The Horror Writers Association now runs the dominant convention for writers on the dark side, StokerCon — named after Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) and the trophy of the award the association gives to the top books in the horror genre each year. StokerCon convenes annually for serious horror professionals who want to learn and reconnect with the horror genre through topical panel discussions, excellent author readings, significant writing workshops, a mass booksigning and varied presentations… climaxing in a formal Bram Stoker Awards banquet, which celebrates the genre’s top practitioners with what I think remains the coolest trophy in the world: a creepy “house of usher” statuette. As I’ve written elsewhere, the Stoker Award really matters. And this year’s conference, held in the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan, mattered a lot, too. Kudos to those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on site, and all year in preparation — esp. Brian Matthews, James Chambers, and outgoing HWA president Lisa Morton. Your efforts paid off and were appreciated by all.
The convention is for all writers on the dark side, but the Bram Stoker Award banquet was such a treat this year. All the finalists wrote amazing books, and I am still applauding the winners, the majority of whom are pictured below:
I have a lot of friends in the genre, but I was struck by how many of the winners of the award (as well as the finalists) this year were people I would call close friends and colleagues I’ve worked with in one way or another over my career. And their books were all not only excellent, but a set a high bar for excellence in the genre. It was a joy to applaud them from the audience. I’m particularly proud of my long-term publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press, for winning the HWA Specialty Press Award for their contributions to the horror genre. RDSP is an independent press who has consistently produced edgy avant-horror, dark full-length poetry collections, and risk fiction by marginalized voices over the years. Well-earned, John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes! (Hint: Come to PulpFest in Pittsburgh this August and you can join in celebrating their Sweet Sixteen).
It was also really cool to see my editor for the Exploring Dark Short Fiction series from Dark Moon Books, Eric Guignard, take the trophy for his Fiction Collection, That Which Grows Wild (Cemetery Dance, 2018) — it was quite a win, because that whole category was amazing, with notable books by Gabino Iglesias, Tim Waggoner, Lucy Snyder and Gemma Files also deserving the honor. If you want to see the range of what horror fiction was about this year, read the numerous stories told in all these collections. (Hint: You also should keep your eyes peeled for the next book in the Dark Short Fiction series on Jeffrey Ford … I’m writing the academic portion of it now and his horror fiction is AMAZING!)
At the Stoker Banquet, I had the honor of presenting the first award, for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection alongside poet and horror writer Angela Yuriko Smith. Usually presenters either ham it up with some kind of funny skit, or get right down to business and read the list of nominees. Instead of doing that, we decided to treat it like the Oscars, which shows clips from the nominated films before announcing the winner — only in this case, we read excerpts from the poetry books. The lineup was impressive, with Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Alessandro Manzetti, David Cowen, Donna Lynch and Sara Tantlinger all in the running.
I teach with Sara Tantlinger at Seton Hill, and even mentored her long ago in our MFA program, so I almost lost it when I was handed the envelope and read her name as the winner of the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection! Her acceptance speech was incredibly moving. I am proud of her beyond words. She won the prize for
her fantastic second book, The Devil’s Dreamland (Strangehouse Books, 2018) — this book is deeply researched and written so well; the chilling history of serial killer HH Holmes is told through a poetic assemblage of voices that build to a stunning resolution. (Tip: You should get that book, but also pre-order her upcoming novella, To Be Devoured).
The whole event was streamed on youtube, so if you scroll to about the 4:20 timestamp, you can watch the presentation and listen to the acceptance speech online:
Aside: Prior to the awards, I had the thought that Angela and I might try to be clever and each write a poem based on the titles and presses — treating the ballot like a creative prompt — but that was too obscure and silly for this event. Even so, I wrote one, and shared it instead during my reading at the convention. Here it is, for posterity:
A Horror Poetry Dreamland
near Devil’s Lake
legions of weasels and screaming dogs
press against the crystal doors of the strangehouse
where witches war with books
behind the saffron artifacts within
Speaking of my reading, perhaps you’d like to hear some of it? Here’s an excerpt I recorded for you:
At this reading session, Bob Eccles read several impressive drabbles, and April Grey shared excerpts from her books, and it was a lot of fun. Also that day, I taught a workshop to writers called “Making the Reader Squirm” — it was my fourth time running this course in “going for the gross-out” in artful ways, and I hope I get a chance to teach at the proverbial “Horror University” once again. People like Mark Matthews, Colleen Anderson and Den Shewman were good sports in the class. You can see a few snapshots from that class on my instagram page.
