Today I'll be talking about dark poetry. Before we dig in, I just want to let you know what today's giveaway is...
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I enjoy reading and writing form poetry. Over the years, I've researched and tried my hand at several different types: villanelle, sestina, sonnet, ghazal, and haiku. I think I most enjoy seeing what happens to my initial poetic thought after writing it in more than one form. Something about the structure dictating the final outcome means the resulting poem may very well be a surprise, even to me. (I'm okay with that, though—as a novelist, my characters often hijack my plot and do things I didn't intend for them and the story takes on a life of its own.)
Haiku is a beautiful short form that holds an entire poetic thought in its brief wording. The original form demanded much from its language, with requirements of a "cutting word" and reference to nature. Most of us are familiar with the three-line, 5-7-5 syllable pattern. Haiku have evolved over time, slipping free of the mandated reference to nature and finding a welcome space in the world of speculative poetry.
My latest poetic obsession is scifaiku—science fiction/fantasy poetry in haiku form. I penned a few 'ku that I collectively called "Shakespeare in Space". Some appeared in Grievous Angel and Star*Line magazines. I'm sure William Shakespeare would have been horrified. (Them's the breaks, Willie.)
I haven't tried to write horror haiku, but I do know someone who does, and does it with the chilling panache we've come to expect from her work.
AF Stewart is a poet and author from Nova Scotia. Over the years, I've gotten quite familiar with her and her work, so it's no wonder that when I hear the words "dark poetry" she immediately comes to mind. Stewart uses verse to paint in the colors of blood and blade and shadow, and her latest collection "Horror Haiku and Other Poems" is a spectacular canvas, indeed.
True to the spirit of haiku, her poems each have a reference to nature—the moonlit night, the cold depth of ocean, the dampness of earth and stone. Others offer a glimpse of a deeper, perhaps hidden (perhaps not-so-hidden) nature—the nature of man, of beast, of evil.
And cutting words! In some pieces they are quite literal (and so creepy they make me smile). In others, they are subtle but impactful. You feel the cut most sharply after you read it, absorb it, and process it.
My favorite poem of the collection is a great example of this:
Darkest deep, unvoiced
beneath cracked civility
until the blood spills
by AF Stewart, "Horror Haiku and Other Poems"
See the twist, the moment everything changes? That's what makes it haiku. The dread that seeps under your skin once you read it...that's what makes it horror.
The poems are accompanied by hauntingly beautiful photography and artwork, which add another layer to the splendor of the book. You can also find links to sites online that showcase Stewart's verses and accompanying artwork. I especially enjoyed learning about #HorrorHaikuesday and may have to start looking into that, myself!
Stewart's poetry has always taken me to dark, dark places. This collection does so with the swiftness of an unseen attack, the drop of a knife, the swipe of a claw. Powerful imagery entwined in haiku brevity, all wrapped up with deeply dark pretties. If you're looking for fine examples of horror haiku or are simply in the mood for a snippet of horror to get you through your day, I recommend you read this collection.
From the murky recesses of social media (otherwise known as Twitter) and the blood-dripping delights of #HorrorHaikuesday, comes the inspiration for Horror Haiku and Other Poems. Thirty-eight haiku style poems and eighteen longer form poems grace the black innards of this book, screaming terror and shivering in dread.
AF Stewart A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction.
Thanks for joining me. Hope you take a moment to check out Stewart's new book.
Happy reading, everyone.
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