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Monday, 18 November 2013

Poetry of the fantastical: Virtual WFC 2013

From squidlets, staple removers, and songs to mourning, loss, and longing: Roz Kaveny, Tina Rath, Allen Ashley, Ian Hunter, and Megan Kerr were among some 20 poets reading at the Saturday night poetry event, organised by Allen Ashley. Poetry reading is a new event for the World Fantasy Convention, who decided to include it after the success of the Ashley's poetry evening at FantasyCon 2012. And if you missed the panel on whether genre poetry is thriving, you can read that here, and see what Neil Gaiman, Hal Duncan, Jenny Blackford, Jo Fletcher, Simon Adaf, and Allen Ashley have to say.

Mourning Iain – Roz Kaveny

Sky porridge grey. No sun. Along the quay
a skittish wind bites cold face, aching head.
loose pages blow like gulls, cannot be read
because not written. There's a sort of glee

in so much sadness. It's the rictus grin
grief's ache puts on each face, that and the cold.
We mourn him not as we'd have mourned him old
complete and done. We mourn the might-have-been

One handshake more, one joke, or one last book,
We'd squeeze them out of him, like drops of blood
if we could keep him, selfishly, we would.
Remember how he smiled pained, one last look

Farewell as he worked expert his last room.
One crow road feather for hearse horse's plume.

Summer Idyll – Tina Rath

She was but a village maiden, golden haired and sweet sixteen,
He was a chthonic demon, twelve feet high and vivid green
But the species didn’t matter for she loved her demon squid,
And he loved her, though he left her, he was male, of course he did.
See her wandering in the twilight, with her squidlet in a shawl,
(He was rather like his father, lots of limbs but not as tall),
See her in the village tavern, drinking vodka all alone
Wondering why her squidling’s daddy never writes and doesn’t phone,
See the lesser village beauties pass her by with scornful smile
For they think miscegenation’s worse than incest by a mile.
Then at last her aged mother cried “It’s time you knew the truth!
Child, your daddy’s not your daddy! Due to – problems – in his youth
He could never give me children. I was sad as sad could be
Took to popping pills and walking late at night beside the sea.
One night as I wandered lonely I thought I heard someone call,
Looked – and found you in a rockpool wrapped up in a seaweed shawl,
Clipped the web between your fingers, hid your rudimentary gills,
Took and raised you as my daughter – stopped ingesting happy pills.
Here’s the shawl...” She brought the garment, green and fresh in spite of years,
Only very slightly smell, soft as love and salt as tears,
Wrapped it round her daughter’s shoulders, led her down towards the strand
Where her green chthonic bridegroom waited to receive her hand,
While a thousand scaly horrors whipped the sea to livid foam
With the eerie incantation: “Mom and squidlet, welcome home!”

H. P. Lovecraft's Loathly Eldritch Band – Allen Ashley

'Twas a hundred years ago today,
HPL to the gods did pray.
Had an Oedipus thing with his mother
But he's guaranteed to raise a shudder.
So let me introduce to you
The deepest of your darkest fears:
H. P. Lovecraft's Loathly Eldritch Band.

We're H. P. Lovecraft's Loathly Eldritch Band,
We're going to rock the Arkham House.
H. P. Lovecraft's one and only Loathly Eldritch Band,
Ritualistic, not ridiculous.
H. P. Lovecraft's loathsome,
Almost decomposing,
H. P. Lovecraft's Loathly Eldritch Band.

It's torture just to be here,
It's giving me a chill,
You're such an ugly audience
We'd like to take bits home with us,
We'd love to take bits home.

I don't really wanna stop the frolic,
Though it's getting pretty hyperbolic
But Yog Sothoth's gonna sing a song
And he wants you all to chant along,
So wave your tendrils in the air,
Unnameable - and we don't care.
H. P. Lovecraft's Loathly Eldritch Band.

Deepest fears!

(Previously published in “Dagon 27” and “Dark Horizons 56”)

10 Things to Know about Staple Removers – Ian Hunter

1) The staple remover was invented by someone who bit their fingernails
2) They are excellent for picking up small children by the ears.
3) Correctly applied, when the planets align, they can be used to extract the soul of a virgin
4) They are excellent for picking up small children by the nose.
5) If the ends should stick together, you will die.
6) When applied to the neck they can be incorrectly assumed to be the bite of a vampire
7) They make a good noise for scaring victims when chasing them through the woods
8) They are excellent for making small children cry at parties.
9) Toothless old people who liked to bite flesh always carry them
10) Balloons fear them.

The Dream of the Yellow Room – Megan Kerr

The room is real
And I was there:
Its curtains seal
The milky air.
The yellow sun
Is trapped and tall.
The years still run;
The space is all.

In different time
You too were there.
The silent chime,
The space we share,
The planes that trace
Your face assert
The time when space
Was all that hurt. 
The room’s my dream.
I step inside
The quiet cream
Where love can hide.
Beyond that room
Another lies
In orange gloom
And shadows rise.
It’s crammed with bed
And trainyard’s roar –
The blankets shed,
The humid core.

The traintracks meet.
Your silent surge
Is truth and heat,
Our golden urge.
The windows shake.
You howl; I cry.
The facades break.
Dimensions die. 

Next event in the Virtual WFC: the Astrologica launch from Alchemy Press, with readings from Neil Williamson, David McGroarty, and Megan Kerr. 

All poems are used by the permission of the poets and remain within their copyright. Some poets have given another poem if the one they read can't be published online for copyright reasons. If you wanted to hear my prose-poem "The meaning", it's on this audio clip, at 18:55.

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