Darkeva: There’s definitely a strong contingent of poets among the sci-fi/fantasy/horror communities, and you’re certainly one of the most accomplished with publications in all the top magazines. Tell us a bit more about how you got your first few sales.
BB: I was publishing poetry in literary magazines, mostly non-paying, some of it speculative, throughout the 1970s, though I didn’t yet have the label “speculative” for it. I’d also sold a few science fiction stories to commercial anthologies. In 1978 I saw a market report for a magazine titled The Anthology of Speculative Poetry. I submitted several poems and Editor Robert Frazier accepted them all. He also recommended I join the Science Fiction Poetry Association, which had just been formed by SF novelist Suzette Haden Elgin. Through the SFPA I discovered numerous small press genre publications that would allow me to combine my love of poetry with my love of sci-fi/fantasy/horror. And unlike most literary magazines, many actually paid to publish it. Usually not much, but at least the idea was in place that writers should be paid for their work.
Yet it wasn’t until the early 1980s, when Shawna McCarthy took over as editor at Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine , that I began selling poetry regularly to professional, commercial markets. Prior to Shawna’s editorship, Asimov’s published mainly rhyming poems that were often humorous. Shawna introduced poems that remained genre in setting and content, yet more accurately reflected the state of modern poetry in form and voice. After my poems began appearing regularly in Asimov’s and received a few awards, I soon began publishing poems regularly in Amazing Stories and genre anthologies, and eventually in Weird Tales.