2019 Halloween Poetry Reading
curated by Adele Gardner

Adele Gardner photoshimCat-loving cataloging librarian Adele Gardner (gardnercastle.com) loves Halloween with a passion!  Some of her favorite costumes include a black cat, Mr. Spock, her Uncle Dan, Lenore from “The Raven,” Commissioner Gordon, and the fabled “Miss Paper” (intended to be the Tin Woodsman, but what kid wants to argue with an award for Most Original Costume?).  Her most frightening Halloween moment remains that first-remembered Halloween when she came downstairs to find an angry demon with a raging face standing in the dining room—actually her own dear Dad in a rubber mask.  Adele’s first poems were all on Halloween themes.  She built her first haunted house for her family at age nine and learned to sew at thirteen so she could design her own Halloween costumes.  Every year, she celebrates by creating new costumes, running through as many haunted houses as she can find, and writing more Halloween stories and poems, usually by night on black paper with a raven nearby… a little black cat… and, she hopes, some ghosts.

SFPA's Halloween Poetry Reading shares our enjoyment of speculative poetry with a broader audience, increases awareness of the Science Fiction & Fantasy 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 or horror poems. See the 2018 Halloween Poetry Reading or earlier years for examples. If you are uncomfortable reading aloud or are unable to make the audio recording yourself, contact Adele 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. Please feel free to include a brief explanation of your poems or images if desired (not a requirement).

“Before Monsters”
by Angela Yuriko Smith
Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, a fifty-three-year-old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror, and science fiction. For more information, visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com or AngelaYSmith.com.

As someone who loves Halloween above all holidays, it's difficult for me to think of it in a frightening light. "Before Monsters" was written about the most terrifying Halloween I can imagine—one that came before the ghosts, ghouls, and all the other fun bits. The poem takes place at the first apocalypse when dinosaurs walked the earth. Perhaps that calendar-less day would become October 31 when humans came along to tabulate time. Read by R.A. Smith.
Halloween Party - Adele Gardner Pumpkin Kitty
Adele Gardner
“The Ancient Crossing”
by Frank Coffman
Frank Coffman is a retired professor of college English and creative writing. He has published speculative poetry and fiction in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His poetic magnum opus, The Coven's Hornbook & Other Poems, has been followed by his rendition into English verse of 327 quatrains of Khayyám's Rubáiyát—both from Bold Venture Press and available on Amazon. He selected and edited Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems. A member of the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, he established and moderates the Weird Poets Society Facebook group. See his writer’s blog at https://www.frankcoffman-writer.com

An attempt in modern English of a sonnet in a “possible” metric using Proto-Indo-European prosody: Deseterac [ten-syllable lines (decastichs)], the technique of alliteration, and the Subject-Object-Verb SOV syntax that was likely the base in P.I.E. over 6,000 years ago.
“Don't Let Them In”
by MacKenzie Tastan
MacKenzie Tastan lives in San Francisco with her husband and pet rabbit.  Her work has appeared in the Momaya Press Short Story Review 2019, the Arizona Daily Sun, the Pleasanton Express and Saugus.net.
Halloween Party - Adele Gardner Halloween Party
Adele Gardner
Last Night of October - Marge Simon Last Night of October
Marge Simon
by Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick’s poems and stories have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He’s a member of SFWA, SFPA, League of Minnesota Poets, Loft Writing Center, and Codex Writer’s Group. Mike and his wife Laura split their time between Saint Paul and Lake Superior. They enjoy travel, hiking, Tai Chi, and perplexing cats. Learn more about Mike and his work at mikemccormick.org

This poem first appeared in Fickle Muses as their 2016 featured Halloween poem:
“On This Night We Are Free”
by Joseph VanBuren
Joseph VanBuren is a multimedia storyteller who creates dark tales about broken pasts, uncertain futures, and the present struggle of love and light. He is also the scrambled brains behind Sykophunk Productions. His poetry has been published in the magazines Sirens Call and Horror Trash Sleaze, as well as the anthologies Untimely Frost (Lycan Valley Press) and Haunted are These Houses (Unnerving). More info and introverted media links at josephvanburen.com
Avatar 2 - Marge Simon Avatar 2
Marge Simon
Blood on My Wings - Marge Simon Blood on My Wings
Marge Simon
“In the Days of the Vertical Ocean”
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
David C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*line in the ’90s, and later served as SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long) in 2006 for “The Tin Men,” a collaboration with Kendall Evans. His poetry has appeared in many venues, including Asimov’sStrange Horizons, and Polu Texni. Kopaska-Merkel publishes Dreams and Nightmares.

This poem, first published in Spectral Realms 11, was inspired by the many flat-earth tales I've read.
by John C. Mannone
John C. Mannone has been awarded the Horror Writers Association Scholarship (2017) and chaired the Dwarf Stars Anthology (2019). His speculative work has been nominated for several Pushcart, Rhysling, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He also has literary distinctions: winner of the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature (2017), Celebrity Judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His work appears in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, and others. He’s a retired professor of physics living in the Knoxville-Chattanooga, TN, corridor. jcmannone.wordpress.com
Dead Languages - F. J. Bergmann
John C. Mannone

I took the accompanying photograph of gas flames in October 2018 outside a microbrewery; it reveals an eerie (unmanipulated) image that inspired the poem.
Dead Languages - F. J. Bergmann
Dead Languages
F. J. Bergmann
“Talking to the Dead”
by F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann lurks in Madison, Wisconsin, edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and looks forward to November 1 and all the leftover dark—and milk—chocolate. Nor will she say no to peanut-butter cups. More manifestations at fjbergmann.com

“Talking to the Dead” is a nostalgic poem about the time of year when we feel the dark coming on and most frequently remember departed family, friends … and enemies.
“Black Cat Halloween”
by Adele Gardner

“Black Cat Halloween” won Third Place in the 2019 Casablanca Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of Virginia, May 24, 2019, poetrysocietyofvirginia.org/2019-Contest-Winners, with the reading & judge's comments here: poetrysocietyofvirginia.org/field-collection/field-poem-upload/711

Black Cat Halloween - Adele Gardner
Black Cat Halloween
Adele Gardner
Heron Standing in for a Pterodactyl - Mark Kirkbride
Heron Standing in for a Pterodactyl
Mark Kirkbride
by Mark Kirkbride
Mark Kirkbride lives in Shepperton, England. He is the author of two novels, Game Changers of the Apocalypse and Satan’s Fan Club, published by Omnium Gatherum. His short stories can be found in Under the BedSci Phi JournalDisclaimer Magazine and Flash Fiction Magazine. His poetry has appeared in the Big Issue, the Morning Star, the Mirror, and Horror Writers Association chapbooks. markkirkbride.com/

Originally published in the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. IV (2017), amazon.com/gp/product/B076GWX5RZ.

Previous Halloween Readings


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Submissions are now closed.

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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