Monday, April 27, 2009

Planet of the Anti-Poets

The other day I was walking along the quays in Dublin past a row of bus stops. There is always plenty of activity with people queuing and bus drivers hanging about outside their vehicles smoking. As several bus routes terminate here there are also always inspectors there. I'm not sure what the inspectors do these days - all I can tell you is that when asked a question like, "Why did the nine o'clock bus not show up?" they will always claim that this is not one of the routes they look after.
Anyway, for once I got some value out of an inspector though he remains necessarily unaware of his small place in my life.

The Bus Inspector

The tall inspector gouges his hairy eye.
The cuffs of his trousers dance maniacally across his insteps.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Anti-Poet Strikes Again

So, you thought you could stop me merely by ignoring me? Well, (maniacal laughter track) it's just not that simple.
Over the past few months the worldwide recession has been much in the news and much on the minds of the general populace. In Ireland, prior to the recession we had the wonderful beast known as The Celtic Tiger to keep us warm at night. We all became rich, or so it would seem - every Taxi driver I ever talked to on the drive home after missing the last bus seemed to own at least one apartment overseas. Everybody was investing in property. We couldn't spend money as fast as it kept on accumulating. Or so it appeared. House prices were astronomical and rising so fast it would make your head spin. Rents were worse if anything.
Myself and my wife were contemplating moving and consulted a mortgage broker. He visited us twice. The first time he was driving a Porsche the second he had just bought himself a brand new Bentley - he saw it and fell in love with it and just couldn't resist, even at a price of around 200K. He proudly told us he was buying a second premises on the other side of the city for an expansion of his business - it just wasn't worth renting commercial property and finance was so cheap.
I drove past his original office building the other week - the one he inherited from his father, who started the firm - and it was up for sale. The doors were locked and the windows shuttered. The Celtic Tiger has left the building. Like Elvis, it is dead. And so my latest non-poem is about that dear departed and it goes something like this:

The Celtic Tiger

Blinded by greed
Devouring its own balls.
The new issue of Albedo One is just about ready to go to the printers and it features an award winning German story, Heimkehr, in English The Homeward Journey. I hope that it gets the wider audience it deserves and I hope that somebody thinks it was worth the trouble.
But where are the other foreign language stories? I emailed several European magazines, whom we had talked to about this project previously, and guess how many editors bothered to reply? I bet you guessed this one - absolutely none.
Honourable mention must go to Galaxies - thanks for the support Gillian - who sent us a copy of their latest issue with an article on Irish SF in which the wonderful Albedo One is heavily featured. But as of now there will be no translation in the following issue because no-one has bothered to send us one.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Even though no-one seems to like my anti-poetry, or maybe simply because no one likes it, I'm going to keep on posting it. So there. Yah, boo, sucks to yez all.
Myself and my wife run a Bead and Crystal shop in Dublin city called Yellow Brick Road - call in and see us next time you're passing. On the days when I work at the shop I travel by train - the DART as it's known, which stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transit or transport or something like that. Anyway, I get off the DART at Tara Street station and every morning, except Saturday, there are piles of junkies hanging around outside the station, drinking coffee from paper cups and dealing drugs.
Now, Dublin has a serious drugs problem and naturally, the police allow junkies to buy and sell drugs on the street no matter how offensive this may be to citizens and distasteful o the few poor tourists who stumble onto the wrong bits of the city - mostly the city centre which used to be the pride of our nation but is now overrun by drug addicts nodding out in the streets or on the expesnively built Boardwalk that runs along the Liffey for a short while and is now owned by the low life's - with the greatest respect to any low life Boardwalk owners who may be reading this.
I could go on about this for hours but you're probably bored already so I'll consider enough background filled in so that i can get to the anit-poem. It's called...

Station Junkies

Why are there so many junkies outside Tara Street?
Are they addicted to trains, or what?
I guess I'm a sad git but I took real pleasure in the defeat of Manchester United in the FA Cup semi this afternoon. Long live personal bias.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

As a dog owner I walk my pets regularly. In the local park there are signs up all over the place encouraging dog owners to be responsible and clean up after their animals. There are also threats of enormous fines for those who don't. And naturally, as I live in Ireland, there are no waste bins of any sort throughout the body of the park. But it does give a particular - I'll call it - flavour to the dog walking experience. In fact, it is one that is shared by everyone who uses the park.

