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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in speceditor666's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, May 12th, 2012
12:21 am
Call for subs - LGBT spec poetry

I'm guest editing the next issue of the SFPA's quarterly webzine Eye to the Telescope. Eye to the Telescope publishes speculative (SF/fantasy/horror) poetry and each issue has a different guest editor and a different theme. The theme this issue is speculative poetry with a LGBT theme.

For more details, here is what I have on the submission page of the site:

I am looking for LGBT as well as gender-neutral and intersexual themed speculative poems for Issue #5 of Eye to the Telescope. As this can be a touchy subject matter for some, I’m not interested in poetry that is either overtly didactic or—this should go without saying—that perpetuates stereotypes (and although sensual poetry is fine, pure erotica will be a hard sell). That said, I am open to dark humor and poetry that provokes (I’ll trust the poets to figure out the fine line between didactic and provocative and between sensual and erotic).

I would prefer that the LGBT aspect of the poetry be subtle and organic to the poem. As I'd love to highlight as diverse a variety of poetry possible, I’m open to everything from formal/classical forms (haiku, sonnets, etc.) to concrete, Dadaism, abstract, postmodernism, avant-garde, surrealism, bizzaro, or whatever else you have to offer, just as long as the poem is speculative (see definition below) and includes the LGBT theme in some way.

For complete guidelines visit Eye to the Telescope: http://eyetothetelescope.com/submit.html

Pay is .03 a word/$25 max. The deadline is June 15th.



Current Mood: optimistic
Monday, September 26th, 2011
8:34 pm
Writer's Block: And the forecast is…
I love Autumn--wind, clouds, rain, thunderstorms ... (and, although not weather, Halloween!).
What’s your favorite kind of weather?
8:26 pm
Writer's Block: Desert island

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury/Son of Man by Robert Silverberg/Imajica by Clive Barker

List three books that have changed your life:
6:00 pm
Doorways' Interview w/Corrine De Winter

This is my final poet's interview from the final issue of Doorways Magazine (#8):

Interview with Corrine De Winter

 

Corrine De Winter's poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared worldwide in publications such as Poet's Market, The New York Quarterly, Imago, Phoebe, Plainsongs, Yankee, Sacred Journey, Interim, The Chrysalis Reader, The Lucid Stone, Fate, Modern Poetry, Bless the Day, Heal Your Soul, Heal the World, Get Well Wishes, Essential Love, The Language of Prayer, Mothers And Daughters, Bedside Prayers (now in its 18th printing) and over 900 other publications. She's had four Pushcart Prize nominations and received The Esme Bradberry Award, The Madeline Sadin Award, The Rhysling Award, and the Bram Stoker Award as well as honors from Triton College of Arts & Sciences and Writer's Digest. Some of De Winter's 9 collections of poetry & prose include Like Eve, The Half Moon Hotel, Touching The Wound, The Women At The Funeral, and Tango In The 9th Circle (Dark Regions Press). Ms. De Winter is a member of HWA (Horror Writer's Association) and a resident of Western Massachusetts. Her latest release is Virgin of the Apocalypse (Sam's Dot Publishing).

 

STEPHEN M. WILSON: First off, I would like to thank you for being one of the guest judges of Doorways Magazine's annual poetry competition.

CORRINE DE WINTER: You're welcome. It was good to read some of the new work circulating, and tough to choose the winners!


WILSON: Do you remember your first exposure to poetry?

DE WINTER: I was in high school and was really into the 60's culture- a wanna-be hippy, wearing black bell bottoms, mirrored shirts and painting my nails black. So, Dylan Thomas was one of the first poetry books I sought out in the library. I'm embarrassed to say that I tore pages out of the book, "Wild Child" was one of them, I had a huge crush on the long dead Jim Morrison. The lyrics I was into were like poems to me. I then discovered Auden and Conrad Aiken and other more modern poets. Other modern influences include Warren Ellis and Nick Cave.


WILSON: To horror?

DE WINTER: I don't know what exactly inspired me about the horror world at first, but I remember writing a ghost story in 4th grade, and doing all my book reports on witchcraft and the paranormal. I loved to read old horror comics and was fascinated by a trip to Salem when I was little, and the mock trial at the museum. I liked old B&W horror movies, how gothic they were, and romantic too. I would help my brothers build those models of Frankenstein and the Mummy, and we would put on little shows in the cellar. My mother was really into séances and the Ouija board. I was a teenager when I saw Rebecca, a Hitchcock movie written from Daphne Du Maurier's book of the same name. Her work really inspired me to write.


WILSON: You seem to be well read in the classics; What were some of transformative writings which inspired you to want to write?

DE WINTER: Well, all of Du Maurier's books, the poetry of Auden and James Merrill, among others. Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Grey had a profound effect on me- I felt I was learning some dark, supernatural lessons about life and it was a little frightening. Those characters are still hanging around me.


WILSON: That's a favorite of mine, too, and one you don't hear mentioned often.

DE WINTER: Yeah, I'm always surprised when other writers & people I talk to haven't read it. But I think a lot of the new writers haven't read things like Dracula or Frankenstein.


WILSON: Who are some of your contemporaries that you like to read?

DE WINTER: I love Patrick McGrath, Asylum in particular. I just read Lisa Mannetti's The Gentling Box, and it was fantastic! I really admire Charlee Jacob, Neil Gaiman, lots of the new comic book writers, F. Paul Wilson, Peter Straub, Bruce Boston, D.F. Lewis.


WILSON: What are your thoughts on God?

DE WINTER: I think The Bible is full of great horror stories and supernatural anecdotes. I don't know what God is, if it is everything around us or one being. I do believe that there are spirits and angels, and I believe Jesus was here and was crucified. I don't profess a certain faith, but I'm highly intrigued by Christian art, and the stories of the saints.


WILSON: The supernatural?

DE WINTER: The supernatural is half of what we are here on earth. Denying it, and trying to scientifically prove it doesn't exist I think is just ignorant.


WILSON: Extraterrestrial life?

DE WINTER: Again, if you think that we are the only living beings in the universe, it's ridiculous. Alien abductions are really the scariest thing to me- I believe they happen, and often. I think there's a correlation to angels, aliens, gods. Like prayers and spells being the same thing really.


WILSON: What is your writing process like? Do you have any "writing rituals"?

DE WINTER: Unfortunately I count on found inspiration, which doesn't always work. I find the best thing for writing is to read good books. I know if I don't make time to write, nothing is going to come out. Even if I write a bunch of babble, there will be something I can glean from it.


WILSON: Do you consider yourself a Gothic writer? What do you think of the label?

DE WINTER: The label has taken on a tawdry, too common connotation, I think. Gothic of the past was much more interesting, and I still do consider myself a gothic writer in many ways, but I just don't like being thought of as a modern "goth." It's like when there were punks in the 70s, and punks now- 2 very different things.


WILSON: You have some short stories available on your website: (http://www.corrinedewinter.com/index.htm), have you had any fiction published, and if so, where are some of the place readers can find it?

DE WINTER: I have a story upcoming in the anthology Terrible Beauty, Fearful Symmetry by Dark Hart Press. I've had fiction in Space & Time Magazine, the antho Octoberland, Penny Dreadful magazine, and others. I'm looking for a publisher for my novella "The End of Desire." It's a kind of diary about a girl dealing with living between the supernatural world and reality.


WILSON: Good luck with placing "The End of Desire" (any publishers reading this, feel free to contact Corrine). Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

DE WINTER: Oh, thank you! I love your magazine!

Saturday, September 10th, 2011
8:22 pm
American Requiem

This poem first appeared in Wicked Karnival Magazine in Sept. 2005 and received a Rhysling Award nomination the following year.

American Requiem
by Stephen M. Wilson

I try to think not of twins or towers

Nor of love’s teardrops that cleared my blind eyes

Try to forget my family’s last sighs

Quash my kingdom’s vertiginous powers

So long soporific now it cowers

Because in the end even magic dies

 

Old Mother Gothel created this bane

Never more to have days of halcyon

O’ cursed be the craving for rampion

It’s enough to drive any man insane

This quest for happiness, always in vain

I tried to be my sweet bride’s champion

 

But one morning the sky opened up

And rained fire on the verdure

Creating this now pernicious war

I dare not drink of this cruel cup

My grim, starling pain it will interrupt

As I tarry at insanity’s door

 

So quietly I turn from them in despair

Those ash covered tombstones with dead flowers

Dim and dreary I count down the hours

And try to forget her now brittle hair

To settle and close the whole sad affair

And walk away from those cherished towers

 

But no sooner am I fairly astray

When I pause to cast one last backwards glance

For I hear a soft voice, her ghost perchance

Calling out my name, pleading that I stay

No it’s just the mournful wind’s howling bay

Reality’s grip has lost its last chance

 

One final time I cry out in despair:

“Rupunzel, Rupunzel, let down thy hair!”

Thursday, April 1st, 2010
11:35 am
microcosms debut

In honor of National Poetry Month, I debuted my new Twitterzine, microcosms, today. The first poem is by Joanne Merriam.

If you have an interest is haiku-length spec (SF/F/H) poetry please follow. If you don't have a Twitter account, it's both free and easy to sign up. The link to microcosms is: http://twitter.com/microcosms

Enjoy.

Best,
Stephen

Current Mood: cheerful
Saturday, August 15th, 2009
8:11 pm
My interview with Jane Yolen
I usually post these interviews as soon as the next issue of Doorways Magazine is out. This time around, I was blindsided when I found out that I had "squamous cell" cancer in my sinus when I went to the dentist for a tooth ache this Feb.. I have subsequently undergone two major surgeries (the first to remove the cancer where I lost  most of my upper bone, all of my upper teeth and my left eye). The second surgery was reconstructive. I still have six weeks of radiation to look forward to in the coming weeks. Enough about me.

This interview is one that I'm particularly proud of because I have been a fan of Jane Yolen's amazing imagination for years and it was a real honor that she allowed me, not only to interview her, but to touch on some very personal subjects. I hope you all enjoy it.


Doorways’ Interview with Jane Yolen

 

Jane Yolen, often called "the Hans Christian Andersen of America," admits to actually being the Hans Jewish Andersen of America. She is the author of almost 300 books, ranging from picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, novels, graphic novels, and story collections. Her books and stories have won many awards, including two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, nomination for the National Book Award, and Jewish Book Award. She also won the Kerlan Award and the Catholic Library's Regina Medal. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website is: www.janeyolen.com

 

Stephen M. Wilson: You write in a wide variety of genres—everything from poetry to children's & YA fiction to science fiction and Jewish literature. Do you derive the same satisfaction from each or are you drawn to a specific genre more often?

