2016 Halloween Poetry Reading
curated by Stace Johnson

The Halloween Poetry Reading presents enjoyable speculative poetry to a broader audience, increases awareness of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and promotes the individual poets who take part. All SFPA members are welcome to submit one audio file per person of themselves reading one of their spooky, haunting, ghoulish, or humorous Halloween poems. See the 2015 Halloween Poetry Reading for examples. If you are uncomfortable reading aloud or are unable to make the audio recording yourself, contact Stace or ask someone else to read your poem for you and provide the name of the reader. We also want Halloween-themed artwork! See guidelines below. Most recent are at top of page.

Murder Sauna - Michael Arnzen
Murder Sauna
Michael Arnzen

Alien Invasion - Lizl Bennefeld
Alien Invasion
Lizl Bennefeld

A Wood Along the River Road Outside New Orleans - Denise Dumars
A Wood Along the River Road
outside New Orleans

Denise Dumars

Where Monsters Dwell - Lizl Bennefeld
Where Monsters Dwell
Lizl Bennefeld

Max, on His Pedestal - Adele Gardner
Max, on His Pedestal
Adele Gardner

Wrong Side - Lizl Bennefeld
Wrong Side
Lizl Bennefeld

Dragohn Sky - John C. Mannone
Dragon Sky
John C. Mannone

Precious - Linda D. Addison
Linda D. Addison

Walking Backward - F.J. Bergmann
Walking Backward
F.J. Bergmann

The Creeping Shadow - Edward Willett
The Creeping Shadow
Edward Willett

Demon Face - Lela Buis
Demon Face
Lela Buis

Smilin’ Jack - Karen A. Romanko photo
Smilin’ Jack
Karen A. Romanko

Karen A. Romanko is an author, editor, and amateur photographer. Her book Television's Female Spies and Crimefighters was published by McFarland in February 2016. Visit her website at karenaromanko.com
Footsteps - Deborah L. Davitt
Deborah L. Davitt

Previous Halloween Readings
2015 2014
“Murder Sauna”
by Michael Arnzen

“Murder Sauna” is a new short “gorelet” by Michael Arnzen, read here at the beginning of his reading (with Timons Esaias) at a Halloween poetry event at AF Booksellers in Pittsburgh, PA on Oct. 26th, 2016. Arnzen has been an SFPA member since the late 1980s and is author of The Gorelets Omnibus, Freakcidents, and several other poetry collections. He is currently Professor of English at Seton Hill University's MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Visit him this Halloween at gorelets.com

by Mary Soon Lee

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. “Vengeance” is part of her epic fantasy told in poems, The Sign of the Dragon. It first appeared in Star*Line 38.4. More poems from The Sign of the Dragon may be read online (free!) at thesignofthedragon.com

“Origin Story”
by Courtney Bates-Hardy

Courtney Bates-Hardy is the author of House of Mystery, a book of fairy tale poems that was just released by Kelp Queen Press, a new imprint from ChiZine Publications. Her poems have appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including Room, Carousel, and On Spec. She lives in Regina, SK, with her husband and their cat, Jean Grey.

“The Wood”
by Denise Dumars

I’d like the listener to think not about who the narrator is in “The Wood,” but rather who the individual referred to as “she” might be. Halloween is about death, which is why it scares people. Fall is part of the cycle of nature, the slow dying into winter. The next step is spring: rebirth. Who or what is being reborn in “The Wood”? This is the first appearance of the poem in any medium. For more info on Denise Dumars, see DeniseDumars.com

by John S. Tumlin

John S. Tumlin, the author, has been a satellite tracker for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, short-order cook, college professor, hauler of sheetrock, professional actor (on stage and in films you never heard of), skeptical UFO investigator, tracker of black rhinos in Zimbabwe with Earthwatch, father of three, and, more recently, grandfather of two. His poetry has appeared in Aoife’s Kiss, Star*Line, Illumen, and elsewhere. A limited edition of 19 of his poems illuminated by the calligraphic artist Risa Gettler was published in 2014 under the title A Few Excerpts from the New Intergalactic Song Fest and Cosmic Miscellany. Some other samples of his poetry may be found on johnstumlin.com but the contact e-mail button currently leads to a defunct address. The author hopes to remedy this problem soon.

