Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Thanksgiving, Choir Class Concert, Advent and a Review

This has been a busy week around here!

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday. Practical reasons really: no one has Thursday off and to eat a tradition Thanksgiving dinner at 7pm is just wrong and bad in so many ways, plus I'm unwilling to cook it all all by myself, which is what would happen if we did it on Thursday. Dante was so excited! We mad toilet paper turkey napkin rings on Friday and on Saturday he asked about every 5 minutes when the guests were arriving. It was pure torture. For him and us. We invited our new friends the Pillai's, whose daughter shares a desk with Dante at school. They are of German/Sri Lankan/Canadian extraction. And we invited our foodie and kitchen guru (Holger Kahl from Poggenpohl designed and built our kitchen) and his family. Turns out his son is also Type 1 diabetic! An Australian friend sent us a wonderful collection of readings curated by Seth Godin (A Thanksgiving Reader), which we attempted to do (the Germans went on strike!) and it was lovely. It includes quotes and brief passages by the likes of Khalil Gibran and Native American prayers and such.

And will wonders never cease? The food was all hot when it landed on the table and it tasted delicious!!

The next day, yes, on a Sunday morning, was the Hannover Chorklassenkonzert (Choir Class Concert). We had to be at rehearsal at 9:15 and pick up one of his classmates on the way. Ugh for the early start. But the whole thing was wonderful! The program encourages schools to designate one class per grade as the Choir Class and music and singing play an important role in the character of the class and the singing is integrated into the lessons as well. Dante loves it, I'm so glad he was chosen to be in that class. His singing skills have improved dramatically! For all the exposure to and learning about music and instruments that happened at Ecole Koenig they always sang songs that were too low and pretty much just shouted the whole time! Not so here! Yay! The concert itself was actually quite good. There were 3 schools represented. The other schools had a couple of grades each, but Dante's is the only Choir Class in his school. It was really interesting to see how well they sing
together after having done so a few years. Dante still pretty much looks like a deer in the headlights,
but he said it was fun, so....

This year we are doing all the activities. Germany makes a lot of Fall and Winter activities integral to childhood and Dante's just at the right age to appreciate everything. There was the St Martin's parade, where the kids make lanterns and parade through the streets sing the lantern songs. Now we have the Advent Calendar, where he gets a treat or a mini-present everyday and in a couple of days St Nicholas comes to give the kids goodies or coal. We also have an advent wreath that we light every evening, and we've put up most of the decorations. The Christmas tree will go up this weekend. On the 13th is Santa Lucia, who brings The Kids in Scandanavia and Verona, Italy presents. He's getting totally spoiled. But the poor kid has so many activities and so much homework that there's not much time for playing!!!

And now, comes the plug for my most recent poetry review. Last Spring I wrote a LOT of reviews for Star*Line (the journal of the SFPA) and my agreement with the editor is that I can use those reviews for Amazing Stories as well after a period of exclusivity. That's cool, because Star*Line pays me (a token) whereas Amazing Stories does not (yet). So, when I went on hiatus prior to the end of school for Dante, our vacation in Italy and the end of our sojourn in Paris and move to Germany, I still had 2 reviews from S*L that hadn't yet appeared on Amazing Stories. I completely forgot about them, because my hiatus extended into Fall and in fact just ended about 3 weeks ago with my return to posting at Amazing Stories. ANYHOO, the 2nd and last of those reviews appeared last week Tuesday (which is the new Wednesday - which was my posting day). It is a review of Carolyn Clinks ever morphing poetry collection entitled "Much Slower Than Light". It includes 3 full poems in audio read my moi.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm baaack! Various and sundry, but mostly France to Germany and a new blog post!

It has been a long while since I posted hasn't it? Since June at least. I went on an extended hiatus from all things bloggy and podcasty and poetry-y while we (the family and I) went on vacation in Italy after school got out, finished out our sojourn in France, arrived in Germany and prepared to begin and began elementary school and all that entails. It was a busy summer that extended into the fall and seems not to be slowing down. Although now, I'm making sure I take time to start doing the things I love to do, namely sing, teach singing, narrate stories and poetry, produce my podcast segment Poetry Planet, blog for Amazing Stories, writing reviews and round up cool poetry. But phew! That's a lot!

I have a lot less time for my hobbies and even my work than I did in France. Dante only goes to school from 8:00 to 13:00 (1pm). Then we have lunch and start on homework and/or go to one of his after school classes. He has Italian on Mondays, Guitar on Tuesdays, German on Wednesdays (which will fall away in January) and Karate on Thursdays. They get homework on most days and since he's training in the discipline of Olympic Dawdling, it takes him forever. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave much time for play. And since I am responsible for feeding him, supervising his homework, and taking him to his after school activities, that leaves little time for me. Mornings only folks! And when do I shop, run errands, clean the house, etc. Well, whenever it just has to be done and not a moment sooner. I have started teaching again, but just a couple of students so far and I've committed to singing with a small vocal ensemble, Vox Animae, in Bremen with my former co-student there, Imma Einsingbach. She's also helping me do a course on Hildegard von Bingen's music in the new year, so there's that.