I attended several panels on hot topics in the genre, ranging from Weird Poetry to Historical Horror. The three panels I had the privilege to sit on during the con were also a highlight. “Writing from Prompts” allowed me to talk about creative writing exercises gleaned from my SHU classes, as well as my non-fiction guidebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side — and to learn new strategies from my peers. Moderator Marge Simon and I even shared short stories we wrote about the same image, showing how a stimulus can lead to different imaginary reactions. I also was a respondent to a talk on “Horror Flash Fiction” along with Asher Ellis, moderated by another alum from the Writing Popular Fiction program, Donna Munro. This was a blast, and Donna even used a powerpoint about the art of the short-short that was really impressive. Another panel “Twisted Tropes” was an insightful conversation on bringing originality into horror, developing my thinking about a novel and short stories I’m working on, and it was a highlight to share the table with Stephen Graham Jones, Meghan Arcuri, Kyla Lee Ward, John Kachuba and Rob E. Boley.
As you can tell, I was busy. But also just buzzing with joy. Beyond all the programming and ceremony, StokerCon was just a good time to chat up with old friends and make new ones, celebrating the diversity, the history, and the persistent growth of today’s horror community. I can’t possibly name everyone I shared a laugh with or was pleased to finally meet, but I enjoyed every encounter, and it was wonderful to gather with various factions I am a part of — from the many writers of Raw Dog Screaming Press who were in attendance or guests, to all the authors I’ve gotten to know through Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program… there were so many in attendance it was like a rogue alumni party. (Hint: if curious about WPF, you could always attend the In Your Write Mind Workshop hosted every summer on the college campus — anyone can register, and it also features a fantastic (and huge) book fair open to the public — Raw Dog will be there this June, too! It runs June 27-30th in Greensburg, PA — details).
It’s impossible to wrap up this reflection, so I’ll just post a few photos to close out. Wish I took more, but the memories are branded on the brain. I probably will not be at the next StokerCon in UK, but I definitely will attend StokerCon 2021 planned to transpire in Denver! Meanwhile, see you online and in the bookstore…
Although there are about 30 Bram Stoker Award banquets in the history books, this season’s StokerCon 2017 was only the second time the Horror Writers Association has run a full-fledged convention, highlighting the genre with panel discussions, author readings, writing workshops, booksignings and varied presentations… culminating in the Award banquet, awarding the genre’s top practitioners with what I think remains the coolest trophy in the world: a creepy “house of usher” statuette. And this year’s conference, held aboard the famous ship moored in the docks of Long Beach, CA — the Queen Mary — was majestic and creepy as all get out.
Here’s the official video recap:
A lot of fun was had at this one by yours truly. I taught my “Making Readers Squirm” workshop to a large audience in a massive hall (that’s me at 1:06 in the video above); I also (somehow) moderated an interesting panel on “Interactive Thrills in Horror Games,” and I signed books. But most of all, I just hung out with all my old friends — including special side excursions with my former University of Oregon grad school buddies, David Sandner and Amy Novak — and spending extra time with former students and alumni mentees from Seton Hill University’s graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction, where I remain proud to teach. And of course, I attended the Stoker Banquet, sitting with Jen Barnes and John Lawson of Raw Dog Screaming Press — applauding wildly as their authors Stephanie Wytovich and Maria Alexander took home trophies for their books. And I applauded everyone who was celebrated with the honor… all deserving and excellent writers, whom you should study — the complete winner’s list and announcement is on the HWA page here.
As usual at these things, I just took some silly snapshots with my phone here and there whenever I remembered that I had a phone that could do this. I never remember that you can also actually focus it, so they’re all blurry (sorry). But maybe there are a few here that are different than the others being posted online elsewhere. With George RR Martin and other wonderful luminaries in attendance, under the LA sky, this con had a lot of celebrity about it… but mostly, I prowled around the less obvious or popular programming and tried to enjoy subversive areas of the con, like readings and deep chats at the bar. I’ll post below in a gallery that has no real narrative or con report associated with it. Thanks to all who shared laughter, time, and stories with me at this one and made it a very special weekend. See you next year in Providence!
Look fun? You should come to the next one, to be held in Providence, RI, former stomping grounds of Cthulhu creator, H.P. Lovecraft, among many other dreadful delights. While you wait, join the Horror Writers Association. It’s worth it.
DogCon is the annual gathering of writers, readers and fans of Raw Dog Screaming Press. This year’s DogCon5, held in the new RDSP-owned beach house — the Broadkill Writer’s Resort — focused on writers who wanted to relax, learn, practice, and mingle together in a kind of bizarro sci-fi literary retreat. While the programming was professional, it was relaxed, and the whole experience had the vibe of a 48-hour con suite at a genre convention, with occasional excursions to the beach and many spontaneous acts of chatting, gaming and writing.
At the event, I ran a “Live Instigation” activity, which involved walking through ways of unfolding a subject to “milk the madness” out of it. The results were amazing. You can see both the presentation slides and the live video capture over on the Mastication Publications blog.
I also sponsored a Fridge of the Damned poetry contest. Janice Leach (dailynightmare.com) won it with her magnetic poem, “Memory Box” and took home a HUGE poetry and audiobook bundle as the grand prize. You can see all the entries at the top of the album at https://flic.kr/s/aHsjDpPaRv
The headline act was Beverly Bambury, who ran two rock solid publicity-oriented workshops, and other events included a “story swap” reading of a partner’s fiction, the RDSP Reader’s Award (winner: Matt Betts, for Indelible Ink), online interviews with some of the writers who couldn’t attend, new book releases from Cina Pelayo and Laurel Myler, and the always-intriguing “State of the Dog” speech. Joseph Bouthiette Jr., the publisher of Carrion Blue 555, also was in attendance, sharing an early release of the exciting new 555 flash fiction anthology, along with other titles. All the writers had new work to share and talk about, but the focus was really on hanging out, thinking about the “next step” in our careers, and conjuring good spirits between us. Raw Doggers are genuinely good people.
The beach house, Broadkill Writer’s Resort, is a pretty amazing place, and certainly worth looking into if you’re ever seeking a place on the eastern seaboard to get away from it all and write. The publishers, John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes, did an outstanding job organizing and hosting the entire weekend, and everyone departed with smiles, renewed by the experience, and eager to continue following this unique publisher as they pursue some exciting plans for the future. In a nutshell: RDSP plans to increase its investment in the community it has built, and DogCon is but one of many such communal gatherings to come! Keep your eyes on their events page to see if any of their authors are reading in your neck of the proverbial woods.
Here’s a collection of photos I took across the weekend that speak for themselves. Attendees you might spot in the images include: John Edward Lawson & Jennifer Barnes, Beverly Bambury, Stephanie Wytovich, Jason Jack Miller & Heidi Ruby Miller, William Hamilton, K. Ceres Wright, JL Gribble, Kaylee Stebbins, Joseph Bouthiette Jr., Blake & Laura Burkhead, Nathan Rosen, Jessica McHugh, James & Janice Leach, Daniel Haeusser and others.
StokerCon 2016 was the inaugural convention sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, highlighting the genre with panel discussions, readings, writing workshops, booksignings and presentations… culminating in the Bram Stoker Award banquet, awarding the genre’s top practitioners with the coolest trophy in the world.
It was a blast. Lots of great writers were up for and won the trophy, including some of my closest friends in the business from Raw Dog Screaming Press and Seton Hill U’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. My workshop on “Making the Reader Squirm” went very well, engendering plenty of squirmy moments and good writing by the class. I (somehow) did a 9am poetry panel the next day too. As always, there’s too much to remember, too many good things to recount, and many things forgotten until someone reminds me later on. Instead, I’ll just share some photos I managed to take that weren’t too blurry or incriminating, and share them below with some sloppy captions. I regret that I did not get photos of everyone I spent time with, so a lot is unfortunately not here. I enjoyed laughing with everyone; you know who you are.
Just back from a “Provo-cative” weekend in Provo, Utah, where I attended the 2016 World Horror Convention as a special guest. It was a very intimate con, mistimed in the grand scheme of genre events this year (i.e., the first StokerCon is in Vegas next weekend — I’m going to that too), but having a smaller event led to tighter bonds as we all got to know each other better as professionals and people. They kept me VERY busy (I was on three-to-five programming events per day), so I didn’t take as many photos as usual, but I did manage to snap a few which I’ll post below. Shout-outs to everyone who I met (which felt like EVERYONE at the con), even if you’re not in the shots below. And in lieu of writing up a lengthy con report, I’ll just tag some comments in the captions of the photos. Enjoy.
THANK YOU to World Horror Con and the gang in Provo for inviting me out as a Special Guest. I was worked like a dog, yet given the royal treatment, and I totally appreciated both! And thanks to many old friends who came to support me throughout the weekend. Next up in early May: StokerCon!
