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In May: “Inaugural HWA Horror Poetry Showcase” Part II


“Acceptances for those poems chosen to be in the Inaugural HWA Horror Poetry Showcase ebook have been sent out. Thank you to everyone for all of your
wonderful submissions.”

With well over 100 submissions from around the world, the Inaugural HWA Horror Poetry Showcase has come to an end. There was an astounding breadth of subject matter and themes and styles and all of them had one thing in common: the desire to scare the reader, to shine a light into the darkness. It has been a tremendous honor for all those poets to trust their poems to us.

In addition, I wanted to thank Marge Simon and Jonathan Maberry for their dedication to the Showcase. Many hours were spent discussing these poems and I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce the first Featured poet for the HWA Horror Poetry Showcase. Throughout the month of May, one Featured poet will be announced each week.

These four poems went through an intense debate and, in the end, we are proud to have them represent the Showcase.

In order to get a little behind the scenes view, I asked fellow Judge, Marge Simon, about the past month of reading the submitted poems:

It’s been a real pleasure to read and discuss submissions with HWA Poetry Page Editor Peter Salomon.

I believe poetry is a vital part of the history of the written word (beginning in Medieval Europe as songs played by wandering minstrels to carry news and to entertain people in scattered towns). Poetry has been around long before that, most notably developed by Greek scholars. And when we think of horror poetry, we think of E.A. Poe’s “The Raven”, which is our own HWA logo.

As a side note, I’m also pleased to discover more editors are now open to including a bit of dark poetry in their collections as well. It was a practice of the small press early on, and I hope it continues.

Finally, if you submitted and your poem contained forced rhyme, or had a trite theme – I’m sorry, but it just wasn’t the type of work we were looking for. I suggest you study poetry by the best contemporary dark poets and examine what makes them work so well –and you’ll find some good examples in those that we chose for the HWA Dark Poetry collection (title to be determined).

Also, there will, indeed, be an electronic chapbook of those poems we thought worthy of publication by the HWA. Some of those poems were serious contenders to be Featured and all of them show the talent, creativity and brilliance currently writing dark horror poetry.

In no particular order, here are the last two Featured poems:

His Collection
By Valerie Grice

He has always loved the
soft Feet of women;
the scent
of lotion on pink Arches,
round, tender Heels
that feel like rose petals;
perfect Nails that glow
with an incandescence
that makes him scream.

In the beginning, surreptitiously
snapping photos of
beautiful Feet in sandals
at the grocery store;
adorable Feet with the
sweetest browned Toes
at the beach on vacation;
elegant Feet of the occasional
one night stand.
He wallpapers his bedroom with
Feet photos.
photos weren’t enough.
He craved real Feet
to touch and hold;
real Toes to put in his
mouth and suck on;
his very own Toe candy.
Growing feverish with desire for
real Feet, he cleaned out a space in his
dusty basement,
installed the equipment he needed, and began
his collection.

The bodies,
he discarded like trash
anywhere that was convenient;
the nearby woods under the
fragrant pine needles,
or a trash can
in an unfamiliar neighborhood;
first, slicing off the Feet,
and preserving them
as he learned to do
in the taxidermy class he took
as preparation.
Through the years, his collection
of Feet
grew to impressive proportions.
Naturally, he had his favorites.
Perhaps the Toenails
were painted a lovely shade of
palest lilac, or
the Toes were perfectly straight;
little fleshy soldiers.
But , like a father with his children,
he loved them all.
Sometimes, after his nightly foray
into the basement to dust and fondle
his collection,
he would return upstairs,
pour a glass
of his favorite wine,
and slowly sip it.

It was 1970. My mother had purchased a book with the ominous title, In Cold Blood. Of course, being a curious pre-teen, I was compelled to sneak that book into my room every night,( Mom had forbidden me to read it, of course, as she was worried about my tender psyche) and,pretending to be asleep,I would devour as much as I possibly could, placing it back in its spot on the bookshelf each day. Mom never knew I had read that entire book in just a few, secretive nights.

That frightening story was my introduction to a lifelong fascination with both the horror genre in all of its various forms,and with the deviant behavior that some humans are capable of. My family jokes that I can recite facts about serial killers like a savant, and throughout the strange and winding road of my life, I have encountered quite a few real life psychopaths. Did they find me, or did I find them? And, do I really want to know the answer to that question?

I love poetry. I have always loved poetry. I love to read it, at least as much as I love to write it, always keenly appreciating the wonderful licence that poetry gives the poet… permission to condense an entire story into a few, cleanly perfect lines.

Currently, I live in a little cottage home, just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a husband and two old cats. My three children are grown, with their own children. For more decades that I want to reveal, my day job has been nursing the sick back to health; and at night, my creative energy unleashed, I create and sell raw gemstone jewelry, and write about the aberrant, soul-less people that inhabit my mind.

To The Next Priest
By Ann Schwader

Barbarians, you call us, heretics
Who sacrifice the sanctity of death
On superstition’s altar. With our sticks
& stones, we fracture ribs & stop the breath
Once more to anchor our ancestral dead
Past restlessness—or that undying thirst
No grave constrains. Nor prayer. Good words said
Make no more difference than the very worst
At moonrise on that third night after. Come,
Keep watch with us. The freshest mounds crack wide
Enough to show—almost—what strains inside
Against our sharpened staves & break-jaw bricks
Rammed home with love. Shriek till your throat bleeds numb,
& see then if you call us heretics.

Ann K. Schwader is a 2010 Bram Stoker Award Finalist (poetry collection, Wild Hunt of the Stars) and a Rhysling Award recipient. Her most recent collection is Twisted in Dream (Hippocampus Press, 2011) Her web site is http://home.earthlink.net/~schwader/

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