Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: Dwarf Stars (2010)

Dwarf Stars (2010)
Edited by Joshua Gage

Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Each year the Science Fiction Poetry Association publishes an anthology of the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror poems of ten lines or less. In most such books horror is usually a subset of the other genres. Here horror stands alone with topics such as a Valentine’s Day gone wrong in a haiku, a poetic apocalypse, ghosts, a werewolf, aliens, and death. These short poems leave their mark in few yet descriptive words. An example is an excerpt from “Headstones” by Major Jackson:

Nightfall arrives through hemlocks, etching
tablets of planted bones. Sometimes I hear
my unnamed dead, falsetto beneath wind,
slow whine in the hearth returned to tell me
of absence of loss.

Poetic devices such as consonance are more expressive in short poems. The poet’s connection of wind and whine is clever. Jackson speculates the thought of headstones if they could speak, a novel approach.

Death is also a topic of “Undertaker: An Acrostic” by Jane Yolen. Here the undertaker is not whom the reader would expect:

… the undertaker comes
To carry your particulars
Up to a bleak, black heaven.

Yolan uses alliteration to emphasize heaven. This brief description says more and leaves more to the reader’s imagination than several paragraphs of prose.

Each poem in this collection conveys maximum effect in minimal words chosen by poets with care to leave a lasting impression. Though stylistically different, each poem is well-written, indicative of a best-of anthology.

(This volume can be purchased directly from the publisher, Science Fiction Poetry Association)

--Karen L. Newman