My wife and I snuck away to Germany early in July to visit with family and old friends, and during our stay, we took a side trip to the former east to spend a few days in the city of Dresden. It’s a fantastic city, brimming with festive nightlife partying in the streets of the “neustadt” and overwhelming with architectural beauty and the high life of the “oldstadt.”
In the midst of it all, I had an unplanned encounter with Till Lindemann. Till is not only the lead singer of the uber-metal group Rammstein, but also the author of On Quiet Nights, recently released in English translation by Raw Dog Screaming Press — a book for which I wrote the introduction.
Well, I did not meet him literally. But Till seemed to be all over Dresden, with posters still plastered everywhere advertising a recent concert for his Skills in Pills album tour. His forward leaning “shush” posture kept beckoning me like someone inviting me to follow him to a secret place…
And there was one. We learned that there was an “Over 18” (aka NC-17) art gallery, Galerie Holger John, located deep in the neustadt, featuring a small exhibition of Till Lindemann’s sculpture.
As we entered, the current single from Skills and Pills, “Praise Abort” (NSFW video here) looped over the speakers and we were confronted with a taxidermy surprise — Lindemann’s sculpture of a deer kept under guard by two baby mannequins in leather masks with guns and batons. And that was just the start. Smaller sculptures of things like binoculars with phallic protrusions shooting out of the lenses and skull-headed babies under domed glass appeared all around the two floors of the gallery. The exhibition was amazing and audacious — and given the number of genital sculptures in evidence everywhere, it was not exactly a rated-G experience, so I can’t share many photos. But I loved it.
The exhibition predominantly featured the original photographs from the provocative shoot for Lindemann’s Skills in Pills album (see wikipedia), in addition to sculptures by Till, props from the “Praise Abort” video, and a few large displays of the original artwork/poetry from On Quiet Nights (aka In Stillen Nachten) by Matthias Matthies and Lindemann. There were two floors of fantastic photographs by Stefan Heilemann, Paul Harries, Aram Radomski, Bryan Adams, Tomaso Baldessarini, and Matthias Matthies, in addition to all the unforgettably outrageous sculptures by Till Lindemann. We took some photos, but most can’t be shared here. However, intrepid readers can see them on the gallery’s website, if they are old and bold enough to do so.
Dresden has a fantastic art scene and is an amazing city to visit. I’ve mixed a few extras into the gallery below. Highly recommended.
The exhibition lasts till 8/23/15 at Galerie Holger John (Rahnitzgasse 17, Dresden), so if you find yourself near this historical city in Germany in the month to come — and you aren’t carting around kiddies with you — it’s well worth a visit.
If not, the next best thing might be the super deluxe edition of the Skills and Pills album, which includes a great book of artwork and photography. The music — featuring Till’s all-English singing for the first time — is as hilariously twisted as the art in this exhibition.
Fans of the book, On Quiet Nights might be interested in the photo session from the previous Lindemann/Matthies & Rammstein exhibit for IN STILLEN NÄCHTEN at the Galerie Holger John celebrating the book’s release, which are currently archived here. Large prints of Matthias Matthies’ art and Till Lindemann’s poetry from the original collection seem to still be for sale online from the gallery.
I am so glad that I attended the 25th World Horror Convention & 2015 Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in Atlanta, GA, this past weekend. I think I was laughing the whole time, giddy with the good times and gore. It was great to reunite with so many old friends (I actually attended the very first WHC, 25 years ago!), and as usual, made several new buddies, too. There were something like sixteen Seton Hill MFA program students, alums or faculty colleagues in attendance, a barrel of Raw Dog Screaming Press associates, and hundreds of gibbering weirdos, which meant I always felt there was someone nearby I could chat with at any given moment, day or night or in-between.
