Tag Archives: gothic poetry

Women in Horror: Emma Gibbon

WiHM11-GrrrlWhiteWhen did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started writing poetry as a teenager. I was extremely angsty and trying to put down some of the darkness I felt was a way of releasing it. I read the first poetry that really blew me away around the same time at school–Coleridge and Blake. “Christabel” was a wonder to my teenage brain and “The Sick Rose” was the first poem I ever memorized. Later, Plath and Sexton really spoke to me. I find my influences come from different mediums too–the music videos of Mark Pellington, the works of Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier, film and TV like Donnie Darko and Twin Peaks, and the photography of Gregory Crewdson. I’ve always said that if I can ever create something that gives me the same feeling as Nirvana’s version of “In the Pines” then I’ll feel like I’ve finally made it.

Consumption

I had always envied Emily’s beauty
her life it seemed
charmed
and I a hobgoblin in her wake,
the ugliest sister,
while she of the flaxen hair,
rosebud lips
and a laugh that
tinkled like spun glass
sailed ahead.

Even when the sickness settled into her bones
like a cursed sea fret
and the hack, hack, hack of her cough filled rooms
still her suitors came.

This creature,
this consumption,
enhanced her beauty still.
Burrowed into her body
and made it shine
like a thing that must die.

Her cheeks, inflamed, bloomed
in their hollows
and those famed lips,
crimson and blood-bitten

but it was her eyes
her eyes
that stopped the menfolk across
the room
feverish green
gasoline on water burning
come-hither and much, much more.

How I wanted what she had
How I wanted to be her
How I wanted

I watched her obsessively
as she lounged on every chaise longue
trying to hide what she produced with her hack, hack, hack.
She was sly but not as sly as
I. I tracked those delicate handkerchiefs she
spat into,
folded,
and tucked under cushions,
pillows,
behind drapes,
trying to hide the shame
of her mortality.

Still the men simpered,
her tragedy an aphrodisiac.

When she was abed,
swimming in laudanum dreams,

I would retrace her faltering steps,
collect the small silken packets
she would leave like presents.

When alone I would open them,
inspect the slime,
the bloody sputum.
Steeling myself,
I would lick the silk,
consume her sickness,

steal her beauty for myself.

## published in Eye to the Telescope #33

Why do you write poetry?

It’s the same as all the writing I do, it really is a compulsion. I am a happier person when I do. I don’t necessarily find writing easy but not writing makes me feel uneasy in my skin.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

There are certain poems that come out almost fully formed and it feels like magic. I can reverse engineer them and see what my subconscious was working on and where they came from, but in the moment of writing, I experience a flow that is the best feeling of writing. The difficulty comes when it is the opposite of that when there’s something I want to write about but it really takes work and a lot of drafts to get it right. The irony is is that I don’t think the reader can tell the difference between the finished poems.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I do. I have themes that come up over and over again. Very often, I am only aware of it retrospectively. I’ve been writing for over twenty years now, and I can track what my concerns and worries and interests are through my work. I also have certain “obsessions” that I come back to. My librarian-brain means I go down research rabbit holes and these resurface later in my writing. Some of the themes and motifs you’ll find in my poetry (and other writings) are illness (especially tuberculosis), sympathetic portrayals of monsters, underdogs and outcasts, robots and AI, death and funeral rituals, the supernatural, gothic sensibilities, dystopias, punk and glam rock and much more!

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I genuinely think that there are many people (myself included) that are just hardwired to be attracted to darker themes. I’m deeply suspicious of people who are relentlessly sunshine-y and positive. I believe that art is full of dark and light and all the gray areas in between and to experience all of it is to live a fuller life.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I have “Persephone,” a poem out with Kaleidotrope this year and I also have a chapbook, Monster, Miasma & Myth, out on submission that I hope someone will pick up. Very excitingly, I have two poems nominated for the Rhysling: “Fune-RL” and “Consumption.” In not-poetry news, I have a story “Purgatory” due out in the folk horror anthology, Would But Time Await, and my debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is due out in May. I’m also going to be a Readercon program participant this year, and I will be editing Eye to the Telescope 36, House and Home which will release in April.

Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Midcoast Maine. GibbionShe is a Rhysling-nominated speculative poet, horror writer and librarian. Her poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Pedestal Magazine and Eye to the Telescope. Her stories have appeared in the New England Horror Writers anthologies, Wicked Haunted and Wicked Weird, The Muse & The Flame and Toasted Cake podcast. Her debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is out in May from Trepidatio Publishing. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim). She is a member of the New England Horror Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, the Angela Carter Society and the Tuesday Mayhem Society. Her website is emmajgibbon.com and you can find her on twitter @EmmaJGibbon.

 

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Women in Horror: Lori Lopez

WiHM11-Scalples-whLori Lopez is my guest today for Women in Horror Month. Yet another fantastic writer with nominations and awards. And a special treat: Lori wrote a brand new poem, seen here for the first time.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

Well, that goes way back to Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes and Doctor Seuss books.  I loved those, and then the Alice books by Lewis Carroll.  I became familiar with works such as “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, murder ballads “Tom Dooley” and “Barbara Allen,” folk songs, protest songs, and a variety of lyrics.  I believe I wrote my first poem in third grade inspired by Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”  I was fascinated with verse and wrote it before getting into prose.  I recall writing and drawing when I wasn’t reading in my spare time as a child, and I never really stopped, though I was actually writing songs for some years as a young adult before focusing on poetry, short stories, novels and such.  I also illustrate my books.

Why do you write poetry?

It isn’t so much why I write poetry, it’s more that I cannot stop writing verse.  It practically flows from me like breath and has since I was small.  It really does come naturally, whether humorous or serious or dark, whether fantasy or science fiction, horror, speculative . . .  I seem to be drawn to dark poetry the most, yet I have written a fair amount of humorous pieces too.  And of course, the two will merge.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

I find that poetry affects my prose and prose affects my poetry. They bleed into each other like humor and horror, blending. Things turn out funny that were supposed to be scary. It can cause delays for deadlines. Personally, I don’t mind if my prose is poetic at times, or my verse has a prose ring. Punctuation and breaks, flow and balance are emphasized in poetry, yet also important for prose I feel. And I enjoy horror comedy, growing up with The Munsters and The Addams Family and The Scooby Gang for inspiration! Not to mention Lewis Carroll (because I already did).

I like to tell stories, so longer narrative poems will pour out. That isn’t what’s “in” these days. I seldom write very short poems, and when I write haiku I like to do poems with multiple verses in haiku form. I used to rhyme more than I do now, but I do still love to rhyme. And I don’t care what the latest trends are, what’s popular. I write according to what the story or idea demands. So I guess being “current” or “relevant” might be a problem. I am hoping there will always be an audience for quality verse, even if it isn’t always a popular style. I do experiment and may be cutting-edge on occasion, but not because it’s expected.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I have a very themed series of poetry books based on a poetry column I was writing for about five years, “Poetic Reflections.”  The column is currently on pause but will continue (I hope), less often than before.  Each column has a specific theme, with a humorous prose intro and poems more or less on the subject.  I used the columns to begin chapters in the Poetic Reflections book series, then added more poems.  Right now I am preparing second editions in print for the first two volumes, Keep the Heart of a Child and The Queen of Hats.  The first volume includes song lyrics.  A third volume was released at the very end of 2018 as an E-book, Blood On the Moon, and will be released this year as an illustrated print edition.  I have a fourth volume underway titled Poe-etic.

lopez bookI am also releasing two related book series.  My Poetic Reflections collections and columns encompass a wide variety of poems.  In my Darkverse series I am literally putting together the “dark verse” and have released a volume titled Darkverse:  The Shadow Hours.  It’s available in E-book and illustrated print editions.  I plan to launch a series for my humorous verse as well.

I also have a series of stories told in rhyming prose, with the first one titled The Dark Mister Snark.  There will be two sequels released in the near future:  The Darker Mister Snark and The Darkest Mister Snark.  I’ll be publishing some other specific poetry books, and my novella The Strange Tail of Oddzilla contains a number of silly pieces.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I’ve always loved spooky things.  I’m not alone in that, and people in general seem to enjoy macabre musings, creepy moods, atmospheric settings at least some of the time.  It can help them cope with unpleasant realities, prepare them for the true-life moments that make hearts race.  It’s certainly fun around Halloween.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

There is a ghost collection of stories I hope to finally release this year, Spooktacular Tales, along with the second Mister Snark.