We miss Paris, sure. Hannover is NOT Paris. But one a trip back in October I discovered that there are certain things I do not miss at all: the crowds of tourists, the dirt and the air pollution. Life is just a little bit more comfortable, easier and healthier here in Germany. We miss the flair of our neighborhood (close to the Eiffel Tower), despite the tourists and the sheer plethora of things to do in Paris. We miss being able to go (but rarely actually going) to movies in English at any time. Except kids movies. They were ONLY in French! What's up with that?!? We miss the wonderful food and restaurants of Paris. We have a wonderful market right in front of our door here in Hannover, but there just isn't much imagination to the things they sell at the vegetable/fruit a meat market stalls. The necessities and that's about it. It is nice, though, to be known by name (even after 3 years away) and to meet people I know and have a cup of coffee every Wednesday. But I did that in Paris too, I suppose. It's different here, but wonderful in it's own quiet way. But it's still not Paris. The Eiffel Tower never got old. Here's a photo I took in October:

When the horrible attacks occurred in Paris we were glad that we now live in quiet provincial Hannover. But then a few days later, the terrorists decided to plan something in Hannover of all places. Luckily, their plans were leaked, and they were foiled by the efficient German police.

ANYWAY, I also recently took up my blogging on Amazing Stories again. My first post after my hiatus since June focusses on Science Fiction Poetry with the natural sciences, technology and space exploration as its basis and the WOMEN who write it: "Women Destroy Hard SF Poetry - Round Up November 2015". This week I resume reviewing poetry collections and naturally I'll post those links when they go live.

I also managed to finish a narration for FarFetchedFables (the sister podcast to StarShipSofa that does Fantasy) that was in the works for WAAAAAY too long. I'll post here when it goes up, promise.

And I'm making progress on a long overdue (sound familiar?) themed Poetry Planet for StarShipSofa. In fact, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it should be ready to go VERY soon. Really. Which StarShipSofa show it'll go into is up to Tony and his assistant Jeremy Szal, though. Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Poetry Review - Littlest Lovecraft series by Tro Rex and Eyona Bella (Amazing Stories Mag)

Littlest Lovecraft is a series of picture books in verse based on novels or stories by H.P. Lovecraft. I have helped Kickstart all 3 Littlest Lovecraft books in the series. It finally occurred to me that I could review the first 2 (The Call of Cthulhu and The Dunwich Horror) and promote the 3rd (The Shadow over Innsmouth) for Amazing Stories. There are 2 audio excerpts, The Call of Cthulhu read by moi and The Dunwich Horror excellently read by Dan Putnam.

Poetry Review – Littlest Lovecraft series by Tro Rex and Eyona Bella

Monday, June 01, 2015

Poetry Review - The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall (Amazing Stories Mag)

The Elgin Award winning (2014) collection The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall was one I'd been planning on reviewing in full (more than just the mini-review that I did in 2014 along with all the other Elgin nominated works). I also recorded 2 full poems (one of which is a series of 5 short poems on Billy the Kid) for your listening pleasure!

Poetry Review – The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Video Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson (SofaCon2 - StarShipSofa)

I had the intense pleasure of being allowed to interview master Science Fiction Author and Hugo and Nebula Award winner Kim Stanley Robinson for StarShipSofa's SofaCon2. We talk about his next book Aurora (or as much about it as he feels he can say), about his writing space, the book of poetry and another fiction anthology he edited, about education in the US and he answers several questions from fans. I was hopped up on pain-killers having just had oral surgery and I am considerably addled, but he was very kind, intensely interesting and eloquent!

Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson at SofaCon2

Friday, May 29, 2015

Genre Poetry Round Up - Haiku! (Amazing Stories Mag)

I don't normally theme the Round Ups for Amazing Stories, I feature what catches my fancy. But what was coming into focus was quite a bit of haiku and so I thought I'd gather it up into one post. I'm no expert and so I got some help on this Genre Poetry Round Up dedicated to SF haiku. Thanks Deborah P. Kolodji and Julie Bloss Kelsey:

"Genre Poetry Round Up - haiku!"

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Interview with SF poet Steve Sneyd (Amazing Stories Mag)

There is a nowadays little known master of SF poetry living in the UK named Steve Sneyd.

He's (still) well-known among British SF poets, and also American SF poets who've been around awhile, but I, for one, had never heard of him until last year, when I was researching a Poetry Round Up on British SF Poetry. I have nominated him for the honor of Grandmaster of SF Poetry awarded by the SFPA (voting through June 15, 2015) and I sincerely hope he wins. It's important to remember poets like him. 

