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“Above all, our genre is known for being visceral, for cutting through the flesh and right down to the marrow of what it means to be human. And nothing can do that quite in the same way as horror poetry.”—from guest judge Gwendolyn Kist’s notes
So many great poems in this installment of the HWA Showcase!
My favorites include: “Are Monsters Born This Way” by Jessica Stevens “I Am Emptiness” by Chad Stroup “Blood, Brain” by Donna Lynch “Call the CCC, Your Psychic Repair Team” by Donna J. W. Munro “Shatter” by K.P. Kulski “Curtains” by Michael Arnzen “The Midnight Game“ by Cynthia Pelayo “Crossroads Conjure” by Kerri-Leigh Grady “The Witch Who Eats Your Children” by Ingrid L. Taylor “Mother Yoke” by Sarah Read “Summoning Spell: Persephone at the Gates of Winter by Saba Syed Razvi “Arachnid” by Michael Bailey “The Crows Belonged to Me” by Corey Niles “Throat Stars” by Sara Tantlinger
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 10, 2021
The introduction by Stephanie Wytovich concludes, "I hope poetry will continue to keep you going, to keep you fighting and loving, because we need you and we need each other."
And this resonates with me because there was a time when poetry and I were strangers. I was intimidated by poetry. Some of what I had read, previously, felt inaccessible and difficult for me to understand. It made me feel stupid, quite honestly. Or that the author was keeping their readers in the dark on purpose, which felt uncomfortable.
Flash forward to the last few years and I have found horror poetry! Now I can read poems and feel like I'm part of the conversation. This is my love language.
There's a note from the judges written by Gwendolyn Kiste and she explains how poetry started with Poe. I can't believe I never considered that I actually walked on my first bridge into poetry with Edgar Allan Poe! How did I ever lose my way after that?
But now for this collection: I'll highlight some of my favorites, the ones that grabbed ahold of something inside of me and twisted: ARE MONSTERS BORN THIS WAY by Jessica Stevens- something I think all women could relate to BLOOD, BRAIN by Donna Lynch- "So many years before infection/ When we still recognized ourselves MONSTERS BLEED by Naching T. Kassa- I loved the rhythm for this one; like a drumbeat SHADES OF DOMESTICITY by Sumiko Saulson- Like a flash fiction story! SHATTER by K. P. Kulski- "Oh to hell with mirrors" I loved this! CURTAINS by Michael Arnzen- This was so creepy! I loved it. I wanted an illustration HAUNTED by Christina Sng- Also creepy. Perfect to go with the previous poem in the collection, actually THE MIDNIGHT GAME by Cynthia Pelayo- Oooooh! This was dark! I loved this WALKING SAM by Owl Goingback- this one hurts; painful. Memorable. CROSSROADS CONJURE by Kerri-Leigh Grady- also painful. Also memorable. Unsettling MOTHER YOLK by Sarah Read- so visual! RED, RED, RED by Annie Neugebauer- "Remember?" WE LIVE THROUGH THIS by Lisa Morton- I had these visuals of man marching on fighting battles and marching, fighting, losing, wining, marching... LULLABY FOR IMMINENTLY MURDERED CHILDREN by Mercedes Yardley- I mean, I love everything Mercedes write. No exception. This was wonderful RETOURNE by Lee Merry- such a vivid opening line "What should I wear to the hanging" THROAT STARS by Sara Tantlinger- Sara never disappoints. Such beautiful word choices, I honestly don't know how she does it
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 30, 2020
This is a nice anthology of dark poems. I especially liked the narrative poems because there's something extra visceral about reading a dark story that's been penned in beautiful words within beautiful stanzas.
This is a wonderful book in a lot of ways- the writers are clearly talented, and highly creative. But the majority of the writing fits more into crime and thriller than horror writing. If you want to see some really good crime writing, definitely check it out. But if, like me, it was the horror element that caught your attention, you might be disappointed.