Keats on a Wine Box by Amy Zoellers

Poetry has been read! Amy Zoellers gathered poems that have been submitted to her while I read the last five poems from Space and Time #140.

This week I read The Black Hole by Ronald J. Murray, Pterippus – A Riddle by Carol Edwards, Once Wicked by C. H. Lindsay, Contemplations on Flora by Megan Branning, A Walk in the Woods by Pete, Contemplations on Flora by Megan Branning and the latest exquisite corpse.

Things were as weird as ever with our six-pack of pooches doing their own impromptu poetry recital and then the whole stream glitching and ending mid sentence. The important thing is… poetry—and poets—were celebrated.

The next live poetry event will take place next Sunday at 2 pm CST on Instagram at Hipness_and_Outrage here. Hope you can join us. And now, for those of you missed it, the video from today’s poetry live event. Thank you for everyone who turned up!

You can see past poetry live events here.

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Go big or go home, right? When I decided an open mic would be fun, I jumped into it without considering I’ve never used StreamYard before, or even streamed. Despite this, I had a blast. We had plenty of really good poetry with a nice mix of styles and levels of experience. StreamYard was pretty easy to use and it gave us a nice, professional product despite my inexperience. Everyone on in the open mic agreed to come back again and the suggested prompt was “poop.”

So, while poems not about “poop” are welcome, they won’ be mandatory. The next open mice has already been scheduled for Friday, May 21 at 6 pm CST. Spots are limited to 8 at the moment. Now that we are doing this, I’ll build a guest list and we will make it happen. For now, you can watch the first imperfect but fabulously fun POWetry event here.

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Amazon dropped a surprise on us yesterday when it announced a new way to publish serialized fiction on the KDP platform. While serialized fiction isn’t a new idea (e.g. Wattpad, Radish) the fact that publishing colossus Amazon is now in the game will likely change the industry. For better or worse will be a matter of perspective.

Personally, I’m excited. I saw the news today and dug into files to see what I might have and there was Soft Deadlines, the paranormal romance I wrote last November and then forgot about. It’s the perfect genre, tone and length for Kindle Vella. I already have six episodes up, four of which are published and ready for when this new program goes live.

Authors get paid via tokens purchased by readers. This incentivizes writers to create engaging content since readers will be able to “pay as they go.” If you lose readers in chapter two, you will also be losing your income. Right now there are a lot of questions… how much will tokens cost, how much will authors receive and when will Vella go live for readers?

I’m sure we will all find out soon enough. For now, it’s a good time to start writing some serialized fiction or dig up something you forgot about. For all the complaints I’ve seen about Amazon, I will say they have been good for me as an author… and I’ve been publishing with them since 2011.

This is a good time to partner up with KDP, by the way. There are two more incredible things coming from Amazon I’ve been invited to beta test and they are both amazing.

While we wait for more information, here’s a video that explains how it will work.

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The new prompt for April’s exquisite corpse is now posted on the Space & Time site. You can also submit your line on the same page. Last month’s corpse had a great turn out and will be ready to post very soon. All community built exquisite corpse poems will be printed in Space & Time with poets credited in order of their contribution. The new prompt is POETIC JUST US. Go HERE to share a line.

Another bit of Poetry Month news: I still have TWO spots open for my first online open mic. We will be using StreamYard just like the Galactic Terrors readings. If you haven’t seen Galactic Terrors yet, go here to check them out. I’ve had the privilege of reading with them before, and on their last show Ryan was a guest. Great format, great show.

If you’d like to participate in the coming open mic and read your own work, sign up by sending me an email via the handy contact form here. I have four TWO open spots left. That will take place this Friday, April 16 at 6 pm CST. This will also be recorded and posted on this blog, Twitch and my Facebook profile. This will be my first event like this, so it will be an adventure!

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Poetry Month continues, and with it the interviews! This is a special interview. I’ve known Melanie for almost a decade. We met at SAY THE WORD open mic nights in Niceville Florida. We have read at many of the same venues in the Florida Panhandle. We both left the area, but we have kept in touch. I’m happy to welcome Melanie Lane Fontaine, authoress, poet and old friend.

