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It’s National Poetry Month—How Incredibly Frightening!


by Denise Dumars

Now that I’ve got your attention, April is National Poetry Month. Naming the month thusly implies that something of great value is being overlooked. Every poet in America knows what I’m talking about. Poetry has never had the huge following in the U.S. that it boasts in some other cultures; in fact, if you are an HWA member who lives in another country, I’d love to hear how poetry is viewed by the general public where you live. I know some countries where it is very much a part of the national conversation, and is not reserved for the so-called “ivory tower” or wherever people in the U.S. think it lives. (Folks, check the cemeteries, Goth clubs, museums, craft breweries, coffee houses, public libraries, and any place with a senior or student discount! I guarantee a poet will be hanging out in one of those locales or somewhere that has a Happy Hour or free WiFi.)

I write science fiction and fantasy poetry as well as horror poetry, and so I know the trouble poets in other genres face when trying to get genre fiction organizations to recognize it. That’s one of the reasons HWA is so special. Would you believe that horror poetry has been on the Bram Stoker Awards ballot for 23 years? I don’t think I realized it had been recognized by HWA for that long. It makes me very proud to be a member of HWA. But even within our ranks people often overlook poetry as a vitally important part of the genre, so here we are, people! Live poets! Two shows on Sunday!

But seriously, since April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., HWA wants to stand up and recognize the poetry of the genre in which we write. I think that’s fabulous, amazing, and whatever other superlatives you want to add. So for April, HWA will present interviews with 30 poets (one per day). Some of these poets may also write fiction or nonfiction or whatever, and you may not have been aware of their literary output as poets. Some might be poets who devote their writing life to that one pursuit. Whatever the case, in April HWA joins the rest of the organizations that promote poetry in supporting it. 

Remember the first time you took a survey literature course and worried about what would happen when you got to the “poetry section” of the class? Then you read “La Belle Dame sans Merci” or Goblin Market, or The Raven? Remember how you woke up and realized that there was something there for you—a horror reader—in poetry, of all places? Yeah. We’ve been around for a long time. Ask the person(s) who wrote Beowulf. Or the author(s) of The Epic of Gilgamesh, sometimes called the first literary work of horror. So when you’re not having that seance trying to summon up the folks who wrote those ancient epic poems, read some contemporary horror poetry. If you don’t know where to start, how about an initiation through any of the HWA Poetry Showcases? Volume IX is out now. These anthologies exist as an introduction to the world of today’s horror poetry, and from there I’m sure you’ll find poets who cover the topics you love to fear and dread.

So thank you, HWA, for getting it. You like us. You really like us!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In addition to publishing hundreds of articles, poems, short stories, and reviews in magazines and journals, Denise Dumars has published five volumes of poetry, two volumes of short stories, and two nonfiction books. She has been nominated for the Rhysling Award for speculative poetry several times, the Dwarf Stars award for poems of under 10 lines, and her book of poetry, Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal, was nominated for the Elgin award. She is currently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A retired college English professor, Denise is also a retired librarian, retired literary agent, and a retired entertainment journalist, but she is not retired as a writer; she’s a fulltime writer now. In addition to writing, she helms Rev. Dee’s Apothecary: a New Orleans-Style Botanica online. Denise speaks at various conferences and conventions, including the Newport Beach Writers’ Conference, The Eaton Conference on Science Fiction Poetry, The World Fantasy Convention, Westercon, Loscon, The Stoker Convention, The Gaslight Expo, and many more. Every weekend in April 2023 she is performing at one poetry event or another in Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles’ beautiful South Bay region, but her heart is in New Orleans. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com, and her botanica at www.DyanaAset.com.

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