A few of the major highlights for me included: a fun dinner with Stephanie Wytovich and Michelle R. Lane that started the con off with lots of laughter; watching speculative poets read each other’s work with reverence in a great poetry panel, hosted by Marge Simon — all were great, and a lot of well-deserved respect was on hand for GO Clark’s horror poetry, especially; moderating a great panel on horror in academia with my good friends Tim Waggoner, Lucy Snyder, Vic Kerry and now Thomas Drago; hanging out with Frazer Lee and getting to see his film adaptation of Christopher Fowler’s dental nightmare story in “On Edge” (& the premiere of his new film, The Stay!) sitting alongside Ryan DeMoss; watching so many party-goers at the Raw Dog Screaming Press room party make Fridge of the Damned poems and recite them aloud (see the giant gallery of photos on Flickr for all of that!); sitting at the RDSP table at the Stoker Awards banquet and thrilling over hearing my pals’ names read as finalists for the award — several of them winning; hearing Jeff Strand deliver the best emcee job he’s done yet (he even snuck in a reference to my book, Licker!); presenting the Non-fiction Award in a jocular way with Michael Knost; catching up with everyone from Bruce Boston to Anderson Prunty, Weston Ochse to John Urbancik, Mikey Huyck to Adam Cesare, John Skipp to Jonathan Maberry, CV Hunt to Nikki Guerlain. And that’s just a paltry few out of them all. There were also too many weird and unnameable things that cannot be expressed (nor should they be) about fur-curiosity, horror-huffing, Bigfoot, frothy pink god knows what…and more and more and more. I’m leaving out WAY too much, and there are too many folks I haven’t mentioned yet. It was a lot more fun than any explanation can capture, so I’ll just share a few of my favorite snapshots found on my cell phone after the con below, and let the rest speak for itself. I think it’s pretty clear from the evidence, though: horror writers are classy and know how to laugh.
Kudos again to my friends at Raw Dog Screaming Press who ran a great room party and hosted the best table at the Stoker Banquet. It was a good year for RDSP: Lucy Snyder and Maria Alexander both won Stoker Awards! Some other good shapshots from the affair are up on the Fridge of the Damned Gallery, or the Raw Dog Screaming Press’ facebook page online.
Oh, and I almost forgot that I even did a sound recording. When I met an opera singer, I asked her to do the psycho shower scene music, and pressed record…
[Note: this contest has officially ended. See results at the bottom of this post.]
Horror poet Stephanie Wytovich (author of Hysteria and Mourning Jewelry) and I will be live-tweeting horror haiku intermittently on twitter.com throughout Halloween night, from 7pm-11pm eastern. Anyone who retweets one of our poems tagged with #Haikuween (or who posts their own bloody #Haikuween tagged as such) will be entered into a random draw to win the infamous “Poedown” limited lettered CD (in a double-live case, coupled with the Arnzensongs CD).
This is a very rare treasure, as only selected backers of the Fridge of the Damned kickstarter campaign in 2013 have one of only 26 copies made. This is probably your only chance to nab one!
Here’s what our #haikuween looks like:
— Michael Arnzen (@MikeArnzen) October 31, 2014
Come join the fun!
Arnzen vs. Wytovich LIVE
Horror Poetry Slam at DV8 Espresso Bar & Art Gallery
Greensburg, PA 11/2/2012
Welcome to the Madhouse
Nurse in Ward One
The Color White
A Killer Recipe
The Stuffed Black Cat
The Fall Down the Stairs of the House of Usher
My Pet Vampire
Creasing His Collar
Evolution of the Senses
The Seven-Headed Beast
+ Bonus Tracks: Audiovile Demos
UPDATE: The contest has ended. A LOT of great poems were produced. Search twitter for hashtag #haikuween (or you can see mine in the “horror poem” section of The Nest). Be sure to check out Stephanie Wytovich’s poetry on twitter too — together we wrote haiku for four hours on Halloween night!
The winner of the contest was Eric Stoveken, who played along by posting the following horror poem:
Children's icy hands Reach, I think, for the candy Grab my wrist. I'm wrong #haikuween
— E.M. Stoveken (@EMStoveken) November 1, 2014
Eric wins the rare, lettered, Poedown/Arnzensongs double-live CD!
For more contests like these in the future, be sure to subscribe to The Goreletter.
Last night, Raw Dog Screaming Press threw a great Bizarro Halloween night and launch party for Grave Markings 20th Anniversary Edition at the Terrault Contemporary gallery in Baltimore, MD. As you’ll see in the photos below, advanced copies of the novel were available, and the night featured a series of fiction readings, emceed by bizarro author John Edward Lawson. The tattoo artist responsible for the great tat on the cover of the book, Ethan Fuhrer, was on hand, along with Nathan Rosen, designer of the covers for GM and Play Dead. The highlight of the night was hearing creepy stories from G. Arthur Brown, B.E. Burkhead, J.L. Gribble, Nathan Rosen and K. Ceres Wright, and I wrapped up the show with a reading of some flash fiction and an excerpt from the new book.