AYS: If you could be in a poem, what poem would it be and why?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I’d have to say “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost. I love the poem for the fact that it displays the beauty as well as flaws of human nature and how that affects the world around us. However, I personally see it as displaying my positive traits as well as my troubled side. I’m very passionate in my work, the things I do, and with the people I love, but I get emotional very easily and my inner demons sometimes cause me to become cold or apathetic after dealing with negative energies or toxic situations. So when I read this poem, I sometimes picture myself having a ball of fire in one hand and a snow flurry in the other. I look at it as a way of discipline and to remind myself that I am only human, I am not perfect and I am responsible for every action I do. However, I am also capable of doing a lot of good despite this.

Melanie Lane Fontaine

AYS: I do like Robert Frost, and I like the poem you chose, and why. If you were trapped on a mountain top but you could have one poet and/or artist trapped with you, who would you choose?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: This is the hardest part because I am torn between two individuals. For the poet, I’d say Edgar Allan Poe. I would love to hear and learn from his life experiences and pick his brain, learning from his creativity and inspiration process that he would have. I’m a hard lover and I love his themes of undying love and that he wasn’t afraid to go for darker themes people would deem scandalous for his time period. He is someone who influenced the Gothic culture I know and love still to this day.

As for the artist, I’d choose Kurt Cobain. He was quite outspoken and open-minded for his generation and I have always had a massive respect for people like that. So I’d like to have long chats with someone like that and learn from their ideas and creative process. His songs had deeper meanings to how he saw the world and how it is our responsibility to change it for the better. I’d probably be listening so intently to Edgar and Kurt’s conversations with me that I wouldn’t even notice that a rescue team would have arrived.

AYS: I guess there’s no reason you couldn’t have both, or split the difference and have half of each. That would be an interesting story. What inspires your own poetry and books? By what process do you craft it?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: My inspiration for both my poetry and books comes from life experiences and the different elements I’m enthusiastic about. I also use my writing as a way to build self-confidence and self-love. I was an extremely shy person when I was in high school and there were times when I felt like I didn’t have a voice so those poems and books became my voice. For example, my slam poem, “I Suck At Flirting,” I wrote that after I had my first serious relationship break up and when I had a crush on this guy I was friends with. I wrote it to explain how I was into him but didn’t know how to say anything, and I also wrote it to encourage me and other people to be themselves.

I am an extremely quirky person and I’m not into conformity. I’m basically me and if someone doesn’t like that, I should never pretend to be something I’m not to please others. I should still appreciate the person I am and know that there are people out there who would love me as an individual. It’s the same way with my writing. My writing teachers would always enjoy the fact that I wrote about things most people wouldn’t normally write about. My writing will make you happy, laugh, feel comforted, but it will also make you cry, make you question, and even make you feel disturbed.  I’d rather be real in my writing and be a comfort to someone struggling to find themselves or help them with experiences they have been through.

AYS: I do always remember you as a quirky person. Speaking of quirky, if animals could write poetry, what kind would you be, and what kind of poetry would you write?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I’d definitely be a cat, and I would probably write poems asking the dog why he always has to get into my litter box. However, in all seriousness, if I was a cat and wrote poetry, I would write poems expressing that even as an animal, I have a soul and I experience emotions just like humans do.

For example, I have three cats that were rescued as kittens and they have unfortunately developed PTSD from experiences they have had to go through. Tabitha and Dogma, were found as kittens huddling in a bush on the side of the road while their mother’s body was lifeless on the roadway. Every time I would cross a street or walk somewhere and they would see that, those two will start to become anxious and try to stop me by following me or meowing.

My youngest, Milo, was thrown out of a truck when he was a kitten, and gets very emotional and scared during car rides to the vet or travel or around new people. I plan to write a children’s book about the three of them one day to help people with childhood traumas and to help others understand rescue animals.

AYS: I have all dogs now, but I have had my share of cats too. I can totally see you being a feline. How and why did you fall in love with poetry?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: When I was a sophomore at the Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College, I was taking a class called College Success which helped incoming students prepare for dual-enrollment with the community college. My teacher had created a lesson plan about spoken word or slam poetry and since poetry was going to be covered in our high school and college English classes, she decided to show us a video of a well-known slam poet, Taylor Mali. That was the first time I had ever heard of the poem, “What Teachers Make.”

