Horror Writers Association

Spotlight on the 2015 Bram Stoker Poetry Nominees


The 2015 Bram Stoker nominations have been announced, which means the Annual HWA Poetry Page spotlight on the poetry nominees:

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

I’ve asked each poet to share their favorite poem from their nominated work, so, without further ado (in alphabetical order):

Bruce Boston – Resonance Dark and Light (Eldritch Press):





a : the quality or state of being resonant

b : a vibration of large amplitude in a

mechanical electrical political social personal behavioral

artistic or tribal system caused by a small stimulus

of the same period as the temporal vibration it habits

long before the storm

a butterfly flutters its wings

in a primeval forest

the rhetoric of der Führer

inflames the hearts

of a disheartened generation

Robert Zimmerman

hears Woody Guthrie

for the first time



a : a quality imparted to sound

by vibration in resonating cavities

the bowl of the chest

the chasm of self

the bent canvas of history

the dark cave of the stars

(there is a mathematical formula

to explain such resonance

in each hemisphere)

b : a quality of richness or variety

in whatever taste one might express

thin apple slices

the nuttiness of an aged Swiss

and a properly chilled


he was working his

way through the

elite of the noir canon

from the savage nights

of Jim Thompson

to the savoir-faire and nonchalance

of Highsmith’s Mr. Ripley

c: the intensification and enriching of a musical tone

by supplementary vibrations

Monk and Coltrane

jazz improv extraordinaire

listening and reflecting

and echoing one another

d : a quality of evoking a response

a rapier’s thrust

a chess move

that topples the evil king

an unexpected kiss




the enhancement of an atomic nuclear

or particle reaction or a scattering event

by the excitation of internal motion in its system

Bikini Atoll  Fukushima

Three Mile Island


Hiroshima  Nagasaki

death and mutation

of both fauna and flora




the sound elicited on the percussion of the chest

from internal or external stimuli

a doctor’s tap

a boxer’s blow

a blob of undigested

gristle or gravy

an electric guitar




the way certain senses can conjoin in memory

sight taste scent sound telescoping into

full-blown memories of another sense impression

the fragrance of geraniums

always evoked a vision

of their garish petals

twined in a chain link fence

from somewhere when

in his migratory youth

her allergic lover’s death throes

on the sun-slashed forest floor

recalled by the distinctive

drone of a wasp in flight.




a vague yet sure sense that something

is there you can’t quite apprehend

a matrix for understanding

the scattered debris of the past

the secret

the moon and stars invisible

beyond the neon-plaited

night of Manhattan

Alessandro Manzetti – Eden Underground (Crystal Lake Publishing):

Carlos, Diego, Vamos!

Fat red-faced gravediggers
feel their hands burning
when the ropes run between their fingers.
The coffin is lowered into the pit.
Mr. Time, with his blue beard,
throws a handful of earth
in that model abyss.
Nobody believes what happened.
“How can Death die?”
“And now, what do we do?”

Mrs. AIDS pretends to cry,
takes a handkerchief
from her crocodile skin purse.
She blows her nose, hiding a smile.
She had always hated that fat bitch,
her too-demanding employer,
her thick neck, encircled by fake pearls
wide as the mouth of a volcano.

Mr. Plague, almost extinct—
nobody recognizes him—
makes the sign of the cross
while his wide-brimmed hat

Mrs. War acts as the first lady, as usual.
She wears grenade jewels,
her long hair in a bun
held together by two bayonets.
Her red lips seem to whisper—


the souls ready for the napalm.
“Where will her children end up now?”
“The bitch has left a will?”
“Where are the fucking keys to the warehouse of
From the trunk of a cypress
a human face sticks out.
No, it’s Maria. You can recognize
her two-tailed mermaid tattoo,
the mark on her neck
engraved by her first pimp—
copyright Iceman Charlie.
The woman laughs.
She enjoys the scene.
She killed them—
Death and Cancer married one year ago—
their throats slashed.

The funeral is over.
Maria calls her two children—
“Carlos, Diego, vamos!”—
to go back to the Spanish district.
She did it for them: seven and eleven years old.
She learned as a child
to use the night,
to use the knife,
to cut throats and testicles
of pimps and too-demanding bosses.
“Carlos, Diego, vamos!”

Ann Schwader – Dark Energies (P’rea Press):

Void Flyers

Vibrating night, a violence of wings
Disturbs the minds of some few sensitive
Enough to pierce mere matter, & forgive
All limits of imagination.  Things
Are not as our eyes lie to us in this
Dim corner of a dying universe:
The energies of darkness laid their curse
Upon it from the start, for what exists
Reveals itself in glimpses of a whole
Our senses cannot hope to contemplate
This side of sanity — nor explicate
Without some fatal stain upon the soul.

These unseen flyers at the fringe of sleep,
Whose shadow-wings beat outward at a pace
Increasing every moment, murder space
Itself with their black passage.  Thus they keep
Strange faith with entities of elder void,
Who cry like ravens at spacetime destroyed.

Marge Simon – Naughty Ladies (Eldritch Press):

The Clan

This heritage is of the Blood,
by no social credo or relation.
Our passage intense and sensual,
we’ve become members of a Family
no longer part of that protoplasmic day-mare
that is defined as life.

My sisters call me James,
first born of a noble Irishman,
till Cromwell took us down.
Five centuries have come and gone
and still I feel the pain.

