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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++ Vol 1.8, Mar. 3, 2003 +++
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
Revising the English Major
Anglish: The Speech of Suffering
Binglish: The Rhetoric of Friends
Dinglish: The Linguistics of Claims Adjustors
English: And Other Dead Languages
Finglish: How to Read Braille
Jinglish: Patriotic Wit during the War on Terror
Kinglish: The Language of Mad George
Minglish: Buck Rodgers' Guide to Alien Tongue
Oinglish: Australian for Beer
Penglish: Pittsburgh Hockey-speak
Quinglish: Scrabble Words for Profit
Ringlish: Translating Gollum
Singlish: Dating Codes and Customs
Tinglish: The Language of Love
Vinglish: What Rhames Really Means
Winglish: A Guide to McCartney's Cockney
Xinglish: Understanding Your Chinese Tour Guide
Yinglish: A Bartender's Guide to Beer Slur
Zinglish: Snappy Comebacks 101
[Don't get one? Don't ask me what it means… look it up!]
Freewrite a stream-of-consciousness piece that muses on the color and consistency of blood. But avoid the obvious vampire or killer perspective– start with a blank slate and move toward developing an original scenario.
What did the cat drag in? Make it disgusting.
If Hell were a travel destination, what would a vacation there be like? Be a tour guide for your characters – or describe it from the tourist's viewpoint, from the moment they arrive.
they nosh the corpse
at the buffet brain
with duckbill hand
gestures that cast
silly shadow puppets
upon the smeared wall –
the spectator child
never bats an eye
Many people reading this are probably familiar with the name Clark Ashton Smith. His wonderfully creepy story, “The Return of the Sorcerer” is a classic contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos that HP Lovecraft and his circle constructed in the pages of Weird Tales magazine. Yet Smith thought of himself as a poet and – indeed – he was a remarkably prolific and talented poet of the fantastic.
In October last year, Hippocampus Press released The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith. If you haven't read Smith's poetry, this is a great introductory book to own and study (and if you're studying up on Clark, I recommend visiting eldritchdark.com). With a superb introduction by the eminent Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi and David Shultz, the book collects Smith's most important works from his fifty years of writing, ranging from 1912 to 1962. Smith was a brilliant imagineer, constructing fantastic worlds with the ominous voice of a dark Seer. It's the voice of Smith that makes his creations so damned believable…and scary. And that voice derives a lot of its power from formal structures of rhyme and meter – lyrical forms that few poets today even dare tackle for risk of sounding corny or artificial. Clark's talent was his ability to tap into the power of such forms, lending their natural cadence a supernatural aura. While it's true that his writing could be called “purple” at times, the excess of his style reflects the “spontaneous overflow” of his wild imagination.
I'm usually impatient with long poetry cycles, but reading Smith is like taking a magic carpet ride through the skies of nightmare. Among my favorites is the opening poem – “The Hashish eater; or, The Apocalypse of Evil” – which begins with a commanding voice that will carry the reader throughout the rest of the poem (and the book): “Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;/ I crown me with the million-colored sun/Of secret worlds incredible, and take/Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,/Throned on the mounting zenith, and illume/The spaceward- flown horizon infinite.”
When you read “The Hashish Eater,” you probably won't notice that he's writing strict iambic pentameter. You probably won't recognize that he's consciously working in the tradition of the romantic poets (particularly Coleridge and DeQuincey). Instead, you'll be swept out of this world altogether and delivered into the palpably strange space of an imaginary universe, where you can see “the blooms/Of bluish fungus, freaked with mercury/That bloat within the craters of the moon.”
Yes: freaked with mercury!
Typical Smith – a visionary, true – but reading him makes you want to talk with his tongue. I found myself mumbling along as I read, needing to feel such phrases in my mouth. And that's just one exotic line in a poem that runs about 500 lines (14 pages of the 200 page book).
And there's so much more. Poems that explore the settings from his prose tales (like Zothique and Averoigne); elegies to Lovecraft and Omar Khayyam; must-read classics like “Ode to the Abyss” and “Lamia” and “Nero”; and the touching love poems and odes, like the “The Last Oblivion” itself. There's even previously unpublished works, drawings by Smith, and a (necessary) glossary of strange terms. Fans of Lovecraft – it's time to take it to the next level with Smith. Horror poets, bow down before this “emperor of dreams” and study at the feet of the master. Smith is a challenging read at times, but you'll find your very dreams “freaked” with Ashton's imagery. Pick up a copy for a mere $15 at:
[Look for an exclusive discount on Hippocampus Press books elsewhere in this issue of The Goreletter!]
