May 29, 2020

2009: The Year in Science Fiction Poetry.

When I first set out to do a post on science fiction poetry earlier this year, I had my doubts. The subject bubbled up to the top of my short list of blog topics, and I feared that I would have to abandon it due to a dearth of material. Sure, I knew of some sci-fi poetry out there by established authors, but I feared that this would merely fit on the back of a cyber-postage stamp. Sci-fi poetry never seemed to be a critical favorite. The latent discovery of the Science Fiction Poetry Association set me straight on a few things.

After nearly a year on their mailing list, I’ve discovered a vibrant counter culture that lurks just beneath. And believe me, that’s just too cool when it happens!!!

This year’s fantastic fare runs the gamut of what’s proving to be a rich and diverse sub-culture of science fiction poetry. With nods to Poe and Bradbury, the bi-monthly Star*line magazine, the Journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, opens up a fascinating world of speculative poetry. The entries and submissions are too broad and numerous to list here; let’s just say that they run the spectrum from alien existentialism to love in the time of zombies. Like in much of the genre, fantasy and horror blur and often overlap the lines of the fantastic. A membership to the SFPA is highly worth it; for the price of a few measly and ever escalating I-tunes downloads, you too can have a glimpse into this unique and growing genre. Read em’ rapid fire in one evenings’ sitting, or savor one poem daily in an effort to ponder it’s deeper truth.

We particularly enjoyed A Taxi Driver on Mars by Bryn Fortey, The Love Song of A. Alhazred Azathoth by William Browning Spencer with its Lovecraftian theme, and Return of Zombie Teen Angst for it’s ultra-short undead tryst. Not to be outdone, such sub-sub genres as scifiku are represented this year as well. Did the Japanese masters anticipate this?

In their quest for world dominance (pun intended) the SFPA also held their first ever Rhysling (unlike the wine…) award ceremony at Worldcon earlier this year. The awards themselves were announced previous at ReaderCon in July, and it seems as though interest in the field is mounting. The 2009 winners were;

Long Poem Category:

Winner: “Search” by Geoffrey A. Landis,

2nd place: “Hungry: Some Ghost Stories,” by Samantha Henderson,

3rd place: “Damascus Divides the Lovers by Zero, or, The City is Never Finished,” by Amal El-Mohtar & Catherynne M. Valente.

And in the Short Poem category:

Winner: “Song for an Ancient City,” by Amal El-Mohtar,

2nd place: “Spell” by Samantha Henderson,

3rd: “The Future,” by Billy Collins.

With such alumni as Joe Haldeman and Ursula K. Le Guin in the ranks of Rhysling winners, expect the next “greats” to perhaps be in the making… it seems as the genre is also gaining steam, with science fiction poetry aficionados cropping up at the various Cons’ throughout yearly sci-fi-dom. Will it ever make its way into a critical favorite? One could easily imagine the SyFy commercials or ‘Your Moment of Hyper-spatial Zen’ introducing the Battlestar crowd to a new mantra. In the meantime, do hunt down the 2009 Rhysling Anthology or subscribe to the bi-monthly Star*Line… it’ll give you that warm, I’m-too-hip-for my-SyFy-friends feeling!

Editors note: Don’t miss the SFPA’s Dwarf Stars Award nominees, for sci-fi poems of ten lines or less, currently underway!



  1. Boghos L. Artinian says:

    The Dimensions of Stupidity

    I’d rather stroll over meadows
    Than tackle some shapes and shadows;
    No dimension beyond the third
    Protracts from the physical world!
    No mass in less than three can be;
    Points, lines and planes are geometry.

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