What Is Science Fiction Poetry? Part 2: History

After I spread the news about the upcoming anthology Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (note the slight change in the subtitle), I had a crack at defining science fiction poetry.

But Mark Pirie and myself didn’t invent the idea of science fiction poetry just for this anthology. In fact, it’s a genre – or fusion of genres – that has been recognised for some time. The Science Fiction Poetry Association was founded in 1978 by Suzette Haden Elgin, and her About Science Fiction Poetry goes into some of the controversies about definitions and the like which have plagued, or enlivened, the field.

The Science Fiction Poetry Association has its own poetry magazine, Star*Line. It is one of a surprisingly high number of online and print magazines, many paying, which publish science fiction poetry – or, to be a little more inclusive, speculative poetry, which encompasses fantasy and horror poetry as well.

The SFPA also has its own awards, the Rhysling Awards, which honour the best science fiction poetry in long and short form – and lately, a further award, the Dwarf Stars Award, has been created for poems 10 lines or under. Both sets of awards lead to anthologies of the winning and nominated poems.

Of course, many science fiction poems have been published in non-genre venues, as the Acknowledgements to Voyagers will show; but if you’d like to get into writing, reading or debating SF poetry, there are magazines, websites, writers and readers out there who will be pleased to welcome you to their ranks.

One thought on “What Is Science Fiction Poetry? Part 2: History

  1. Just had a look at the Suzette Elgin essay on sci-fi poetry, and her two examples. Well, on that basis, sci-fi poetry is a pretty broad area – I don\’t envy you trying to choose poems for such an anthology. BTW both the poems struck me as good value; good use of words and both tightly written. I was glad to be introduced to them.

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