Now available from Wildside PressWildside Press has come out with my first book-length collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, and if you want signed copies, you can buy them here. The cover price is $15. If you buy them straight from me, I'll include the shipping in the $15.
Strange Wisdoms spans ten years of my career. It's more than 150 pages, with 54 poems (including the one translated into Greek that's on the stones on the cover) and four short stories focused on dark fantasy and the surreal. The book is divided into four sections: krypta (secrets); chresthenta (epiphanies); deina (horrors); and diauliai (duets). Each section ends with a story, and the final section includes collaborations with Anita Allen (my wife), Charles Saplak, Christina Sng and Sonya Taaffe. The book includes five Rhysling-nominated poems, three of which received runner-up awards. Some of the contents were selected from two of my previous collections, Defacing the Moon and Petting the Time Shark, but many of the poems have not been collected before, and several are original to the book. Three of the stories have not been collected previously, and one is published in the book for the first time.
It's my hope that if you check it out, you'll have a wild ride in store, and I hope you do check it out.
From the Introduction
"I have said, I think, that these poems are interpretations of what the poet sees on the canvas. I add that they are imaginary biographies, as true as anything that actually happened: they are biographies written the other way around, from the evidence of the art. Pablo Picasso's relationship with women, for instance, as when
Before I get into it seriously, it's worth noting a second time that the most immediate updates on my writing, my editing and publishing projects, and my life in general appear at my LiveJournal, The Plasteel Spider Factory, as they happen, and take a permanent spot on this site later.
That said, it's been a hell of a year so far. My first full-length book, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, came out in January (see above), and I've begun editing an anthology series called MYTHIC (go here for info on that). I've won an award, and I've shared an award. My sign-of-the-times poem "The Strip Search" won the 2006 Rhysling Award in the short poem category; this makes my second Rhysling, my first solo. And, in the share the wealth department, the two-part article "Speculative Poetry: A Symposium," in which critic Matthew Cheney refereed me, Alan DeNiro and Theodora Goss, won the 2005 Strange Horizons Readers' Poll Award in the articles category.
In the not-quite-an-award department, "Speculative Poetry: A Symposium" also made the non-fiction short list for the British Science Fiction Awards; my poems "Chagall's Lamp" and "The Strip Search" tied for third place in the 2005 Strange Horizons Reader's Choice poll for poetry; and my poem "Picasso's Rapture" was a finalist in the Locus Online poll for best poem of the year.
David C. Kopaska-Merkel and I shared a record for the most Rhysling Award nominations in one year, with six each: In my case, aside from "The Strip Search," that included "Chagall's Lamp," "Picasso's Rapture," "Rattlebox" (co-written with David), "TimeFlood" (co-written with Ian Watson, first appeared in Asimov's, Feb. '05) and "Thanomorphosis" (co-written with W. Gregory Stewart, first appeared in Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Dec. '05). All of these were reprinted in The 2006 Rhysling Anthology.
I also received 10 Honorable Mentions from this year's edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, all for poems. They were: "The Disturbing Muses," "The Golden Helmet (Casque d'Or)," "Picasso's Rapture," "Pollock's Knives" (all from last year's chapbook Disturbing Muses (see above); "The Elders," "The Night Gardeners" and "Asunder" (co-written with Christina Sng), all published last year in Star*Line; "The Captive Pleads with the Memory Carver," from Tales of the Unanticipated 26; "The Clairvoyant, Between Dark and Dream" from Jabberwocky; "The Unseelie Tree" from Space & Time 99.
Despite, or maybe because of my relative success last year, I haven't been as profilic this year, or at least it doesn't seem so. But I do have new poetry and new fiction out in several places. And there's several new reviews of my books, including my new anthology series MYTHIC. I've also had an article published, an interview with Jane Yolen at Strange Horizons.
|Sunday, Oct. 30: Time rushes past the delta. It seems like it gets more and more difficult for me to make time to put updates here. (I guess I'm saying that every time I post here now.) It's not that nothing's happening, but rather that so much is. The most important event so far is without question the publication of my new chapbook, Disturbing Muses, by Prime Books (see above). A close second, though, is my second appearance in Asimov's Science Fiction, with a playful set of rhyming stanzas called "Cosmic Ego."|
|In the Science Fiction Poetry Handbook, Suzette Elgin encourages speculative poets to invent new forms. I took at stab at that with "Cosmic Ego," and with this poem, "Black Holes Hold Their Breath," which just appeared in Abyss & Apex. What you'll see when you look at them is the 5-7-5 haiku syllable pattern combined with a sonnet rhyme scheme. I'm not particularly fluent with forms, so even these were tricky, though fun to create.|
|I've also made my debut in John Benson's Not One of Us with two poems, one of which, "Aranea," was my first collaboration with Sonya Taaffe (a second one is slowly coming together). The other poem, "The Eyewish Station," I recently performed at No Shame Theatre, accompanied with a miniature light show.|
|Thursday, Aug. 18: Two months out of sync. Once again, I've been too busy to post much in the way of updates here, which is a shame, because a lot of cool stuff has happened. For one thing, Anita and I attended our first ever ReaderCon (I was representing the Science Fiction Poetry Association for the first ever public Rhysling Award ceremony) and we had a blast. I've written accounts of how it went here (Part One and Part Two); Anita gives her own take here.|
|Tuesday, June 21: Mt. Everest conquered: a project that I've been slaving over for a year and a half is finally coming to fruition. The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, containing the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004, will be unleased on the world July 1, thanks to an arrangement between the Science Fiction Poetry Association and Sean Wallace of Wildside Press. Roger Dutcher, who has labored on this book even longer than I have, was kind enough to give me co-editor credit. The book contains my own Rhysling Award-winning entry, "Epochs in Exile: A Fantasy Trilogy," and can be purchased here.|
|Saturday, June 4: The 2005 Rhysling Anthology has arrived here, containing four poems by me that have been nominated for this year's Rhysling Awards: in the short poem category, three sf pieces, "The Asteroid Painter," "The Best of All Probable Worlds," and "Strange Cargo"; and in the long poem category, my nightmare montage "The Night Watchman Dreams His Rounds at the REM Sleep Factory." You can get this book directly from its makers, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, or buy it at Project Pulp.|
|Saturday, May 21: Strange Horizons earlier this month published an article in two parts called "Speculative Poetry: A Symposium." (Here's Part One and Part Two.) This symposium, the brainchild of critic and blogger Matt Cheney, involved the electronic equivalent of placing myself, Alan DeNiro and Theodora Goss in a room and getting us to bring our radically different backgrounds to bear in talking about, and arguing over, speculative poetry. The article stirred up some debate in the sf poetry community and in the Strange Horizons forum, which is exactly what Matt intended for it to do. I'm grateful I got to be a part of it.|
|Sunday, March 13: So much has happened, it's hard to decide where to start. So I'll begin with the Science Fiction Poetry Handbook by Suzette Haden Elgin, now available from Sam's Dot Publications. Suzette, who founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association, intended this efficient little how-to book to be a gift to and fundraising tool for the SFPA, and I spent a fair portion of last year working to make it happen. The publication of this book marks the first of my projects as SFPA President to come to full fruition. I have to say I'm very proud of the results, and I hope you'll check it out.|
|The March/April issue of Interzone is out, and its lead story is the humorous sf novelette I co-wrote with Ian Watson, titled "Dee-Dee and the Dumpy Dancers." It's loosely inspired by news stories I've written or co-written that chronicle how trade policies like NAFTA benefit local economies in the South in much the way a tornado benefits a trailer park. But of course there's aliens mixed up in this, not to mention a dose of aerial ballet.|
|Also out this month, the Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, which includes "Epochs in Exile: A Fantasy Trilogy," the Rhysling Award-winning poem I co-wrote with buddy Charlie Saplak as well as other Rhysling Award winners by Ruth Berman and Sonya Taaffe. The poem Charlie and I wrote charts the lonely journey of Kaetzel, an alien dissident exiled to Earth, who becomes its sole Dragon.|
|Interzone isn't the only magazine to publish a collaboration between myself and Ian Watson this year. Our poem "TimeFlood," appears in the Feb. 2005 issue (this, by the way, is my debut in Asimov's). It provides a brief, sad speculation on what would happen if the River of Time overflowed its banks.|
Leave messages for me here at Mythic Delirium's newsgroup at SFF.net, or you can e-mail me as well.
