The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook
by Suzette Haden Elgin

Mike Allen & Bud Webster, Editors

science fiction poetry handbook cover

"Suzette Haden Elgin combines linguistic expertise with a poet's sensibility to give us this inspiring and amusing guide to poetics, with special attention to the rewards that science fiction and fantasy provide, and the restrictions they demand. Anyone who aspires to writing fantastic poetry should read this handbook carefully."
—Joe Haldeman
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Brims with acute, provocative, and helpful information, set forth in a self-effacing prose with a witty poetry all its own. I especially like her 'Fifteen Ways to Presuppose Your Gnome,' a devilishly clever guide to subverting the reader's disbelief in unlikely phenomena, and also her practical advice about marketing and promotion. Indeed, for these well-considered tips alone, I would say that Elgin's Handbook belongs in the library of every working writer, poet or not."
—Michael Bishop

SFPA's first official book, The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook,was published March 1, 2005, by Sam's Dot Publishing.

Written by Suzette Haden Elgin, who founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978, the book breaks down the language of poetry into its component parts and explains how to make a poem work from the inside out. It also moves beyond craft to talk about selling to poetry markets and, even more interestingly, career promotion techniques, such as how to arrange and run workshops and panels.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One – Defining the Science Fiction Poem
  • Chapter Two – Graphics Patterning: How the Poem Looks
  • Chapter Three – Phonological Patterning: How the Poem Sounds
  • Chapter Four – Lexical Patterning: How Poets Choose Their Words
  • Chapter Five – Syntactic/Semantic Patterning: How Poets Use Grammar Rules
  • Chapter Six – Through the Old Credibility Gap [Including "Presuppositions: Even My Gnome...." and "Fifteen Ways to Presuppose Your Gnome"]
  • Chapter Seven – Marketing and Promoting Your Work
  • Chapter Eight – Poetry Readings, Workshops, and Other Events
  • Chapter Nine – A Brief History of the SFPA
  • References and Suggested Readings
  • The Rhysling Record [A list of the poets and poems that have won the SFPA's annual Rhysling Award, the SFPA's equivalent of a Nebula award]

.pdf of The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook


The Handbook is now out of print.


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