In preparation for NaPoWriMo, I’m coming up with some poetry ideas. I have a few topics I want to tackle (Alzheimer’s and my maternal grandparents, a praise poem to bunnies, etc.) and a few forms to work on, including:
hay(na)ku:A tercet of 6 words: 1 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 3 in the third line. I’d never heard of this form before this morning, but I just found out my friend Peg Duthie has a pocket booklet coming out from Open Hand Press called Drop, Portion and Assignment of three hay(na)ku sequences, for $3, with all proceeds donated to Haiti relief.
N+7 (or N plus 7): This is an Oulipian exercise where you replace all the nouns in a piece with the noun that comes seven entries later in the dictionary, which can have hilarious results. I use it as a kick-start. I’ve talked about this before: “my version of N+7, in which I replace nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs (I have lists of each) and only keep the sentence structure, and then use the resulting hot mess with its occasional serendipitous accidents as a springboard to write something that makes sense.” My poem “A Kind of Honey” was written during NaPoWriMo 2009 using this technique (from Matt Robinson’s “The Lost Art of Waving“).
Sestina: I think most people are familiar with these now, but I’ve only ever managed to write two successfully (“Rex Sestina,” which is forthcoming in Orbis, and “The Rainy Season,” which was in Strange Horizons some years ago), and that’s just sad, so I’m going to try again.
Wow, the NRA is advertising on my site. They’re so not who I picture as Project Wonderful’s demographic, but me and my gun will totally take their money.
Back from Tuscaloosa, from 2010: A Space Oddity, at the University of Alabama. I drove down with Peg Duthie (she drove, I navigated incompetently*). We got a little lost finding David‘s house, and drove past our new favourite business name four times: Moon Winx Lodge. David and his wife and daughter were charming and welcoming and have one of those awesome cool old houses with loads of personality and endless stuff to look at.
The convention seemed reasonably well-attended for its first year, I thought. I went to the talks on anthropology in science fiction and on the War of the Worlds radio drama that caused such a panic when it was broadcast, as well as Jack McDevitt‘s talk on how to get rejected (which Lou Anders joined in on). I was part of a panel discussion on submission etiquette with Peg and David, and read “Sundowning” to a small crowd and then listened to David read from Nursery Rhyme Noir. We were supposed to have a poetry reading in the evening, too, but everybody except the organizers pretty much cleared out at supper time, so we ended up just hanging out with a few people (including artist Steve Cooper, whose work was really cool). Drove back this morning and am relaxing with Mary Alexandra Agner’s The Doors of the Body.
*Two of the doctors I support in my day job have travelled or are travelling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham this month, so I had University of Alabama at Birmingham on my mind and Google mapped directions to Birmingham, instead of Tuscaloosa. We got in Peg’s car, and she said, “so how do we get to Tuscaloosa,” and realizing my mistake I looked sadly at my map and said, “Well, this isn’t going to help us.”
The Art of Book Covers: A/V Pesentation on how illustration and design come together to create a book cover. *Lou Anders, three time Hugo nominated Editorial Director and Chesley Award Winning Art Director of Pyr Books hosts a presentation on how science fiction book covers are created, from commissioning artists, to art direction, to final layout and design. The presentation will feature artwork from some of the most celebrated names in science fiction and fantasy illustration, including some never seen before pieces.
A Star Ripped Apart by a Black Hole? *While the evidence for high-mass and low-mass black holes is incontrovertible, whether Nature creates black holes of intermediate-mass (1000 – 10,000 times the mass of the Sun) is still quite controversial. We present work indicating that not only do intermediate-mass black holes exist in the centers of dense globular star clusters, but that in one instance the black hole has ripped apart a star that has strayed too close to it. The unusual chemical signature of the debris suggests the star that was ripped apart was a white dwarf, the stellar corpse of a star that no longer burns hydrogen in its core. (Yuanyan Su presenting the current research of astronomy professor Dr. Jimmy Irwin of the University of Alabama.)
Dark visions and bright: SF poetry reading: *The Science Fiction Poetry Association sponsors a reading of speculative poetry (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything in between). Authors like Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Zelazny wrote novels to pay the bills, but they wrote poetry because they needed to. Come find out what depths and heights can be fit into just a few well-chosen words. (David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Peg Duthie and Joanne Merriam)
Mother Goose has a lot to answer for (Reading): *Who killed Humpty Dumpty? Who forced the old woman to swallow the fly? David Kopaska-Merkel reads from his recent book, “Nursery Rhyme Noir.” Shocking crimes lie behind the seeming innocence of nursery rhymes and children’s stories. Fortunately, Hasp Deadbolt, P.I., is on the case.
