Sunday, October 18, 2009

Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry

Friday evening was the Christchurch stop on the country-wide tour that Tim Jones and publisher David Reiter are putting on to promote the new book Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand.

As Tim said, the first question that sprang to mind when he was considering this book was "is there any science fiction poetry in New Zealand?" And the answer turned out to be, quite a lot. Science fiction poetry though seems to be a slightly different beast than science fiction itself. Poets, I think, have the benefit of brevity which means that one poet will in a lifetime write far more poems than one fiction writer will write novels, or even, mostly, short stories. Hence, the poets included in this book may have, on occasion, written science fiction poems, but they are not "science fiction poets" - they are just poets, free to range over a wide range of subject matter as the fancy takes them.

In each venue the readers are mostly local poets who have work featured in the book. Thus, besides Tim reading his own and other's work from the book, and David Reiter reading from the book, we had local poets James Norcliffe and David Gregory reading their work (both in the book, and others). Not having taken notes at the time, I recall in particular David Gregory's "Einstein's Theory Simply Explained" and James Norcliffe's "Alien Vegetable" which despite the title, he claims is not a science fiction poem but a riddle poem. (David Gregory's poem is included on the publisher's website for the book - click the link above). There was also an open mic opportunity for the audience to read their own science fiction poetry. Most memorable from this section was Helen Lowe's wonderful poem "Star Man" about the loneliness of an astronaut . The book has been several years in the making, but I'm sure this poem would have been a worthy candidate for inclusion, if submissions had been open more recently.


Jan said...

Lots to think about here, Catherine.
And I would certainly need a VERY clearly explained book about Einstein!

Tim Jones said...

Thanks for this report, Catherine, One of the things I've enjoyed about the tour is the poets who have unveiled excellent SF poems - in some cases, their first-ever SF poems - during the open mike sessions. A Volume 2 of Voyagers may be a starter someday, but I don't think I'm quite ready to edit it yet!