2021 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest

I am proud to announce that I’ve been invited to Chair the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s 2021 Speculative Poetry Contest. This year’s guest judge will be the fabulous and talented award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor Sheree Renée Thomas.

The 2021 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest is open to all poets, including non-SFPA-members. Prizes will be awarded for best unpublished poem in three categories: Dwarf (poems 1–10 lines [prose poems 0–100 words]); Short (11–49 lines [prose poems 101–499 words]); Long (50 lines and more [prose 500 words and up]). Line count does not include title or stanza breaks. All sub-genres of speculative poetry allowed in any form. Winners will be announced and posted on the site October 1.

Prizes in each category (Dwarf, Short, Long) will be $150 First Prize, $75 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize. Publication on the SFPA website for first through third places. Submissions should be sent to 21contest@sfpoetry.com. More information is available online at: https://www.sfpoetry.com/contests.html.

About the 2021 Judge: Sheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor. Her work is inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and Mississippi Delta conjure. Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books) is her first all-prose collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of LIfe and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct Press) and edited the World Fantasy-winning groundbreaking black speculative fiction Dark Matter anthologies (Hachette/Grand Central). She is the associate editor of the historic Black arts literary journal, Obsidian: Literature & the Arts in the African Diaspora, founded in 1975, and editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949. Thomas’ work is widely anthologized, appearing in numerous publications including The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (1945-2010), Marvel’s Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, The Ringing Ear, Mythic Delirium, and the New York Times. She lives in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, near a mighty river and a pyramid. Visit shereereneethomas.com

ShereeReneeThomas

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Poem in Star*Line 42.1

My poem “The Farm” appears in Star*Line issue 42.1, Winter 2019. Star*Line is the official publication of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association , edited by poetry powerhouse Vince Gotera.

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2018 Elgin Award Winners

2018 ELGIN AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Best collections for speculative poetry named by members of the SFPA.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 — The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) has recently announced the winners of the 2018 Elgin Awards for best collections of speculative poetry published in the previous two years. Named after SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, awards are given in two categories: best chapbook and best full-length book.

2018 Elgin Award Results:

Full-Length Book Category

First Place: Liberating the Astronauts • Christina M. Rau (Aqueduct Press, 2017)
Second Place: Satan’s Sweethearts • Marge Simon & Mary Turzillo (Weasel Press, 2017)
Third Place: Love Robot • Margaret Rhee (The Operating System, 2017)

Chapbook Category

First Place: A Catalogue of the Further Suns • F. J. Bergmann (Gold Line Press, 2017)
Second Place: Astropoetry • Christina Sng (Alban Lake, 2017)
Third Place: The Terraformers • Dan Hoy (Third Man Books, 2017)

This year’s Elgin Awards had 22 nominees in the chapbook category and 30 nominees in the full-length category, one of the largest years since the awards were first established in 2013.The Elgin Awards are named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association was established in 1978 and has an international membership representing over 19 nations and cultures including United States, Italy, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, the Hmong, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Contact:
Josh Brown
2018 Elgin Award Chair
Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA)
elgin@sfpoetry.com
http://www.sfpoetry.com/

 

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The Garden

“The Garden” is a short comic I wrote, illustrated by Nick Mueller. It was featured in Alterna Tales #4, originally published in 2008.

Alterna Tales #4

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“Ceremonies” in AlternaTeas

AlternaTeas is a short story collection published in 2016. It collects urban fantasy, steampunk and alternate histories, all centering on a simple cup of tea.

The collection features my story “Ceremonies” — an urban fantasy story about a Valkyrie from Minnesota, a ninja-vampire, and some tough-as-nails bikers.

Below is an excerpt of the first 1,00 words, and what is essentially the origin story of Hattori Jotaro, aka Joe.

“Can’t I just have a beer instead?”

Joe smiled as he set down the tray. “You could, but I prefer you humor me just this once, Bryn.” he said. “Besides, we are not just having tea here. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony is a spiritual experience that embodies harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.”

Bryn could appreciate Joe’s traditions, but he was a 500-year-old vampire from Japan, and she was a Valkyrie, and their cultures, and traditions, couldn’t be more different. She was accustomed to feasting and hard drinking with Gods and fallen heroes in the halls of Valhalla. Or, at least she used to. Now she owned a small-engine repair shop in northern Minnesota. Either way, Joe’s sit-cross-legged-and-be-at-peace Zen bullshit was hard for her to get used to.

