The Doors of the Body

The Doors of the BodyThe Doors of the Body
By Mary Alexandra Agner
Published by Mayapple Press, 32 pages
Reviewed by Francesca Forrest

This collection explores the experience of womanhood through twenty-two distinctly voiced poems. There are voices out of classical and more recent literature and history, as well as voices from folk and fairytale tradition. Two poems, “The Doors of the Body” and “The Harvest I Desire,” speak in entirely new voices.
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.

read more »

Stone Telling Issue 5: First Anniversary Issue

Stone Telling 5Stone Telling Issue #5: First Anniversary Issue
Edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan
Reviewed by J. C. Runolfson

Since its inception, Stone Telling has been explicitly committed to showcasing diversity in speculative poetry, often by featuring work from underrepresented perspectives and voices traditionally silenced in the ongoing English narrative. It is appropriate, then, that their fifth issue, marking the first anniversary of the publication’s birth, is full of such a wide range of poetic subjects, styles, and passions. That there is passion here cannot be doubted, for the very cover image of this issue speaks of it, in the wild colors illuminating a bard and that bard’s bone-carved instrument, both caught in a moment of intense movement. The stated theme of this issue is “Myths,” and it is clear this bard is truly ready to build a world of words. It’s a promising prospect for what the issue holds.
read more »

Dreams & Nightmares 87

Dreams & Nightmares 87Dreams & Nightmares #87
Edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

This is my second of three forays into the speculative poetry magazine Dreams and Nightmares. This outing, I am reviewing issue 87. My last look at D&N turned out a little mixed, and I’m intrigued to see what will be in store for this issue. Not much in the way of preamble, but let’s get into it.
read more »

Private Worlds

Private WorldsPrivate Worlds: A Revised Atlas
By Scott Green
Reviewed by Francesca Forrest

This is an intriguing and ambitious concept for a speculative poetry collection: a series of short-form poems that comment on the oeuvre of a novelist in the field of science fiction, horror, or fantasy. This edition, which expands upon an earlier edition of the collection, also contains poems on other types of work (films, artwork) and additional creators in the field.
read more »

Dreams & Nightmares 86

Dreams & Nightmares 86Dreams & Nightmares #86
Edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

Criticism is, as you may have gathered, a little new to me. I have dabbled at it here and there, trying to rehabilitate teenaged poets (myself included) in the Chimera, Bolton High School’s annual literary magazine, offering critiques and getting my dander up about some silly thing here or there in the other half-my-life-and-then-some since, but the resumé is brief and the stages of professional development are still a mystery. One of them I did not anticipate is this sense. It’s not dread, but it is of the same root; a reluctance. I look at my assignments and hope, hope that I do not have to say mean things about them, hope that I don’t have to consider lying and saying a poem is fine when it’s not only not fine, but not really a poem (I promise I never will, but the temptation is always, always there). I am reluctant to trot out that word cliché, which is starting to feel like a cliché in and of itself, coming out my fingers as the serpent swallows its own tail. As someone who takes great joy in occasionally saying mean things on the internet, it turns out that saying mean things is actually the hardest part of criticism.
read more »


Ragnarok by Park Anderson“Ragnarok”
By Paul Park, 17 April 2011
Reviewed by Francesca Forrest

This is a tour-de-force, an epic poem in Anglo-Saxon style, with Icelandic saga subject matter, set in a postapocalyptic future Iceland. It’s brilliant; it’s breathtaking; I wish my old Anglo-Saxon professor were alive to read it. It’s like the Battle of Maldon or Beowulf, but with a Glock Nine gun; it’s like Njal’s Saga, only the throne of the cruel enemy king is made of

Shards of glass,
Upturned cars, chunks of concrete

read more »

Bull Spec Poetry Issues 4-6

Bull Spec Issue 4Bull Spec Poetry Issues 4-6
Edited by Dan Campbell
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

Last time we took a look at the first three issues of Bull Spec, an SF magazine that has been around since Spring 2010, which left me with the impression that the poetry content was something of an afterthought. Good and poor were mixed together in a bit of a layout salad which diminished the good slightly and made the bad harder to read. Let’s see if the second three issues does anything for the issues raised in the first three.

The short answer is they have, though not as much as I would have liked. The quality of the poems has improved, and the layout does get a little less confusing, though no less crowded.
read more »

Bull Spec Poetry Issues 1-3

Bull Spec Issue 1Bull Spec Poetry Issues 1-3
Edited by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn (1&2) and Dan Campbell (3)
Reviewed by Erik Amundsen

Bull Spec is a newish quarterly SF magazine with some poetry in the back. Okay, that’s a bad foot to get off on, but it does get my back up, just a bit, in a poetry-centric review, to see the poetry all crowded to the back of the magazine. This is, however, standard practice for many, many publications, and just because it steps on my precious little poetry toes doesn’t mean I have to grouse about it. It also isn’t fair to single out Bull Spec for doing it. So, I won’t grouse, but I do feel it bears mentioning. In one sense it does make doing a poetry-only review of the first three issues easier, since there’s not a lot of hunting around I have to do for the poems.
read more »

Jabberwocky 7: Poetry

Jabberwocky 7Jabberwocky 7: Poetry
Edited by Sean Wallace and Erzebet YellowBoy
Reviewed by Alexandra Seidel

Jabberwocky 7 brings to you four pieces of high quality: two poems and two stories. In here, only the poems will be reviewed.

Charlotte Hussey’s poem ‘Daemon Lover’ begins with a quote from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ that refers to the magical conception of Merlin by an invisible spirit or demon. These four lines are then woven into Hussey’s poem, marking the end of each of its four stanzas, and so linking the poem to the Merlin story but at the same time setting it apart, for this is a love poem at its heart, not a poem about demons or magicians.
read more »