2017 Halloween Poetry Reading
curated by Ashley Dioses

The Halloween Poetry Reading presents enjoyable speculative poetry to a broader audience, increases awareness of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and promotes the individual poets who take part. All SFPA members are welcome to submit one audio file per person of themselves reading one of their spooky, haunting, ghoulish, or humorous Halloween poems. See the 2016 Halloween Poetry Reading for examples. If you are uncomfortable reading aloud or are unable to make the audio recording yourself, contact Ashley or ask someone else to read your poem for you and provide the name of the reader. We also want Halloween-themed artwork! See guidelines below. Most recent are at top of page.

November 2 - Melanie Stormm
November 2

Melanie Stormm
How Soon the Days - M. Juan Orio

Angela Yuriko Smith
Open Mic - Richaundra Thursday
Open Mic

Richaundra Thursday
Dead Inside - F.J. Bergmann
Dead Inside

F.J. Bergmann
How Soon the Days - M. Juan Orio
How Soon The Days

M. Juan Orio
The Frightful Night - Celena StarVela
The Frightful Night
Celena StarVela
Little Monsters - Marie Vibbert
Little Monsters
Marie Vibbert
The Fetch - Deborah L. Davitt
The Fetch
Deborah L. Davitt
Ghoul Cloud - John C. Mannone
Ghoul Cloud
John C. Mannone
The submitted photograph that I had taken was enhanced with software in my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. A special kind of apophenia, pareidolia (parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists (e.g., in random data) and most especially faces. Algol (β Persei) also known as the “Demon Star” or “Ghoul Star,” is a bright multiple star system of eclipsing binaries in the constellation of Perseus. Algol is a 2.1 magnitude star but dims to 3.4 magnitude every 2.86 days. It is clearly visible during Halloween.
Previous Halloween Readings

“November 2”
by Melanie Stormm

Melanie Stormm is a poet & writer of short fiction. The trees are feasting on her real house. The underbrush beats back the road. The mosquitoes are carnivorous. Perhaps it’s better that you visit her at her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. The only thing that will eat you there is her mind.

Many creative liberties are taken with this poem. Names and places may be changed but all the deaths are real. A note on Baron Samedi (very real): he resides at the crossroads of the living and the dead. He’s older than dirt. When you die, he will dig your grave with his own hands. His feast day is November 2nd. Bring him rum. Eat well.

by Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith's work has been published in several print and online publications, including the “Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase” vols. 2-4, “Christmas Lites” vols. 1-6 and the “Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy” anthology. She has nearly 20 books of speculative fiction and poetry for adults, YAs and children. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Find her online at AngelaYSmith.com.

"Lullacry" began as a daydream as I walked my dog last Halloween. I was picturing a monster cavorting just out of vision. He loved Halloween as much as I do and his joy was infectious. His favorite part of the holiday was the Halloween treats all dressed up in costumes to look like monsters. Each year he selected one child to take down into the mausoleum where their soft crying would lull him back to sleep for the year. It will probably become a story when I have more time.

“Open Mic”
by Richaundra Thursday

For Richaundra Thursday, Halloween isn’t a day, it’s a lifestyle. Between a classroom inspired by Gothic literature to an aesthetic described by one student as ‘If Ms. Frizzle was a DeathEater,’ she is the most spoopy all the time. She worked for many days on a psychological eldritch horror story involving sea monsters and loneliness…and then tossed it to make something more fun instead. While she is aware that the entire conceit of a person born before modern understandings of psychology lamenting ongoing depression is an anachronism, the idea was simply too humorous (and relatable) to give up.

“Dead Inside”
by F.J. Bergmann

F.J. Bergmann looks forward to November 1 and all the leftover chocolate.

“Dead Inside” is a zombie romance with all its lines ending in those -ing words that aren't supposed to work in poetry. Music by Fred W. Bergmann.

“The End of October”
by Gary Baps

Gary Baps is a maintenance man by day and an amateur paranormal investigator by night. He is the writer, illustrator and host of When The Notion Knocks Radio Show Podcast ( whenthenotionknocks.com ).

“The End of October” gives a glimpse into a small town during the festival of Samhain when it is believed that the door to the other world is opened; allowing spirits to cross the threshold into the earthly realm.

“The Frightful Night”
by Celena StarVela

Celena StarVela is a southern California native who loves Halloween and horror movies. She enjoys writing poetry, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. She is currently working on her first novel which is a dark YA fantasy with a strong female lead. Celena currently has a blog where she posts her work and will have a poem featured in Brave and Reckless for the month of October. Some of her muses include live music, nature, Wicca, spooky artwork, horror films, epic fantasy tales, and, road trips which include abandoned places.  She blogs at 

“The Frightful Night” is a prose-poem adapted and inspired by the tale of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman. When beginning to think of a concept of a horror zine, Celena drew upon classic Halloween tales. Samhain is Halloween and is when the veil is the thinnest, according to most magick practitioners. This is the tale of a village which is doomed to be haunted by the horseman. The attached photo is one I (Celena) took during Halloween season 2 years ago and reflects the dreary night described in the piece. 

