Category Archives: Uncategorized

Following up on speculative poetry

I enjoyed getting to be a panelist, moderator, and Q&A wrangler at Worldcon this week.  But in my last panel, the one on speculative poetry, I didn’t have a chance to chime in on one audience question because we were almost out of time.  Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m not convinced we fully answered the submitter’s question.  I’ll try to address it here. 

What do you look for in a good speculative poem?  (I think that was the phrasing.) While I agree with my fellow panelists that it’s highly subjective—indeed, what makes a poem good even if it’s not speculative, or for that matter, what makes a poem a poem in the first place?—I don’t think that’s a satisfying, complete answer.  I believe that through the lens of one’s subjectivity, one can still pinpoint a few criteria that others may find helpful. 

When filtered through my own subjectivity, I look at the following:  1) imagery, 2) word choice, and 3) format.  And these apply to any poem, speculative or not.  When a poet creates striking, memorable images (often constructed from concrete details and engaging multiple senses), using beautiful language (often employing words in unexpected yet effective ways), and arranges it all on the page in a presentation that feels cohesive to what the poem is intended to be (making the poem feel even more like something that only this poet could have created), that combination is most likely to stick with me.  That’s what gets me sneaking back to the poem to revisit that moment, that impression, that alchemy the poet has crafted. 

And yes, what “checks the box” for me will be highly subjective.  When I talk about beautiful language, that can take so many forms.  Horror, humor, despondence, wonder.  It depends on what I interpret to be the poem’s intended effect.  It’s part of the poem’s synergy, how the whole transcends the sum of its parts.  I wish we’d had more time to really do this topic justice.

My Worldcon 78 panel schedule

The schedule for CoNZealand has been posted, and you can find me on these three panels:

Future Economics

In NZST:  29 Jul 2020, Wednesday 1:00pm – 1:50pm

In PDT: 28 Jul 2020, Tuesday 6:00pm-6:50pm

Will we ever fully disentangle from the physical? Blockchains, cryptocurrency, differently organic sentience. Will economic concepts of supply, demand, money, resources hold up? Evolve? Or be completely different?  And what might they look like?

Panelists:  Karl Schroeder, Katherine Quevedo, Eli K. P. William, Jesper Stage

Why We Read/Write/Edit Anthologies

In NZST:  1 Aug 2020, Saturday 6:00pm – 6:50pm

In PDT: 31 Jul 2020, Friday 11:00pm-11:50pm

In a world of Netflix, podcasts, and video games, where the most lucrative advances are from novels at big five publishers, are anthologies still viable? A panel of authors share why they still edit/write for anthologies, list their favorite “good reads” and invite the audience to share their recommendations.

Panelists:  Dr. Jack Dann, Mimi Mondal, Katherine Quevedo, Aidan Doyle

Speculative Poetry 2020 The Rhyme of the SF Mariner

In NZST:  2 Aug 2020, Sunday 11:00am – 11:50am

In PDT: 1 Aug 2020, Saturday 4:00pm-4:50pm

What’s the state of play with science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry in 2020? And how much of a distinction is there between speculative poetry and poetry overall?

Panelists:  Ryn Yee, Brandon O’Brien, Joyce Chng, Katherine Quevedo, Hester J. Rook

Two virtual events coming up

If you’d like to connect with me online, you’ll have two opportunities over the next few weeks. 

First up, on July 18th, I’ll be co-teaching a workshop for writers on Creating Non-Human Characters.  Elizabeth Beechwood and I will be covering how to delve into animal and object characters to make them resonate with readers.  We’ll incorporate discussion, writing exercises, and lots of examples.  Whether you have a particular character in mind or you want to learn a new technique, we’d love to have you join us. 

Later on, I’ll be participating in this year’s Worldcon as a panelist.  This online con will take place July 29th through August 2nd (New Zealand time, so dates may vary depending on your time zone), with tons of programming to check out.  More information on my schedule to come!

Free ebook on Amazon today

After Dinner Conversation is offering the ebook of my story “Venom in the Cloud Forest” for free today and tomorrow, as well as “Two-Percenters” by CJ Erick

I completed the first draft of “Venom in the Cloud Forest” about a decade ago, well before it found its original home in the Guardbridge Books anthology Myriad Lands Vol. 2: Beyond the Edge.  At the time when I wrote it, social media was prevalent, but the landscape looked somewhat different than it does today, and “fake news” was less of a household term although it’s been a longtime issue along with historical negationism.  

I’m simultaneously pleased and dismayed that my story continues to be relevant.

“Venom in the Cloud Forest” reprint with discussion questions

Mark your calendars!  I’ve got two pieces of good news to share. 

First, my story “Venom in the Cloud Forest” is available now through After Dinner Conversation, complete with a set of discussion questions based on the ideas in the story.  I love how After Dinner Conversation encourages readers to engage with story concepts after you reach The End.  I hope you enjoy their discussion questions, and feel free to share any of your thoughts and conclusions with me if you’d like through my Contact page. 

This Thursday and Friday, you’ll be able to download the ebook for free on Amazon!  

The second piece of news is that the upcoming July 18th workshop, Creating Non-Human Characters, which I’ll be co-teaching with Elizabeth Beechwood, will officially be online via Zoom.  If geography was a potential barrier for you to attend, it no longer should be!  I hope you can join us.

Finally attended the Nebulas—virtually

Congratulations to tonight’s Nebula Award winners, and a special shout-out to A. T. Greenblatt for her beautiful winning short story, “Give the Family My Love.”  Indeed, congrats to all the finalists.  I’ve been enjoying the virtual Nebula Conference this weekend, as well as Flights of Foundry earlier this month.  Looking forward to Worldcon online this summer.

SFWA blog post and a related upcoming workshop

I’m honored to have another article published on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) official blog, “Not-so-still Life:  Writing from an Inanimate Object’s Point of View.”  I hope the topic stirs your creativity and provides a mental break from the current state of things.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this topic, my fellow author Elizabeth Beechwood and I are offering a workshop, Creating Non-Human Characters, on July 18th.  We’ll cover characterization for not only inanimate objects but also animals and more.  It’ll tentatively be held on the Oregon coast at the Hoffman Center for the Arts as part of their Manzanita Writers’ Series—or else as a virtual workshop depending on how things progress; we’re staying flexible.  Please check the Hoffman Center for the Arts website for more information.

Publication announcement: “Desert Locks”

I’m thrilled to announce that you can find my latest story, “Desert Locks,” at GigaNotoSaurus.  This one deals with masks and longing for connection (something I think we can all relate to during this pandemic), set in a desert land where magic courses through everyone’s hair.

In honor of the role that hair plays in it, I decided to let mine air dry for a change.  I was overdue for a trim even before the shutdown.

natural hair
My natural hair

Reading material for your quarantine pleasure, or at least escapism

I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves through the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please stay home, and order some books online from an independent bookstore like Powell’  I’ve got a big ol’ order submitted, and it’ll be like Christmas when it arrives!

Powell's pillar of signatures
Me a couple years ago at Powell’s City of Books, in awe of their pillar covered with signatures of famous science fiction and fantasy writers

If you’re looking for some immediately available reading material, may I point you to a few of my own stories you can read online right now?

And with it being National Poetry Month and all, here are a couple of my poems: