19th Annual Bram Stoker Awards Ceremony
Acceptance Speech for “Outstanding Achievement in a Poetry Collection”
by Michael Arnzen (for Freakcidents)
June 19th, 2006, Newark Airport Hilton
Wow, thanks everyone! This is great. Here's to all the nominees in the poetry category this year who had great books: Daniel Shields, Gary William Crawford, and Charlee Jacob, who I'm happy to share it with. I notice that this haunted house statue has two floors -- in fact, it's the Duplex of Damned! -- so there's plenty of room to spare and I'm very happy to be tied with Charlee Jacob, who deserves it very much.
I know this award is for poetry, but I'd like to tell you a little story. When I was in college, I had an English teacher who said, "Whatever you do, don't become a poet! No matter how good you are, you'll be destitute! No one will ever understand you or your work! It's a life of bitter disappointment destined to only end in depression, heartbreak, and maybe even suicide!" Well, I didn't say he was a GOOD teacher. But he was right: poets are paid little if any money for their writing, poems are reduced to space filler in magazines, and poetry has a very limited readership. So I want to thank you, HWA for having this award and keeping it to reward us masochists who keep writing poetry anyway.
I, personally, would never call myself a poet. I'm a writer. A horror writer, most times. I love poetry, but I'm really just a person who likes to shake around the language box, sometimes violently, then turn it upside-down and see what weird things fall out. This trophy tells me that my book Freakcidents -- literally a "freak accident" -- was a successful experiment in that regard. I sincerely want to thank you all. Though you really shouldn't be encouraging me.
I have too many people to thank. But I am most grateful to Matt Schwartz, proprietor of Shocklines.com and publisher of Freakcidents. Matt rescued this book from the hands of another publisher, who had had stopped answering my gentle calls, avoided my curious e-mails, dodged my certified mail death threats and foiled my assassin carrier pigeons. Matt took over, saving the book and in the process saving me from going to prison, so he's my hero and he gets a piece of this award. I know he's done something heroic for many of you in the room tonight so I hope you'll join me in applauding his successes.
I also want to thank GAK -- the artist who created the best bug-eyed homunculus to ever grace a book cover -- and Dave Barnett of Necro Publications -- who worked his graphic design magic to make the book sparkle. These two guys really gave Freakcidents its quirky character, and I am truly appreciative of their art, friendship and professionalism.
My wind is getting long, so let me wrap up. I need to thank my beautiful wife, Renate, and my wonderful college, Seton Hill University, both of whom went out of their way to help get me here this evening, and I'm not just talking financially. And I know I poked fun of one of my old teachers, but I really want to thank all the teachers who have inspired me…and that includes all of you, whose words continue to teach me everything I know as a writer. Thank you all so very much. Keep shaking.