Joe began preparing the tea. He added two scoops of green tea powder to the tea bowl. Using careful, precise movements, Joe next ladled hot water into the bowl and whisked it into a thin paste, creating a soupy-like substance. Bryn, who had been fidgeting the entire time, thought it looked, and smelled, nasty. Yet she graciously took the bowl from Joe when offered, bowing her head in acknowledgment.

“As you know,” Joe began, “I was born Hattori Jotaro, nearly five-hundred years ago in the Iga Province of Japan. I had a mother, a father, and two younger brothers. Our village, for all intents and purposes, was a quiet, normal farming village. Our numbers were small, and our needs were few. My father, Hattori Hanzō, was the son of a minor samurai, but he himself had grown to become a renowned samurai and master strategist in his own right, serving the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu, only to suddenly renounce his role as retainer to Lord Tokugawa and move with my mother to the remote village where my brothers and I were born.

“Though we were but simple farmers, my father had samurai blood coursing through his veins, and as such could never fully abandon the life of a warrior. He began to train the entire village, women and children included, in swordsmanship. This grew into the training of other weapons: spear, staff, chain and sickle, shuriken, and so on. My father adapted his knowledge of strategy in large-scale battles to that of specialized tactics of guerrilla warfare. Shinobi, they called us.

“For many years we lived alone in the mountains, isolated from the politics and ongoing feuds of the power-hungry Japanese warlords. But fate would not permit us to go on forever as such. Soon, my father’s former master called upon my father for aid in certain situations. My father reluctantly obeyed, sending members of our village on stealth missions of espionage, sabotage, and assassination. Lord Tokugawa’s power and military might grew as a result of these missions, and he was most grateful to my father and our people.

“Then, on a calm and otherwise ordinary morning in the year 1582, a company of soldiers rode into our village on horseback, led by my father’s former master, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu. He had just won an important battle, but only narrowly escaped; his enemy chasing him close behind. He asked my father for help, and once again my father reluctantly agreed. He led Lord Tokugawa and his men across Iga territory into the safety of Mikawa Province. My village and I, skilled as we were, eliminated the forces that came into our territory in pursuit of Lord Tokugawa. From there, my father went on to continue to aid his former master, helping rescue captured Tokugawa family members.

“At this point, Tokugawa Ieyasu held all the power, and he was declared shogun, the de facto ruler of all of Japan. Grateful to my father for saving his life and assisting his rise to power, he named him Lord of Iga. My father rejected the title, and returned home quietly, declaring wars and politics and power the reason why he had left the first time, and how he regretted being pulled back in. The shogun took the rejection as a direct insult on his honor, and was furious with my father. He sent numerous messages to my father at our village, my father replying to none. One fateful evening, he came to our village himself to confront my father, along with a company of just eight men.

“What happened next is something I will never forget. It’s something I can’t forget. Lord Tokugawa talked of honor, servitude, and duty. My father would hear none of it, and politely requested Lord Tokugawa to leave, and never return, allowing our village to live in peace. Lord Tokugawa then began to talk of dark demons, thirst for blood, and a power harnessed that would allow him to rule until end of time. Then he and his men changed. They physically changed. Their eyes became pools of black, their faces contorted into angry misshapen things. Their mouths grew sharp fangs. It was a bloodbath. My father was the first to be ripped apart, by the shogun himself. He went straight for my father’s throat, biting into it and chewing away as he drank and bathed in his former retainer’s blood. The rest of my village was violently torn apart soon after, having no time to react to the horror that befell them. No amount of shinobi training could have ever saved them. I stood by, frozen in fear, helpless as I watched my mother, my brothers, and everyone else in my village perished in a tornado of blood and screams.

“I think it was Lord Tokugawa who came for me, but I can’t be sure. The next thing I remember is waking up in darkness, cold and surrounded by dirt. I had been buried underground. Panicked, I clawed my way up out of the dirt. When I finally pulled myself from my shallow grave, the shogun was standing over me, his eight demons behind him.

“‘Welcome,’ he said, ‘to your new family. I am your father now. You will honor and serve me.’

“And that, Bryn Northcutt, is how I became a vampire.”

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Reading Report: Cracked Walnut’s “Stargazers,” June 22, 2018

SPECPO

Recently, SFPA members performed with local Minnesota poets at the Cracked Walnut reading series. They shared work addressing the theme of “Stargazers.” The reading was held at the East Side Freedom Library in Saint Paul on a Friday night.

The month’s featured poets were Josh Brown, Riawa Thomas-Smith, Mike Finley, Emylisa Warrick, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang and Bryan Thao Worra, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. This reading was part of the SFPA’s ongoing celebrations of its 40th anniversary this year. SFPA thanks the League of Minnesota Poets for informing us of this opportunity to present.

