, 2016.


Daniel R. Jones poem “The woman on the bus encounters time dilation” was nominated for a Rhysling this year after its appearance in Altered Reality Magazine. He is a writer from Indianapolis, IN, and is currently an MFA candidate at Lindenwood University. He’s had work published or has work forthcoming in Parody Poetry, Aphelion, Eye to the Telescope, the South Bend Tribune, In the Bend, Spill Words Press, Time of Singing, and he won an award for best poem in the 2013 edition of Bethel College’s Crossings. He also served as an editorial assistant for the most recent edition of the Lindenwood Review.


Greer Woodward writes short fiction, poetry, lyrics, and plays. This year she was nominated for a Rhysling for *For Quick Sale*” in Lupine Lunes, ed. Lester Smith (Popcorn Press).

For young audiences, her work includes the participation play Don't Sleep Under the Mapou Tree!, lyrics and scenario for the Looking Glass Theatre's production of Jonnycake/Gaspee, and lyrics and co-book for Theatreworks/USA's Sherlock Holmes and the Red-Headed League. For general audiences, she contributed lyrics to choral pieces, commercials, and the Off-Broadway musical revues Pets! and That's Life!, Outer Critics Circle Award nominee for Best Off-Broadway musical. Her genre fiction and poetry is in Twisted Cat Tales, Aoife's Kiss, Scherehezade's Bequest, Shelter of Daylight, Star*Line, and others,. She was an Associate Editor for the anthology series Sybil's Garage.

She's a graduate of Clarion West, one of the founders of the New York City writing group Altered Fluid, and a member of the Writers Support Group at Tutu's House on Hawaii's Big Island.


Alessandro Manzetti is one of our inspiring members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association in Italy, and also a member of the Horror Writers Association. In recent years he's been collaborating frequently with SFPA Grand Master Bruce Boston, including their recent book together, Sacrificial Nights. He's a Bram Stoker Award-winning author, editor, and translator of horror fiction and dark poetry. His work has been published extensively in Italian, including novels, short and long fiction, poetry, essays, and collections. He is the owner and editor-in-chief of Independent Legions Publishing, and an active member, Italy representative, and member of the Board of Trustees of the Horror Writers Association.

As a poet, his work includes the collections Eden Underground, Venus Intervention (co-written with Corrine de Winter). His stories and poems have appeared in Italian, USA, and UK magazines, such as Dark Moon Digest, The Horror Zine, Disturbed Digest, Illumen, Devolution Z, Recompose, Polu Texni, and anthologies, such as Bones III, Rhysling Anthology (2015 and 2016), HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. III, The Beauty of Death, Best Hardcore Horror of the Year Vol. 2, Mar Dulce, I Sogni del Diavolo, Danze Eretiche Vol. 2, Il Buio Dentro, and many others.

 His dark poetry collection Eden Underground won the Bram Stoker Award 2015 and was nominated for the Elgin Award 2016. His dark poetry collection Venus Intervention (co-written with Corrine de Winter) was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2014 and the Elgin Award 2015. His collection Sacrificial Nights (co-written with Bruce Boston) was nominated for the Elgin Award 2017. Since 2015, his poems have been consistently nominated for Rhysling Awards. This year he has been nominated for “The Great Unknown” with Bruce Boston, which appeared in Illumen in Spring, 2016, He and Bruce Boston were also nominated for “Legend of the Albino Pythons and the Bloody Child” which first appeared in Polu Texni 18, April, 2016.


Wendy Rathbone
has had dozens of stories published in anthologies such as: Hot Blood, Writers of the Future (second place,) Bending the Landscape, Mutation Nation, A Darke Phantastique, and more. Over 500 of her poems have been published in various anthologies and magazines. She won first place in the Anamnesis Press poetry chapbook contest with her book "Scrying the River Styx." Her poems have been nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling award at least a dozen times.

Her recent books include: Lace, book 1 in the vampire fairy series, m/m romance. Scoundrel, science fiction m/m romance novel. "Beneath the Blue Dusk and the Sea," short story collection. and  "Turn Left at November," a brand new collection of poems. This year she was nominated for “Build a Rocketship Contest: Alternative Class A Instructions and Suggestions” which appeared in Asimov's SF January, 2016 issue and “We Shall Meet in the Star-Spackled Ruins” which was a winner of the 2016 SFPA Poetry Contest.


Karen J. Weyant is the author of the chapbooks Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt (Main Street Rag, 2012) and Stealing Dust (Finishing Line Press, 2009). Her poems have been published in 5 AM, Cave Wall, Cold Mountain Review, Copper Nickel, Flyway, Harpur Palate, Poetry East, Spillway and RiverStyx. She has received a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellowship and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Weyant lives in Pennsylvania and is assistant professor of English at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. This year she was nominated for her poem “To the Girl Who Ran Through Crop Circles,” which appeared in Strange Horizons on August 18th.



