The Time of the Sorceress — An Interview with Ashley Dioses
Weird. Most dictionaries will include in its definitions of this word the phrase “suggesting something supernatural; uncanny.” H.P. Lovecraft, an imperfect human who strove to perfect his craft, referred to his work as “Weird Fiction” S.T. Joshi’s classic “The Weird Tale” (University of Texas Press 1990) states in the preface that the Weird Tale “does not exist as a genre but as a consequence of a world view.” The Weird Tale has been a stable of horror for many years. Ms. Dioses has emerged as a rising star in a subset of this body of work: Weird Poetry. Ms. Dioses is a frequent contributor to Spectral Realms (Hippocampus Press) a journal edited by S.T. Joshi and devoted to this subgenre. It is perhaps no coincidence that Hippocampus Press is the proud publisher of Ms. Dioses first volume of weird poetry Diary of a Sorceress.
Highly stylistic, the poems send the reader back to more traditional poems using rhyme, meter and mythical allusions. This volume is not an imitation of Poe as the images and work draw from more ancient muses. Ms. Dioses book has won high praise from many circles and is sure to be remembered long after the current cycle of hopefuls for the Stoker award.
Q: Let’s start off with the easy questions. Even the cover notes state clearly that your work falls under the classification of “contemporary Weird Poetry.” Educate the reader what this is and the influences you have drawn upon to create this volume.
A: Weird contains aspects of the supernatural with an emphasis on atmosphere. My poems are rich with atmosphere and contain many supernatural and fantastical themes. My strongest influences come from Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, and David Park Barnitz.
Q: All of the poems use rhyme heavily which is a more traditional form and a trademark of weird poetry. Some use meter and some do not. Is this driven by the nature of the poem, your style and preferences or some other ambition?
A: All of them, actually, use meter and they tend to vary from the common iambic pentameter to iambic hexameter, also known as Alexandrines, and others, depending on the mood of the poem. I find that certain themes call for certain meters and I follow what my instincts tell me to use.
Q: I’ve seen a strain of those adhering to Weird Poetry who have absolute disdain for contemporary free verse; even calling it fake poetry. Is Weird Poetry the antithesis of free verse? Why do you choose this over more contemporary forms of writing? Is it akin to a seamstress who prefers hand stitching to a machine? The art of crafting the cloth being its own reward?
A: I think that when it comes to poetry, it’s not necessarily the form of poetry being written that makes it Weird, but the themes in the poem itself. Wade German and Ann K. Schwader, for instance, are amazing contemporary Weird poets and they use free verse. The flow of formal verse is more musical to me and it fits my style of writing. Writing free verse is just not to my taste and therefore, I don’t write it.
Q: Your poetry draws upon a number of archetypes: wizards, the god Pan, zombie-like Valkyries, warlocks, goblins, and other fantastical creatures. I sense a more fantasy realm than horror much different from the works of Lovecraft (with his penguin eating old gods and tentacle faced monsters). Many of the poems hint of love and lost love as well. I am taken to the works of a number of fantasy writers reading your poems. So I see a bridging of fantasy and the Weird Tale with your poems. Do you consider your work true horror or a hybrid bringing fantasy, the Weird Tale and horror into a merged road?
A: Fantasy was always my first love and blending it with my second love, horror, seems to be what Weird is all about. A lot of Weird fiction and poetry is supernatural and have fantasy elements and, though I may not write about giant albino penguins (though what an awesome idea that was!), I like to blend my horror with fantasy and/or the supernatural.
Q: Have to ask. Several poems are dedicated to a K. A. O.” even making a reference to a “Crimson Tome” related to this person. Who is this mysterious person and how has he or she influenced your work.
A: Oh my, where to begin? K. A. O. is Kyle Opperman, or known on social media as K. A. Opperman and he is my beloved of five years. We met online. Kyle was a poetry editor for a now defunct zine called Dark River Press and I had just gotten published, for the first time, at The Horror Zine. He read my work, emailed me, and invited me to submit for Dark River Press.
Before Kyle, I had never heard of Weird fiction or Weird poetry. I never heard of H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert W. Chambers, M. R. James, and others before knowing Kyle. I think it’s safe to say that my work would be entirely different without him. He also still remains my poetry editor. Every poem I write goes through him before I submit them anywhere.
Q: What’s next up for you?
A: I have two projects I’m currently working on. The first is a collection of juvenilia horror poems called, The Withering. It will contain about 50 poems from my pre-teen and teenage years.
My second project is my next poetry collection called, Diary of a Vampyress. Unlike Diary of a Sorceress, which has sections divided by themes (fantasy, nature, romance/erotica, horror), Diary of a Vampyress is divided by subject, as this collection will be focused more on Gothic and supernatural horror. Diary of a Vampyress will loosely follow the story of Nadia, who makes her appearance in Diary of a Sorceress, in the first 4 sonnets of her sonnet cycle.
A Queen in Hell
To Edgar Allan Poe
Upon a moonlit eve, we strolled along the shores
Of a still lake, all atrament save for the bright,
Rich, hoary moon-glow, which threw wide dark, eldritch doors
Into a hell of reeking hells that stole her light.
My love, my gorgeous love, how could you abandon me?
What haunting daemons lured you to your early grave?
How could you not perceive that you were always free?
Why, why was it not you, my love, that I could save?
The years have passed and sadly I stand so alone
Beside you, by your grave, yet in my heart you dwell.
Your kinsmen knew of your great beauty, and it’s known
That we lament so deeply for a queen in Hell.
