Joshua Gage reviews Rhysling poems in his ongoing series. This is what he has to say about my poem Odysseus on the War Train:

My immediate reaction is absolute admiration for the lyric qualities of this piece--the sound and rhythm are tight. Some things catch me, though, in the reading.... (read the rest here)

I am thrilled to receive this mostly positive review from [profile] hooks_and_books. His Rhysling review series is a very interesting experiment and worth following, even though I do not agree with many things.

Received a very nice personal rejection from Goblin Fruit for "Tree Diana Saw". Not sure what to do with it now, I can make it into a limited edition thingie with illustrations for some people, or I can submit it somewhere else. Probably will go the limited edition route, but not sure when I will have time to do it. Summer?

Mati learned and used three new words in the last two days: Bagel, Pringle and Cracker (cwackuh). The food words trend continues, but I am *so* thrilled to have him speaking again- he didn't say a single word for two weeks (when he was  sick with bronchitis), only wailed. It wasn't pleasant.

It's been a good day so far.

From: [identity profile]

Then disagree!!!

Please, please, please tell me where you disagree. I want to know where folks think I'm way off base and why. The purpose of these postings is not to explode my opinion on the world, but to engage in a discussion with other authors over what makes a speculative poem worthy of "best of the year". If people disagree, I want to hear it and know why. Even if the end result is simply agreeing to disagree, it's still worth having the discussion. I look forward to reading your responses!

From: [identity profile]

thanks for your comment :)

I very rarely engage in debates on someone else's turf. In fact, I don't remember when last I voiced a disagreement with someone on their blog. Sometimes I might voice my opinion here but in general I prefer to keep quiet. I think I am especially reluctant to argue about the Rhysling awards. Unlike some of your commenters, who've been at it since 1984 or so, I am a newcomer. I used to destroy all of my poems before January 2008. 2008 was my first year to send out poetry, and my first year of Rhysling eligibility. I was thrilled to be nominated, but I do not feel I have the right to barge into a conversation and tell people where I think I disagree. Maybe after a couple of years. But since you did ask, I will tell you that the current system of nominations works for me because - I feel - it allows newcomers like me to be nominated, and to nominate other newcomers. SFPA might not be as heterogeneous as I'd like, but it has members of varying ages, varying SFPA experience, and varying poetic vision. Some might be academics, others might be homemakers, yet others might be dragons in disguise. They nominate poems that appealed to them. A committee - illustrious though its members might be - will never approach this level of democratic choice.
Different poems might appeal to different people. My only criterion for Rhysling choices was - how many times did I reread the poem? I nominated Caitlyn Paxson's (sevenravens) poem "To the Royal Society of Cryptozoologists from the Concerned Daughter of a Member" (GF Winter 08) because I read it many times throughout the year. I googled it at least three times after I read it originally, not counting just before the nomination time. It might not be the most technically perfect poem - I will wait for your critique to see what you say - but it appealed to me so strongly I sought it out again and again. It reminded me of my own childhood, and of my own father (not a cryptozoologist). I tend to reread poems that I love. I love poetry, but out of the whole 08 speculative poems I read, this was the only poem I read over and over. Last year, JoSelle Vanderhooft's "Gleipnir Diaries" appealed to me this way, and I am very happy to have "Gleipnir Diaries" in print on my shelf as a part of the Rhysling Anthology; and I am happy that the democratic nature of Rhysling awards allows me to have Caitlyn Paxton's poem on my shelf as well. I'd rather not have nominations decided on by a committee. I think this might be our main point of disagreement.

As for your detailed critiques - I really, really appreciate them. In fact, I wanted to say something to this regard yesterday before you critiqued my poem. It's hardly appropriate to say so now after you had positive things to say about it, but still.

I tend to agree with almost everything you say on a technical level. One of my greatest problems as an upstart poet is to find someone who will take my pieces apart in a constructive way. I get a lot of "ohhh, pretty" and some "nothing here works for me and I have no idea why" (this mostly from one person). On the other hand I would be more comfortable with your critiques if they came across a bit less prescriptive in tone - if I were doing the series, I would put a disclaimer to the effect of "this is just my opinion, your mileage may vary, I welcome discussion" before every installment. But then again, I am not doing this work, and you are doing it - and it is such a big deal that you are doing it, since there are so few poetry critiques out there, especially honest and thorough ones. Please keep at it - I will keep reading, though I cannot promise to comment.

From: [identity profile]

Re: thanks for your comment :)

As for your personal mileage in the SFPA, I've been a lifetime member since December of 2008. Color me a delerious upstart, too! I'm particularly interested in what newer members have to say because it might illuminate something for those tried and true veterans. I like the criteria of return--if a poem constantly calls one back to itself, there's something there worth pursuing, yes? I know editors with six month return times who follow this guideline, so good call, there.

Concerning the Rhyslings nominations, I'm not sure a committee would work either, specifically for the reasons you explain. It might be neat to do a "Best of 20XX" anthology with a guest editor, who would explain why each choice was made, much like the "Best American Poetry of 20XX" series. However, the process, as it is now, leads to some specific issues, which might be revealed by looking at the anthology poem by poem. The two list process might work, but it takes longer, and assumes a broader readership. For some magazines, the readership simply isn't there, and the way the Rhyslings are set up, those magazines and their readers are given as much voice as Asimovs and the like.

As far as your disclaimer, that might be worth mentioning. I'll have to go back and add that. Thanks for the discussion, and thanks for reading.


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