“Little Monsters”
by Marie Vibbert

Marie Vibbert's poetry has appeared in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, and other fine venues. By day she is a computer programmer.

Human beings are the scariest monsters. At least once a year we acknowledge it.

“The Fetch”
by Deborah L. Davitt

Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Reno, Nevada, but received her MA in English from Penn State. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and son. She’s known for her Edda-Earth novels, Rhysling-nominated poetry, and increasing number of short-story publications. For more about her work, please see edda-earth.com

A fetch is a spirit known in Irish folklore that's similar to a doppleganger, in that it resembles a living person. If you meet yourself, or see your double, it's a sign of impending death. I wonder, however, how the fetch feels about the arrangement. Are they angry at being summoned? Are they lonely? Do they long for the touch of a human hand that doesn't cringe away from theirs? Or are they just hungry for a little warmth, no matter the cost?

“Ghoul Cloud”
by John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has work in Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Panoply, Inscape Literary Journal, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, and Pirene's Fountain. He’s the winner of the 2017 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature and the recipient of two Weymouth writing residencies. He has three poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing), nominated for the 2017 Elgin Book Award; Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press) featured at the 2016 Southern Festival of Books; and Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing). He’s been nominated for several Pushcart and Rhysling awards, and two for the 2017 Best of the Net from Eye To The Telescope. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other venues. He’s a professor of physics living near Knoxville, TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

“Ghoul Cloud” is a 100-word prose poem stimulated by a smoke cloud from a 2017 4th of July fireworks display in north Knoxville, TN.

“Witch Habiliments”
by Adele Gardner

Cat-loving cataloging librarian Adele Gardner (gardnercastle.com) has a poetry collection (Dreaming of Days in Astophel) as well as 233 poems and 43 stories published in The Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons, Legends of the Pendragon, American Arts Quarterly, and more.  She serves as literary executor for her father, Delbert R. Gardner.

Witches and black cats are two of my favorite parts of Halloween … and daily life.  What does a witch wear?  Look around you.… "Witch Habiliments" first appeared in Illumen, Autumn 2012.

by Sandra J. Lindow

Sandra J. Lindow lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  She teaches, writes, edts and competes with varmints for the sustenance of her vegetables and perennials.  She has seven books of poetry.  The most recent is The Hedge Witch's Upgrade, 2012.  Her work can also be found in e-zines such as Blue Heron, Sky Island Journal, Riddled with Arrows, Bramble, and Timeless Tails.  Presently Lindow  serves as Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. You can find out more about her at wfop.org/member-pages/#/sandra-lindow/.

"Pulling" was written after a walk with my friend Elaine on a trail in a park that follows the eastern shore of Lake Menomin (which means "wild rice" in the Ojibwe language).  Snapping turtles are anger incarnate: think Cthullu in a lumpy green shell, but the tiny ones are still pretty cute, and I didn't like the idea of it getting smashed by an ATV, so I rescued it.  Nevertheless, when Elaine's husband heard of my supposed good deed, he recoiled in mock horror, saying "I swim in that lake!"

by Joshua Gage

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full–length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, is available on Poet’s Haven Press. His newest chapbook, Necromancy, is available on Locofo Chaps from Moria Press. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs.

This is a formal ghazal, titled "Ghazal" in accordance with the form. I started with traditional images of Halloween, and did my best to make them as dark as possible, tapping into Christian and pre-Christian imagery. Ultimately, this is a poem about faith and survival, two ideas which the holiday season represents.

“The Skull beneath the Skin”
by Ashley Dioses

Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and Gothic poetry from southern California.  Her debut collection of dark formal poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, is forthcoming from Hippocampus Press in October.  Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook Magazine, and elsewhere.  Her poem “Carathis,” appeared in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. She has also appeared in the HWA Poetry Showcase 2016 for her poem “Ghoul Mistress.”  She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.  She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com. “The Skull Beneath the Skin” will be published in Ravenwood Quarterly Issue 5 by Electric Pentacle Press.

“The Jack-o'-Lantern Trail”
by K. A. Opperman

K. A. Opperman is a poet of horror and fantasy influenced by H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Edgar Allan Poe, and David Park Barnitz.  His debut collection, The Crimson Tome, was published by Hippocampus Press (2015).  His poems, “In Fits of Wildest Dreaming” and “The Blood Garden” appeared in Ellen Datlow's full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight list.  His poem “The Lady in White,” appeared in the HWA Poetry Showcase 2016.

"The Jack-o'-Lantern Trail" is written both as a description of my spiritual summons to the realm of eternal Autumn, and the land of death beyond, and as a solemn love-letter to the ineluctable black path we all tread toward Halloween. It was first published in Ravenwood Quarterly, Issue 2.


Thanks to the SFPA members who have contributed their poetry and art to this page. All recordings and images are copyrighted by their respective authors and used by permission.

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