 

Jane Yolen: I love writing, and when a piece comes right, I am absolutely delighted. It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s a poem or a story or a novel. (Though I write a lot of speeches/essays, I have to say they are not as high on my Happy Index.) So the distinction for me is not the satisfaction per genre but rather when something surprises me, or catches in my throat, or makes me laugh/cry/gasp/sigh. I am, after all, the first reader of anything I write.

 

 

Wilson: You've written many things that could easily be categorized as dark fantasy; have you written anything that would be considered straight horror? If not, is that something that you might try at some point in your career?

 

Yolen: A couple of short stories might be considered horror. Two in fact made it into Years Best Horror. Some poems. But they are horror with a frisson, not a torn-apart body count. Though I have to admit, I have killed off folks in my books, and some with quite a bit of panache and dispatch.

 

 

Wilson: Speaking of genres, what does the term "Interstitial" mean to you and do you consider yourself and interstitial writer?

 

Yolen: Well, since I cross genre all the time--write songs into some of my novels, have books with pictures, done a novel as a script, written the life of Marc Chagall in poems, have done symphonic storytelling, had ballets made from my stories, and artwork from my poems for starters--I am probably as interstitial as you can get.

 

 

Wilson: Two of my personal favorite pieces of fiction that you've penned, The Devil's Arithmetic and Briar Rose, deal with the Holocaust in somewhat fantastical ways. If there is one lesson that you want people to take from these dark fantasies steeped in historical fact, what is it? Have you ever thought about tackling the subject sans the fantasy elements?

 

Yolen: For me, using fantasy elements makes the Holocaust approachable. It was a time so rife with horror, drama, and bizarre deaths, with astonishing acts of heroism and martyrdom, that telling it in a straight-forward for me (though not for other writers) is impossible.

 

 

Wilson: I'm not sure if people are always aware of how devastatingly thorough the Nazis were in their cleansing. One thing I personally think is important about Briar Rose is that it mentions some of the other "groups" that were affected by the Nazis such as gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics and homosexuals—the prince who awakens the sleeping beauty in your version is, in fact, gay.

 

Yolen: Before I began Briar Rose, I didn’t know Count Potoki was gay. I learned at the same time my heroine, Becca, learned. What a surprise! At that point I had to stop writing and learn as much as I could about the infamous (but rarely written about then) Pink Triangle Camps that warehoused and killed homosexuals, mostly men. Afterwards, a gay friend said, “Of course he was gay—he was the fairy godmother character in the book!” Ah, the subconscious is a terrible thing to waste.

 

 

Wilson: The film version of The Devil's Arithmetic was nominated for several Emmys and won the award for both its director and the screenwriter. Were you on the set while they filmed? What was it like to have such Hollywood royalty as Dustin Hoffman and Louise Fletcher involved with the film?

 

Yolen: I read the script and gave some notes, but was otherwise uninvolved with the film. But my husband and I were brought to Hollywood for the opening and made to feel a part of it then. In fact, Dustin Hoffman said from the podium, introducing the film to the 800 invited guests, “Jane, I hope you feel we did your beautiful novel proud.”

 

 

Wilson: Its star Kirsten Dunst has been a vocal fan of yours. Do the two of you keep in touch?

 

Yolen: Alas, no, though her lawyer tried to take out a free option on Briar Rose.

 

 

Wilson: What do you think it is about fairy tales, or märchen as the Germans call them, which still make them both fascinating and relevant to today's readers?

 

Yolen: They are talking about real emotions, telling true stories, through the medium of metaphor. People used to understand metaphor better than I think we do now. But these stories are so potent, they refuse to die.

 

 

Wilson: You mention in the introduction to your poetry collection, The Radiation Sonnets, that you had "always been wary of the poetry of personal pain, leery of self-exposure." At the time you penned those sonnets, your husband David Stemple was battling cancer. How much did writing help you get through those days?

 

Yolen: It was the ONLY thing that got me through that awful time. I did no other writing, just tended to him and at night, after he was—finally—asleep, I would creep upstairs to my attic writing room and write down the poem that I’d been thinking about all day. Making sense of that single day, and not any other. Living really in the moment.

 

 

Wilson: You wrote in the afterword to that collection that David had chosen "wisely" not to read the sonnets. Did he ever do so before his death in 2006?

 

Yolen: He read a few of them, not all. Not even a majority of them. And of course he read none of the poems that I wrote in the three months that he was dying. Though ironically, he was writing his own poems then, though he was not a poet, and I got to read and critique all of them. He worked and worked on them because they helped him make sense of his own anger, denial, and I think his writing led him eventually into acceptance. That and his amazing protean mind which encompassed so much. The children and nieces and nephews called him “The Man Who Knew Everything,” which is on his gravestone. He was an astonishing man. The world fascinated him.

 

 

Wilson: Much of the poetry that you've written in the past few years address both your mourning and the healing process and also deals with the subject of aging. In your opinion, what is it about poetry which lends itself so well to this kind of emotional catharsis?

 

Yolen: In fiction, the characters have their own lives. They may start as a gloss on the author’s life, but they move on from there. In poetry, especially confessional poetry but in other poetry as well, the poet is not writing characters so much as emotional truth wrapped in metaphor. Bam! Pow! A shot to the gut.

 

 

Wilson: What are your thoughts and opinions on the supernatural? On God? Have those changed in any way since losing your husband?

 

Yolen: I am really a living here-and-now kind of person. Not a heaven-expecter. However, there have been so many of what we in the family have called “David moments” that it is startling.  And I don’t know how to fit those into my world view.

 

 

Wilson: You’ve collaborated with all of your children; what is that process like with someone that you are so close to?

 

Yolen: The first time I collaborated with each of them, it was a bit fraught. Could I critique them without making them feel Mommy is saying bad things? Could they critique me when I had already such a reputation? We got through that nonsense pretty quickly. And now we trust one another implicitly—and listen carefully to one another all the time. (Though I am still faster than all of them!)

 

 

Wilson: Even with your success as a writer—the best-sellers, the awards, the honorary doctorates, the films—you still belong to a writing group. Explain the importance of these kinds of groups to both you personally and to writers in general at whatever level they might be.

 

Yolen: My writing group is 8 professional women writers. We are strong-minded and yet vulnerable (as all writers seem to be), spread across the genres, and totally committed to one another, both as friends and as writers. So we can be very carefully sharp about critiquing and at the same time absolutely assuring as to our

appreciation of the writing abilities on display. Quite simply, these women hold my back.

 

 

Wilson: What do have in the works right now?

 

Yolen: Whosh. That’s a long list. I have 40 books under contract, all but 10 already totally written. The new books I worked on this summer include: the copyedited DRAGON’S HEART, 4th book in the Pit Dragon Chronicles; a book of farm poems for children with poet friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich); a book of poems about the life of artist Marc Chagall (with poet friend J. Patrick Lewis); a short fantasy novel called TRASH MOUNTAIN; a novella with son Adam about dragons and the Russian Revolution; first third of an adult fantasy novel written with friend Midori Snyder called EXCPT THE QUEEN; first third of a children’s fantasy novel with Adam called BUG; finishing a picture book of poems AN EGRET’S DAY with photographer son Jason; finished a picture book with daughter Heidi called NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS IN PINK; and half of a comic book picture book with friend Bob Harris called PRAMAZON & THE DIAPERS OF DOOM. Of these, the ones sold are: DRAGON’S HEART, Russian Revolution dragons, EXCEPT THE QUEEN, BUG, EGRET’S DAY, and PRINCESSES PINK. The rest have gone off to my agent to try and sell. Oh, and a few other things.

 

 

Wilson: Thank you for being so open and allowing me to touch on some highly personal subjects. And thank you for sharing your wonderful poetry with Doorways’ readers.

 

Yolen: My pleasure. Really!


Print issues of Doorways Magazine are available to order at: http://www.doorwayspublications.com/

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
2:34 pm
Doorways poetry contest results ...
 


The winners of Doorways Magazine’s annual poetry contest have been decided.


First Place
:

“Scent & Sensibility”

by Robert Borski of

Stevens Point, WI 


Second Place
:

“Grave Taster”

by Maura McHugh

from Ireland

 

Third Place:

“The Magician's Assistant”

by Penny-Anne Beaudoin

from ON, Canada

 

These will appear in Doorways Magazine #8 along with poetry from the three judges, Corrine De Winter (featured poet), Linda D. Addison and John Edward Lawson.


Saturday, August 9th, 2008
3:53 pm
Doorways Magazine #5 Interview - C.S.E. Cooney
 
C.S.E. Cooney was born in the Arizona desert. Contrary to popular lore, she was not left out in the waste to be suckled by the saguaros. Her publication credits include: Subterranean Press Online Magazine, Twilight Tales' Book of Dead Things, Annihilation Press' Hell in the Heartland, Goblin Fruit, and Tales from the Dim Unknown (issues 1 & 2). She is part of the Chicago Writer's Coven of Chicago, which meets every month at Kate the Great's Book Emporium, where she is a manager.
 
STEPHEN M. WILSON: How did you end up migrating from Arizona to Chicago?
 
 
C.S.E. Cooney: My father has lived with my stepmother and brother in Barrington for the last 13 years, and I was already familiar with the area from visits. After high school and massage therapy school and some real-life work, I was ready for college. Real college. Where I could study theatre and writing. Where do you go? L.A. didn't appeal to me, and New York scared me to death. Chicago seemed so friendly, so full of theatre and music. The word "springboard" always came to mind. And yet, for all Chicago's accessibility, it was still a word I could dazzle my friends with.
 
 
WILSON: We met at WHC07 in Toronto where we were both part of the poetry reading hosted by Twilight Tales. Talk a little about your involvement with Twilight Tales and with the Chicago Writer's Coven.
 
 
Cooney: The first time I heard about Twilight Tales was in a letter from Gene Wolfe. He included a flyer and told me I might like them. I kept the flyer magnetized to my tiny fridge for two years then threw it out. After another year of talking myself into it, two visitors to our bookstore mentioned Twilight Tales, within about a month of each other. Fearful of hexing myself, I grabbed my friend Katie and talked her into going with me. The first night we went, it was a shop-talk with some editors. A very small, non-threatening, smiling, friendly group. The next time, I went by myself to the open mic. Then Tina Jens sort of adopted me -- she has bright, big wings and I fit under them nicely -- and roped me into MCing one night. But I really got to know the TT folks when Tina sent out a call for staff at the World Horror Con in Toronto. It meant a free ride and a paid membership; I'd never been to Canada; I practically begged them to take me and make a slave of me. The only other World Horror convention I'd attended was in 2002, with Gene and Rosemary Wolfe, when Gene and Neil Gaiman were Guests of Honor. I'd always wanted to try another one.
 