There may be a new dark poetry collection this year, and the first humorous compilation . . . plus new print releases for volumes one to three in my Poetic Reflections Series.  I have a few other special things I will be trying to get done.  There are so many projects to finish or start, and I never know how long things will take, especially my artwork.  I’ll see what I can accomplish in the months ahead, along with recording several of my songs with my sons for our new band, The Fairyflies.

Is there anything else about poetry or horror you’d like to mention?

I have a lot of horror tales published, and a lot of people don’t know about me yet.  I appreciate this chance to be featured for Women in Horror Month.

My sons and I released a funny Bigfoot sighting video last year, also The Chupacabra’s Jig with a spooky song and animated Chupacabras.  We’ll be doing plenty of interesting things together, horror and otherwise.  You can check out our website, Fairy Fly Entertainment, and look for us on You-Tube to find author readings and other videos.  We’re planning a couple of new web series and our first film projects in 2020 and beyond.

THE SACRIFICE

Digits of dread, cold as the chill of a grave
Fingerwalk the bones of my back in ghoulish strides
Up and down the column of a crooked spine
Wending like a road through the night. Woe is me,
Plodding such a route, silent as a charnel resting-place —
A pasture of tombs; a network of catacombs, the bodies
Buried deep to slumber undisturbed. Lucky stiffs.
I envy their repose, their peace.

Cloaked in exquisite solitude I roam, unable to nap
Or catch a wink. Solemn as a wraith, a specterless spirit.
Hunched in reverie without words, my phantom thoughts
Dark and elusive. Troubles submerged, unseen but sensed,
Like a fanged bloodfiend in the mirror, for that is
Surely the worst and the most free, to be glimpsed not —
Even by one’s self. I’ve read the tales, the folklore.
I comprehend their pain and misery.

Yet I am more alone, and spend my days wishing
I were blind, to not view these scars, the mounds of
Brute force, an ogre’s shadow! Wishing not to be aware.
On fleeting respites I carve a trail of un-speculation through
Shadow and street. Then return to my fate, and none the
Wiser. Me or the masses. For my calling is no clearer
To the eye of the ignorant. No more obvious than scratches
Under a coffin’s lid.

How comforting that could seem at my lowest point.
A bed without disruption, minus the echoes from end to end
Of these infernal waking minutes. The drudgery of days
Wretched beyond measure, crossing any limit of sanity,
While the late and early hours flit away in a moth’s aerial
Fairydance — too swift, too intangible. A mere blink,
And then I am risen from the Keeper’s hut above
The beldam’s abyss.

Someone has to bear it, the weight and monotony . . .
The blistering ache and dire lamentous torment of my tasks.
In complete oblivion, anonymous, thankless, friendless
I labor . . . to fulfill an oath, a purpose that few in reality
Would believe or appreciate. It must be carried out, so that
Everyone like you will have a chance to lead a happier life.
Isn’t that how the story goes? How it’s supposed to end?
I perform this sacrifice . . .

There is a larger good, I need to believe that.
It is all I’ve got left to remember you. Eight years ago
I made a vow, accepted the destiny of fathers and sons in our
Bloodline. I was a daughter. No man-child remained of age.
And I did not inherit size or strength, but had to be adapted —
Flesh rebuilt from daintier, warped from beauty into beast,
Transformed like a monster by gruesome procedures and
Parts. Ripped from the arms of my young . . .

Who I may nevermore visit, hold, or speak with.
I miss you both. And fear for you. The patchwork creature
Of bulk and brawn a kind lass became has no resemblance,
No claim to such foolish daydreams. Wistful reflections.
A faraway existence. Only this. My duty and ordeal.
You were too small. If I might talk to you again, sweet children;
If I could share a last Bedtime Story, I would explain that
Once upon a time . . .