On Amaranthine Lips
My purple font of his desire
Invites the tongue of my vampire.
He tastes the nectar sweet therein,
And drinks his fill of darkest sin.
His kiss on amaranthine lips
Delivers bliss down to my hips.
Forever his caress is cold,
Yet how I itch for him to hold
Me in his arms, for every star
Above to see us from afar.
The Sun’s gold gleams beneath her skin,
And gives its warmth with every touch.
Her eyes are gems, the Moon’s blue twins,
Which sparkle, barely hinting much.
A promise of sweet Heaven’s kiss
Forever lures me to her hold.
Her gaze upon me is pure bliss,
And that was how my soul was sold.
Her love, a spell, is wound around
My soul, like lingering perfumes
That emanate from floral crowns
Of belladonna all abloom.
She is the star and its fierce fire,
The Moon and its deep darkest phase,
The red, red rose of the great briar,
The center garden in the maze.
When those in favor fall from grace,
Her skin sears with Hell’s hottest flame.
Her eyes grow dark with new Moon’s face,
And lips give way to fangs’ quick aim.
I am her lover; she, my witch.
She, my desire, for only I
Can coax the Moon back from the pitch,
And the fine gold from flame’s last cry.
In dark cathedrals and woodlands mist-laden,
A horror lurks in realms beyond, unseen.
Few fae are pretty and appear to maidens—
Most of their kind are cruel, and ugly green.
A door can lead to their true territory—
The Otherworld, where anyone might stray.
It changes Paradise to Purgatory,
And all cold shadows pave, for you, the way.
Elysian daemon worship is more than it seems,
For many fiends reside in the deep haunted reaches
Of our vast psyche. Shun them, and they escape through dreams.
Approach them with respect; wait what the daemon teaches. . . .
Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fiction and poetry from southern alifornia. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released this year from Hippocampus Press. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review #5, #7, and #8 (Centipede Press, 2014, 2016-17), Skelo Issues 1-3 (Skelos Press, 2016-17), Weirdbook #31-34 (Wildside Press, 2015-17), Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing, 2017) and others. Her poem “Carathis,” published in Spectral Realms 1, appeared in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase 2016 for her poem “Ghoul Mistress.” She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.
Need a Poetry Christmas List?
HWA poets have amazing new volumes of poetry available. Here are some but certainly not all of the newest volumes currently circulating:
Satan’s Sweethearts (Weasel Press 2017) by Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo. Poems that bring feminism to mass murder chronicling female mass murders over the centuries. Available at: https://www.weaselpress.com/product-page/satan-s-sweethearts (I assisted editing this so I get to add a short blurb on it)
Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest ( ) by Robert Frazier and Bruce Boston available at https://www.amazon.com/Visions-Mutant-Forest-Robert-Frazier/dp/1684187575/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1512084035&sr=1-1.
PseudoPsalms: Sodom (Bizarro Pulp Press – JournalStone 2017) by Peter Adam Solomon available at https://www.amazon.com/PseudoPsalms-Sodom-Peter-Adam-Salomon-ebook/dp/B072HF172P/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512086197&sr=1-2&keywords=pseudopsalms
No Mercy: Dark Poems (Crystal Lake Publishing 2017) by Alessandro Manzetti available at https://www.amazon.com/No-Mercy-Poems-Alessandro-Manzetti/dp/1640074767/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1512085617&sr=1-1.
Escape Claws (CreateSpace 2017) by Angela Yuriko Smith available at https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Claws-Angela-Yuriko-Smith/dp/1544723709/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512085808&sr=1-2&keywords=Escape+Claws
Meanderings of a Dark and Lonely Cycle Path (er … um … Psychopath) (Amazon Digital Services LLC 2017) Randy D. Rubin’s third dark poetry collection available at https://www.amazon.com/Meanderings-Dark-Lonely-Cycle-Psychopath-ebook/dp/B075H4NDLL
The Lay of Old Hex (Hippocampus Press 2017) by Adam Bolivar. Another contribution to Weird Poetry available at: https://www.hippocampuspress.com/mythos-and-other-authors/poetry/the-lay-of-old-hex-by-adam-bolivar.
A Collection of Nightmares (Raw Dog Screaming Press 2017) by Cristina Sng and available at https://www.amazon.com/Collection-Nightmares-Christina-Sng/dp/1935738984.
When the Night Owl Screams (MoonDream Press 2017) by Michael H. Hanson available at https://www.amazon.com/When-Night-Screams-Michael-Hanson/dp/1943690162/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1512084183&sr=1-1.
Til Death: Marriage Poems (Raw Dog Screaming Press 2017) by Janice Leach and James Frederick Leach available at https://www.amazon.com/Til-Death-Marriage-horrors-afters-ebook/dp/B01MSA75FD/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512085590&sr=1-3&keywords=janice+leach
Love for Slaughter (Strangehouse Books 2017) by Sara Tantlinger available at https://www.amazon.com/Love-Slaughter-Sara-Tantlinger-ebook/dp/B01N18DZMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512085965&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+for+Slaughter
The Cabin Sessions (Hellbound Books 2017) by Isobel Blackthorn available at https://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Sessions-Isobel-Blackthorn/dp/0999177672/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1512086076&sr=1-1
and of course
HWA Poetry Showcase Volume IV (HWA, D. Cowen Editor, 2017) available at https://www.amazon.com/HWA-Poetry-Showcase-David-Cowen-ebook/dp/B076GWX5RZ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512085728&sr=1-1&keywords=poetry+showcase+volume+iv.