News and Confused

Every year, the Science Fiction Poetry Association (which recently changed its name for no apparent reason to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association) gives awards for poetry on a regular basis. One of those awards is for the best poetry book (or chapbook, which just means a short book) of the last 2 years. It’s called the Elgin Award, named in honor of Suzette Hayden Elgin, who founded the association back in the 60s.

All three of my poetry collections have been nominated for the Elgin Award this year!

See the nominations here: Mine are the ones by “irving.”

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Strange Developments

The best laid plans of mice and men never survive contact with the enemy. Or reality. Or something like that.

  • Some general

When I finished my book Telling Strange Stories, I told myself two things. First, I should make a serious effort to market it and second, to get to work immediately on the next book (A sciency book about how exploration of the solar system will be largely automated). I was determined, excited and …

Then real life intruded. To begin with, I’ve always known that I’m a lousy salesman. This mostly has to do with the fact that I’ve spent my life learning almost anything else but. I’m a good writer, a decent programmer, and a fairly proficient curmudgeon. Marketing and sales are foreign country. I did start a Facebook page and spent a few dollars boosting some posts.

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Warning! Poet on Lockdown!


I’ve been working from home exclusively for several years now, so that aspect of the current situation doesn’t really affect me. On the other hand, I was in a meeting (via Webex) the other day and the first ten minutes of it was taken up by people complaining about what a big adjustment it was to work from home. Several of them mentioned that their children were confused. I think every single one also mentioned their dog or cat. It’s an adjustment for them, too you know!

So a few days ago I happened across a collection of recent poetry. Every poem was about how the world has changed and it’s hard being isolated. The disturbing thing about this is that, presented with extra time to write poetry about anything they could imagine, all these poets could think of was exactly the same thing that all the other poets were thinking of.

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Random Thoughts

I’m too tired to write a real post. Instead, I’m just going to type whatever comes to mind.



  • Everything is Covid-19 now. My wife and I have stayed at home for weeks now. Meanwhile, my job continues with little change, except that all our customers now want stuff related to Covid-19. We’re in the health care field (clinical trials). I won’t say it’s job security but I’ve been putting in overtime while people I know have been laid off. It’s a strange world.
  • Since I finished the poetry un-textbook project, I’ve embarked on the project of promoting it. This is something I have zero experience with. I started by making a Facebook page ( I even went so far as to sign up for a service that has templates for memes and posts and things (as you can see above!). Next up …. content?

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Poetry During a Pandemic

Great title. Too bad the content is going to be so mediocre!

Anyone who has ever read this blog (and I’m not claiming anyone ever has) will probably know that I’ve been writing a book about speculative poetry. Long story short: It’s finished! It took 2 years and 3.5 drafts but it’s finally done.

What’s more, until I have it for sale on Amazon, I’m going to give a PDF copy of the book to anyone who wants one. As long as we’re under lock down (I live in New York), why not have something educational to spend some time with?

Some details:

Title: Telling Strange Stories, A Guide to Understanding and Writing Great Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Poetry

What’s it about? This book is a primer on speculative poetry, seen through the lens of popular entertainment (movies, TV shows, comic books, video games .. well not the games so much. I don’t play enough of them anymore). It’s an introductory “textbook” suitable for middle school/high school students and fans of speculative content.

I put the word “textbook” in quotes because the writing style is very informal and a huge amount of the content is pure opinion. Informed opinion but still just opinion. This is the book I wish I had had when I was a kid, suffering through the same endlessly dull poetry unit in school that they gave every year.

How to get a copy: Just ask. Go up to the top of the page. Click “contact” and use one of the ways listed there. Or send an email to me at irvingthemagnificent @ yahoo(.com). I’d appreciate a sentence or two of introduction and why you want it (extra points if you’re homeschooling your kids and want to add it to the curriculum. The points have no value so I can award them freely!).

How long will these free copies be available? Hard to say. Probably a few weeks. When I put it up for official sale on Amazon, I’ll (mostly) stop giving them away for free. But until then, we all need something to help us get through these weird and difficult times.