The Chicago Writer's Coven is what we call our writer's group at Kate the Great's. Our members have varied over the last three years -- mostly people we've heard read and wanted to work with/learn from/hang out with, and now we're a nice cohesive group. We like diners a little too well, and our collective sense of humor borders from bawdy to downright certifiable, but I wouldn't trade it for all the joo-ells of Arabia.
 
WILSON: At that reading, you blew me away with your recitation of “Wild Over Tombs Does Grow” (the 200+ line poem included in this issue of Doorways). Later, you ‘preformed’ the same piece at a reading at Kate the Great's Book Emporium which was attended by Mort Castle (Doorways’ fiction editor) who was also impressed and suggested that you submit it to us. Do you think that “Wild Over Tombs Does Grow” was fated for Doorways?
 
 
Cooney: O Fate! Or Luck! Or Synchronicity! Or, as my father would say, "Some of us call it Grace." I am certainly glad and gleesome that Doorways took it, because hardly anyone wants those longish sorts of poems. At least, that I've found so far.
 
WILSON: Do you believe in the supernatural?
 
Cooney: I believe in stories about the supernatural. I believe in other people's supernatural. I have not experienced - nor do I expect to experience - the supernatural. But I can make other people believe in it, can't I?
 
WILSON: Goblin Fruit recently published another of your long poems. Do you generally find it difficult to find markets for these mini-epics?
 
 
Cooney: I admit that I've not researched the market thoroughly, but the few places to whom I'd wanted to sell my poems wouldn't have them. But I am learning to look harder, see farther, surprise myself, take names, kick ass and be grateful for the kindness of editors like Amal El-Mohtar and Stephen M. Wilson.
 
WILSON: What kind of time goes into writing a piece of such length and how in the world do you memorize it? Do you also write shorter poetry?
 
 
Cooney:
My shorter poetry is mostly personal, or for friends. At the World Horror Convention, I challenged myself to 30 lines or fewer (I think you inspired that), and came up with "The Hollow Witch," which satisfied me greatly. The amount of time it takes to write a longer one? Well, there are phases. Initially, I just rip it out. Maybe a few hours? Then I lose track of time, because I tweak it, and read it aloud, and bother my mother and my best friend, who (most helpfully) praise it, and then I tweak it some more, and send it to my father or Gene (with slightly more trepidation, because their comments are -- most helpfully -- more discerning than effusive), make cuts, clean it up, and by that time I've read it aloud so many times it's memorized! Practically.
 
WILSON: Your work has a mythic quality to it. What/who are some of your influences?
 
Cooney: I read a lot of myths and folk tales in my early days. (Still do, come to think of it.) Ye Olde Edith Hamilton and the Bulfinch's. My fantasy reading had a strong classical background - Tolkien, Lewis, etc. For horror, Lovecraft, Poe and King. Then, I read a lot of fantastical fictions: McKinley, McKillip, LeGuin, Emma Bull, Lois McMaster Bujold. But I always wrote my story poems and had nothing to compare them to, other than "The Highwayman" by Noyes and "Annabel Lee," and others of that ancient ilk... Then I read Neil Gaiman's "Baywolf" and "The White Road" in his book SMOKE AND MIRRORS and I saw that he even called them story-poems! Which, in my ignorance, was a word I thought I'd coined!
 
WILSON: You’ve chosen to publish under your initials “C.S.E.” instead of your first name. What prompted that decision?

Cooney: Truly? It was one of those high school decisions. C.S.E. Cooney looked cooler on the top right hand margin of the loose-leaf than Claire Cooney. Too, I felt mischievous at the thought of anonymity. And the signature scrawl is easier. Someone mentioned that I should use my full name, because there are few enough female fantasy writers, and I should stake my claim... But C.S.E. Cooney continues to suit me.
 
WILSON: This is your first writer’s interview, what’s the one ‘first impression’ that you would like to leave for future fans?
 
Cooney: Oh. Jeez. Future fans should read "Wild Over Tombs Does Grow," and ignore this interview. That would make a nice first impression.
 
WILSON: Where would you suggest Doorways’ readers stop for a bite to eat when in Chicago?
 
 
Cooney:
Dear Doorways' Readers: I just went to this place called Hamburger Mary's on Clark and Balmoral, and it was so over the top and fun. They have a "Buffy the Vampire Burger," with red wine and garlic. And they bring you your bill in a high heel.
 
 
WILSON: Thank you for your time and allowing us to publish “Wild Over Tombs Does Grow.” I wish you much success. Btw, what in the world are ‘the saguaros’?
 
 
Cooney: They are a kind of cactus found only in the Sonora Desert. They're the tall ones that look like aliens trying to pass as humans. You see 'em in every cowboy movie.
3:40 pm
Dwarf Stars Award anthology - 2008
Deborah P Kolodji and I are now in the process of compiling/editing the third Dwarf Stars Award anthology for the
Science Fiction Poetry Association. I have included the guidelines below. If you have any eligible poetry (10 lines or
less, speculative and first published in 2007) please send them to: dwarfstars@sfpoetry.com by Aug. 29, 2008.
 
Thank you.
 
With best wishes,
Stephen M. Wilson
 
 
Dwarf Stars is an edited anthology. We are trying to find the best short poetry of 10 lines or less published in 2007.

GUIDELINES:
Send us your short (10 lines or less), speculative (science fiction, fantasy, horror, science and/or surreal) poems
from 2007 as well as recommend poems you've published or read and think are deserving. There is no limit to the
number of poems you can send. You do not need to be a member of the SFPA to send poems/recommendations.

Send poems to: dwarfstars@sfpoetry.com
 
We are trying to gather the largest pool of quality 2007 published 10-lines-or-less poems possible so we can select
poems that stand out and are reflective of 2007 in very short poetry. Poems can be from any print or on line venue
including single-author collections. 
Friday, May 30th, 2008
3:40 pm
Doorways’ Interview with John Edward Lawson

 


John Edward Lawson is founding editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press
(
www.rawdogscreaming.com) and their imprint Two Backed Books. He spent four years as editor
of The Dream People online literary journal and has edited several print anthologies including
SICK: AN ANTHOLOGY OF ILLNESS and TEMPTING DISASTER. His own work has won the
2001 Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition and been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Dwarf Stars Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

 

During the 1990’s he kicked around in the D.C. industrial-electro-goth scene in the band Dead Letter Office and owned Rack and Ruin Studio.

 

Currently he is a full-time member of the Bizarro literary community, functioning as an editor and author of poetry, nonfiction, and stories. His collection DISCOURAGING AT BEST has just been released. Forthcoming projects include the novels SIN CONDUCTOR and RAGE: INTERNAL DEMONS and the screenplay SPIN, co-written with Robbie Ribspreader, which is currently in preproduction. He has also recently become literary director for the alt-culture site Vivianviva.com.

 

John lives with his family in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C..

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: There are a lot of literary/art terms like Dadaism, Absurdist, Surrealism, Avant-garde, Slipstream, Fluxus, Magic Realism, The New Weird, etc.—define Bizarro and what sets it apart from any of these.

 

John Edward Lawson: At first glance it seems that bizarro is largely defined by its lack of rules and broad range of influences, which just leaves one even more confused. In some ways it shares a lot with the Panic Movement of the 1960s, although it isn’t so nothing/dada-oriented. They both share a lot of the same roots – drawing on the reality bending of surrealism and the bizarre interactions found in aburdism. And in a lot of ways it’s comparable to the New Weird, or Magic Realism, or Slipstream – bizarro often has an unusual take on genre fiction, with a strong literary bent. And like Avant-garde and Postmodernism there’s a lot of experimenting with form, although if you take the form experiments out of the first two genres you end up with regular literature, whereas bizarro stays bizarro.

 

Ultimately, though, I think bizarro is the logical response to technological evolution. Its true roots are in the 1800s, when inventions began to shape the world more quickly than our minds could assimilate them – instead of a new development every generation there was something new all the time. It’s said that society takes a minimum of twenty years to comprehend the capabilities presented by a new technology, but we’re in a place where the capabilities of computer technology double every eighteen months. The world holds no more secrets for us, but paradoxically things in the human sphere feel new and unrecognizable and very much out of our control, and anything is possible. This is the foundation of bizarro – be it the more humorous stuff, or the darker material I usually publish. Whether the opening circumstance operates in the parameters of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or straight literary, it will quickly spiral into unexpected territory for which the protagonist, and humanity in general, is ill-prepared.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Name some pre-Bizarro artists in any medium that you would consider Bizarro before their time.

 

John Edward Lawson: There are a number who work(ed) in the manner I described above, without restricting their material to the guidelines of established genre, concerned with shifting realities. These would be authors like William S. Burroughs and Franz Kafka, who paved the way for us, or Steve Aylett and Eckhard Gerdes, who have both bee publishing for decades but have joined up with us young bizarro upstarts. In music there’s obviously the psychedelic stuff of the 1960s, Kraut Rock like Can, and the insanity of Chrome. I mentioned the Panic movement earlier…a member of that was renegade filmmaking Alejandro Jodoworsky who created the classics El Topo, Holy Mountain, and Santa Sangre. David Lynch, Goddard, Shinya Tsukamoto, the list goes on and on. Frankly, I think bizarro is something that’s been going on a lot longer than anybody admits or realizes, just in much more isolation. The advent of the internet has allowed bizarro artists to band together and lend bizarro as a whole momentum, as opposed to just the individuals. 

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Film director John Waters also hails from Baltimore. Is there something specific to this town that ignites such fucked-up imaginations?

 

John Edward Lawson:  Maryland is, as US states go, 43rd in size but something like 15th in population. It’s crowded and people are cranky. The geography here encompasses all the types found in the US -- minus deserts -- with more indigenous flora than all of continental Europe. The US government is right here, which means there are always protesters, foreign emissaries, and lawyers under foot – not to mention various forms of terror. Add to that the huge international cultural mix; there are huge Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, South American, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Korean, and African American communities here (MD is one third African American). You get used to thinking in very broad, unrestrained terms, with an extra helping of callous absurdity. Plus, everything is poisoned here by all the industry and agricultural runoff, and all the weapons development centers in the area are probably using us as guinea pigs.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: What non-RDSP books are on your nightstand at the moment?

 

John Edward Lawson: Other than the 40-something manuscripts I’ve looked at this year, I’ve been reading a lot of Eric Miles Williamson, the Dwarf Stars anthology, Grape City, The Haunted Vagina, It Came From Below the Belt, Victorian Etiquette, and How to Draw Kung Fu Comics. Speaking of which, I’ve been revisiting the work of Wing Shing Ma and Tony Wong, the top two people in Hong Kong comics. Brilliant storytelling to be found there.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: What’s your take on religion?

 

John Edward Lawson: Religion is like anything else, it’s subject to the naturally occurring insanity in animals. An animal has only it’s five senses to inform its thought process, and as those senses are housed in each individual animal’s body each thinks they’re terribly important—they seem to be the center of the universe, and rational thought goes out the window. Typically wants/needs based on “self-as-important” shape the implementation of belief systems in individuals, and they end up being as freakish in their approach to spirituality as they are in their approach to everything else. For me the discussion of religion can’t really get past the discussion of organics, because it’s our nature as living beings that shapes the final message/result of any potential glimpse into the divine. Sorry, I could rant forever on this issue. My take on religion personally is that adherence to any school of thought or moral code, I guess you’d call this philosophy, could be interpreted as religion since it governs how you go about living your life. It all depends on how many supernatural happenings you include in your world view. I consider myself pretty religious, but not in the populist sense of the word.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: In your mind what is most likely God, aliens or ghosts?

 

John Edward Lawson: Aliens and/or ghosts. Aliens, because it’s statistically impossible that there isn’t any other life out there; it’s equally improbable that it exists in a format, place, or time we’d be able to detect. Ghosts would be fairly nontraditional in my mind, because energy isn’t destroyed, it continues on. Of course, the energy contained in your body would be spread out by decomposition/your body feeding various organisms. Not too likely you’d be a sentient being at that stage, more like a broken record reenacting past actions. Or, maybe problems with time account for ghosts/hauntings…I’ve never believed time is as linear/sturdy as we like to think.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: You’re a stay at home dad. Does that afford you more time or less to devote to writing than if you worked a traditional 9-5 job?

 

John Edward Lawson: It depends. As commonly noted, children develop in phases of indeterminate duration. There have been times when I was completely unable to write—my son went through some illness early on and was unable to sleep unless somebody was holding him (usually me). Other times I could do plenty. Right now he’s too large, inquisitive, and dexterous to allow for any writing or typing when he’s awake, but he’s taking longer naps. One thing I’ve done for years, which has especially paid off as a parent, is waking around 4 a.m. to get in some undisturbed work before anybody else is up. I stopped working full time in 1998 to pursue a career in music (I’m a certified audio engineer), then later shifted to work as an author/editor. Back when I did work outside the house it was so mind-numbing I spent the whole time concocting stories to keep my mind active, so it wasn’t too different really.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Boxers, briefs, or …?

 

John Edward Lawson: Au naturale. No garment is so fun to unzip as the birthday suit, nor is it ever so fun to play seamstress as with that form-fitting garment. It also has the dubious distinction of being the only edible outfit. I do have a soft spot for boxers—the dogs, that is. Nothing beats those slobbery jowls.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Why poetry?

 

John Edward Lawson: Because it was a discovery for me. I was ignorant of contemporary poetry until I took over editorship of The Dream People online literary journal. When I found out people were still creating poetry, and it wasn’t the standard stuff they teach you about in elementary school, it was incredibly energizing and allowed my creative impulses to fire off into unexplored territory. Writing poetry is the single most important exercise for anyone who wants to be an author. It forces you to maximize usage of every single word, and allows you to look at words and structure in a different light than simply working in fiction/nonfiction.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Got any new poetry collections coming out anytime soon?

 

John Edward Lawson: Nothing with an official release date. I’ve been slowly working on a concept-based art book/epic poem. The working title is The Red Wallpaper, after The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It’s a pseudo documentary that sort of takes the logic in my creating book-as-DVD novels a step further, in that it attempts to create a visual environment for the words, more like the reader is stepping into stills from the film as opposed to just having the standard reading experience. In the meantime, I’ve been building up a variety of poems, both published and unpublished, that might serve for another Troublesome Amputee-style release, blending genres and styles in a single volume.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: You’ve got great hair. What kind of shampoo do you use?

 

John Edward Lawson: Haha! A lot of people assume I get perms or use an extensive array of styling products or something, but the state of my hair is a mere matter of genetics. My heritage is West African, French, English, Scottish, Welsh, and American Native—Lenni Lenape, Pamunkey, etc. So it’s a bit of genetic improvisation. But I digress…the answer is that I use Nisim, a product developed to slow/stop hair loss. I was having some serious thinning/receding before that! Can’t recommend it enough. If I lose this hair nobody will recognize me at conventions anymore…

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: Where can one get some good grub in Baltimore?

 

John Edward Lawson: For the best immediate selection you should stop at the Inner Harbor area. The whole place is full of restaurants. The harbor itself occasionally boasts corpses, if you’re looking to eat on the cheap. Otherwise there’s Mamma's on the Half Shell (Canton), John Stevens (Fells Point), O'breycki's (Fells Point), Nacho Mamma's (Hampden), Paper Moon Diner (Charles Village/ Remington), Grill Art (Hampden), Sushi Hana (Towson), Thai Won On (Towson).

 


Stephen M. Wilson
:
Thanks for the interview and allowing me my little weirdness.

 

John Edward Lawson: The pleasure is mine; your weirdness is full of flavor. It's nice to know Doorways is open to so many varieties of darkness.

 

 

--END--

 

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
12:59 pm
Doorways Interview/Bruce Boston & Marge Simon



Marge Simon is a past president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (www.sfpoetry.com/) and is currently the editor of its journal Star*Line. Besides penning poetry -- “Variants of the Obsolete” won the long category Rhysling Award in 1996 -- and fiction, Marge is an artist and illustrator whose creations have graced the covers of more than 100 publications. Her most recent books include Vectors: A WEEK IN THE DEATH OF A PLANET
*, a poetry collaboration with Charlee Jacob (Dark Regions Press, 2007), the flash collection Like Birds in the Rain (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2007), and Night Smoke, her collaboration with husband, Bruce Boston (Kelp Queen Press, 2007). Marge Simon’s website is: hometown.aol.com/margsimon/

 

When it comes to the who’s who of speculative poetry, Bruce Boston’s name tops the list. Not only has he won an unprecedented seven Rhysling Awards from his peers at the SFPA, but was also awarded their first Grand Master Award in 1999. In addition, he has received the Pushcart Prize, five Asimov's Readers' Awards, and two Bram Stoker Awards (most recently for his poetry collection Shades Fantastic, Gromagon Press, 2006) from the Horror Writers Association. Besides Night Smoke, Bruce’s most recent publications include the dystopian novel The Guardener’s Tale and the flash collection Flashing the Dark, both from Sam’s Dot Publishing (2007, 2006). The Nightmare Collector, a new book of Bruce’s poetry, is forthcoming from Doorways. Bruce Boston’s website is: hometown.aol.com/bruboston/

 

Bruce and Marge live in Ocala, Florida.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: The most obvious question to open with is: How did the two of you meet?

 

Marge Simon: We “met” in the early 1980s when I was editing various publications of the Small Press Writers/Artists Organization.  I loved Bruce’s work, and he added me to his list of fans. In person, we met when I was president of the SPWAO and he was GOH at our first and only conference in Albuquerque, 1989.

 

Bruce Boston: I’m afraid Marge’s memory is slipping.  She’s older than I am, you know?  We first met in an extended dream sequence when we were twenty-two and twenty-two-and-a half-years old respectively.

 

Stephen: What is your take on conventions? Do you attend more for business or pleasure? What do you learn at these events?

 

Marge: I like conventions. I went to a couple a year until marrying Bruce -– and 9-11 restrictions made air travel less than pleasant. In Florida, we have friends and fellow poets who attend and it’s great to get together with them at Oasis and Necronomicon. Of course, we also want to promote our books and the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

 

Bruce: I can’t stand the bloody things.  A bunch of geeks in funny costumes.  Others singing silly songs.  And still more of them maniacally playing childish games that most intelligent twelve-year-olds have outgrown. Lots of surplus population there, for sure.

 

I go to genre conventions because for some inexplicable reason, a number of my friends are also in attendance at these ridiculous events…and you can sometimes encounter other writers who actually have something to say.

 

Stephen: This has been a busy year for the two of you with Bruce’s second Bram Stoker Award win for poetry (Shades Fantastic), Star*Line’s 30th Anniversary and the release of Night Smoke, The Guardener's Tale, Like Birds in the Rain, and The Nightmare Collector. How do you find the time?

 

Marge: I thrive on multi-tasking. I like to have several things going at the same time and I function best that way, always have.

 

Bruce: Time is elastic in its periodicity,

             evanescent in its flight,

             elongated in its articulation.

             Ka-ching!   

 

Stephen: What are your day jobs?

 

Marge: I retired from teaching art two years ago. Not that I was any less busy then than now!

 

Bruce: I’m also retired.  To get to this point, I’ve worked as a bibliographer, a computer programmer, a college professor, a technical writer, a copywriter, a furniture mover, a gardener, a retail clerk, a movie projectionist, a book buyer, a ghostwriter, and a reference book writer.  That’s right, I couldn’t hold down a job.  I figure that in another six months I won’t remember any of this.

 

Stephen: Marge, as a past president of the SFPA, and current editor of its journal, Star*Line, as well as the poetry columnist for the HWA Newsletter, what do you think the importance of organizations such as the SFPA and HWA are for writers?

 

Marge: I think the SFPA has far more to offer to poets of the fantastic (sf/h/f and speculative) than the HWA, but you asked specifically about writers. Many poets (like Bruce and me) are also writers. Many of us worked hard to get poets accepted into the HWA, and even though previous powers in office have tried to get poetry voted out of Stoker competition, or qualification for membership, it survives. I can’t address how the SFPA helps writers because it is for poets. I can say that I have a column in the HWA Newsletter for Dark Poets, which showcases essays by guest poets. If you want to improve your writing, you might explore what the SFPA has to offer. If you know something about genre poetry, it will open up new avenues for your creative exposition.

 

Stephen: Bruce, your thoughts on that?

