I’m always tempted to just keep that introduction, which is how I begin all my poetry reviews, before I return and write something that makes me sound like I have any business at all passing judgment on peoples’ art. My name is Erik, and I read poetry. I also write poetry, and when I can overcome my profound laziness, review poetry. Mostly, I am a jerk with opinions. So follows my opinions on the winners of the 2013 Rhysling Awards.
Introductions are hard. Let’s review poetry.
First Place, Short Form: “Cat Star” by Terry A Garey
(from Lady Poetesses from Hell)
Well, I like cats. I have lost some cats dear to me; the little bastards don’t live long enough.
This is a strange poem. There’s a lot of good in the parentheses that contain most of the poem. What comes before feels awkward, sounds awkward when I try to speak it; awkward in the familiar way that a lot of speculative poetry sounds to me. The invocation of photons and later of molecules throws me, feels like words tacked in to mark the poem as speculative. I know there are ways to invoke those ideas, and I have seen poems use the actual words of science responsibly, poetically, but it’s harder than it looks, and I don’t think this one quite manages its language right.
At the same time, it is compelling, and I notice that SF people and cat people share a lot of circular territory in the Venn diagram, which gives a lot of emotional purchase to the poem. The grief in parentheses is compelling, both in language and in image. I just wish there were no parentheses and nothing before where they were put.