Leave messages for me here at Mythic Delirium's newsgroup at SFF.net, or you can e-mail me as well.
|Could this letter and the poem it contains be evidence of a scam? I certainly think so. Feel free to have a look and decide yourself.|
|AGAIN, A RHYSLING WINNER! My poem "The Strip Search," has won the 2006 Rhysling Award in the short poem category! Rather unglamorously, the poem was largely inspired by my own day job experiences with courthouse metal detectors, which I suppose shows frustrating experiences can come in handy in one's writing.|
|RHYSLING AWARD WINNER! My poem co-written with Charles Saplak, "Epochs in Exile: A Fantasy Trilogy," has won the 2003 Rhysling Award in the long poem category! If you want to give the poem a look, it's here. (For a complete list of Rhysling winners and runner-ups, click here.)|
Partners in collaboration, and all-around cool people: David C. Kopaska-Merkel | Charles M. Saplak | Christina Sng | Sonya Taaffe| Ian Watson
If you'd like to read my first published poem, here it is.
Other people and places of note:
|Prowler (Moonshadow Wolf) Allen,
This slightly-computer-altered picture of our cat Prowler in his winged Halloween costume appeared on the cover of the Oct. 2002 issue of The Whole Cat Journal. Anita took the picture, and she and I both tinkered with it digitally. It took a chunk of tuna to get that pose.
Born in 1969 in Minneapolis, Minn., I went with my family to Guam, Chicago and a tiny Appalachian mining town before they settled in the pleasantly mid-sized city of Roanoke, Va., where I still live. I met the woman who would become my future wife, Anita Seth, while we were both in high school. Anita and I married in June 1992, just a month after I earned my B.A. in Liberal Arts from Virginia Tech and made my first short story sale to a small press magazine.
Ever since that sale, I've been involved in the publishing world in some way, writing genre stories and poetry, editing and publishing small press anthologies and, most recently, editing the poetry journal Mythic Delirium for DNA Publications.
I started out writing short stories, and I still do, but I began writing poetry in earnest when I was enrolled in the creative writing master's degree program at Hollins University. My first published poem appeared in 1994, the year I earned my M.A. Since then I've had more than 100 poems published. I've had seven poems and two poetic collaborations nominated for the Rhysling Award, speculative poetry's highest honor. My first poetry collection, Defacing the Moon, made the preliminary ballot for the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award in 2001.
My editing career began in 1995, when I published an anthology called New Dominions, containing stories and poems from Southwest Virginia science fiction and fantasy writers. (The title was a play on the state's nickname, "The Old Dominion.") From then on, its seems, I've been involved in some kind of editing project or other, the most successful of which is also probably the oddest: Mythic Delirium.
Aside from the Mythic Delirium gig, I serve as the poetry editor and an associate fiction editor for the sf magazine Absolute Magnitude. (My wife, Anita, is an associate editor for Dreams of Decadence: Vampire Poetry and Fiction). I also had the privilege, with Anita's assistance, of editing the first poetry collection by British science fiction novelist Ian Watson, titled The Lexicographer's Love Song.
These days I work as a reporter for the Roanoke newspaper, and my wife works as a horticulturist. We share our house with a fluffy demonic feline named (Bella)Donna, and now, two rambunctious pups, named Loki and Ivy.
I've been writing since I was a kid, and I feel very lucky to have reached a stage where my quirky creations routinely see print. Pursuing this dream has been a long, thrilling, challenging adventure, and so far there's no end in sight.
Mike Allen, Jan. 2003, updated June 2003