 

Bruce: Writers organizations, manned mostly or entirely by volunteer labor, stumble along, generally take two steps forward, one back, and an occasional step sidewise.  They often change directions completely when a new crop of volunteers takes charge. They are often rife with pointless tempest-in-a-teapot conflicts.  That said, SFWA, SFPA, and HWA all serve writers and poets, such as setting pro rates of payment, auditing publishers whose honesty is in question, and promoting the fields they represent. (Stephen, where did you get these questions?) 

 

Stephen: You’ve both collaborated in the past with each other, most recently on the poetry collection Night Smoke (Kelp Queen Press, 2007), as well as with other writers [Bruce’s 1989 collaborative poem with Robert Frazier, "Return to the Mutant Rain Forest", was voted “Best All-Time SF/Fantasy/Horror Poem” in a recent Locus Poll]. How do you decided on when to collaborate and who with?

 

Marge: When the mood strikes me. Perhaps I’m working on a poem or flash fiction and not making any progress. I’ll share it with Bruce, if he’s up for it. Or someone else whose work I think would mesh with my ideas. This also goes for art. For example, I’d done a series of paintings of otherworldly creatures that seemed very real to me. I don’t know where they came from. I shared some with Malcolm Deeley, and the next thing we knew, we had started a saga with his responses to my artwork. Both of us took off writing short fictions and poems to match the voices of the characters. We hope to have Legends of the Fallen Sky completed by the end of this year.

 

Bruce: Marge has collaborated far more and with more different writers than I have.  Many of my collaborations have consisted of taking a story or poem that is incomplete by another author, finishing it, and making it work.  My truest collaborations, in which both writers pass a piece back and forth, making changes and additions until they are both satisfied, have occurred on occasion with Marge, but most often with Robert Frazier with our poetry and fiction set in the world of the Mutant Rain Forest.     

 

Stephen: As a married couple, are the collaborative processes easier with each other than with other writers you’ve each worked with, or harder?

 

Marge: Piece of cake. I write, Bruce writes, Bruce edits. Works for us!

 

Bruce: She got that one right!

 

Stephen: And what about that Locus Poll? Where either of you surprised that “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest” beat out Poe?

 

Marge: I’ll let Bruce answer this because he speaks for both of us -– we’ve already discussed it.

 

Bruce: I put about as much stock in electronic voting in most online polls as I do in the results of our last two Presidential Elections.  Less than one hundred people voted in the Locus Poetry Poll, and on top of that, Locus, by its own admission, somehow managed to lose two-weeks worth of votes.  And Locus isn’t even in Florida or Ohio!

 

On the other hand, “Return to the Mutant Rain Forestis a brilliantly realized SFnal vision.  Check it out for yourself. http://chizine.com/return_to_the_mutant_rain_forest.htm  

 

Stephen: If I ever happen to be in Ocala, where do you suggest I go to get a bite to eat?

 

Marge: Certainly you’d be welcome to visit, but then we’d take you to Rhondo’s, Harry’s Bar & Seafood, or Reno’s for southwestern fare. Rhondo’s is privately owned by a giant, and he serves giant portions from a huge selection. I always get a take-home box.

 

Bruce: I always head straight for the Golden Arches, unless the Forest People are having a possum roast.  Some mighty-good-eatin’ possum here in North Florida.  Matter of fact, I think I can smell some cooking right now.  Sorry, gotta run.

 

 

 

 

*Winner of the 2008 Bram Stoker Award for Poetry Collection (tied with BEING FULL OF LIGHT, INSUBSTANTIAL by Linda Addison).

Friday, February 1st, 2008
8:38 pm
Doorways Magazine - poetry submissions open Feb.1-March 15
DOORWAYS MAGAZINE IS NOW CLOSED TO POETRY SUBMISSIONS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ENTER THE CONTEST. THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 15. GUIDELINES ARE AVAILABLE HERE: http://doorwayspublications.com/

Thank you,
Stephen M. Wilson
Poetry Editor

***

I am now accepting poetry submissions for issues 9-12 of Doorways Magazine.

Doorways is a "Journal of Horror and The Paranormal" so please keep that in mind when submitting poetry. Horror poetry should lean more toward the supernatural.

Possible subjects: death, ghosts, UFOs, séance, tarot, psi, numerology, EVPs, distant viewing, secret societies, cryptozoology, fairies, angels—basically anything that fits under the broad "paranormal" heading. When using tropes, please be original. Science fiction and surrealism are acceptable as long as the poem is horrific or paranormal in nature.

Doorways is open to any length poem, but prefers under 30 lines.

Submission period Feb. 1st - March 15th 2008
Please do not send submissions outside of these dates.

Send submissions to DoorwaysPoetry@... (DoorwaysPoetry at yahoo dot com) and please address to Stephen M. Wilson.

Subject line should read: "DW SUB: Poem Title/Last Name"


Paste poem in the body of the email and also include as a .doc or .rtf attachment. Send as many submissions as you like but please send each one as a separate email. I will respond within two weeks to let you know that your submission has arrived and will strive to let everyone know if their poem is accepted or not and which issue it will be appearing in if accepted by May 1st 2008.

We will only be accepting a handful of poems per quarterly issue.

Compensation is .50 a line and 1 contributor's copy.

Thanks,
Stephen

Doorways Magazine: http://doorwayspublications.com/

Friday, January 18th, 2008
10:35 am
Doorways #4 Holiday Issue


Doorways Magazine
#4 "Killer Holiday Issue" is now available for purchase.

The Featured Poet is John Edward Lawson  (includes an interview and three poems). This issue also
features holiday themed poems from Michael A. Arnzen, Deborah P Kolodji, Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, John
Edward Lawson, James S. Dorr and Terrie Leigh Relf, and fiction from Wayne Allen Sallee, James S. Dorr, Stephen
Graham Jones, Bruce Holland Rogers, Stephen Mark Rainey, LH Maynard & MPN Sims, Eric Enck, R. B. Payne, Lee
Thomas, John Everson, Joel Arnold, Nicholas Grabowsky and Slasher Contest winner Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

Copies are $6.75 plus shipping ($1.25) and are available here: http://www.doorwaysmagazine.com/news.php 

Issues 1-3 are still available. 
Sunday, November 11th, 2007
12:49 pm
Doorways Interview w/Deborah P Kolodji
 

                            Deborah P Kolodji and Stephen M. Wilson
                            Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA
                           September 30, 2007

 

Deborah P Kolodji is the president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a member of the Haiku Society of America.  Her poetry has been widely published in a variety of magazines and journals including MODERN HAIKU, STRANGE HORIZONS, DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES, FROGPOND, SIMPLY HAIKU, THE MAINICHI DAILY NEWS (Japan), ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK (Japan), STAR*LINE, TALES OF THE TALISMAN, TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED, THE MAGAZINE OF SPECULATIVE POETRY, ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER MAGAZINE, POETPOURRI, PEARL, POETIC DIVERSITY, ECLECTICA, GIN BENDER POETRY REVIEW, and many other places.

Gravitating to short form poetry, she is the editor and co-founder of AMAZE:  THE CINQUAIN JOURNAL. 

 

Kolodji has published four chapbooks of poetry, two of speculative poetry.  SEASIDE MOON by Saki Press, her chapbook of mainstream haiku, was one of the winners of the 2004-2005 Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Award.  UNFINISHED BOOK, a chapbook of mainstream cinquains, haiku, and other short poetry was published by Shadows Ink Publications in February, 2006.  SYMPHONY OF THE UNIVERSE by Sam’s Dot Publishing, April 2006 was her first chapbook of speculative poetry and RED PLANET DUST, Gromagon Press, July 2006 and illustrated by Malcolm Deeley, was her first chapbook of speculative haiku.

Stephen M. Wilson: How did you go from writing, editing, and publishing mainstream poetry to being president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association?

 
Deborah P Kolodji: My roots are in speculative poetry.  In high school, I wrote some Star Trek poetry.  After college, I didn’t write poetry for about ten years, concentrating my energies on my IT career, my marriage and my children.  When I divorced in 1992, I started writing again – those first poems were about geological cataclysms – earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, calderas, etc, and they were almost all about divorce and/or failed relationships.  I sold one of those poems to Star*Line in the early 1990’s – it was called “Cal Tech Divorce Study.”

 

Some of the geological poems ended up in speculative venues – others ended up in mainstream journals.   I’ve always written and published a mix of speculative and mainstream poetry.

I don’t see my speculative poetry and my mainstream poetry as separate entities.  I think that some poets pigeonhole themselves into being a “speculative poet” or a “mainstream poet.” 

 

I consider myself simply a poet. 

 

I write mainstream poetry, haiku and tanka, science fiction poetry, fantasy poetry, horror poetry, science poetry, technology-based poetry, and any other type of poetry that the particular poem I’m trying to write needs to be.  I participate in more than one poetry community.  I’m a member of the Haiku Society of America (http://www.hsa-haiku.org) and the leader of our local haiku group, the Southern California Haiku Study Group (http://www.socalhaiku.org). 

Recently, Samantha Henderson and I have launched a local quarterly workshop group of mostly SFPA members called the Southland Poets of the Fantastic (http://spf-news.blogspot.com).  I’m also a regular at “Monday Night Poetry” http://home.earthlink.net/~mondaynightpoetry/) - a local poetry reading which meets twice a month at a branch of the Pasadena Public Library.   The host, Don Kingfisher Campbell, launched an annual science fiction and fantasy poetry reading last year. 

 

This year, he’s producing an anthology to coincide with the reading.   The contributors include well known names from the speculative poetry community as well as familiar names on the local Los Angeles poetry reading circuit.  I spoke with one of those poets from the latter group at the last Monday night reading, who felt challenged by the idea and was thrilled that she had written her first “fantasy” poem.  Unfortunately, I did not see her list on the final list of contributors.

One of my goals as president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association is to attempt to break down some of the walls between these separate poetry communities.  There is richness in each poetry community and things we can all learn from each other.

Wilson: What do you think can be expressed in spec and horror poetry that cannot in mainstream poetry?


Kolodji: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry allows us to express our most fantastical thoughts, our deepest fears, and our wildest dreams and speculations.  It opens the door beyond merely writing about what IS to exploring our thoughts about what could be.

 

It also allows us to tackle more controversial subjects by constructing modern fables to draw attention to a problem by drawing the mind first in a different direction, a different look at the problem.

 

Wilson: What was the first poem of yours published and in what publication?

