|Volume 36, Issue
Cover: Poetry © 2012 Ed Binkley
Wyrms & Wormholes
The sharp-eyed Reader may notice an unusual abundance of advertisements from other speculative poetry venues. This is a Good Thing! Not only does it mean that our lovely color covers will be possible for a few more issues, but it celebrates the coming of the annual Rhysling Awards and presents many other discerning publications in which nominated poems have appeared.
A regrettably small number of SFPA members (less than a quarter of our membership) avail themselves of the opportunity to nominate poems—and even fewer bother to nominate long poems. The number who actually vote for the Rhysling each year is even smaller. Conversely, the numbers of both nominators and voters have been rising steadily despite a slight decline in total membership—and the number of publications upon which those nominations draw has increased much more dramatically: 34 in 2011, 48 in 2012, and 55 this year. This is very encouraging: if the statistics are to be believed, members are both participating more and reading—or finding speculative poetry that pleases them—in a wider range of publications. Many of which have advertised herein; we encourage you, dear Reader, to support them in turn.
There’s been a recent discussion of gender bias (again) in publishing, where males continue to dominate in most venues. As is typical, Star*Line receives twice as many submissions from those with male names as those with female names—since nearly all are via e-mail (except for prisoners, who are not only welcome to submit via postal mail, but need not furnish an SASE), I’m guessing here. I was somewhat disconcerted to realize that unlike Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, another journal for which I am the poetry editor, Star*Line has recently accepted a disproportionately higher number of submissions from men. This is, perhaps, offset by the fact that the reverse holds true for Star*Line’s annual award nominations even more disproportionately. Or perhaps it is not. From a poem in Mobius:
I’d like to make clear that whatever gender ratio manifests in these pages is not a matter of deliberate policy nor, I hope, a matter of unconscious animus. Unlike many other journals whose rejection letters invariably include the phrase “We receive many more wonderful poems than we can publish,” Star*Line does not receive as many excellent submissions as I would like—or could make space for. I actively work to counteract this status by frequently urging other poets to submit, not only via personal contact, but by posts on websites, listservs, and blogs.
Reader, consider submitting if you are not already doing so. Invite other poets to submit; invite your friends—hell, invite your enemies. And perhaps in doing so you will find common ground. The poet Tracy K. Smith has said “Poetry is a wonderful tool for understanding and changing the way you look at the world,” and she was speaking about writing poetry, not only reading it.
Elsewhere* I have said that science-fiction poetry is a subset of poetry, but that is not really true. Non-speculative poetry is actually only a small island floating in the Sea of the Imagination, dwarfed by the splendid waves of that alien ocean and menaced by the fantastic creatures that swim beneath it. It is the quality and content of what’s imagined that changes how we think and, as a result, how we exist. Of course the future approaches inexorably, whether we imagine it or not, but it is important to remember that how we imagine that future is capable of transforming it.
Join me in the future, where all the cool life-forms hang out.—F.J. Bergmann
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