Interview: Bruce Boston

Today I am thrilled to have an interview with Bruce Boston, winner of the Rhysling Award for speculative poetry seven times, the Asimov’s Readers’ Award for poetry seven times, a Pushcart Prize for fiction, 1976, four Bram Stoker Awards in poetry for his collections, and the first Grandmaster Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, 1999.

His collaborative poem with Robert Frazier, “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest,” received first place in the 2006 Locus Online Poetry Poll for Best All-Time Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Poem. He was the poet guest of honor at the World Horror Convention in 2013, my first horror convention. And now, Bruce Boston speaking of his recent poetry collection, Brief Encounters with My Third Eye.

Your latest poetry collection, Brief Encounters with My Third Eye, spans the years from 1975-2016. Many of these poems were previously published elsewhere and some have received prestigious awards. What was the catalyst behind publishing this collection now?

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Bruce Boston

Your question really applies to both Brief Encounters and its companion volume, my retrospective collection of long poems, Dark Roads (2013), which also covers about forty years. In 2013 I turned seventy, an age at which you can no longer feel sure you have plenty of time left. Some of my contemporary writer friends had already fallen by the wayside. I figured if I was going to publish a retrospective collection of my best poems, I better do it soon.

I settled on two such collections rather than a single one for two reasons. My long poems on the whole represent a very different voice than my short poems, darker, more intellectual and literary, often more difficult for readers to comprehend. My short poems are generally written in a more populist voice, which I define as poems that are available to any literate reader, not just other poets.

The second reason was that if I included all the poems I wanted, I was looking at a book of well over 300 pages. A poetry book this long would be pricing itself out of the market, as many have. I would have preferred that Brief Encounters appeared within a year of Dark Roads, but such are the vagaries of the publishing world. Fortunately, the three-year gap also gave me time to write some new short poems worth including.

The Alchemist is a recurring personage in this collection. Can you tell me what he represents for you?

Brief EncountersSome people think that medieval alchemists were solely concerned with turning lead into gold or discovering a universal solvent. In actuality, as the direct predecessors to modern chemistry, they explored the nature of many different substances. Also, some of their writings referred not only to literal gold, but to a golden understanding of life, known as an aurum philosophicum.

Since I was active in psychedelic exploration in the late sixties and early seventies, I also associate alchemy and alchemists with those who were providing and promoting drugs in those days that could radically change human consciousness: Owsley, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey prime among them.

Those interested in reading my 1985 collection of alchemist poems can download the free chapbook Alchemical Texts at Smashwords.

In your poem, “Curse of the SF-Writer’s Wife,” you bring up the plight of the creative writer, and creatives in general. What situation brought about that poem?

Dark and Light

Also by Bruce Boston

A significant part or my populist poetry consists of series poems that take a single subject and/or idea and extrapolate from it to explore various aspects of how that idea resonates and can be played out. My accursed wives poems are the most extensive example of this, the original poem “Curse of the Demon’s Wife” eventually spawning five short stories and 38 poems.

These poems and stories use archetypal figures from sf, fantasy and horror, often to mirroring contemporary relationships in which women are taken advantage of. Many are metaphors for real life situations, such as “Curse of the Werewolf’s Wife,” which portrays a woman’s relationship with an abusive husband or “Curse of the Snowman’s Wife” about a husband who is totally cold and emotionless toward his wife.

Some poems in the series are merely humorous, such as the Lewis Carroll take-off “Curse of the Bandersnatch’s Wife.” Given this extrapolative approach, it was inevitable that I would eventually get to the wife of a science fiction writer.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Stain Glass Rain

Also by Bruce Boston

The most significant one was in the mid-1970s. I was involved with a literary group, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, which regularly published a literary magazine of fiction and poetry by the same name. At the time, I was writing mainstream poetry, but also, due to my background as a reader of genre fiction, some poetry with sf/fantasy/horror themes.

My genre poetry was not well- received in the group workshops. I’d get puzzled stares, and questions such as “Where’s the poet in the poem?” Confessional poetry was very much in vogue in mainstream literary circles, even more so than today. The only published genre poetry I was aware of were humorous rhyming poems that appeared in publications such as Weird Tales and Asimov’s SF.

In the mid-1970s I came upon a market report for a small press publication titled The Anthology of Speculative Poetry. I sent them three or four poems and they were all accepted. Through the editor of the anthology, Robert Frazier, I began to connect with other poets that were writing genre poetry that was akin to mine, and eventually with the Science Fiction Poetry Association founded by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1978.

The acceptance of my genre poetry by writers whose work I enjoyed and respected certainly changed the direction of my career as a writer.

The oddest poem in this collection, for me, is your darkly humorous “Surreal Shopping List?” What was the inspiration behind this?

Guardeners Tale

Also by Bruce Boston

List poems have been around for thousands of years. There are what can be called list poems in both Homer’s Odyssey and in the Bible. Contemporary list poems are often humorous. I wrote a whole series of humorous list poems such as “Signs Your Domestic Robot Needs a Tune-Up” and “Etiquette with Your Robot Wife” for Asimov’s SF in the early 2000s.