Why everybody should be reading Science Fiction: *My father was born before the Wright Brothers flew, and he lived to see the landing on the Moon. That was when change was coming at a snail’s pace. Now we live in a technological avalanche. But people naturally resist change. Someone mentions clones, or the capability to manipulate genetics and we’re automatically opposed. It’s as if these ideas, and others, fell out of the sky. But SF people have spent the last seventy years looking at the various directions we might take, and it helps them make smart choices. Another reason to read SF: At its best, it makes dazzling entertainment. – Jack McDivett
When Wallpapering the Den with Your Stories is Not an Option: A Q&A on Submission Etiquette: *Writing is one thing, but making it possible for millions of potential fans to read your work is quite another. David Kopaska-Merkel (speculative poet, fiction writer, and editor of Dreams & Nightmares magazine), Peg Duthie (author and editor) and Joanne Merriam (poet, fiction writer and former staffer of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia) answer your questions about submission etiquette and standard practices in the book and magazine industries.
It’s Time for the Bloodletting (Reading): *Joanne Merriam reads from her short post-apocalyptic story, “Sundowning,” which just appeared in Strange Horizons. Set in a future where vampires keep humans around for food, a fry cook struggles with her father’s Alzheimer’s. Merriam has had fiction in The Fiddlehead, On Spec, Southern Gothic and Stirring, and is a winner of the Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. You can find more of her work online at joannemerriam.com.
Micro Black Holes and the LHC Scare: Dr. Ben Harms.
Hanny’s Voorwep: The Rise of the Digital Amateur Astronomer: Dr. William Keel.
Ask an Astronomer and Physicist: *Do you have questions about space or physics? Well come and enjoy this Q&A on astronomy and physics with University of Alabama professors! Hosted by the Astronomy and Physics departments, Dr. Dean Townsley, Dr. Dawn Williams, and Dr. William Keel will be taking questions from the audience related to astronomy and physics.
Anthropology in Science Fiction: Exploring the Human Condition through Imagined Worlds: *We will compare portrayals in science fiction to anthropological perspectives on questions such as: What makes a human? Where does our species come from, and where are we headed? How important are the differences that separate us? Can we ever really understand each other? – Dr. Jason DeCaro.
Sci Fi and Gaming (TP) (45 min) – ABXY
The Science Fiction of Japanese Anime: *Have a look into the world of science fiction in Japanese anime with the people who brought you the anime convention KamiCon. See how technology in anime affects the path of modern technology, and how modern technology affects anime. Why does the most technologically advanced country in the world find anime so important? – Raymond Lenzer, KamiCon
War of the Worlds Broadcasting Scare: Adam Schwartz
Characters, Plot and Backstory: The Mechanics of Fiction: *All too often, the plots and backstories of science fiction and fantasy take precedence over the development of characters. Alex White gives you a series of tips and tricks designed to get you thinking about what drives a story.
Robotics programing and demonstration: Dr. Monica Anderson and ACM
How to get rejected: * Editors and their screeners are inundated with manuscripts from people they’ve never heard of. Hundreds of them pour in over the transom every day. So naturally they look for reasons to get rid of them, to send them back with the standard rejection letter. And to do it without having to read past the first page. Or often even the first paragraph. Here’s how we can make it easy for them to reject our submission. – Jack McDevitt
And, I will be selling copies of Edgewise. I got the covers printed yesterday, so I just need to bind them and my pre-orders will be mailed out. I’m still taking pre-orders if you’d like to get in on this hawt chapbook action.
Got my contributor’s copy a few days ago and finally got around to scanning the cover for you all to see. Purty ain’t it? There’s some really excellent stuff in there, including my homegirl Peg Duthie’s “Evolution,” Charles Wright’s “The Ghost of Walter Benjamin Walks at Midnight” and Jane Yolen’s “Goodbye Billy Goat Gruff.” A complete list of contents is here. The ones I could find online are:
“Dark Flow” by Francis W. Alexander (Abyss & Apex, Issue 28, 2008)
“Godmother” by Anna Marie Catoir (Goblin Fruit, Spring 2008)
“Songs were washing up” by Francesca Forrest (Cabinet des Fees – Scheherzade’s Bequest, Issue 6, Sept 2008)