Let me tell you, this guy had guts, he had raw talent, he was fearless, he was confident, and he loved what he did. That’s the person I wanted to become. So I wrote my poems for the assignment but I continued to write more and my College Success teacher encouraged me to take the Creative Writing class that the college offered. My Creative Writing teacher was a huge influence on my work by guiding me and becoming a cherished mentor to my poetry and my story ideas, she helped me gain a lot more confidence in my work and myself. However, there was an even deeper meaning too.

There were two poets who were in the class who I formed friendships with. They were charismatic and encouraged me to always keep writing and work with different elements. I also had crushes on the two of them even after graduation. The male poet I worked with devoted a lot of time to helping me improve and explore my work, he became my first love. The female poet I worked with, she was always there as a support system and always challenged me in ways to be out there in my writing, she was my first female crush.

In my poetry and books, I also have hidden meanings of coming out as bisexual, which was something I knew about myself since I was a preteen, but struggled to accept for a long time. So poetry and writing in general hold very special personal growth and coming of age moments for me that I cherish and will always remember fondly.

AYS: If you were trapped on an alien planet but you could have one poet or author trapped with you, who would you choose?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: This one is fun because the poet and author I would choose is a married couple, Anne Rice and Stan Rice. In one of my favorite Anne Rice novels, Queen of The Damned, Anne puts her late husband’s poems as an intro before every chapter which explains a lesson or writes about the meaning of the chapter.

I feel like we would make a badass trio. Stan could decode riddles or metaphors to help us get through every level of the alien planet, and Anne and I could come up with the ways to escape and use stories and explanations we come up with to lead the aliens astray and make a misleading path so they wouldn’t follow us.

AYS: What do you see for the future of poetry?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: For poetry’s future and the future of writing, I see us connecting to past and current poets, artists, and authors. I see a world where different parts of the world are being affected by both positive and negative things. I see the future of poetry and art as a way to break down barriers built by the past and help the world understand others and bring back the gifts of acceptance and tolerance.

Our current century and generation is forming an artistic movement to express themselves and bring about a positive change. Everyone in the world is different and we should appreciate difference and uniqueness in every form. Two current artists I love listening to despite my personal music choices of metal and rock, are Juice WRLD and Lil Nas X. The late Juice WRLD had many hip hop songs about the struggles of life and how the world can be a cruel yet wonderful place. Before he passed away, I feel like he felt his purpose in life was to share a message to the youth of our generation about how life is tough but if you work hard enough and keep fighting, you will get to where you want to be and gain an inner strength you never thought you could have.

As for Lil Nas X, I respect him so much for embracing his uniqueness and having such self-confidence. I also admire how he isn’t afraid to break down barriers in his lyrics or music videos to show our generation that it is okay to feel how we feel, to express ourselves, and to love our differences and accept one another despite the harsh judgment we may receive. Poetry is always changing in the form of written words, books, music, and other art, it is basically the celebration of words and writing as a whole. We must appreciate and learn from its past just as well as we must appreciate and learn from its current styles for the future.

AYS: I didn’t know who Lil Nas X was until last week, but I love what he did with “Old Town Road.” Genius! But back to you, what’s coming up, and how can we find, follow and like you?

Melanie Lane Fontaine: I have a lot of projects lined up for the summer. First, I have a few artists that I plan to do special feature interviews with for my blog. I plan to have my third novel in my trilogy, Hero: Based on the Diaries of Mel Leavitt and a True Story,  published before the summer is over and work on other novels I have written up so far, such as my grandfather’s war stories and Jim Morrison coming back to life as a zombie and finding love with a mortal teenage girl who is on a lost path in life in New Orleans.

I even have an idea about writing a novel about a vampire who lives in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee and his misadventures. I also have a new website up that you can find with links to purchase my books and read my blog at https://slamauthor25.wixsite.com/melumbra12. With any questions or contact, people and email me at slamauthor25@gmail.com.

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Poetry has been read! Amy Zoellers read poems that have been submitted to her while I read from Space and Time #140. We will be doing this again next Sunday at 2 pm CST on Instagram at Hipness_and_Outrage here. Hope you can join us. I’ll be reading the final five poems left in #140.

This week I read the January Exquisite Corpse: Edges of Hope, Degradable Mermaid by Karen Bovenmyer, The Bone House by Manny Blacksher,  Cosmic Commerce by Ken Poyner, haiku by Scheila Scheffler, Ode To An Ancient Priestess With A Golden Prosthetic Eye by Scott J. Couturier and the February Exquisite Corpse: Love You to Death.

