April is National Poetry Month, and this spring I took my very first poetry class. How could I NOT share some poetry?
One of the hardest parts of poetry isn’t writing the actual words, it’s finding something to write about. The challenge for a new poet is not finding the Truth in the whole world, but finding the Truth in something very small. Zoom in and inspect something closely. Figure out how it affects you and how it affects the things around it.
I’ve been reading for the Nebulas. There are seven novellas nominated this year, so my big idea was to write one poem per book.
And it was hard. Writing these poems forced me to delve deeper into the emotional core of each piece. It made me spend time thinking about each story on a level that I otherwise might have missed.
The poems aren’t retellings of the stories, and they don’t always exactly fit into the worlds of those stories. Some are more fan fiction. Some are an emotional evaluation of the contents. Some are simply ‘inspired by’.
One poem per book. Here we go.
This first one is inspired by A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers. I loved this quiet book for its attention to beauty and balance. I would like a tea monk to visit sometime soon.
in a world balanced by Anthony W. Eichenlaub purpose in a world balanced with the teleological tea of the wants of machines and monks a crickets’ quiet cataclysm in a world balanced a life balanced balance not ominous but omnipresent in the discontent of quiet utopia remnants and memories in a world balanced between city and wild between human and robot between hectic life and the introspection of quiet gods who do not speak but in breath taken with tea in hand in the pause between doing in the memory of our ancestors a balance returns and the cycle continues
Next, I wrote a haiku inspired by And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamad. This story had such a dark premise and watching it play out is fascinating. It’s hard to boil ANYTHING down into a poem as short as a haiku, but I wanted to give it a shot.
dead lead the way Anthony W. Eichenlaub the dead lead the way now empty of life’s baggage truest in revenge
Eugenia TriantaFyllou has rocked the short fiction markets for a while now, and her novella The Giants of the Violet Sea does not disappoint. Among other things, it explores death and traditions and ritual in a harsh ocean world. This was a tough poem to write for me because Eugenia’s prose is so damn poetic it kept inviting comparison, and that’s not a great headspace to be in when writing poetry.
into the ink by Anthony W. Eichenlaub do you ever wonder where the current takes us? our lives, an ebbing tide to wine dark seas past obelisk black upon horizon filling the moonlit night are we pulled by the gods’ movement through that endless sea? taken to their distant waters they watch us slow slick bulk breaking surface eyes like abyss scour us to essence guide our slide into inky dark or does the trajectory of our lives usher us through the beyond? ink of yellow, red, and deepest violet stories of those we touch etched upon a canvas of skin we are artwork cast to sea nevermore beheld by the living
Another author who writes beautiful prose is Aliette de Bodard, and Fireheart Tiger is some of her best. The three relationships fascinated me in this book, and when I went to write a poem about them I used it as a chance to explore some parallels.
three women for whom i have suffered love by Anthony W. Eichenlaub there is a weight to her though she burns. i once fled the licking flames, sure that death was at my heels. she is the consuming rage of passion. when she possesses me in her arms there is nothing else in the world. my mother’s words leave bruises that will never heal. her trust is a heavy blade above my head. i remember the fire that consumes i remember the passion that dominates i remember the judgment that smothers but which of these is love?
E. Catherine Tobler’s The Necessity of Stars is told from the perspective of a person with memory loss. It’s powerful and poignant and really an amazing accomplishment.
if memory is a story by Anthony W. Eichenlaub if memory is a story i am protagonist mary sue flawed hero anti hero chosen one if memory is a story and my first memory never happened then who am i my origin story made of sand or am i a side character in your story of your memory only there to be forgotten
Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn was the hardest for me to read, but that’s not a bad thing. It deals with hard themes in powerful ways and I wasn’t sure I could go much deeper with my poetry. I had to try, though, and I’m reasonably happy with where it ended up. Deeper? Not really. But there was a lot to explore in this novella.
oh what it was by Anthony W. Eichenlaub oh what it was to be whole with skin not split and belly not a gnawing pit in the center of all things the sea hungers for us blades in the sky tentacles below oh what it was to be one with no vampire parasite sucking wet slick from sore breast on a ship wet with rot among enemies oh what it was to be sane without memory scratching at a fraying mind when whispers were the furtive tryst of lovers and the musk of sweat was the passion of wild embrace oh what it was to be only me
Aimee Ogden has been another favorite of mine since we shared a table of contents in the Fell Beasts and Fair anthology. Her novella Sun Daughters, Sea Daughters does wonderful things with the Little Mermaid story (like REALLY wonderful things.)
cost by Anthony W. Eichenlaub she sought change at any cost: a voice a family my love all lost for one who warms his face in the burning sky what could she know of cost? this girl who has experienced only the wealth of the sea king the casual privilege of her beauty the might of the ocean and all its relentless waves she sought change for a price she did not understand she signed the contract without comprehension but then again nobody ever reads a contract when they want what they want they only sign we all sign we want what we want at whatever cost for love’s value outweighs it all