Friday, April 20, 2018

Speculative Poetry

Speculative fiction and poetry – what an interesting combination!

We started out this week’s class by reading some poetry by Sandra Kasturi to give us an idea of just what was meant by speculative poetry. It’s pretty much the same thing as speculative fiction, albeit in poetic form – words embracing the fantastic, the mythic, and science fiction themes.

This was followed by a discussion of what kind of elements can be found in a speculative poem, and this in turn was followed by some free writing time. The idea was to keep some of these elements in mind as we tried to write a speculative poem. I have to be honest here, I really hate being rushed when it comes to poetry. I like to be able to take my time and mull an idea over. This is the unedited poem I came up with in the allotted time:

bitter rain lashes the darkness
on the deck railing, mourning doves huddle
feathers puffed out
the others come, one by one
chickadee, sparrow, grackle
they gather, like crystals of ice
the others come, one by one
thrush, cardinal, blackbird
the tree above becomes weighted down
the others come, one by one
nuthatch , swallow, jay
they speak with one voice
their voices weave together
great wings sheltering
necromancer raven
cast your spell,
cast your spell

This is what happens when you rush me. :-)

The next exercise was a little more fun. The instructor introduced the class to erasure poetry. It’s very similar to blackout poetry, except instead of blacking out the text around the words, you erase it. We weren’t able to do any actual erasing, what we did instead was circle the words for our poems. We were also asked to give our poem a title. I found mine in the text, it means “happy meeting place.”

Here’s a picture of what mine looked like on the pages:

And here it is written out so you can actually read it:


Questions asked in a deeper understanding
had no boundaries.
Conversations and stories intersect;
ink and bottle showed a broken domestic story.
Uncovered interest objects –
thus, story was kept contextualized.
The history of stories exchange meanings.
Each story is recognized –
universal conversation can describe stories,
embed the meaning of place and history.
Distinct knowledge happens.
Evidence of a girl studying,
understanding the unexpected.
There remains artefacts, living fragments,
of corrugated experiences.
Parallel stories support example.

The final exercise was my favourite. The instructor had us break up into pairs so we could collaborate on a poem, taking turns writing each line. It was actually a lot of fun:

I beg you please
To listen to my words
For each, and every, means something
Different to the individual being
Birth, a start
And life, a continuance
Of wonder, mistake and love
Of joy and happiness
Death, an end
Which itself is only the beginning
For memories, we have a many
To buoy us up when we would fall
To sail away, from each and every tempest
And find a safe harbour
Land, I beg of you please
To listen to my words

If you’re still curious about speculative poetry, check out the following links:

Liminality (a magazine of speculative poetry)
Locus Online
Strange Horizons

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