I’ve also written more than a few surreal list poems, which can be humorous, but where the intent is a little different, to string together a series of striking surreal images that resonate with one another and with the reader. To do this I collect surreal images as they occur to me, then mix, match, and order them in the most effective way possible to create a successful poem.

“The Music of the Stars” is one of my favorite poems in this collection. For me, it speaks of staying true to my inner vision despite the world’s efforts to distract. As the author, can you please share what it means to you?

Your interpretation is essentially the same as mine, though in a more personal sense, the poem has to do with the time I came of age and the kind of science fiction that was being written and published at that time.

In the 1950s and 60s books such as Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination, Andre Norton’s The Stars Are Ours and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series envisioned an optimistic future for the human species beyond planet Earth, settling other worlds among the stars.

Unfortunately, modern science has demonstrated how difficult this will actually be. However, the dream still remains.

What can we expect from you in the future? Any upcoming projects?

Sacrificial NightsIn terms of book-publishing, the last eight months have been the busiest of my life. I’ve had three new collections appear, Sacrificial Nights (a poetry novella in collaboration with Alessandro Manzetti), Brief Encounters with my Third Eye, and Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest (fiction and poetry written in collaboration with Robert Frazier).

It will probably be a few years before I have another new book of fiction or poetry that I feel is worth publishing. The only book I have scheduled for publication is the Italian-language edition of my dystopian sf novel, The Guardener’s Tale, due in early 2018 from the Italian press Astro Edizioni.

Alessandro Manzetti and I are toying with the idea of writing another collaboration, fiction this time. And I’ll be reading next month at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida.

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Surprise! Moving TODAY

Happy couple in their new home having fun - moving concept

Our plans to move to Atlanta have been halted due to some opportunities popping up here we just can’t leave. One of them is the perfect place to park our camper. We are moving… today. Camper life is spontaneous life :)

Last week we were just on a day trip to explore the area and we stopped in an RV park we were on the waiting list for. We never expected to get in. People who stay at this park on a long-term basis love it and rarely leave. Some have been residents for 10 years or more.

We walked in and introduced ourselves, to be polite, and were told a spot had just opened up the day before. Most people on the waiting list had waited so long they’d found other places and we happened to be next. Did we want it? We said yes, and set a move date.

Apparently, we are meant to stay in the area. All going away parties are canceled until further notice. All other parties may commence as planned.

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Submissions: $100 Space Opera, Anyone?

space-stars-roadThe Fantasist, a magazine of fantasy novellas, is accepting submissions for their Special Space Opera issue. Submissions will close at Midnight CST on May 13, 2017.

Issue 4 of The Fantasist will focus on the fantastical in space with space opera novellas. It has always been the goal of The Fantasist to encourage a larger concept of what constitutes fantasy in publishing. Payment is $100 for first North American serial rights, non-exclusive anthology rights, exclusive electronic rights for 90 days after first publication, and non-exclusive electronic rights after that.

From the submissions page: “We’ve asked for magic in the future, and works that blur the distinctions between science and magic. In Issue 4, we want you to take us into space and to other planets and remind us that there’s magic there too. Think of the Darkover books and the works of Jack Vance, Stanislaw Lem, Celia S. Friedman, Yoon Ha Lee, or Ann Leckie. Think of comic books like Saga, Ursula K. Le Guin’s planet Winter,Dune, or, let’s be honest, Star Wars and Babylon 5. We believe that fantasy is fantasy first because it feels like fantasy.”

Have a space opera hidden away on your desk top? More details here….

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Review: Journey to Heaven Knows Where

41FL-rVmH0LMonday was the interview with historical romance author Linda Sealy Knowles. Today is a review of one of her books, Journey to Heaven Knows Where. A signed copy of this book will be available for free at Cafe Bienville, Niceville, already registered with Bookcrossing.com and ready to be tracked.

Not one for romances, I hesitated to review Knowle’s first book, Journey to Heaven Knows Where. A local author who has penned an impressive four books in this story line since 2014, Knowles got my attention. I was intrigued.

The story is well written and well edited. While the theme has strong romantic tones, there is an entwined story arc of sisterly love and family loyalty. The characters stand alone and inspire emotional attachment. Having grown up in the west, I can say the tone was pretty authentic. I think anyone that enjoys historical romance will find themselves a fan of this series.

A signed copy of Journey to Heaven Knows Where has been registered with Bookcrossing and is free and up for grabs at Cafe Bienville. You can follow this book’s traveling adventures here.

What is BookCrossing? It’s the World’s Library. It’s a smart social networking site. It’s a celebration of literature and a place where books get new life. BookCrossing is the act of giving a book a unique identity so, as the book is passed from reader to reader, it can be tracked and thus connect its readers. There are currently 1,702,521 BookCrossers and 11,784,422 books travelling throughout 132 countries. Our community is changing the world and touching lives one book at a time.

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Prompt Class—Last Prompt

Birthday MonsterPrompts Class has been a lot of fun. I’ve seen each member of the class grow as writers, try new things and get out of their comfort zones. Next week will be the final class, and we will be doing some spur-of-the moment competitive writing with prizes given.