“Childhood Halloweens”
by Lizl Bennefeld

“Childhood Halloweens” by Elizabeth (Lizl) Bennefeld, written for the 2016 SFPA Halloween Poetry Reading, looks back to a time when all monsters were friendly and the scary bits of Halloween ended in laughter and happy surprises. Elizabeth has been a member of SFPA since 2004 and volunteered in many capacities, beginning in 2004 as the website coder and from 2006 to 2013 and 2015, curator/co-curator of the SFPA Halloween Poetry Reading page. She has retired from 30 years as a freelance writer/editor, following 15+ years in corporate DP/IT in Fargo, N.D., and she still writes poetry at QuiltedPoetry.wordpress.com

“The Chant of the Black Cats”
by Adele Gardner

“The Chant of the Black Cats” first appeared in Jack-o'-Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy, Ed. Karen A. Romanko, Raven Electrick Ink, 2011, and was nominated into The 2012 Rhysling Anthology. I adore black cats, and always make sure to have one living with me; these loyal friends have often inspired my writing—and my life. Though among the smartest and friendliest of cats, black cats have traditionally had the hardest time being adopted, and are in danger on Halloween—please consider adopting a black cat friend!

With a Master's in English literature, Adele Gardner has twice won 3rd place in the Rhysling Awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her publications include a poetry collection (Dreaming of Days in Astophel) as well as 224 poems and 40 stories in venues such as Legends of the Pendragon, The Doom of Camelot, Strange Horizons, American Arts Quarterly, Silver Blade, Daily Science Fiction, and more. Two stories and a poem earned honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Adele also serves as literary executor for her father and mentor, Delbert R. Gardner. Learn more at gardnercastle.com

“Effects of Moonlight”
by Karen Bovenmyer

“Effects of Moonlight” was first published in Folk Horror Revival’s Corpse Roads Horror Poetry anthology. Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writer’s Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship and a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her poetry has earned a Dwarf Stars nomination and an Honorable Mention Long Form in the SPFA 2016 contest. Her short stories and poems appear in more than 20 publications and her first novel will be available Spring 2017. karenbovenmyer.com

“Zombies of the Sea”
by John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has over 550 works published in venues such as Gyroscope Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Inscape Literary Journal, Windhover, 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene's Fountain, Event Horizon Magazine and Syzygy Journal. He’s been awarded a 2016 Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities writing residency and has two literary poetry collections, including one on disability, Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press, Dec 2015) featured at the 28th Southern Festival of Books. He edits poetry for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex and he’s a college professor of physics in east Tennessee. Visit jcmannone.wordpress.com

by Linda D. Addison

Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of four collections, including How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, and the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®. She has published over 300 poems, stories and articles and is a member of CITH, HWA, SFWA and SFPA. Catch her latest work in the 2016 anthologies Scary Out There (Simon Schuster), The Beauty of Death (Independent Legions Publishing) and Into The Heart of Painfreak (Necro Publications). Her site: lindaaddisonpoet.com

“The Headless Horseman”
by K. A. Opperman

K. A. Opperman is a traditionalist poet of horror and dark fantasy from Southern California. He has been/will be published in such venues as The Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Nameless Magazine, Weirdbook, Gothic Blue Book, The Audient Void, Skelos, Ravenwood Quarterly, and many others. His full-length Weird poetry collection, The Crimson Tome, came out last year from Hippocampus Press. He is an Affiliate Member of the HWA, and a member of the SFPA.

“Sweet Dreams, Love”
by Peter Adam Salomon

Bram Stoker-nominated YA author Peter Adam Salomon’s poetry has appeared on BBC Radio 6, and his poetry collections have been published by Eldritch Press (Prophets) and Bizarro Pulp Press (PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners). He was the Editor for the first books of poetry released by the Horror Writers Association, Horror Poetry Showcase Volumes I and II. His poem, “Sweet Dreams, Love,” about a father tucking in his daughter at night, was originally published in HWA Horror Poetry Showcase Volume III.

by F.J. Bergmann
music by Fred W. Bergmannn

F.J. Bergmann doesn't like being alone at night.

“He Really Should Have Written”
by Edward Willett

Edward Willett (edwardwillett.com) is the author of more than 50 books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for all ages. In April, Gerald Hill, Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate, sent two lines of published poetry each weekday to members of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, challenging them to write poems incorporating or responding to those lines. Ed wrote 21 poems that month, including this one, which sprang from these lines: “The man at the door with a gun is our son. / We think he’s after our money.” from “Blunt Instrument” by Brenda Niskala, and “Karaoke never paid the rent / or did it? My night students ask” from “Abba Down Cold” by Jeanette Lynes.

