2008 SFPA Grand master: Ray Bradbury 2008 Grandmaster presentation

Ray Bradbury photoWith such evocative titles as When Elephants Last In The Dooryard Bloomed (1973), Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run 'Round in Robot Towns (1977), The Haunted Computer and the Android Pope (1981), A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis and Ministers (2001) and I Live By The Invisible (2002) Ray Bradbury has spent a lifetime, if not several by some standards, penning speculative poetry.

Unlike many speculative writers, Mr. Bradbury didn’t use poetry as a stepping-stone to fiction and then give it up. At age 42 , around the same time as Something Wicked This Way Comes first saw publication and a decade after his other three most renowned works of fiction, The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), and Fahrenheit 451 (1953), his first poem was published in Pro Football Magazine. His collected poetry did not start to see publication until the 1970s more than 20 years after he had established himself as a successful fiction and screen writer.

An example of his poetic amplitude is the fact that he had the only poem “Christ, Old Student In A New School” in Harlan Ellison’s seminal 1972 anthology Again, Dangerous Visions, and his poem “I Met Murder On The Way” was published as a two-page spread in Cemetery Dance’s special 50th issue (2004), the first poem that Cemetery Dance Magazine had published in more than 15 years, having only previously published poetry in their first two issues.

Many limited-edition chapbooks, some collections, and some single poems of Bradbury’s verse have been published dating back as far as the early 1970s, and at least two best-of collections of his poetry, The Complete Poems of Ray Bradbury in 1981 and They Have Not Seen the Stars 20 years later in 2001, have been published.

With all of that wonderful output, Mr. Bradbury has never won a Rhysling Award and in fact was only nominated twice (in 1990 and 1993)—both poems collaborations with Jonathan V. Post.

If any living soul deserves to be honored for his body of speculative poetry, especially one that spans nearly 50 years, it is Mr. Ray Bradbury.

—Stephen M. Wilson

Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012. RIP.

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