Author Archives: Deborah J. Brannon

A Mayse-Bikhl

A Mayse-Bikhl
by Sonya Taaffe
Published by Papaveria Press, 32 pages
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen
Review originally published in Under Review, a special publication of Not One of Us, edited by John Benson

I once told Sonya Taaffe that, on the day she wrote a poem that didn’t move me; a wolf would eat the sun. Take a look outside if you want a spoiler alert for A Mayse-Bikhl. If you do not see the sun shining, that’s because it is night when you read this, and be most certain that the reflection staring in at you is you, and not a dybbuk, because in reading this collection, you stand a strong danger of being possessed. read more »

Stone Telling 7: Bridging

Stone Telling 7: Bridging
Edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

Stone Telling’s seventh issue, called Bridging, has as its frontispiece, the painting of a horse and rider jumping a chasm, and for some reason, this image keeps coming back to me as I read the poems collected here. I almost wrote contained, but that seems like the worst possible word for the poems themselves and the purpose of this issue (as well as being generally wrong for the publication and its mission). read more »

Goblin Fruit: Winter 2012

Goblin Fruit: Winter 2012
Edited by Amal El-Mohtar and Jessica P. Wick
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

The Goblins always have a tell, a way of showing you what to expect, both so that you can’t tell them you weren’t warned when they hit you with what they’ve got. This time, the tell comes from the art of guest artist Rose Lemberg (of Stone Telling); crones and owls, foxes and wolves, a listening child; for me, it conjured the carpenter weathervane on the porch of my granparents’ house, sawing away in a late winter rainstorm. That tell only got clearer in the note from the editors, full of the cold damp of Cornwall. I was set to let this issue sink into my bones and throb, more raw chill than ice and snow. read more »

inkscrawl 3

Inkscrawl, Issue 3inkscrawl, Issue 3
Edited by Samantha Henderson
Reviewed by Amal El-Mohtar

In June of 2011, I was delighted to note the appearance of inkscrawl , a poetry venue dedicated to speculative poems of ten lines or less. I was excited to see a speculative poetry venue about which I knew nothing, edited by someone (Mitchell Hart) with whom I am not the least bit familiar; I was pleased to see a venue focusing exclusively on very short work, feeling that here would be a collection of poetic aperitifs, bite-sized bundles of complexity to savour in a context that would show them to best possible effect. I think very short poetry tends to get, well, shorter shrift in publications that showcase longer work; certainly in publishing very short poems in Goblin Fruit, I sometimes feel like short poems are best deployed as a kind of thematic punctuation in the overall narrative of an issue. So I very much welcomed inkscrawl. read more »

Welcome to Bordertown

Welcome to BordertownWelcome to Bordertown
Edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
Reviewed by Deborah J. Brannon1

Dear Reader: as devotees of the speculative and the fantastic in poetry, I should hope you are familiar with the Bordertown series, originally edited by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold. A scintillating combination of elves and rock and roll, the Bordertwon series grew up in the 80’s all tangled up with fey-caught artists longing for a place to fit in and encountering dangers untold in pursuit of that dream. While prose has long formed the flesh and sinews of the Bordertown anthologies, verse – through the centrality of music and, later, through included poetry – has always been Bordertown’s blood.

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Goblin Fruit: Winter 2011

Goblin Fruit - Winter 2011Goblin Fruit: Winter 2011
Edited by Amal El-Mohtar and Jessica P. Wick
Reviewed by Deborah J. Brannon

The Winter 2011 issue of Goblin Fruit is a spare feast, but one dense and complex: like all the best winter fruits, it lingers on the palate and tickles the tongue with bitter brightness. This latest edition of Goblin Fruit also lacks the artistry of its usual illustrator, Oliver Hunter, but we cannot be bereft: the stunningly haunting illustrations by Australian-based Japanese artist FAM more than slake our thirst for the fantastically strange.

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Mythic Delirium #20

Mythic Delirium #20Mythic Delirium # 20
Edited by Mike Allen
Reviewed by Deborah J. Brannon

Although the tenth anniversary edition is the first Mythic Delirium volume I’ve ever read, I’ve long been aware of the publication by reputation: many poems have appeared in Mythic Delirium (or related titles edited also by Mike Allen) that have later been nominated for the SFWA’s Rhysling Awards or been honored in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (2007), such as “The Descent of the Corn-Queen of the Midwest” by Catherynne M. Valente, “Songs for an Ancient City” by Amal El-Mohtar, and “To the River” by Jessica Paige Wick. One poem even recently won a Rhysling: “Eating Light” by F.J. Bergmann in 2008 (short poem category). (By clicking on those links, you can hear the poems read, often by the poet. Amal El-Mohtar’s poetry is an especially sensuous delight when read by herself.)

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