Kolodji: Several of my teenage “Star Trek” poems appeared in Star Trek fanzines and newsletters during the 1970’s under my maiden name. 

The first poem I ever published outside of the fanzine world was a humorous rhymed poem about the gasoline shortage.  This appeared in two newspapers – the Long Beach Press Telegram and the Daily Trojan (at USC) in 1978.  The Press Telegram wrote a column around my poem.  The Daily Trojan published it as a letter to the editor. 

It was 1992 before I really started marketing and selling my work.  My first sale was to “Our Family,” a Canadian Catholic family magazine. 

My first genre sale was a poem which came out of my information technology career.  “Lament of the Beta Tester” was published in Figment #15 in September 1993.  “Ship Stowaway,” my first appearance in Star*Line (Nov/Dec 1993) was my first Rhysling Award nomination.

 

Wilson: Do you write everyday (a haiku at breakfast; a cinquain before bed)?

 

Kolodji: I have a little haiku notebook that I carry with me everywhere.    I try to write in it every day.

Lately, I’ve been on a mission to learn the names of things – the names of birds, of plants, of constellations.   I don’t want to write a haiku about the bird on the bare branch, I want to write about the mockingbird on the bare cottonwood.   So, I’ve been doing a lot of nature hikes at local Los Angeles gardens and bird walks by the local Audubon society.  I’ve made several trips to the recently reopened and refurbished Griffith Observatory.  The haiku notebook always goes, too.

 

Wilson: When writing in forms, does the final work always turn out in the form you intended?

 

Kolodji: I don’t deliberately set out to write in forms.  In other words, I don’t say, “I want to write a sonnet today” and then struggle to fit something in iambic pentameter.  Instead, I brainstorm ideas on the page and if they seem to be of a certain form, I write in that form.

 

Except for haiku I often write “in the wild” so to speak, I compose much of my work directly on the computer. 

 

I’m a firm believer that the form should fit the poem, versus trying to force a poem into a form.   One of my pet beefs as the editor of a cinquain journal is receiving submissions of cinquains which really shouldn’t be cinquains, where the poet has just forced something into a 2-4-6-8-2 form and it shows.

 

On the other hand, I think it’s good to practice forms so that if a poem comes to you that might fit a certain form, it’s easier to write it in that form.

 

Cinquains and haiku come very naturally to me.  I tend to “think” in those forms without really concentrating very much.   Sometimes a cinquain will turn into a tanka.  Sometimes a tanka will turn into a cinquain.

 

Wilson: You are responsible for helping create a new award for sf/f/h poetry (The Dwarf Stars Award). How did this come about?


Kolodji: I enjoy very, very short poetry, write often in Asian forms and Asian inspired forms (like the cinquain), and believe that a person reads a short poem differently than he/she reads a long poem.

 

At least, I do.  When I read a haiku, I tend to savor it and let the juxtaposition of the two images expand in my mind.  To truly experience a good haiku involves far more than what is written on the page.

 

When I read a very long poem with complicated imagery, I need to break the poem down to understand it better.  I end up charting a mental trail through its images and journey through the poem slowly as a means of understanding.  It is an entirely different process.

 

It had been bothering me for several years that very short poems were not being recognized in the Rhysling Award process.   At some point I started a discussion on SFPANet, the Science Fiction Poetry Association listserv.   At first people said that not enough very short poetry was being published, but then Ruth Berman and I did some studies of publications and found that, in fact, far more poems of 10 lines are less are published than poems of over 50 lines, which has its own Rhysling category.  

 

I began to push for a third Rhysling category and made a motion to that effect.  As part of my campaign, I published the first Dwarf Stars anthology as a demonstration.   Some members were saying that the reason very short poems are never nominated was because they weren’t “good enough.”  So, I found 30 poems of less than 10 lines which I thought were exceptional from the previous year, which had not been nominated for a Rhysling Award.    I produced the anthology out of my own money and mailed it to the entire SFPA membership at my own expense.

 

The vote for the third Rhysling category ended up with a far greater participation than usual but ended up in a tie.  So, there was some talk of having a re-vote.  Then, Mike Allen, president of the SFPA at that time, approached me with the idea of having a Dwarf Stars Award. 

 

It seemed a fair compromise.  Obviously, many SFPA members felt there should be a way of acknowledging excellence in very short poetry but an equal number of them did not want to change the existing award system.

 

So, the Dwarf Stars Award was born.

 

Wilson: Are any of your children involved in artistic endeavors?

Kolodji: My oldest son loves classical music and sings in a chorus.  My younger son is an excellent writer but is not currently writing.  My daughter enjoys theatre, but hasn’t had much time for it since she left high school.  (She works in a DNA lab at UC Santa Cruz and is a science major).

 

Wilson: Blood-stained cacao pods and rare legs aside, can you recommend some good restaurants in Temple City?


Kolodji: My favorite local restaurant is the Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Arcadia which has the most unbelievably good juicy pork dumplings.  For Mexican food, I usually go to Margaritas, in east Pasadena.

 

Wilson: Thank you for being a DOORWAYS MAGAZINE 'featured poet'.


Kolodji: It’s my pleasure!


DOORWAYS MAGAZINE is available to purchase at: http://www.doorwaysmagazine.com/news.php


Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
3:41 pm
Doorways Magazine #3 now available


Hi all,

Doorways Magazine #3 is now available for purchase.

The featured poets for this issue are Marge Simon & Bruce Boston (this includes an interview I conducted with both of them, one poem from each and one collaborative poem). This issue also features two other collaborative poems one from J. Bruce Fuller & Ana Span and one from David C. Kopaska-Merkel & Kendall Evens.

This issue also features fiction from: P.D. Cacek, Joe R. Lansdale, Kathryn Ptacek, Tracy L. Carbone, and Mort Castle.

Copies are $6.75 plus shipping of $1.25 and are available here: http://www.doorwaysmagazine.com/news.php 

Issues 1 and 2 are still available, also.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007
12:34 am
Doorways Magazine Poetry Guidelines


Doorways Magazine Poetry Guidelines

 

Starting in Feb. 2008 I will be reading for issues 9-12 of Doorways Magazine—issues 4-8 are 
already full except for the quarterly contest (see contest guidelines below).

 

Doorways is a “Journal of Horror and The Paranormal” so please keep that in mind when
submitting poetry. Horror poetry should lean more toward the supernatural.

 

Possible subjects: death, ghosts, UFOs, séance, tarot, psi, numerology, EVPs, distant viewing,
secret societies, cryptozoology, fairies, angels—basically anything that fits under the broad 
"paranormal” heading. When using tropes, please be original. Science fiction and surrealism are
acceptable as long as the poem is horrific or paranormal in nature.

 

Doorways is open to any length poem, but would prefer under 30 lines.

 

Submission period will be Feb.1st 2008 - March 15th 2008

Please do not send submissions outside of these dates.

 

Send submissions to DoorwaysPoetry@yahoo.com

Subject line should read: “DW SUB: Poem Title/Last Name”

Please paste poem in the body of the email and also include as a .doc or rtf attachment.

Send as many submissions as you like but send each one as a separate email.

I will respond within a week to let you know that your submission has arrived.

 

I will strive to let everyone know if their poem is accepted or not and which issue it will be
appearing in if accepted by May 1st 2008.

 

We will only be accepting 2 or 3 poems per issue and this is a quarterly, so send only your best work.

 

Compensation is .50 a line and 1 contributor’s copy.

 

Doorways Quarterly Poetry Contest

 

Submission period for the contest will be April 1st 2008 – May 15th 2008

 

Follow guidelines above.

Send entries to DoorwaysPoetry@yahoo.com

Subject line for contest should read: “DW CONTEST 2008: Poem Title”

 

Contest winner will be published in the October 2008 issue (issue #8), will receive .50 a line, 1
contributor’s copy and prizes yet to be determined.

 

Send queries to DoorwaysPoetry@yahoo.com

With “DW: Query” in the subject line. Address to Stephen M. Wilson.

Doorways Magazine's webite: www.DoorwaysMagazine.com

 
Friday, October 26th, 2007
7:30 pm
Supernova
 


First published in Fig Leaf, April 2007


Supernova

by Stephen M. Wilson

 

Dedicated to ‘The Summer of Love’ and to the memory of Allen Ginsberg.

 

What thoughts we have of you tonight, Allen Ginsberg, as

we drift down the dirt path, through the black machinery of night, with heartache—
consciously floating toward the bright comet.

            In our dreaming state and plying for inspiration, we stepped

into the feculent waters of Styx.

            What leeches and what piranhas! Whole schools swim

tonight! Waves full of sharks! Rays in the

undertow, eels in the kelp!—and you, Laura Nyro, what

are you doing down by the water?

            We saw you, Allen Ginsberg, childless, lonely, O Lion of Dharma(!),

swimming among the stars in the reflecting water and eyeing

Moloch.

            We heard you howl to him: My ass drags in the

Universe! Throw ashes in the air! Holy the Bop Apocalypse!

            We waded in and out of the dark ripples of water

following you and followed in our collective conscience by your echoing

Howl.

            We stroked down the fast currents, together in our

fancy Nike’s, feeling heart-broke, yet possessed by frozen

delight and never passing judgment.

            Where are you going, Allen Ginsberg? Heaven’s Gate closes in

an hour. Which way does your soul point tonight?

            (we touch your ka and proceed on our odyssey into the

supernova and feel absolved).

            We will swim all night through celestial fires! The

trees on the bank all darkness to the night, blocking out the moon. You’ll not be

lonely.

            We will float, dreaming of a crashed A-10,

past solar flares and meteors, to our comet, Hale-Bopp!

            Ah, dear beat-king, lonely old hipster,

what America did you leave when Do’s cancer was nigh and

yours as well? You got out a few days late. We still drift watching, waiting

for your one soul to join our thirty-nine.

 

 

Monday, August 13th, 2007
11:13 pm
Publication update

Now available:

 

Poetry:

 

Featured poet

Scifaikuest 5th Anniversary (Aug. ’07) www.samsdotpublishing.com/contents.htm

 

“Death in the Streets of Fair Verona

Queer Collection: Prose and Poetry 2007 www.queercollection.com/

 

“420: A Spaced Odyssey”

HaHaKu www.samsdotpublishing.com/contents.htm

 

“Clay and the Skimmer”

Hungur (Spring ’07) http://samsdotpublishing.com/purchasecenter/magazines.htm

 

“What’s in a Name?”