If you’d like to participate in an open mic and read your own work, sign up by sending me an email via the handy contact form here. I have four open spots left. That will take place this Friday, April 16 at 6 pm CST. This will also be recorded and posted on this blog.

And now, for those of you missed it, the video from today’s poetry live event. Thank you for everyone who turned up! You can see past poetry live events here.

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Image borrowed from Charles-Axel Dein’s site

Over at Space and Time you may have noticed we have a new columnist named Leonard Speiser. Leonard is highly proficient with IT concepts, and his column breaks these concepts down for the less tech of us, i.e.—me. I appreciate this because I do love harvesting good ideas from science and tech to spice up my fiction. (see Leonard’s column here)

Today I popped on to Leonard’s Twitter and found a link from Charles-Axel Dein’s personal website to a post about Maslow’s Pyramid of Code, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a motivational theory in psychology—so this is an interpretation of an interpretation of a theory. *mindblown*

Now granted, the post is talking about writing computer code, but if we tweak it just a bit it has a perfect application for writers. Letters, numbers, symbols… code is code, right?

In Maslow’s pyramid, each requirement is stacked upon the other in a pyramid shape. If the base is not intact, the pyramid can’t be built. The layers follow one another creating a simple standard for exceptionality.

The layers are correct, secure, readable, elegant with the pinnacle of accomplishment as altruist. I have printed this pyramid and have pinned it to my wall so I can evaluate my own manuscripts with it. It’s beautiful, simple and it makes sense. You can see Dein’s original post referring to Maslow’s Pyramid of code here. Here’s my modified version for writers and poets:

Any piece of writing should be:

  1. Correct: does the written work do what it’s supposed to? Has it been edited and formatted? Have the redundancies been weeded out? Is it as correct as possible? Have run on sentences and passive voice been eradicated?
  2. Secure: does the written work have vulnerabilities? Is it stored in the cloud, or backed up on your computer? Do you need a hard copy? Do you save on an external drive?
  3. Readable: is the written work easy to read and comprehend? Are there plot holes and lapses in logic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is the world believable? Can the reader follow along and understand what you wish to communicate?
  4. Elegant: does the written work leverage well-known patterns? Does it make use of balanced syntax? Is there texture, rhythm and a variety of adjectives? Does the piece flow, bringing the reader along for the ride or must they struggle to stay afloat in the text? Is there a compelling start and satisfying end?
  5. Altruist: does the written work leave the humanities better than what they were? Does it inspire other writers to improve their work as well? Is it cleaning up unneeded bias, improving diversity, introducing better writing through worn out trope refactoring? Does it have a purpose beyond ego, whether this is to teach, enlighten or entertain?

I’m convinced that if I hold up any piece of writing alongside Maslow’s (writer mod) pyramid, adhering it to these guidelines would turn out an excellent piece of work. In fact, while I look at it with a writer’s POV, really couldn’t any artistic endeavor benefit from these modified standards? Or am I just crazy and making far too much of this?

What are your thoughts?

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Another poet interview for National Poetry Month, meet Maxwell I. Gold. A frequent contributor of poetry in Space and Time, he also has a short story in the last issue. I feel like I’ve known Maxwell for awhile through his poetry, but I am now getting to know him as a friend. And now… a few hundred words from Maxwell I. Gold…

AYS: If you could be in a poem, what poem would it be and why?

Maxwell I. Gold

Maxwell I. Gold: Clark Ashton Smith’s Memnon’s of the Night without question for the simple reason that it’s like wandering in a blissful sea of symphonic doom, my body swaying to the tune of a sweet, eldritch lullaby. Every time I read that poem; the words carry me to different places with new music each time.

AYS: If you were a villain, and your evil power is poetry. How would you destroy the universe—or at least our part of it?

Maxwell I. Gold: I’d imagine through the uncaring, unseen eyes of the Cyber Gods as their bodies waltz through a deathful cacophony of stars, crying out into the voiceless dark unable to stop a force so vast and inhuman. That might be one way, or possibly I sit back, tapping and swiping, as the universe itself is hacked inside and out, gnawed at the roots by faceless Cyber Things; whose teeth comprised of bytes and pixels chew at foundations of consciousness and reason until entropy decays into ash and the dark is nothing less than the Void’s toy.

AYS: What inspires your own poetry? By what process do you craft it?