There were four Great Witches. Lazy. Selfish.
Rancorous old women. A family of very huge, very hungry
Sisters. And sometimes families cannot get along. These
Siblings fought over everything! To protect the world,
They had to be kept apart . . . These hags are vital for they
Control the Seasons and Elements. Without them,
A fragile balance could be destroyed. Their mother —
Nature — the Planet — would be in chaos.

I and male cousins toil as Witchkeepers. The Cavewitch
Locked in a mountain. The Woodwitch confined to a towering
Treehouse. The Pondwitch inhabiting a cage submerged,
The mudpool her kettle. Each stirs a cauldron, maintains a Spell.
The Wellwitch I tend, chained at the base of a dry stone pit.
At Dawn I must drag her out of bed, lug the enormous crone
To her pot, then collect sackfuls of ingredients. Fat Pumpkins.
Thick Toadstools. Fresh-picked Banewort and Witchgrass.

Devil’s Hand. Goat’s Rue. Bee Orchids. Witch Hazel.
Snapdragon Seed Pods. The Root of Mandrake. Flame and
Voodoo Lilies. The shed Skin of Poisonous Spiders and Serpents.
The Spit of Wildcats. Stray Owl Feathers and Bear Fur.
Whiskers fallen from Vampire Bats. A broken Bigfoot Toenail.
Laughing Hyena Tears. Lost Milkteeth from below the pillows
Of ornery sleeping Tots. A demanding list of foraged items to
Feed the Witch and fuel her Potion.

Vapors of enchantment ascend the steep rounded shaft,
Wafting, blending, merging with magick from her siblings
To form a purple layer of gases, embracing, shielding
Earth. Colorless to mortal gazes, undetected. Keeping you
Safe. Tomorrow I repeat the routine, climbing to the floor.
Moving the Witch. Scaling the Well. Gathering the List.
Hauling it to the cauldron. This time I will have slipped inside,
Instead of lingering at the window.

I may look like a beast; my heart is the same that
Always loved you. When you read this note, my darlings,
Picture me as I was. Tell your father to take you far.
I will not endure forever. This burden grinds one down,
And I do not want it to be yours. The world might not
Be as secure, as stable in the future. You will need to
Watch out for each other. Do not be afraid to live.
Do not despair over me.

I must stay alert or am haunted by grim concerns.
I cannot allow myself to think: What if I refused?
What if I tricked the Witch to do my bidding, rather than
Permit these changes? What if I were the mother you
Knew and could run off with you . . . It’s too late now,
My dears. A surgeon and your grandma contrived this
Ruin. I thought there was no choice. When I think,
I see the truth — that I was deceived.

##

lopez

Lori R. Lopez is an award-winning author, poet, songwriter, and illustrator who loves wearing hats.  Books include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, Odds & Ends: A Dark Collection, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours.  Verse and prose have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines such as The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, The Sirens Call, Bewildering Stories, H.W.A. Poetry Showcases, California Screamin’ (the Foreword Poem), Grey Matter Monsters, Dead Harvest, and Fearful Fathoms Volume I.

Vegan and an activist, Lori resides in Southern California.  She’s originally from Wisconsin and has lived in Hawaii, Florida, and Spain.  Her works span a range of genres — primarily Horror, Speculative, Dark Fantasy, Suspense, and Humor.  Lori co-owns Fairy Fly Entertainment with her two talented sons.

A 2020 Rhysling Award Nominee and a 2018 Elgin Award Nominee, her other honors include three first places in the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, finalist for poetry in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards, second place for poetry in the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, second place for humor in the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and winner in the 2014 San Diego Book Awards.

Website: www.fairyflyentertainment.com
https://www.youtube.com/user/fairyflyent
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lori-r.-lopez
https://amazon.com/author/lorirlopez

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Women in Horror: Kyla Ward

WiHM11-Scalples-whI was fortunate to see Kyla Ward perform her poem at Stokercon last year in a gothic frock coat. She has been shy to mention but her books have poetry have been nominated for Stoker Awards as well.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I remember my parents reading me poetry like T. S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and Sir Walter Scott when I was very young indeed. I assume it stuck—indeed, altered part of my brain.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because I can’t help it. Sometimes I get an idea and that idea can only come out in rhyme or a very particular rhythm. I write a lot of formal poetry because that’s what the idea seems to require, the support of that particular structure. Is this strange? It sounds strange to me.