This week, students will be working on their final prompt which is, simply, “birthday.” It can be about a birthday remembered, a birthday wished for, a human, animal or thing birthday. As long as a birthday is the theme, it counts. Bonus points if the writing doubles as therapeutic for the writer.

Students will be provided with paper and pen, or bring your favorite writing device.

As Prompt Class I winds to a close… Prompts II is already filling up. Next class begins March 9. Creative Writing starts March 6. Blogging 101 is already underway. Sign ups for all classes is open online or in person. Information on registering is available here!

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Fees Waived for Ruby & Tye

Ryby and TyeI have two dogs to feature today, Ruby and Tye. Both of them have their adoption fees waived and are playful hound mixes.  Ruby, female, and Tye, male, are up to date on their vaccines and ready for new homes.

All of the dogs available at New Beginnings receive microchipping​, deworming, monthly heartworm preventative, vaccines​, wellness exams and spay or neutering.

If you’re interested in any of their dogs, please download their Adoption Application. You can see all the dogs on their site by clicking here or visit http://www.nicevilleanimalclinic.net/adoption.html.

Since I can’t adopt any more dogs, I’ve adopted New Beginnings Animal Sanctuary instead.

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Blogging 101 Begins

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Your Friendly Instructor :)

Blogging 101 began yesterday and it looks like another great class. I am lucky to always have such good students and the best facilities at Northwest Florida State College.

First class we determined the needs of the class and did a brief (two hour) overview of blogging in general, the importance of branding yourself, your marketing funnel and the anatomy of a blog. I also introduced the class to Straight Talk and GoDaddy.

This week the class will be playing at home with free blog sites like Blogger to familiarize themselves with the process. Next week we will start posting.

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Interview: Linda Sealy Knowles

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 3.45.37 PMRecently I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Sealy Knowles to talk about her fourth book release and her career as a writer which began as a therapeutic way to deal with a personal loss.

“In October 2012, during the week of my husband’s 10th year death anniversary I was very depressed,” said Linda.“I sat down in front of my computer and decided to try my hand at writing a short story. Anything to get my thoughts off of him. I thought about myself being nineteen when I left home and I had a three-year old sister. So before I knew it, I was on a stage coach with my little sister headed to heaven knows where. I have always read historical romances and I loved reading about young brides or runaway girls in the old west. It seemed easy to write because I was writing about what I knew about.”

One of the highlights of Linda’s writing career was being invited to be on Studio 10 on WALA Television station in Mobile,Alabama. She was beginning her writing career at 68 years old. “The theme of my interview was ‘You are never too old to begin a new career!’ In my hometown of Satsuma, Alabama, I was invited to be the Guest Speaker at the ‘Sweet Sixteen Celebration’ of their Public Library. They were proud that I was a home town gal that had become an author. This was my first public speaking but I enjoyed it very much.”

Like many authors, Linda has discovered that writing the book is the easy part. The real work comes after ‘the end.’ “I believe writing is the easy part; making a decision about publishing it very difficult.”

Linda has high hopes for a writing career that already boasts four published titles. “My dream for my books is that one day they will appear on the New York Best Sellers list and made into Hallmark movies. Many of my readers tell me all the time that they can ‘see’ what is happening as they read my stories and they actually feel like they are there. ‘Your books should be made into movies,’they say. I have to say that these remarks thrill my soul.”

Linda is already working on her fifth book, another historical romance. She also has a few book signings scheduled. “I will be having a book signing at Barnes & Nobles in Destin Sept. 17 and plan to have an interview on television this fall. I hope to attend a writers conference in Savannah, Georgia.” Her books can be found locally at BayouBookCompany and Read It Again Books in Niceville, and in Barnes&Nobles in Destin. They are currently listed on Amazon. com., B&N, BooksA-Million, Goodreads, and other online websites that sell books. You can also find her on Facebook.

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Horror, the Pure Genre

Monster ScheduleAs my husband finishes the final edits on his (now) 100,000+ word dark fantasy novel, we have been discussing genre.

“Horror is the spice that makes every other genre interesting,” I said this morning over coffee. “Romance has to have a bad guy. History has war. Don’t even get me started on science fiction. Monsters are everywhere!” He agreed.

“If you think about it,” I continued. “Horror writers are purists. We take the exciting parts of a story and boil it down to the essence-pure thrill. We keep the best part and garnish with other genres.”

No other genre plays such a wide role as horror. “Dracula” is horror romance, “Romeo and Juliet” is romance horror. Anywhere where there is murder, blood and terror, there is horror.

Anyone have any arguements? Monsters, and horror, are indeed everywhere in literature. This makes me happy.

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Blogging Class Starts Monday

Words of Social Media and Blogging on Blackboard

I’ll be teaching a class on blogging at Northwest Florida State College beginning Monday. There are still spots open to learn how to make your blog a success.

From what makes a photo compelling to using tags and analytics, this four session class will give you the tools you need to succeed.

Class begins Monday, Feb. 20 at 10:30 a.m.

Information on registering is available here!

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