Star*Line 30.2 www.sfpoetry.com/

 

Untitled ku

Scifaikuest (Feb. ’07) www.samsdotpublishing.com/contents.htm

 

Three untitled ku

Sun Shadow Mountain www.sunshadowmountain.com/

 

“This is not about a red wheelbarrow” & “When Nouns try to be Editors”

Expression 84: http://samsdotpublishing.com/expressions/juneexpressions.htm

 

Fiction:

 

“Here There be Tygers”

Raw Meat www.blackinkhorror.com/sideshow.html

 

“Betty Rage” (flash podcast)

Punkhorror.com

 

 

Coming soon:

 

Poetry:

 

“The Running of …”

Sporty Spec www.ravenelectrick.com/sportyspecgls.html

 

“Love and the Principles of the Quantum Theory”

Magazine of Speculative Poetry http://www.sff.net/people/Roger-Dutcher/

 

“Lonely Starseed”

Star*Line www.sfpoetry.com/

 

Untitled ku

The Shantytown Anomaly #6 www.geocities.com/theshantytownanomaly/

 

Fiction:

 

“Däs Marchen”

Vault of Punk Horror http://punkhorror.com/html/family.html

 

“Bodice Ripper”

The Harrow Annual: 2007 http://www.theharrow.com/

 

 

Recently placed:

 

Poetry:

 

“Family Album”

Star*Line www.sfpoetry.com/

 

Fiction:

 

“Blue Moon” (flash)

Black Box www.brimstonepress.com.au/blackbox.htm

 

“Silver Anniversary” (reprint)

            Universal Pathways (English version) www.innerzed.com/sites/kosmic/

 

“Here There be Tygers (reprint in translation)

            Universal Pathways (Greek version) www.innerzed.com/sites/kosmic/

 

 

Saturday, July 7th, 2007
9:51 pm
The Amityville Horror (writer)

Doorways Magazine's interview with Michael Arnzen
conducted by Stephen M. Wilson

Michael Arnzen has been a published writer for nearly 18 years with work appearing in a variety of diverse publications including: GAS, OUTLAW BIKER MAGAZINE, CEMETERY DANCE, and RHYSLING AWARDS ANTHOLGY 2006.  Always the experimentalist, his writing has also appeared on Palm Pilots and postcards, creepy online multimedia, and even inspired the art film EXQUISITE CORPSE. Summer 2007 will see yet another Arnzen experiment come to fruition with the release of his Audio CD AUDIOVILE.
Arnzen has won three Bram Stoker Awards and an International Horror Guild Award. His books include the novels PLAY DEAD (which spawned a set of custom playing cards) and GRAVE MARKINGS, the flash fiction collection 100 JOLTS: SHOCKINGLY SHORT STORIES, and several poetry chapbooks, including the Stoker-winning collection, FREAKCIDENTS.
Arnzen was born in Amityville, NY, home of the horror house and the shark from Jaws.  He presently lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA, home of Romero's zombies and the students (possibly one in the same?) he teaches as a full-time professor of English in the "Writing Popular Fiction" program at Seton Hill University.
You can learn more about Michael Arnzen by visiting GORELETS.COM
 
***
 
Stephen - First, as a horror writer, what are you thoughts on the supernatural?
 
Michael - I was born in Amityville , NY -- home of the horror house -- so I feel like supernatural speculations have always been a part of my life. As I've aged, I've grown into quite a skeptic. Even so, I try to keep an open mind, because I know that there is far more to the universe than mankind could ever possibly know or comprehend. I think what I'm mostly skeptical of is not the supernatural, per se, but man's crappy explanations (and hokey special effect representations) of all the things out there that go bump in the night. If ghosts and other creatures really had the powers we give them in our folklore and in our fictions, they probably would have taken over the world by now, you know? But I do believe in powers, elements, and beings that are out there that we cannot explain. 
 
As far as fiction goes, the supernatural always calls the definition of the "natural" into question, and I like that. Same goes for reality. There is a lot of mystery circulating around us at every moment -- though I like to imagine that most of it is happening in the microcosm or in the great beyond, rather than on any human-sized, anthropomorphic scale.
 
 
SW - Do you derive more satisfaction being a successful teacher and watching one of your student's writing blossom or being a successful writer and watching your own writing skills blossom?
 
MA - I think of myself as a creative writer, so even when I'm teaching, I'm creating and growing, right along with my students. But teaching gets me out of my lonely little office and in direct connection with other people -- it's more immediately satisfying that way, because passion for ideas is contagious. So I love being a teacher. Witnessing a writer come of age and being a part of it is very satisfying to me; it makes me feel like I'm "giving back" to the world in some kind of positive way. Writing is similar -- it is a gift you give the world to some degree -- but it's harder to gauge the impact of your creative work on the world than it is to see a student thrive right before your very eyes.
 
I'm always happy to play a small role in another writer's growth, especially a horror writer, because I got into this game as a fan more than anything else -- so teaching is like being a fan of new talent. I suspect the pride I feel in my students is a lot like an editor feels when they publish the early work of a hot new writer, who later breaks out.
 
It sounds like I'm choosing "teaching," but I wouldn't say the two forms of satisfaction you mention are mutually exclusive -- one doesn't really come at the price of another.  I do have to sacrifice a lot of time to teach when I might otherwise be writing, but then again, I like the stability of the "day job" of teaching. Knowing the bills will be paid lets me choose my own projects and I can write at my own leisure to some degree, without the reality of daily survival banging down my door, forcing me to do things like write greeting cards and things of that ilk just to buy milk and bread. Besides, helping others become better writers makes me a better writer in the process. I learn about mistakes and poor choices by watching others make them, and by helping them make better choices, I learn how to overcome those same challenges myself. Teaching writing is really an exercise in reading, ultimately, so it makes me a better reader of myself and others. So that's my long-winded way of saying that both are satisfying, and both feed into one another in ways I never would have thought.
 
 
SW - Poetry is not a lucrative art form. Why do you write it when you could devote all your time to teaching or writing only fiction?

MA - I guess I just like traipsing down the unbeaten path. Poetry doesn't pay much in cash, but deep down inside I know it pays off by keeping me real.  It demands a commitment to language and a willingness to take risks and wrestle with the difficulties of sound and structure.   Poetry writing is much harder than it looks, but at the same time it gives me more freedom to explore ideas because there are fewer expectations and conventions -- there's no given narrative form and the writer can create whatever form best fits the ideas they're working with.  Anything goes in a poem.  A free verse one, especially.  So it's kind of like playing in the funhouse of language.  I don't write many lyrical forms because I feel more constrained by the structure, but when I do, I find pleasure in puzzling out the rhyme and meter.  And I also enjoy working in the tradition of some really great poets, like Poe or Lovecraft or Baudelaire…I feel more people should read great poetry by people like them, so writing it myself shows how much I believe in poetry as form.

Horror poetry ultimately gives me a way to explore the very language for subtle meanings and nuances in a way that fiction often doesn't.  I love telling stories, but I also love just musing over ideas without the need for building character or cause-and-effect driven plots.  Horror poems have the potential to be profoundly scarier than any story that way -- they can be more philosophical, more bizarro, more crazy.  If a story doesn't make sense, no one will really read it, but when a poem, a reader sort of expects things to be a little challenging and out of the norm.  Poetry is closer to dreams and the realm of the unconscious -- and therefore nightmares and psychosis -- than fiction.  And as a horror writer, I think that's pretty cool.


SW - Do you have a favorite 'genre' poet? Non-genre (whatever that is) poet?
 
MA - There are just way too many to name...but I'll mention a few anyway, because I think anyone who is interested in horror poetry at all should seek them out. One poet I stumbled upon long ago in a college library sort of inspired me to try my hand at verse, because he proved to me that you could pull off being really weird with verse -- weirder than with fiction.  His name is Paul Dilsaver, and he recently, unfortunately, died.  I dare people to try to hunt down his work -- I think they'll be surprised.  I've always been a huge fan of a poet named John Grey, who writes in plain language but always has a killer structure.  His final lines always "get" me.  I appreciate that.  I don't see his work around as much as I used to, but he's published a book called What Else Is There? recently.  Another poet I admire has won so many awards and accolades that it's almost pointless to point him out, but he's still one of the best, and that's Bruce Boston.  I hand-picked Bruce's best horror poems for a book called Pitchblende a few years back, which subsequently won the Bram Stoker Award, and I've always felt blessed to be a part of that collection.  So people should check that out.  Other poets people should hunt down in horror include Tom Piccirilli, Linda Addison, Charlee Jacob, Mark McLaughlin, Wayne Allen Sallee, John Edward Lawson and the always excellent Kurt Newton.  For formal verse writers, I admire the hell out of Bryan Dietrich and Jacie Ragan and Anne K. Schwader...damn, I could just go on and on forever, so I'll stop there.  A lot of these folks also write horror novels and science fiction.  They're clearly just people who love language, and you can tell that from how good their poetry is.  And then there are the classic writers, the graveyard poets, the Romantics, the Beats, people working today in the mainstream like Sharon Olds ...argh, I better just stop now before I name ever single  poet to ever pen something strange.
 
 
SW - Aside from your students and your contemporaries, where else do you draw inspiration?
 
MA - Tough one.  I draw a lot of my ideas from daily life.  I like contemplating the sickness and the darkness that surrounds us in the most banal of places, like shopping malls and so forth.  And the ironies that surround us just crack me up. So... would it be cheating to say that the modern day reader inspires me most?  I'm trying to communicate things with my writing, trying to get a reaction, trying to get people to think. Knowing that I might just change the way a person thinks about the world is inspiration enough.  But my motives are different with every story and poem I write, so I would not say I'm motivated by any one particular agenda. I just like to raise issues in what I hope are new ways. Other inspirations include my family, of course.  My dad, especially.  He's a musician and a really smart guy -- and his sense of humor is just outrageous.  He really helped shape me into the weird person that I am, doing everything from taking me to rated-R horror movies when I was very, very young to talking my ear off with stories about his own life.  So I always think of him as an inspiration.  And my wife, Renate.  I like to push her buttons.

Hell, I think I like to push everyone's buttons a little bit. 
 
 
SW - Speaking of pushing buttons, I'm going to give you an opportunity to push a few with the next question. We’re coming up on the 4h Anniversary of the start of America’s invasion of Iraq; as someone who spent time in the US Army, I wonder if you would mind making a comment on the current state of affairs in Iraq?
 