He is pretty much completely offline and only writes handwritten letters or anything for that matter, including his SF Poetry newsletter DataDump. I interviewed him by snail mail and transcribed his hand-written responses:

Interview with SF Poet Steve Sneyd

Monday, May 25, 2015

Narration - Moon Cup, by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

It's not poetry! At long last I narrated another story for StarShipSofa! This one is by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, who I had the pleasure of meeting for coffee in Paris. She sent my son a hand-knit Cthulhu later!

The women will definitely appreciate this story, as it asks the question of what happens to the blood and delves into calamity as well. The assistant editor of StarShipSofa, apologized for giving me the story, if it was too icky (my words). I assured him that, since I am also a woman, I could, in fact relate to the ick, no need to apologize!

Moon Cup by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Resonance Dark and Light by Bruce Boston (Amazing Stories Mag)

I have interviewed SFPA Grandmaster Bruce Boston and reviewed his work before. This is his most recent collection. I enjoyed this addition to his oeuvre very much! I love the cover, which Boston designed himself.

Poetry Review - Resonance Dark and Light by Bruce Boston

I recorded three full poems for your listening pleasure as well.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Genre Poetry Round Up (Amazing Stories Mag)

April was National Poetry Month in the United States. I celebrated with a Poetry Round Up that focussed mostly on humorous poetry. I had a look at ChiZine Publications annual Shitty Poetry Month Contest and the April 1st edition of the normally serious poetry journal Stone Telling.

I also talked about a very important project for me, which was my first "print" (even if it was only online) editorial gig. I edited the 16th issue of the SFPA's quarterly online journal Eye to the Telescope with a theme of Music. It was a huge task for me, but one I did with pleasure. 

Thanks for checking it out!

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Poetry Review - Turn Left at November, by Wendy Rathbone (Amazing Stories)

As I mentioned yesterday, I discovered I've been very remiss in keeping up this blog. To be honest, I've been too busy with life and keeping up the blog at Amazing Stories and I just forgot about this one. But this blog reaches different people than Facebook and Twitter do, so when I feel like I miss some of you when I don't announce my activities here on this blog. I wonder if that's actually true? Let me know in the comments if this is the first you're reading about the stuff I've posted yesterday and today.

I was asked to review an omnibus collection (in ebook format), Unearthly, of Wendy

Rathbone's previously published chapbooks about a year ago, I'd say. So many people have asked me to review their collections or chapbooks that I had to increase the frequency of my posts at Amazing Stories from once a month to every other week (or fortnightly, which is a word I love!). Even so, I now find myself in the position that I have such a backlog of reviews to write that I could publish one every week until the end of the year! At any rate, it took me so long, that Wendy's next collection was due to come out just when I was really getting down to business reading Unearthly. Wendy graciously agreed that I should review the new one instead. So here it is - and I even manage to mention Unearthly as well!

Poetry Review - Turn Left At November, by Wendy Rathbone

This is a very atmospheric collection all about Autumn! It includes 3 poems in audio. I hope you enjoy it. Here's a snippet of my review:

Turn Left at November is a diminutive 63 page volume of 47 poems. 12 poems, listed at the beginning, appeared in the poetry journals Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Scifaikuest, One Sentence Poems and The Southern California Haiku Anthology. The rest are new to, presumably, just about everyone.

Wendy Rathbone paints with words. There’s no better way to describe what she does, even if it sounds a bit cliché.
What are you waiting for?!? Click the link above to read the whole thing and listen to some lovely poetry!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Graphic Poetry Review - Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town, John Philip Johnson (Amazing Stories Mag)

Oh boy! I've been very busy and absolutely remiss in blogging about my writing and narrating! It's been 3 months! In those three months I've written quite a bit. Not quite the once-a-week blog post that I was hoping to do, but still! I'll start with the most recent and work my way back in time in separate posts. Get used to hearing from me every day or so....

My most recent post on Amazing Stories Magazine is a review of John Philip Johnson's recently Kickstarter-funded Graphic Poetry Comic Book "Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town", with artwork by 6 different artists of various renown (Bob Hall of Spider-Man perhaps the most famous). My review includes one poem in audio and links-a-plenty, including to the full-package experience of listening to me read the title poem while following along with the Graphic Poem!

Graphic Poetry Review - Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town

If you're still around, here's a little teaser:

I’m not sure if this is the very first genre graphic poetry book, but it sure seems like it might be. I haven’t been able to find much else available for purchase (although I have found the odd graphic poem in various out-of-print publications). John Philip Johnson has taken 5 of his most successful poems over the past few years and had them made into little mini-graphic novels. Each line of the poetry has its own panel, and each poem is a couple of pages long. Each poem is illustrated by a different cartoonist/artist/illustrator—and some very successful ones, at that.
John Philip Johnson is a member of the SFPA and a poet with whom I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding mostly on poetic topics but also other things. We have similar tastes and ideas and he hired me to be the voice of his poetry on two occasions, for which I am very grateful....

