|Volume 35, Issue
Cover: © 2012 Max Bertolini
Wyrms & Wormholes
Fun, Fun, Fun
As a result of a snarky (but appropriate) comment that I posted, the Locus Roundtable online recently featured essays, most by SFPA members, discussing speculative poetry. The series began with a podcast with editor Karen Burnham, Mike Allen, and yours truly. Peruse the archives at locusmag.com/ Roundtable/2012/05/.
Each of us, as editor, poet, and/or reader, has varying definitions of what constitutes genre. I tend toward excluding work unless internal, rather than referential, narrative is present. Story is what engages the reader. I do not believe that merely alluding to genre tropes or using them metaphorically is sufficient to qualify for genre identification.
For me, the primary objective of speculative fiction—and, by extension, speculative poetry—is entertainment, and the sine qua non of speculative work is narrative, albeit a tale incapable of existing in present reality. While that narrative may be only implied, as the name of our organization suggests, fiction is a necessary component of speculative poetry.
The basic requirement of marketable literary work is engagement of the reader, and the narrative thread, or one that the suggestible reader is induced to construct, is the most successful method of focusing their attention, so that writers are driven to be observers and raconteurs of action. In poetry, my ideal is an image that inherently suggests a story.
As Kurt Vonnegut is said to have told his creative-writing students, “We’re in the entertainment business.” Recreation. But do not forget that the word can also be spelled re-creation: remaking, making anew. Or, Make it new (to appropriate Pound).
Speculative writers make new worlds. Sometimes an existing world is destroyed or altered and the new one built on its smoking ruins; sometimes the new world appears to be generated from its own Big Bang or divine breath.
I’ll leave you with this quatrain from the Rubaiyat:
May you find in speculative poetry at least part of what your heart seeks.—F.J. Bergmann
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