The Grove

No temple stands within the walls of Rome
to she who is Dis Pater’s palatine.
The cypress branch outside the shuttered home
denotes a grove beyond the Esquiline
where ash sequesters souvenirs of dread—
the greater bones may well resist the flame—
and all the earth is rancid with such dead
as left the future neither wealth nor name.
Her votaries both winged and fanged compete
with witches for the choicest scavenging.
The foulest odours mingle with the sweet
of spices flung in hasty offering.
No image of her overlooks this place,
yet all who die will recognise her face.

## Originally published in Mythic Delirium 4.4 and subsequently collected in The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities. It is the first part of the triptych “Libitina’s Garden”

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

BookTo my mind, the challenge of poetry is marrying structure with language and meaning—meaning, in this context, can be a mood or impression, rather than an obvious message. All writing needs to do this, but poetry—formal or free—is especially prone to being warped by the pressure of structure. Inappropriate or awkward words slip in, that obey scansion but occlude meaning or sound ugly and jarring. To my mind, the best poetry sounds natural when spoken, only somehow better. It flows so well that the true ingenuity of it goes largely unnoticed: you simply know that it is beautiful.

For the author, this way lies madness.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I wouldn’t have said I explored particular themes, except that when it came time to assemble each of my collections, there they were.

The Land of Bad Dreams (P’rea Press, 2011) is more or less two halves, one representing dreams and the other a reality that through the poetic medium comes to seem equally fantastic. The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities (P’rea Press, 2019) on the other hand… well, I did consciously set out to write a contemporary danse macabre based on the medieval model. It was only when I came to assemble the other poems that I realised how much of everything I had published since the previous book concerned the mythology of death in one form or another.

In Greek mythology, Death (Thanatos) and Sleep (Hypnos) are brothers. So I suppose, thus far in my career I have treated them both and should now move on to something more lively.

THE CELEBRITY

DEATH

A willing partner here at last!
Whose hand is smooth, whose step is fast.
Such earthly angels, once deceased,
routinely find their fame increased!
As amber, each iconic scene
preserves your carapace pristine.
Eternal glory somewhat flat
but not a whit less real for that.

THE CELEBRITY

Your words should consolation bring
and yet they have a hollow ring,
for moulded by a thousand hands
my guise but answered the demands
of press and public: all they see
is all the use they made of me.
Their compliments like razors strewn
along the path I trod so soon.

## Originally published in The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities. It is a single entry in The Macabre Modern

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

When I dip into the dark fantastic, when I read Ann K. Schwader or Bruce Boston, it’s to ward bookrefresh my mind. Reading poetry is a brief yet absolute break from humdrum thoughts and everyday rhythms, and I’m not the kind of person who holidays on beaches. I’m more one for subterranean caverns, shadowed canals, the crumbling interior of castles and tombs, and echoing galleries of old world art. So too in my choice of Poe and Rosetti, Clark Ashton Smith and Leah Drake Bodine. Is this what other people derive from dark poetry, including, perchance, my own work? I couldn’t possibly say! What I do know is that, upon a time, ekphrasis—that is, describing a visual artwork in a poem—was considered a valid means of preserving the memory, the sensations experienced by the viewer during her contemplation (consider Shelley’s “On The Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery”). In this way, even people who had never seen the painting could appreciate something of its impact. Perhaps it is the same for these internal visions.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

The release of a collection generally means poetry takes a back seat for a while. I have short stories and novellas to finish before returning to the current novel. The poetic part of my brain will resume ticking soon enough.

Is there anything else you would like to say about horror or poetry?

Some people may see a paradox in the idea that a poem should be beautiful even when the subject is the horrific conditions in an overfilled cemetery, or the suicide of an unhappy actor. It appears that I do not. As is the case in Shelley’s poem, mentioned above, I feel there is a beauty particular to horror and macabre subjects that deserves exploring. Sometimes, the contrast serves to accentuate the horror. But some things are that much more frightening when they are beautiful, they become alluring, and even comforting. For me, this is where the true horror lies.