You'll have to follow the link above to read the rest!

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Suzette Haden Elgin - RIP (Amazing Stories) and remembering other mentors

My latest article on Amazing Stories is a tribute to Suzette Haden Elgin, the author (Native Tongue among many others), linguist and founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, who died recently (27 January 2015) at the age of 78. I also review and discuss "The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook", which she published in 2004. Her works are not only of interest for Science Fiction or Poetry readers. She also wrote many non-fiction books on variations of her most famous work "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-defense". One day I hope to read and appreciate her "The Grandmother Principles", the skills of which she says are disappearing. She was a mentor that I wish I'd had. She withdrew from the (writing/online) world in 2009 when advancing Alzheimer's made writing impossible.

Speaking of mentors, my beloved singing teacher, Cornelius L. Reid, died 7 years ago on February 3, 2008. He would've been 105 on Feb. 7, 2015. I miss him and wish I had known him longer (earlier), because he had so much knowledge and expertise to offer and I only gleaned a small fraction of it from him. At least I did get to experience his work first hand and I have his books, so I'm still learning from him in a sense.

I also learned recently that another college professor passed away: Samuel Jones, my Diction for Singers prof. I disliked him intensely, but for some reason he like me, so I did not suffer too much at his hands (like others). He was extremely knowledgeable and demanded the best and I did learn a lot from him. Here's the obituary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Poetry Planet No. 15, Amazing Stories Poetry Reviews and Narration!

OK, guys, this is going to be an info filled post. First the "show notes" for Poetry Planet. Then I forgot to post here about last week's review on Amazing Stories and today the next one went up. Then last week also put a story narration of mine out into the ether. So, I'll try to keep the blather to a minimum!

Poetry Planet
I've finally finished Poetry Planet No. 15 - The 2014 Elgin Award Showcase Part 2! This time you'll hear some examples of poetry from the 3 placing chapbooks in the award:

1st place: The Sex Lives of Monsters, by Helen Marshall
Kelp Queen Press, 2014. Available from Blurb.com - $9.99 (paperback)

2nd Place: The Edible Zoo, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Alban Lake Publishing, 2013. $8.00

3rd Place: Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, by Joshua Gage
The Poet's Haven, 2013. $6.00

If you only want to listen to Poetry Planet (but why would you? There's some great content in this episode!) it starts at the 1:03.45 mark. Enjoy!

Amazing Stories Magazine
Poetry Review: The Rings of Ganymede by Kendall Evans. This review includes an audio excerpt by me and poetry reciter extraordinaire Robert Neufeld.

Poetry Review: The Endless Machine by Max Ingram. This review also includes 2 poems in audio form (read by me).

Story narration: Silence in Florence by Ian Creasey. This is a story I narrated for StarShipSofa at least 4 years ago, maybe 5! But now it is finally floating in the ether for your listening enjoyment!

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Amazing Stories - Roundup and Recap 2014 and Holiday Account

I just spent 2 weeks in Italy over the holidays, so I wasn't able to write about my final Speculative Poetry Roundup on Amazing Stories:

Quite by accident I seemed to be following a new poet around the internet. John Reinhart had poetry appearing in all 3 of the webZine's that I showcased - Interfictions, Silver Blade and Songs of Eretz. There's lots of other great poetry, which I take a closer look at, as well as a couple of sf poetry-centric blogs by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Bryan Hall (aka Kurt MacPherson). I hope you'll go have a look. You can also hear my rendition of a poem by Kopaska-Merkel on Silver Blade if you follow the link.

Also, my first post of the year was published today on Amazing Stories. (The link takes you to the front page of Amazing Stories, you'll have to find it from there) In it I recapitulate my year with speculative poetry. If you think you might have missed anything that's the best place to go for all the linky-links.

It's always nice to go to Italy and spend time with the family and eat way too much Christmas food. However, this year was fraught with illness. For once, not mine. My husband has been suffering from a herniated disc and so all the heavy lifting and bending fell to me. My mother-in-law had been sick on antibiotics so she wasn't 100% either. My son fell ill with the flu (even though he was vaccinated - but in France!) and developed a hefty cough and a low-grade fever every afternoon for a couple of hours. Worst though, was that my 2-week-old nephew caught whatever it was that his sister had (from whom D got it too, I surmise) and ended up spending a week in the hospital on a respirator. He's doing better and better now, though.

At any rate, I'm glad to be back home only having to take care of two boys. I mean 2 people.

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