Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry: Introduction

February 13, 2019

Including a review of January 2019’s The Eye of the Telescope


Many people, even those who consider themselves science fiction and fantasy (SFF) fans, are surprised when they’re told about the existence of SFF poetry.  They wonder who writes it, who buys it, who reads it, and where to access it.

I am here to tell you that SFF poetry is going strong and the standard is just as high as for any other kind of poetry. 

I believe there is no contradiction between science and poetry. In fact, scientists may be at an advantage as they are used to having to use precise language and think ‘outside the box’. As a scientist I take delight in analysing form and metaphor, and using these myself, for example constructing a poem to a particular form.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association

If you’re interested to check out SFF poetry, you might wish to start with the website of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). They define SFF poetry as poetry with a speculative element, whether science fiction, fantasy, horror, surrealism, the supernatural, or straight science.

The SFPA’s website contains a wealth of information, such as a list of markets paying for SFF poetry, details of their awards (more on this to come on SFFdirect), a link to their very excellent blog SPECPO, as well as a page of links to articles, interviews and resources. You can also subscribe.

Among the SFPA’s publications is the quarterly online journal of poetry The Eye of the Telescope. Each issue has a theme and these are posted on their website in advance with detailed guidance so you can submit accordingly.

January 2019 Eye of the Telescope

The theme for the January 2019 issue is Crossroads and it contains sixteen poems. Most of the poems are quite dark and address the crossing between life and death. Almost all of them are what I’d call fantasy or horror, with a supernatural slant; only one was science fiction.

I very much enjoyed ‘World-Lines’ by Deborah L. Davitt; this is the science fiction poem. It is about decisions and how far-reaching they are. I particularly liked the concepts and imagery used; in this section for example:

“it’s not as simple as
eight billion realities
flickering, there/not there
as deadalive as Schrodinger’s cat,
spreading out through a trillion
versions of the cosmos
like an infinitely interlaced
peacock’s tail”

I also enjoyed ‘The Two Witches’ by K. A. Opperman. This gave some lighthearted relief to the sombre nature of much of the other poems. The poem explains in delightful ballad form how the colours of Halloween came to be orange and black.

My final choice is ‘Ever After’ by Juleigh Howard-Hobson. This is a well-constructed Shakespearean sonnet about a pact made with death. It makes very interesting use of enjambment.

SFF Poetry

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