Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Essay on Women's Speculative Poetry

In the continuing spirit of catching up on matters ...

My lengthy essay "The Transformations of Speculative Poetry: On Wiscon Panels in 2008 and 2013," appears in the September issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction.

The essay has three sections that follow a somewhat logical progression, but that also reflect a sequence of events and memories. It includes as well reflections and reflective discoveries of the sort that move a writer through an essay.

I begin by thinking back to a panel at the 2008 Wiscon. This portion includes thoughts on Minnesota poets and on panel participants Terry Garey and Amal El-Mohtar. Reflecting on Garey's contributions prompted thoughts on a generation divide that is marked by a change in small-press publishing.

I speak then of meeting Kathryn Rantala, and being reminded by her of an aspect of speculative poetry that spoke, and speaks, to both of us. This leads me to explore speculative poetry's place in a larger literary historical order. These thoughts will likely come across as overly condensed to most readers, for they certainly do to me. I do believe, however, I convey my understanding of the form's situation.

I conclude with an account of the panel "Women's Speculative Poetry Now," which took place in May this year. This section draws upon notes I took, based on comments by participants El-Mohtar, Shira Lipkin, Sofia Samatar and Lesley Wheeler.

Please note that I make no mention of the strange conjunction of misunderstanding and personal politics that seems to have taken place at another poetry event at that same Wiscon, of which I was ignorant.

One sentence in the printed version appears in a way that leaves me, at least, thinking it makes no sense. In mid-first-column, page 24, the line should read, "Science fiction, a late Modern form, in the Age of the Masses rejected its Symbolist beginnings and became a literary game ..." Or it could read, "In the Age of the Masses, the late-Modern form of science fiction rejected ..." Or some such. If I punctuated it in my original manuscript the way it appears here, the reader's confusion may be laid at my door.

Weightless Books makes this issue, number 301 (26:1), available. My thanks especially to David G. Hartwell and Kevin J. Maroney.

Cheers ...

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