Maxwell I. Gold: I’ve had to ruminate on this for a bit, because my process sometimes is more subconscious when it comes to the actual craft of my prose poetry. There are always words, images, strange new places and fantastic worlds just flying around in my head. Sometimes I’ll write down words, descriptors, random notes on my phone or in my notebook then come back to them later and expand. If I have an idea, I have to write it down or else it will be replaced by something else.

Those are some more technical aspects than the inspiration and philosophy. The musicality of prose is an inspiration for my prose. It’s like listening to really good piece of music or a choir of beautiful voices and the more you listen, the melody develops and changes, sending chills down your spine; that is the kind of inspiration I look for when I’m writing prose poetry, no matter the genre.

I also view it as an outlet of ideas, conversation, and trying to speak up for those who may not be able to speak for themselves. Having that responsibility as an author to me, is inspiring and gives me drive when creating new poetry.

AYS: How and why did you fall in love with poetry?

Maxwell I. Gold: I’ve always been in love with poetry ever since I was in middle school. The ability to articulate so many different feelings and emotion while telling a story (sometimes) in only a few words was always very powerful to me. Some of the first poetry I remember reading was Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and Dante’s Inferno. Of course, while none of those are short, it put me on a path to poetry.

AYS: If you were trapped on a mountain top but you could have one poet trapped with you, who would you choose?

Maxwell I. Gold: That’s an easy one. Linda Addison.

AYS: What do you see for the future of poetry?

Maxwell I. Gold: Personally, I think the future of poetry is bright and if there are authors who are hesitant about pursuing the path of a poet, my advice is that there are people who have done it and there are people here to help you. I chose the path of a prose poet, which is even more difficult, though I can’t express how important this is to me. The love of the musicality of prose and the words I hear in my head is like a never-ending symphony, one that I only wish to share with everyone.

AYS: What’s coming up for you, and how can we find, follow and like you?

Maxwell I. Gold: Expanding the Cyber Gods mythos my short story Escape from the House of Asher-Fell will be appearing in a new anthology from Inked in Gray. Recently, I was asked to write a story for an untitled project that is to be announced this year based on a Bram Stoker nominated novella, so more information coming on that soon, but needless to say, I’m giddy about the story that’s in progress.

I’ll have a prose poem titled Asphyxia, which will be in Chiral Mad 5 edited by Bram Stoker Award winning editor, Michael Bailey. This will be an amazing book I’d definitely try to snag a copy if possible. Some of the names include Linda D. Addison, Lucy Snyder, Christina Sng, Jamal Hodge and plenty of others!

My debut prose poetry collection Oblivion in Flux: A Collection of Cyber Prose will be released this August by Crystal Lake Publishers. Be on the lookout for more information as the time draws nigh!

You can find all of this on my website (which is updated sporadically): The Wells of the Weird. I am also on Facebook, Instagram (@cybergodwrites) and on Amazon. I’ve yet to join the twitterverse, but maybe someday.

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You just never know when poetry will pop up. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started hanging out on The Nassot’s Twitch Stream when I’m doing layout. There’s a nice group of people over there. I listen while work and it keeps me entertained. We laugh a lot and it feels very much like having a social life.

At the end of March I told Nassot he should have a poetry open mic on Minecraft, one of the games he plays. Somehow it turned into “Viking Poetry Night” as a joke and then I forgot about it—until the first week in April when I logged in and found out it was Viking Poetry Night on Minecraft after all. Since I’d suggested it, I felt obligated to come up with a poem.

Remember my silly poem, “The Writer’s Wish?” I shared my terrible reading of it here. I cheated and just rewrote that one to be “A Viking’s Wish.” It’s what we do when we have to write a poem in five minutes to be read on Minecraft… we improvise. So that was my craziest impromptu reading ever. How about you?

And, since you’ve come this far, my five minute Viking poem rehab:

A Viking’s Wish (for The Nassot)

If I could raid a village here
and plunder serfs trembling in fear
I’d jump up quick off my soft rear
and gallop to my wagon where
my bony horse in basket shits
and eyes enemies thru narrow slits
because a Viking never quits
when equipped with ax, muscles and wits.
A Viking almost never bleeds
or whines, complains, gets cold or reads
or gets a horse stuck in the weeds
or, when seeing enemies, ever flees.
A Viking’s life for me each day
My horse now fat and me well paid.

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