The following is a column I wrote for the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers last year for Poetry Month. Yes, I’m recycling.

Hey everyone! April is Poetry Month! I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. I’m sure you’ve been to several Poetry parades already and no doubt hit some Poetry parties thrown by your local Poet’s Union. Poetry Month is just a non-stop party for thirty-one straight days, isn’t it?

Ok. Maybe not, but most local libraries and bookstores do something to celebrate. Most have readings or contests or something to draw in the curious. Mostly the events are attended by poets who already are trying their hand at writing.

Thing is, speculative fiction gets overlooked more often than not. As I said, libraries and bookstores may hold poetry events, but it’s rare to see an event during poetry month for horror or scifi poetry and that’s a shame.

As a spec poet myself, I’m a bit biased but I find speculative poetry to be more accessible and understandable to someone with my background in pop culture; tv, books, movies and the like. Don’t get me wrong, there plenty of ‘non-genre’ poets out there that I love. Billy Collins, Charles Simic, James Tate and especially Russell Edson are all amazing writers that I still follow as much as possible. They’re all incredibly visual, unusual and wonderful poets that deserve a look from anyone that decides to give poetry a shot. And the beauty of it is, all of the aforementioned poets drift into genre territory fairly often.

As for genre poets, I have a number of favorites:

I think I’ve mentioned Stoker Award winner Michael Arnzen before, but he needs mentioning again for his wonderfully crazy, fun, gross and thought-provoking poetry. His collections include Proverbs for Monsters, 100 Jolts, Rigormarole: Zombie Poems and Freakcidents. It’s sick, twisted stuff, but it’s your kind of sick twisted stuff.

Bruce Boston is considered one of the grand masters of the form. His work has been featured in pretty much every genre magazine and site you can name and his work still regularly pops up with a new example of genre work. He’s been nominated for and won every major award out there. Like Arnzen, Boston likes to write fun poetry from time to time, making him a very enjoyable read.

Mike Allen is a wonderful poet and past president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (I’ll mention them later). He also started the journal called Mythic Delirium (which I’ll also mention later).

Some others you should check out: JoSelle Vanderhoof, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kendall Evans and John Edward Lawson. There are tons more, you just have to look around.

Whether you want to write or read it, there are a great number of magazines and Web sites out there that feature spec poetry, many of them are free.

For writers, reading issues of these publications can only help your own poetry. As with fiction writing, a good examination of what particular editors like can boost your ability to provide them with what they want.

Some terrific examples of pubs with material or entire issues online:

OG’s Speculative Fiction Magazine
Sybil’s Garage
Weird Tales
Niteblade Fantasy and Horror
Abyss & Apex
Strange Horizons
Mythic Delirium
Tales of the Unanticipated

There are many other great sites, journals and magazines, and they’re not hard to find.

The Science Fiction Poetry Association puts out a journal called Star*Line. They also honor the best speculative fiction in print with the annual Rhysling Awards.

If you’re ready to explore speculative poetry, several sites make it easy for you to check into what’s new out there.

Sam’s Dot Publishing puts out several regular monthly publications as well as collections and anthologies. You can find them at the Genre Mall. You may already cruise the Mall for your horror fiction, but there’s tons of poetry there as well. They have anthologies and single-author collections to suit just about any taste, even the poetry newbie.

If you want to know more about speculative poetry and some of the poets involved, you can look it up on Wikipedia. You know spec poetry has hit the big time if it has a wiki entry. Not everyone gets those, you know.

The Wikipedia entry has links to a few good articles on the genre, including one from the previously mentioned Bruce Boston, called ‘Commentary – The Failure Of Genre Poetry’. In it, Boston talks about keeping speculative and genre poetry alive.

“Without committed readers, without outlets for its more ambitious, complex, and original creations, namely speculative poems, the field of genre poetry will stagnate and remain juvenile. It may even disappear completely once again. At the very least, it will always walk with a limp…”

I’m not trying to force poetry down anyone’s throat, but I feel more people, especially genre readers, would enjoy it if they gave it a chance.

So now you have an excuse. Check out one of the magazines or poets I’ve mentioned without fear of the snide remarks about reading poetry from your friends. If they give you trouble tell them it’s Poetry Month; You have to read a poem, it’s the law!