Thursday, April 04, 2013

More on SF Poetry

Another facebook post on SF Poetry:
Well, I suppose I ought to think a moment before I rant. I just realized that Paul Cook is a facebook friend of mine, though he will probably defriend me sometime today. On the other hand, since I and my friends write science fiction poetry, his essay did not make me happy at all. I flat out don't think he's right. English language poetry has a long tradition of fantasy, which continued right through the 19th century, when realism dominated fiction. Walt Whitman is pretty grounded in the real world, but Emily Dickinson uses figures such as Death, who is not entirely realistic. Don't get me started on Tennyson.

The minute you start using metaphor, which poetry obviously does, you begin to move away from realism. A lot of what you do in science fiction prose does not happen in lyric poetry, since you don't have the room. You aren't going to do science fictional world building and extrapolation in ten lines. Instead, a science fiction poem is likely to be either (a) a poem about science or (b) a poem about the images of science fiction. There is no reason why science fiction images and references can't be used as effectively as images and references from Greek and Roman myth -- or as effectively as Emily Dickinson's image of death as a person. Among other things science fiction imagery is more modern, more a part of our contemporary real world.

I get back to my original point. The boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, realism, surrealism and so on can be drawn in prose fiction. They get very fuzzy in poetry, because the history of modern poetry is not the same as the history of modern fiction.


Blogger Gruttlegrake said...

Thanks for your break down of what a science fiction poem is likely to be.

8:12 AM  

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