“The Evolution of Darkness”
by irving

irv is a full-time web developer, part-time writer and long time bad influence on his grandchildren. He writes fantasy and science fiction stories and poetry during the endless winters in the tundra next to Lake Ontario where he lives with his wife, 2 dogs and 2 kittens. His poetry has appeared in Dreams & Nightmares, From the Asylum, Niteblade, Paper Crow, Star*Line and other fine publications. This poem will sound slightly nostalgic to anyone who, like me, was brought up on old time horror movies.

“The Haint”
by Lela Buis
read by Stace Johnson

Lela Buis is an artist, author and poet. She grew up in East Tennessee and lived for a long time in Florida. She began writing as a child and leans toward genre fiction in the writing, having published mainly science fiction and fantasy stories and poetry. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines including Thirteenth Moon, Galaxy and Perihelion SF, and her photos and illustrations have appeared in publications as diverse as Materials Performance, Black Belt Magazine and Scavenger’s Newsletter. When she’s not painting or writing, Lela looks after four barn cats and a part-time dog. You can follow her blog at lelaebuis.wordpress.com

“Thirteen Ways to See a Ghost”
by Shannon Connor Winward

“Thirteen Ways to See a Ghost” won second place in the SFPA's 2016 Poetry Contest. Shannon Connor Winward still lives in the house with the haunted closets; she'd be happy to have you over for a flashlight tour, drunken tarot readings, Poltergeist marathons, and other Halloween shenanigans. In the meantime, do check out her "Ghosts"-themed issue of the Eye to the Telescope* or visit her website** for a full list of publications and projects. In between poetry, parenting, and other madness, Shannon is also Secretary for the SFPA, poetry editor for Devilfish Review, and founding editor of Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal.
* eyetothetelescope.com
** shannonconnorwinward.com

“I Don’t Know What You’re Having”
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
read by Diane Severson

This poem grew out of my observation that most women I know seem to be married to, or to have been married to, self-absorbed jerks. It first appeared in a 2003 chapbook called The Ruined City. David Kopaska-Merkel has been writing SF and fantasy since rock was young. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. His latest poetry collection, SETI Hits Paydirt, was published by Popcorn Press. He edits and publishes Dreams And Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 30th year of publication. He lives in a farmhouse that has been engulfed, but not digested, by a city.

“Graveyard Blossoms”
by Ashley Dioses
first published in Halloween Howlings (Rainfall Records and Books, 2015)

Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and Weird poetry from southern California. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook Magazine, Skelos Press, and elsewhere. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, is forthcoming from Hippocampus Press. Her poem “Carathis”, appeared in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase 2016 for her poem “Ghoul Mistress.” She is currently an Affiliate Member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com

by Deborah L. Davitt

Deborah L. Davitt has been fortunate enough to have her poetry published in Star*Line, Blue Monday Review's Storytime Challenge, Grievous Angel, Silver Blade, Dreams and Nightmares, Poetry Quarterly, and other venues. A short story of hers appeared in the September 2016 issue of Intergalactic Medicine Show, and she has four novels published to Kindle—including the Edda-Earth series and Ave, Caesarion.


  • Submissions are open to current SFPA members only. (Not a member? It's quick, easy, and inexpensive to join.

  • Send a 100-word bio with a brief explanation of your submission, a 300-pixel-wide .jpeg or .png file of any accompanying artwork, and/or an mp3 of your poem to Stace at SFPAHalloween2016@gmail.com.

    Members may submit more than one image for consideration. Preference will be given to artwork submitted by poets to complement their poem.

  • Reprints are allowed. Please provide the name of the publication and date of first appearance.

    Participation is voluntary and unpaid. The SFPA acquires one-time rights only for audio and images. (Please note that for the purposes of Rhysling Award nominations, posting on the SFPA poetry page counts as publication.)

  • DEADLINE: Please send all material by October 26th, 2016. Accepted work will be added throughout the month of October.

  • Please keep in mind when selecting a poem to record that Halloween is a popular children's holiday. If we feel that there is a problem with using a specific piece, either because of the content of the poem or the quality of the recording, the editor will contact the poet about it directly.

  • QUESTIONS? Send questions regarding submissions or the Halloween page to Stace:

Thanks to the SFPA members who have contributed their poetry and art to this page. All recordings and images are copyrighted by their respective authors and used by permission.

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