Deborah Davitt was nominated for two Rhyslings this year, “Storm Miners”which appeared in Blue Monday Review in August, 2016 and “Past Imperfect” which appeared in the Summer issue of Poetry Quarterly. Deborah Davitt was born at an Army hospital in Washington state in 1974, but spent the first twenty-two years of her life in Reno, Nevada. She graduated first in her class from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1997, and took her BA in English Literature with a strong focus on medieval and Renaissance literature.

In 1999, she received an MA in English from Penn State. Since then, she has taught composition, rhetoric, and technical writing, and created technical documentation on topics ranging from nuclear submarines to NASA’s return to flight to computer hardware and software. She has also written a well-received fanfic called Spirit of Redemption that exposed her to a global audience. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her family.

Her poetry has been published in Star*Line, Blue Monday Review's Storytime Challenge, Dreams and Nightmares, Silver Blade, Eye to the Telescope, Poetry Quarterly, The Tanka Journal, Inwood, Indiana, with poems pending publication at many other venues. A short-story of hers, "The Cenotaph," appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show in Sept. 2016.


John William Sexton is one of my favorite Irish poets of the 20th and 21st century, in addition to being an excellent short-story writer, radio script-writer and children's novelist. He also writes under the pseudonyms of Sex W. Johnston and Jack Brae Curtingstall, because of course. His first poetry collections was The Prince's Brief Career (Cairn Mountain Publishing, Ireland 1996), 21 years ago. 

He followed it up a few years later with Shadows Bloom / Scáthanna Faoi Bhláth (Doghouse Books, Ireland 2004), a book of haiku with Irish translation by Gabriel Rosenstock and Vortex (Doghouse Books, Ireland 2005) Petit Mal (Revival Press, Ireland 2009) as well as The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, Ireland 2013), all excellent books I personally recommend. 

He has published short stories in the Irish science fiction journal Albedo One. His short story "On a Planet Similar to Ours, the Virgin Mary Says No" first appeared in Albedo One No. 23 and was reprinted in the 2005 science fiction anthology Emerald Eye: The Best Irish Imaginative Fiction (Aeon Press, Dublin 2005).

His fiction has also appeared in The Stinging Fly, Books Ireland and The Journal of Irish Literature.Sexton's poetry has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, THE SHOp, Southword, The Stony Thursday Book and The Penny Dreadful Magazine. He's been anthologized in Or Volge L'Anno: At The Year's Turning (Dedalus, Dublin 1998), Poets for the Millennium (Bradshaw Books, Cork 1999), Something Beginning With P (The O'Brien Press, Dublin 2004), In The Criminal's Cabinet (Nth Position, London 2004), Our Shared Japan (Dedalus, Dublin 2007), and The Echoing Years: An Anthology Of Poetry From Canada and Ireland (WIT / SCOP / Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Ireland and Canada 2007).

Sexton was the Fiction Editor for The Cork Literary Review in 2007 and winner of the the Listowel literary festival Poetry Prize for his poem "The Green Owl."  Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. 

Ten years later, he's still going strong, and was nominated this year for a Rhysling for his poems “The Bird Prince,” in Faerie Magazine Summer, 2016, and “Sappho and the Woman of Starlight,” which appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Winter 2016.

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 20, 2017

[Poem] Aftermaths

Aftermaths

From my first full-length collection of Lao American speculative poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye in 2007.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Adventures in Artificial Intelligence: Lao Engravings Edition


There's a certain hilarity to how the Google AI thought it could improve or enhance a photo from my collection of public domain engravings from the French Colonial Era in Laos. There should probably be a poem in here somewhere.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chien-Shiung Wu, "The First Lady of Physics": 1912-1997


Recently, while researching Wolfgang Pauli, I came across a casual picture of him with an Asian woman, which had my curiosity. A quick investigation revealed that it was in fact Chien-Shiung Wu, referred to by many as "The First Lady of Physics." True to the times, mind you, she was also called the ‘Chinese Marie Curie’, ‘Madame Wu’, and "the ‘Dragon Lady’ (given to her by her students at Columbia University for her uncompromising standards)."  Today, February 16th, marks the 20th year since her passing.


When you read the details of her life, it feels like so much more needs to be done to encourage Asian American youth and, indeed, the rest of the world, to appreciate her contributions and legacy, especially given the focus on STEM careers.  ‘I sincerely doubt, -she said – that any open-minded person really believes in the notion that women have no intellectual capacity for science and technology.’


As the Futurist notes:
"By the time Chien-Shiung Wu retired, she was one of the world’s leading experimental physicists. She was a recipient of multiple prizes and honors. She was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Princeton University; the first female President of the American Physical Society (elected in 1975); and the first living scientist to have an asteroid named after her. Her book ‘Beta Decay’, published in 1965, became a standard text in nuclear physics."

So here's to her memory, and a hope that many more will be inspired by her example in the future.