Everyone got involved with my reading of “The Seven-Headed Beast” from 100 Jolts. It was like an “Acoustic Audiovile” moment, which is just as weird as you might imagine. I post here for your creepy listening pleasure. (You will be able to hear my entire reading from the event as one of the online bonus features included with your purchase of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Grave Markings!)
“The Seven Headed Beast” (Live at the Terrault Gallery, Halloween 2014)
Download 2:31 (2.65mb .mp3).
Last weekend, I attended the 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference (aka AWP14) at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The AWP website boasts that with over 12,000 attendees and 650 exhibits it is “now the largest literary conference in North America” — and it certainly was the largest I’ve been to in my life, with a shopping-mall sized number of tables (featuring colleges, writing programs, presses and publishers) at the bookfair and plenty of superhuman writers as guests (Sherman Alexie and Ursula LeGuin gave readings, for example).
Seton Hill University had a table for our MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction, and at any given time you could probably find me hanging out there with fellow teachers and alums like Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller, Nicole Peeler, Lana Ayers, Danielle Hinesly, Christopher Paul Carey or Tasha Kreger. I also spent a great deal of time hanging out with my old friend, the poet Bryan Dietrich, just a few tables down from us, and swinging a row over to chat it up with the crew at Minor Arcana Press, who not only were there to promote a new book (Drawn to Marvel) that I’m a part of, but who gave awesome tarot card readings to passers-by. (I drew the 8 of Cups, aka, The Elopement of Knowledge, from the Celtic Wisdom Deck, which Anne Bean interpreted as signifying that I was at a point in my life where I had more knowledge to share than I realized, and would only realize it by sharing it freely).
When I wasn’t at the table, I was surfing the bookfair, and seeking out old friends and making some new ones. It was great to chat with Todd Davis, Gerry LaFemmina, Bill Ransom, Sam Weller and too many others to count. At one point, I bumped into the bizarros at Eraserhead Press, where I finally met Cameron Pierce, and then grabbed publisher Rose O’Keefe so we could go on the hunt for my former mentor (and Raw Dog Screaming Press colleague) Lance Olsen…he was there, but I never managed to find him. After that, I haunted many a publisher in seeking out a non-fiction book on a particular topic, and could not find one, so I basically pitched the idea for the book at various presses and may end up writing it myself someday (which is why I’m speaking opaquely about the subject matter). While there were many college presses and stuffy journals at the AWP (nothing wrong with those — seriously), there were a few literary rebels that really spoke to me, like Eraserhead, Minor Arcana Press, Fiction Collective 2, and University of Hell. But one awesome press I discovered that was new to me was Black Ocean, who publishes an array of very dark material (mostly poetry or prose poetry) by international authors, in fabulously designed formats, and as I sampled from their books I was BLOWN AWAY by the literary horror writing I found. I was so surprised by my own ignorance about this press that I felt I must know them better, so I surreptitiously bought every single title they had on display like a crazy person. That resulted in a funny photo which leads the gallery below. I enjoyed meeting Janaka Stucky from the press, and I guess I’m now a Black Oceanographer proper.
One high point of the conference happened the first night I arrive, which I attended bleary-eyed and exhausted from all the travel (I’d left at 3am to get to Seattle!): the “Superheroes of Poetry” reading, where very good poets all read their speculative genre work at the Jack Straw Center (a really special place that has a special audio training program for poets!). It was fantastic getting to meet and see in action Bryan Dietrich, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Sally Rosen Kindred, Jason McCall, Lesley Wheeler, host Lana Ayers, and Evan J. Peterson (who gets a special shout-out for rocking some horror poetry from his book, The Midnight Channel, an homage to the ‘final girls’ from splatter films). You can witness a video recording of the whole event on youtube.
On the final evening of the conference, Minor Arcana Press hosted a reading/signing for the anthology, Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books (which also includes Dietrich, SHU’s Albert Wendland and some high profile folks like Sherman Alexie and Lucille Clifton, just to name a few). This was an “offsite reading” at a local gamers’ parlor called “Ray Gun Lounge” where about 12 contributors — too many to list — read their poetry. This was one of the highlights for me, not only because of the camaraderie but because of the fun location (I got to stand near a larger-than-life Dalek). It was recorded on video, so I expect you can see it on YouTube soon.
I brought new “Instigation” postcards to the AWP and handed them out to many writers. These include prompts on the back that could be mailed back to me to post on the Mastication Publications site. A few have already come in, so be sure to visit the “Greetings from Hell” routinely to see what people send in!
I could go on and on, but maybe it’s time to let some photos speak for themselves…