Another hundred years,
& sweet Aimee, a casket girl,
made passage to the Colonies
to settle in New Orleans,
become a respectable mistress
& in Aimee’s way, she surely did —
two marks for every neck.

Lisle took off for the Libyan Desert,
hoping to sample Rommel’s blood in ’41.
Sometimes we see her face
depicted outside bars in Cairo
where various pleasures
may be procured.

Miriam left for Bangladesh in ’63,
She was the religious one,
though meditation didn’t work.
Still, she likes that filthy place,
perhaps for its music, but more likely
for the ease of gaining veins.

Ling is the oldest of us all,
certainly the most talented as well,
pens songs for rock stars, assists
in their success or failure
depending on her inscrutable mood.

So my sisters come and go –
in the changing face of years.
Though the wine is better
so we’re told, it holds no interest.
Manhattan’s neon lights

form irreal colors, indistinct
as our own undead lives.

New Years Eve we gather
to watch them from my flat,
dots moving on horizons,
framed in yesteryears,
where tomorrow is a grave
we have yet to leave.

Stephanie M. Wytovich – An Exorcism of Angels (Raw Dog Screaming Press):

Ordinary Women

Ordinary women are
they are the epitome,
the definition,
the classification
of the underestimated
and that is what makes them

because no one expects an
ordinary woman to
stab her boyfriend in
the throat, to castrate him
with gardening shearers,
or set the house on fire he sleeps.

Ordinary women
are a hazard, a loose cannon
of psychopathy waiting
for the precise moment
to go off, because ordinary
is camouflage and that’s
what makes them a


Before the current form of the novel arose, dark narrative poetry spun the tales of heroes and demons. Carrying that tradition, writers of horror fiction have kept dark poetry close to their hearts. Poe, Carroll, Wilde, Lovecraft and even more recently Neal Gaiman and others have dipped their quills into dark verse. Recognizing the contribution of dark poetry to the field of horror and to celebrate National Poetry Month, the Horror Writers Association will be holding their third annual HWA Horror Poetry Showcase in April 2016. Open only to HWA members, the Showcase will be accepting submissions throughout April with four poems chosen by HWA member judges to be honored on the HWA website.

The showcase is an excellent opportunity for HWA members who have not typically dabbled in poetry to submit their work. For every writer of fiction who keeps a hidden cache of poems in their satchels, this is the time to bring your poetical darkness to light.

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions will be accepted via Submittable from April 1-30, 2016 and all rights will remain with the poets. Those interested in submitting should visit www.horror.org on or after April 1 to access the submissions link.

Submissions are open only to HWA members.

Poetry up to fifty lines. Free verse preferred; (hint: no forced rhyme or clichés). Unpublished poems only (though previously published and unpublished poets are, of course, equally welcome). For example, these are some contemporary poets of darkness that we admire: Wendy Rathbone, Marge Simon, Mary Turzillo, Bruce Boston, Michael A. Arnzen, Corrine De Winter, Gary Clark, Linda Addison and Peter Adam Salomon. Previous winners include Stephanie Wytovich, Robert Borski, Valerie Grice, and Ann K. Schwader. Dark poetry spans a huge spectrum, so there is plenty of creative space to explore beyond mere “blood and guts.”

In addition, at the judge’s discretion, an electronic chapbook of qualifying poems will be considered for publication under the aegis of HWA. Each poem chosen for publication will be paid $5.

Showcase Judges:

For the 2016 Showcase the judges will be David E. Cowen, Stephanie Wytovich, and John Palisano. David E. Cowen will serve as editor for this year’s volume.

David E. Cowen is the author of “The Madness of Empty Spaces,” (Weasel Press, November 2014). His other volume of poetry is entitled “Sixth and Adams” (PW Press 2001).  His work has appeared in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Horror Writers’ Association’s Horror Poetry Showcase, The Horror Zine, Literary Hatchet, Degenerates: Voices for Peace, “Dark Matter” (UH Downtown), Harbinger Asylum, AIPF’s di-vêrsé-city Anthology, Texas Poetry Calendar, Isotropic Fiction Magazine, the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Outfront Radio series and among many others.  David’s short story  “Goth Thing,” appeared in the award winning series, Exotic Gothic 5, Volume 1 published by PS Publishing. Other short stories have appeared in various journals including Haunted Traveler, Peripheral Distortions and The Dead Walk Anthology. Non-fiction articles and essays have appeared in CineAction (Canada’s leading film magazine), ThisIBelieve.org‘s “On Motherhood”, The Encyclopedia of the Zombie: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth and other journals. David is the president and a lifetime member of the Gulf Coast Poets Chapter of the Poetry Society of Texas. His website is at www.decowen.com.

Stephanie M. Wytovich, a multiple Bram Stoker nominee, is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her poetry collections, Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, and An Exorcism of Angels are all Bram Stoker Award-nominated, and her debut novel, The Eighth, will be out in 2015 from Dark Regions Press. Check out her website at http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com/.

John Palisano is a three-time Bram Stoker nominated author. His short fiction has appeared in venues such as the Lovecraft eZine, Horror Library, Terror Tales, and many more. His novel Nerves was released by Bad Moon Books. He is also a contributor to FANGORIA magazine. Check him out at: www.johnpalisano.wordpress.com

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