MA - I served in Germany during peacetime (I like to joke "I was in the big one... the Cold War!"), so I'm in no position to really know what it's like out there in the desert heat with sand and guerrilla attacks right around every corner. But one thing I learned during my time overseas: you lose a little part of yourself the longer you're away from your home country and the longer you're immersed in the uniformity and groupthink that structures everything military. I feel sorry for the troops, but I feel sorry for everyone on both sides of the war -- any war. War is the most idiotic social act ever invented; I firmly believe that communication and education can solve any cultural difference or power struggle, and so to my mind any act of war is an arbitrary abuse of power and a waste. There is nobility in being a soldier, true, but only in being a protector or defender. I don't have a lot to say about it otherwise, other than that I think it's a cruel conflict and that -- win or lose or stalemate -- I hope America will be able to repair its image and reputation in the eyes of the world afterward. And I hope that we'll learn our lesson, somehow, without having to spill more innocent blood on either side of the fence. I'm not one to pick sides politically either -- I'm pretty independent -- but I do side with the protesters on this one. We shouldn't be over there; let's end it soon.
 
SW - Amen!

SW - My self excluded, have you encountered any fans or situations that you would consider 'stalkerish'?
 
MA - Well, horror readers tend to be far nicer and saner than most people would imagine, so there hasn't been a lot of stalkery in my career. But there are always some crazies out there, in any random population sample, and I've had some strange encounters.
I'll never forget the time when I was touring in support of my first novel, Grave Markings, a book about a "tattoo killer." At one event, a huge biker woman in the audience came up to me after one of my readings and demanded to see my "art." When I told her I didn't have any tattoos to show her, she got furious, and started pulling up my sleeves and lifting my clothes, trying to prove that I was a liar. She couldn't believe I'd written so deeply about tattoos without ever having one. I tried to explain that I was afraid of the permanence of them ("writers like to revise," I believe I said in my defense), but she wouldn't have it, and started pushing me around a bit. That's not really stalkerish, but a little scary, even though I know how wussy that sounds. Another fan of that book sent me a cassette tape with him singing a song inspired by the characters, sung more than a bit weirdly to the tune of Edgar Winters' " Illustrated Man. " I think it ended with a line that said "I'm the Illustrated Man, Mikey, and I'm comin' to get you." I wouldn't call him a stalker, because I'd met the guy at a con once and he seemed sane enough to me. The tape was really a cool compliment, like any kind of fan art. But when I shared the tape with my friends, they suggested I hire a bodyguard and take out a life insurance policy right away.

 
SW - You've won several awards from your peers. How, if at all, has this changed your life?
 
I know a lot of writers who have won the Bram Stoker Award who say it doesn't mean jack squat. Maybe that's true for them, but not for me. You don't really see a huge boost in book sales after winning a Stoker, but there are many more incidental rewards you'd never expect. One is simply respect, especially from those who haven't read you yet. Getting such clout helped me get accepted into graduate school and, later, also helped me land a teaching job; it's also helped my case when I've asked for a merit raise from my college -- which is more than you'd see in any royalty check. And I'd like to think it's gotten me invitations from book/magazine editors. I know having a Stoker in my bio always cracks the publisher's door a little bit wider when I come knocking.
But beyond all that, winning an award from your peers is a HUGE confidence-booster. I approach a lot of what I do as an "experiment" -- and that can be risky because sometimes people don't know how to respond to unfamiliar forms or approaches, editors included. Doing a newsletter like The Goreletter can backfire if people think it's just crass commercialism or pure narcissism; for me, it's a creative playground more than anything else. So winning the Stoker for that experiment meant that I was doing something right, and that it was worth the effort to follow my own intuition about it. Same goes for the books that won, because I was consciously trying to push myself to do something new in both cases. Now I feel like I've got a huge pat on the back from peers I respect, encouraging me to keep up the good work. It's an expression of support and trust. Knowing that the other writers I admire, respect, and worship have the same statue on their shelves that I've got on mine...well, that reminds me that I'm not as terrible as I might think I am, when I'm having a bad writing day. And it also makes me feel responsible, too, for doing my best and delivering on the promise of that award-winning status, in everything I work on. I used to feel like I had to compete against other writers to get into books; now I feel like I'm in competition with myself, trying to write better than I ever have, and trying to warrant the reputation I've gotten, by virtue of having those trophies. But like they say, you're only as good as your latest book, so I try not to think about those past accomplishments too much.
 
 
SW- You mentioned that, as a writer, you like experimentation. Does this carry over into other aspects of your life? Do you have any strange kinks or fetishes?

MA - Fetishes?  You mean aside from the soiled celebrity diaper collection I keep in my attic?  Ummm...no, I better take the fifth on this one.  As far as mad experiments go, you only have to sit in my classroom to see that it's a way of life and that weirdness is a worldview for me.
 
 
SW - Okay, back to “literary’ experiments -- talk a bit about the audio cd you're working on. What's the title? When will it be available?
 
MA - Audiovile is the name of my "pet project" right now and I think it's going to surprise a lot of people. It's a collection of stories and poems read to music -- and it's turning out freaking great! I've always tried to approach fiction reading as a sort of "performance," and Audiovile is my way of trying to do that with recording. It will be out on compact disc sometime this summer from Raw Dog Screaming Press (who also published my books 100 Jolts and Play Dead) -- they're a great publisher, always testing new ground with literary experiments and entertaining artifacts like this, along with publishing some awesome books.
 
Anyway, basically, we were getting a handful of requests for an audio book version of 100 Jolts, so I decided to make one on my own that would really be unique -- and much more than just 100 Jolts for the ears. It includes an array of different pieces, from an assortment of sources. One of my motivations for doing this is that most audio books these days seem to basically be throwaways: you listen to it once, get the gist of the story, and toss it. In the horror genre, there have been a few interesting CDs put out by writers, but you either get novel-length readings with very little drama, or full-fledged radio plays with corny sound effects. But I'm trying to do something completely different than either of these approaches. I'm trying to try to make an audio book that is worth listening to multiple times, one which will entertain on different levels and take on new nuances each time you listen.  So I started doing funky musical structures behind my readings over the microphone and discovered that many of my short-shorts and free verse poems can function sort of like songs. Only they're not really songs, either. The whole thing is like spoken word on steroids. I'm composing and making virtually all the music myself for Audiovile, and I'm learning a lot about not only music, but also the music of language, in the process.
 
An excerpt will appear in the February edition of "Pod of Horror" over at horrorworld.com that people can download as an mp3 file and listen to. So far, I'm just having a blast creating Audiovile and it's turning out really eclectic -- full of humor, funny voices, dark images, and different musical styles. I'm really not trying to live out any rock star fantasies or anything like that, but there is some heavy guitar and bass in a few of the pieces that goes over the top and it probably sounds like I'm some kind of heavy metal wannabe. Oh well -- I'm making it all up as I go along and that's the thrill. It's all in good fun, but I'm hoping to do something of real quality, too. So far, so good!
 
 
SW - What about Exquisite Corpse? How did this project come about? How can people get a hold of a copy?
 
MA - A great filmmaker named Jim Minton contacted me out of the blue and asked if I had any poems I'd like to see adapted into a movie. I sent him a batch of things to pick from, and he had so many ideas for all them that together we decided to make an anthology film. Jim reached out to the indie horror movie community on the internet and eventually assembled about a dozen directors and animators from around the world to "collaborate" blindly on the project.
 
That's what an "Exquisite Corpse" is -- a piece of art or poetry made by many hands, when one doesn't know what the other one is doing. In the end, the movie turned out great, featuring eleven "mini-movies" in different media, based on selected stories from 100 Jolts and poetry culled from Gorelets and Freakcidents. There are claymation pieces, animated stills, digital ditties, and live-action performances, all bound together with a great musical score by Michael Mouracade and two narrators who read the stories and poems over the images. It's a lot to digest in just 20 minutes, but it's really unique for a horror film!
 
I'm very excited about it; Exquisite Corpse is screening at various film festivals around the country right now -- and there will be academic presentations delivered about it at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts (http://iafa.org) this March. I might be able to show it at World Horror Convention. It's not available for sale yet; that'll be up to the directors and distributors. There may be copies given away through my newsletter and on eBay eventually; perhaps we'll be lucky enough to get a DVD in distribution within a year. But no promises. For now, you can catch it online at http://www.exquisitecorpsemovie.com
 
 
SW - What other weird shit can we expect from you in the coming year?
 
MA - It's all weird! Aside from Audiovile, Raw Dog Screaming is also re-releasing 100 Jolts in a hardcover edition with some extras. That's been a really popular book, to my happy surprise. And there's a lot of brand new weirdness ahead: a big short story collection, called Proverbs for Monsters, is being published by Dark Regions Press in limited hardcover and trade paperback. Proverbs is a self-selected "Best of Arnzen" sort of book, including not only regular horror fiction, but also poetry, short-shorts, humor, and a few original pieces written just for this collection. One of my favorite artists, Matt Schuster, is working on illustrating it as we speak. I'll also be appearing in a number of anthologies, too, but I'm under oath not to speak about most of these yet. One of them that I'm really looking forward to reading myself is Until Someone Loses an Eye, the comedic horror story book edited by Jeff Strand and John McIlveen, due this year from Twisted Publishing. You'll also see me publish a new chapbook or two this year, but, again, it's too early to talk about them. If anyone is interested, drop by my website and please subscribe to my quirky newsletter, The Goreletter, for free at
 
 
SW - Lastly, can you suggest some good restaurants in Pennsylvania?
 
MA - Look for a place called Primanti's. It's a notorious Pittsburgh diner that's so damned good, it's now expanding into a chain that is spreading out all over Western PA and beyond. Order the house special -- a "Pittsburgher Sandwich" -- or just get the huge Egg Sandwich for something outrageously wild. Virtually everything they make has an enormous pile of cole slaw and French Fries on it. It'll drip weird liquids down your sleeve, but it's well worth the cholesterol spike and laundry bill.
 
SW - Thanks, Mike, for popping my cherry as an editor (and for the interview).
 
MA - You bet! You're doing good stuff with Doorways, and I think it's great that the magazine is so supportive of poetry. It's rare out there -- and so this is important stuff.
 
SW - Can you leave Doorways’ sicko writers (and readers) with one of your famous Twisted Prompts?
 
MA - Heh-heh…sure. Let's see, doorways...hmm…how about this: "They say eyes are the doorways (or alternatively, windows) to the soul. Compose a poem or story involving a character who has discovered a way to lock them!"
 

From Doorways #1 (Feb. 2007): http://www.doorwaysmagazine.com/news.php
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