Ward picBased in Sydney, Australia, Kyla has produced short fiction. articles and poetry, including Stoker, Ditmar, Australian Shadows and Rhysling nominees, and won one-third of an Aurealis Award for her co-written novel, Prismatic. Her poem, “Revenants of the Antipodes” in the HWA Poetry Showcase V, won the inaugural Australian Shadows award for horror poetry. Her most recent release is the dark poetry collection The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities, in 2019 from P’rea Press. An actor (most recently in the immersive true crime experience Deadhouse – Tales of Sydney Morgue) and occasional playwright, she has travelled widely and rhymed adventurously. Her interests include history, occultism and scaring innocent bystanders, all of which come together in her current night job—a host with the world-famous Rocks Ghost Tours.

kylaward.com/
https://klward.dreamwidth.org/
Preapress.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5283016.Kyla_Lee_Ward

 

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Poetry: To Submit or to Not Submit

That is always the question.

I’ve had a lot of experience with poetry. I began writing it as an emotional outlet around the age of 12 and yes, I have many of those poems still, not that they’re salable. I became more serious about the genre in my twenties and began taking university courses, earning a degree in Creative Writing, which covered the poem as one of three forms.

I’ve written hundreds of poems, published over a hundred and have as many unsold. I am an assistant poetry editor at Chizine, have edited a few books of poetry and have just finished some preliminary judging of the Rannu poetry competition. I’m still learning much about writing poetry and there are a few things that people should consider when writing and considering whether to submit their poem.

A hundred years ago, structured verse was common; it had a rhythm, it had end rhymes and it may have had internal rhyme, plus other styles such as assonance, consonance, alliteration, etc. The rigors of study for such forms is not equaled today. In fact, the fashion of end rhyming a poem has fallen mostly out of favor because people aren’t trained to do it well and therefore make horrible rhyming verse. There are editors, like Chizine’s, who won’t even look at it. From time to time we might but on average it won’t get very far and is a waste of the author’s time. Yes, we’re biased and with good cause. It’s often bad bad bad.

There are exceptions to rhyme and rhythm and that is if you are doing an older form of poetry that requires rhyming lines or a particular structure, such as haiku, villanelles, sonnets, roundels, etc. But they take practice in working the form and making good choices for rhymes. So overall, if you’re a new writer, don’t rhyme. There are many magazines that will not buy rhyming or formal verse of any kind.

There are then the many overused metaphors and clichés that we recommend you don’t use in a poem because it’s a surefire way to get rejected. Of the top of my head, here are a few: my heart drums, twinkling eyes, fluffy kittens, fit as a fiddle, the eye of the storm, the tip of my tongue, heart on your sleeve, mad as a hatter, heart of gold, and on and on. If you’ve heard it too often then it shouldn’t be in a poem. Sometimes a poet plays off of a metaphor or cliché and twists it to great effect. Individual words that are GRAND CONCEPTS can be a hard sell as they take a great deal of finesse to pull off. Sandra keeps very entertaining poetry submission guidelines at the Chizine site with the gothic poetry generator: http://www.deadlounge.com/poetry/created.html. If any of your poems sound vaguely like these ones, don’t submit them. They’re emo but they’re not necessarily good or unique. Think twice before you use words like love, death, heart, blood, tomb, womb, life, etc.

Last that I’m going to touch on today is theme. Some themes have been done to death (another cliche; indeed they can serve a purpose). If you’re going to write about love, death, nature or a host of perhaps less familiar topics then you need to be sure you’re doing it in a unique way. My life as a clam is likely to be more interesting than my life as a man, woman, vampire. I see poems like the ones I used to write and I realize how much they reflect the maturity of the writer. When I say maturity I don’t mean age but experience in writing. With a poem, before you submit, you should always read it aloud. It’ll help you catch a lot of things.

All of these “don’ts”  are of course rules that can be broken but an artist works best by knowing the rules well first. It takes a deft hand and you can still run against an ingrained hatred or fear with editors. If we’ve seen too many death poems (and we see a lot at Chizine) we may already believe it’s going to be another one of those death poems, no matter how unbiased we try to be.  Poems can take as long to write as a story. Check them for clichés and metaphors, overused themes and images, and for originality. And then when a poem sparkles and shines, by all means submit it to a magazine.

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