Stargazers

Established in 2010, Cracked Walnut believes in the power of the creative spirit, and particularly the creative writing spirit of the Twin Cities.

Cracked Walnut organizes readings in traditional and non traditional  spaces in the Twin Cities Metro Area to procure a love for live literature, community and creativity. They also offer writing…

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Approaching the Elgin Voting

SPECPO

We’re now fully in Elgin voting season with the final votes due September 15th. This year we really want to see as many of our members as possible voting to help us pick the speculative poetry book and chapbook of the year, given that this is our 40th anniversary. What follows are some of my unofficial remarks, but I hope they’ll provide a helpful perspective and approach to what’s ahead.

Both new members and even longtime members of the SFPA might feel a little intimidated by the 51 nominees (21 in chapbooks, 30 in full-length collections) to read, even as we ought to be very excited and delighted there are so many to consider. It says wonderful things about our corner of the literary arts, instilling us with great optimism about its growth and future.

That being said, 51 books can be a lot! How does one responsibly judge and…

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New Flash Fiction on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction

I’m pretty excited to have a piece of flash fiction featured in this month’s Paper Butterfly Flash FictionThe Zen Dragon.

Enjoy!

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My Review of The Terraformers by Dan Hoy On Strange Horizons

I recently reviewed poetry chapbook The Terraformers by Dan Hoy with illustrations by Tristan McNatt for Strange Horizons magazine. Check it out here!

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2018 SFPA Elgin Awards

I am honored and humbled to announce the SFPA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association) has invited me back to chair the Elgin Awards again this year! Here’s the official announcement from the SPECPO Blog:

Nominations for the 2018 Elgin Awards are now open until May 15th, 2018. The SFPA is pleased to announce the return of Josh Brown as the Elgin Awards Chair.

SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra remarked: “Josh Brown was a talented and effective chair of the Elgin Awards in 2017, helping to organize one of our biggest nominating periods to date. We have no doubt that he will be just as capable as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association observes our 40th anniversary this year. We are grateful to have his services for this  important award for our community.”

The Elgin Awards, named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, are presented annually by SFPA for books published in the preceding two years in two categories, Chapbook and Book. This will be the 6th year the awards are presented.

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Candidates for consideration in the chapbook category must contain 10-39 pages of poetry and while full-length book candidates  must contain 40 or more pages of poetry. E-books and self-published books are eligible, as well as print.

Books that won first–third place in the previous year’s Elgin Awards are ineligible. For a list of books that received first-third place in 2017, as well as prior year nominees, you can visit here. Books that were nominated in a previous year but are eligible for nomination this year must be re-nominated by an active member of the SFPA for consideration in 2018.

Single-author and collaborative books are eligible; anthologies are not. Books containing fiction as well as poetry are not eligible. Books must be in English, but translations are eligible. In the case of translations that also contain the poems in the original language, those pages will not count toward the total page count. Nominated books must be made available to the Chair upon request to remain eligible.

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Only members can nominate books. They may not nominate their own books, but they may nominate multiple books, and the books need not be by members in order to be nominated or to win.

A list of nominated books has been posted on the SFPA website. The title, author, poetry page count, and press name and address (URL or postal) are required to nominate. If available, a link to a page where the book can be purchased or downloaded should also be provided.

In general, a substantive portion of the book’s poems, a clear theme of a speculative nature, or the author or publisher’s self-designation of the book as a work of speculative poetry will be necessary to fully qualify as an eligible candidate for the Elgin Award. The Elgin Award chair may ask nominators, publishers and authors for additional clarification in cases where questions arise.

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Josh Brown, is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He has spent the past fifteen years in the publishing industry working for and with award-winning publishers and best-selling authors. An active member of SFPA, Josh Brown’s work can be found in numerous anthologies as well as in Star*Line, Scifaikuest, Mithila Review, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and more. His essay, “Poems and Songs of The Hobbit” was recently featured in Critical Insights: The Hobbit (Salem Press, 2016). He served as editor for issue 20 of Eye to the Telescope, the official online journal of the SFPA. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

First established in 1978, the Science Fiction Poetry Association brings together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry, as well as poetry incorporating fantasy horror and other imaginative genres. An international organization, it publishes two journals, Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope, and oversee three major literary awards for poetry: The Rhyslings, the Dwarf Stars, and the Elgin Awards. The Science Fiction Poetry Association also conducts an annual science fiction poetry contest and other special events and gatherings. They also provide resources for emerging and established poets seeking professional publication and networking opportunities. Consider joining the association today!

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