“Nazis Among Us”
For your next movie night, rent:
Marathon Man (1976)
Boys from Brazil (1978)
Apt Pupil (1998)
“The Search for Satanic Lyrics”
No need to wear down your needle playing those old record albums backwards. Much like the “Search for Intelligent Life” project online – http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ – this silly gizmo uses the power of the internet to help hunt for Satanic messages in the lyrics of popular music (eg., “Nevaeh Ot Yawriats!”).
If you don't recognize the songs they use, or if you're a budding dark musician, perhaps Jay Lake can help:
+ The e-letter you are reading has just been added to the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in Alternative Forms! I'm tickled as pink as a freshly cut fish gill (Many thanks to those of you out there reading this with the power to make that happen). See what else you should be reading from last year here:
+ Look for “Amityville: Yet Another Sequel” – my short memoir on growing up near the horror house – in the next issue of Morbid Curiosity magazine. It'll be available at World Horror Con, where a reading session is being hosted by the magazine to include the likes of me, Alan Clark, Brian Keene, and other morbidly curious folk.
+ Get your freak on! It's time to order Freakcidents, my new poetry book about mutants and other fiends, from DarkVesper Publishing. If you pick up Kurt Newton's acclaimed “Psycho- Hunter's Casebook” while you're there, you'll get a free mini-chapbook of extra poems and stories by Kurt and I called – what else? – “Freaks & Psychos”!
+ I'll be attending the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts later this month. I'm presenting an academic paper on The Exorcist, (which I bet you didn't know is turning thirty years old this year). I'm also doing a fiction and poetry reading (alongside the likes of Brain Aldiss and Ted Chiang and David Sandner) among other activities. I consider this conference one of the “fringe benefits” of working on the fringes of academia. This year's theme is “Dark Myths” and Ramsey Campbell, ST Joshi, and Charles Delint are the special guests. All smart Floridians are welcome to attend:
+ Along with Piers Anthony and Mike Resnick, I'll be judging the finalists in the first Draco Awards. What's a Draco? No, it's not a new James Bond villain, silly. It's a hardcover & e-book deal (now with a prize of $500!) from Double Dragon Publishing for the best book-length work entered in its genre:
Creatures in my Head http://www.creaturesinmyhead.com
Freakshows in my Pocket http://www.thesoundoflincoln.co.uk/freak.htm
Voices in my Hand http://www.voicesinmyhand.com
+ Jerry Schatz' is kindly allowing me to archive a copy of his interview with me (from the FlashFictionFlash newsletter) on Gorelets.Com. Look under the “All About Arnzen” section of the website if you're interested in my thoughts about flash fiction and my writing process.
+ The Goreletter is now ARCHIVED
ONLINE! Read the back issues you
might have missed here:
+ I've launched a new, simple,
newsletter for fiction writers, journalists
and editors looking for ways to make a
living off their wits. It started as a tip
sheet for the graduating journalism
majors where I teach and morphed into
this handy document full of fresh links.
It actually pays to scroll this far down.
SHOCKLINES.COM is giving
Goreletter readers an exclusive
discount on Clark's The Last Oblivion,
Lovecraft's Annotated Supernatural
Horror in Literature or any other BOOK
published by Hippocampus Press
presently in their stockroom. Enter
discount code GORELETHIPPO upon
checkout and you'll get $3 off. Go right
to the titles here (NOTE: only in-stock
books are eligible – expires on April 1):
Take 10% off the new hardcover book,
CEMETERY POETS, by visiting this
hidden exclusive secret ordering page:
FLESH AND BLOOD magazine offers
YOU an exclusive discount! Subscribe
for only $12 ($4 off!) or pay just $3 for
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payable to Jack Fisher and put the
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FICTIONWISE.COM's 15% off page
for Goreleteers is updated weekly. This
week features books by Alan Clark,
Bruce Boston, Nick Mamatas, & more.
Are you a writer? Try WRITE AGAIN manuscript organizing software and get a 10% rebate when you register if you tell them that Arnzen's newsletter sent you! A very practical product. http://www.asmoday.com/
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“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture – that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.” – Edward Abbey (died 1989)
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