The Rhysling Awards, named for Robert A. Heinlein’s poet from The Green Hills of Earth, were established by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978. Both the association and the award were founded by Suzette Haden Elgin. Each year, awards are given for Short Form poetry and Long Form poetry. The first three years of the award resulted in ties, with three poems tying in the first year, and two each tying in the second and third year.
Payack’s poem “The Migration of Darkness” appeared in the August 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, edited by George Scithers. The poem postulates that darkness, rather than being the absence of light, is made up of infinitesimal pieces of darkness that breed in dimmer regions, such as the poles, and migrate south each night to cover the world in darkness, only to migrate back to the polar regions, or possible westward, with the coming of night. Pieces of darkness that don’t make the migration congregate behind buildings and trees to form shadows, but their lives of, of necessity, short since the light will eventually find them and kill them off.