So why not ask for a copy now?



Christmas Stories and Abominations

In the last couple days I think I’ve watched four version of A Christmas Carol that I had never seen before. It’s amazing how many times the story has been remade. You’d think no one ever wrote any other Christmas stories.

I’ve written a few. Also some Christmas poems. I have the urge to write something, every Christmas. The urge doesn’t always result in a finished product, but sometimes. I have no idea why I get this urge at Christmas and not at other holidays. I never even considered writing anything for Arbor Day, or Presidents Day. Not even Groundhog Day.

So, why Christmas?

Well, it’s not just Mr. Dickens who gave us the tradition of Christmas stories. Almost as common as remakes of A Christmas Carol, are “<Name goes here> Saves Christmas” type stories. Saving Christmas, usually means saving Santa Claus, or substituting for him in a pinch. There’s also a growing tradition of Christmas horror stories. These frequently involve murderous versions of Santa. In the last few years, stories about Krampus (who is NOT the anti-Santa, no matter what anyone says), too.

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Hurry to Download Poetry!

The Poetry SuperHighway site has a page where you can download poetry books for free. It’s here:

I repeat, download poetry books for FREE. But it’s a limited time offer. It expires just under 15 hours from now (Dec 1, 2019, Noon, EST).

One of my poetry books, The Endless Frontier: Poems for Space Explorers is there. Feel free to download that one at least! If you do, please let me know what you think. Especially if you like it!

I’ve downloaded a couple (because, free). Hope others will take advantage of the chance too. Hurry!

UPDATE: During the few hours of the event, my poetry book The Endless Frontier,  was downloaded 40 times. That’s about average for the 38 books that were made available there. Thanks to everyone who participated in the event and, especially, those wise people who downloaded mine. Hope you enjoyed it.

Learning to Read by Accident

I’m almost done writing draft two of my untitled Speculative Poetry Education Book. I’ve called it a textbook previously because I fantasize that there will be students who will learn from it. But it’s not really a textbook because I couldn’t write anything like that to save my life. That’s not important right now. What’s important, is that I’ve run in to an interesting/frustrating/confusing/annoying problem.

The problem is my own poetry.

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The Research Honeytrap

So, I’m just going to dive into this. As part of a project I’ve mentioned on this blog a few times, I wrote the sentence, “If you want to understand modern horror, you have to first look at where it came from. You have to look, among other things, at ghost stories, and the old gothic novels.” And with that sentence (since edited into unrecognizable shape), I ruined my entire weekend.

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. “Ruined” is too strong a word, especially since I was having fun. And as for the entire weekend, well, it’s Sunday today so really I only ruined what was left of the weekend. But this sort of thing is much too common in my life. It can make things really difficult some days.

Now I suppose I should explain what the hell I’m talking about. You’re thinking, “Yeah. That would be a nice change.” I know. Believe it or not, this convoluted style of writing is a good illustration of my point, which I promise I will get to presently. It begins with poetry and with a brain that never seems to be able to run in nice neat lines from point A to point B. There’s always a diversion. Like this one, sort of, only more time consuming.

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Finishing School

I juggle projects. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible juggler.

On this blog I have mentioned several times that I’m working on a sort of textbook about genre poetry. Well, that keeps shifting. I _really_ want it to be about poetry. But you can’t talk about genre poetry without talking about genres. And, at least for me, that means talking a lot about movies.

As I write this, I have the blu-ray of The Omega Man – one of my all-time favorite movies, partly because it stars Charlton Heston, one of my all-time favorite actors – playing in the background. This is not actually relevant to the story, however. The story is about juggling projects. Badly.

Not long ago, after writing a full draft of the textbook and about a hundred fifty pages (small pages) of the second draft, I suddenly developed a new project. I have become almost obsessed with it. The project is a graphic novel. It is a genre story, full of high technology and supernatural creatures (Would you believe high supernatural technology?).

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