Fragrant Companions

Down the park, me and the dog,
Our fragrant companion, a bag of shite.
As it's my blog I believe I am allowed to say anything I like.
So here's a new thought for me.
I have never really liked or understood modern poetry and with the greatest of respect to all writers of all types and especially those friends who are poets or poets that I consider friends, i have been inspired to become what I think of as an anti-poet. Now maybe some of youse will think me a genius - that was a joke by the way - or worse, a poet, but still I'm going to soldier on.
I've been to a few poetry readings over the past year - for my sins, which are many - and observed that the poets doing the reading usually give a little speech before each poem to put it in context, so here it comes, my introductory bit before the poem.
I was at the Dublin launch of the Cork Literary Journal last year and most of the speakers were poets. However, there was a break or two for readings by prose writers and one for music by John Sheahan of the Dubliners. Now John played several tunes and, as with the poets, he told little stories in between. One of the stories concerned poetry and how he had begun to write it in the past few years, particularly Haiku.
Haiku, as you may know, is a very specific form but as I am an anti-poet (not pope, poet; what sort of godless idiot do you take me for), and Irish, I can do what the feck (check the spelling, that's an e in there) I like. but while listening to John's beautiful music I was moved to write a Haiku myself and this will feature as the first of my series which I am calling
Haiku, My Arse.
Although inspired by John Sheehan and all the long-winded bastards that read that night (apologies to their parents) I was also inspired to be a particular type of Irish poet, and that inspiration came form the wonderful Father Ted TV series. If you missed it, pick it up on DVD and discover what a joyful experience it can be to be Irish.
So, here it is, my Haiku, which is called:

Mrs Doyle's Lament.

Give us a Haiku, John.
Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on.

Thank you and good night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I must again ask why there is no Hugo for fiction written in languages other than English. The Oscars have awards for foreign films, why must the SF community remain so inward looking? Science fiction is supposed to be a genre that celebrates the exploration of the unknown universe or the unknowable future. Why must this exploration be done in English? Or more to the point, why can the ultimate prizes in the genre be awarded only to explorations in English? During the cold war science fiction was hugely popular in Eastern Europe as it was about the only forum in which you could freely express political views that diverged in any way from that of the party line. Consequently there is still a vibrant science fiction scene in Eastern Europe that has failed to impact upon the broader English-speaking community. Perhaps it is time to begin making changes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I was at an Irish SF convention recently called Phoenix Con. In one of the panels, about magazine fiction, a fellow writer propounded the theory that anyone serious about writing should only submit to markets that pay professional rates. Albedo One has survived for sixteen years in part because it does not pay pro rates - we have the assets to cover about one full issue at pro rates and that's only because we're pretty flush at the minute. We feel we provide exposure and a voice for writers and artists. We get thousands of short story submissions a year form writers who would be proud to feature in our pages. Does that justify our existence?
I have sold stories all over the show and few of them were at the pro rate. But I'm proud of these stories and will continue to write and continue to accept payments that often amount to no more than a token.
My latest sale is to Nemonymous edited by the estimable Des Lewis where stories are published anonymously (I can tell you I've got a story in the Cern Zoo anthology but not what it is called). I love the idea, but it is probably not commercial - you'd have to ask Des. I feel this is where the small press is at its strongest - trying something different, experimenting, encouraging writers to try something different. Good on you, Des. And thanks for existing.
Just for the hell of it, I suggested an item for Worldcon in Montreal. I don't think it is likely to get picked up unless there is interest from others. But I think it could raise a useful debate. The title is: A Foreign Language Hugo, Hurrah! With apologies to Harry Harrison.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In my head, everything sounds different. Hence the title of the blog. I should also say that everything sounds better - a fact that many editors will hasten to agree with. However, I've been writing for the guts of twenty years and haven't let the bastards grind me down yet.
The blog title also refers to a project I have recently embarked upon with my colleagues at Albedo One magazine. We realise how difficult it is for writers whose first language is not English to gain access to the major markets. So we're hoping to provide a forum for short fiction in translation with the help of overseas fan groups, non-English language magazines and national fan organisations.
Anyone who has any interest in the subject should contact me and we can see if there are areas of mutual interest to discuss.