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The 2019 Rhysling Anthology: The best science fiction, fantasy & horror poetry of 2018 selected by the Science Fiction Poetry Association

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The 2019 Rhysling Anthology contains speculative poems published in English in 2018, nominated by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. The Anthology serves as the voting instrument for the annual Rhysling Award, given in Long and Short categories. Poems may be science fiction, fantasy, or horror, and often include tropes from more than one genre.


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The 2019 Rhysling Anthology contains speculative poems published in English in 2018, nominated by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. The Anthology serves as the voting instrument for the annual Rhysling Award, given in Long and Short categories. Poems may be science fiction, fantasy, or horror, and often include tropes from more than one genre.

34 review for The 2019 Rhysling Anthology: The best science fiction, fantasy & horror poetry of 2018 selected by the Science Fiction Poetry Association

  1. 4 out of 5

    DivaDiane

    This is an anthology of the best speculative poetry published in 2018 and as such is a valuable cross-section of the genre poetry being published now. Not all of the poems are to my personal taste, but they are all excellent poems. I finished my first pass through the Anthology and don’t have much time to ruminate on the best poem among them. I’m using A method another member of the SFPA recommends: Mark all the ones you like as you read through the first time. Divide all of those into groups of This is an anthology of the best speculative poetry published in 2018 and as such is a valuable cross-section of the genre poetry being published now. Not all of the poems are to my personal taste, but they are all excellent poems. I finished my first pass through the Anthology and don’t have much time to ruminate on the best poem among them. I’m using A method another member of the SFPA recommends: Mark all the ones you like as you read through the first time. Divide all of those into groups of 6. Choose the 2 best from each group of 6. From those divide into groups of 6, and continue until you are down to the last group of 6. Choose and rank the best 3 from that last group.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vince Gotera

    I'm honored to have two of my 2018 poems — "Quetzalcoatlus roboti Heads Home" and "Son of Aswang" — nominated for a Rhysling Award. Both were originally published internationally: the first in the anthology Multiverse from Shoreline of Infinity and the second in the Philippines Graphic. Although I'm in the Rhysling Anthology, I would highly recommend this book for all lovers of poetry and speculative literature. I'm honored to have two of my 2018 poems — "Quetzalcoatlus roboti Heads Home" and "Son of Aswang" — nominated for a Rhysling Award. Both were originally published internationally: the first in the anthology Multiverse from Shoreline of Infinity and the second in the Philippines Graphic. Although I'm in the Rhysling Anthology, I would highly recommend this book for all lovers of poetry and speculative literature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly Walrath

    I'm honored to once again be nominated for a Rhysling Award for my poem "Dead-Eye Girl" from Liminality Magazine in 2018. This year's selection of nominated poems is a fantastic collection and representation of speculative poetry. I'm honored to once again be nominated for a Rhysling Award for my poem "Dead-Eye Girl" from Liminality Magazine in 2018. This year's selection of nominated poems is a fantastic collection and representation of speculative poetry.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ann Schwader

    [Disclaimer: I have poems in this volume, in both short & long form categories.] Originally intended as a voting tool for members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, the annual Rhysling Anthology has become a well-produced celebration of the previous year in speculative poetry. As such, not everything in the book is likely to appeal to any one reader's tastes. This year's selections seemed to run a bit more to actual SF and fantasy (less horror, though that was also well represe [Disclaimer: I have poems in this volume, in both short & long form categories.] Originally intended as a voting tool for members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, the annual Rhysling Anthology has become a well-produced celebration of the previous year in speculative poetry. As such, not everything in the book is likely to appeal to any one reader's tastes. This year's selections seemed to run a bit more to actual SF and fantasy (less horror, though that was also well represented) and away from the "slipstream" trend of some previous years. Formal verse, as usual, was underrepresented. However, more of the long form poems were either formal or at least clearly structured this year -- a decided improvement, in my view. 194 pp., perfect bound trade paperback with original art color cover. Highly recommended for those interested in the current state of speculative poetry, or SF/F/H readers of any stripe looking to expand their horizons.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    Not a review. Contains my poems "After Her Brother Ripped the Heads from Her Paper Dolls" and "Fairies in the Crawlspace." Not a review. Contains my poems "After Her Brother Ripped the Heads from Her Paper Dolls" and "Fairies in the Crawlspace."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Soon Lee

    This anthology contains the 140 poems nominated for the 2019 Rhysling Award for the best speculative poetry. I strongly recommend the anthology to those interested in the current state of science fiction/fantasy/horror poetry. Indeed I think this may be the best selection in years. There were dozens of poems that I liked very much, and those poems spanned a huge range of subject matter, style, and emotion. Of the 86 poems that fell into the short-length category (under 50 lines), a few of my favo This anthology contains the 140 poems nominated for the 2019 Rhysling Award for the best speculative poetry. I strongly recommend the anthology to those interested in the current state of science fiction/fantasy/horror poetry. Indeed I think this may be the best selection in years. There were dozens of poems that I liked very much, and those poems spanned a huge range of subject matter, style, and emotion. Of the 86 poems that fell into the short-length category (under 50 lines), a few of my favorites were: Millie Ho's "3D-Printed Brother," an imaginative, haunting science fiction evocation of a lost brother; Bruce McAllister's "Engineered," a poem that transitions from a dystopic view of future artificially-created pets to something hopeful and compassionate; and P.S. Cottier's "Excalibur's Lament," which offers a sword's perspective on Arthurian legends. The border between speculative poetry and mainstream poetry is ambiguous, and there were a couple of poems that I liked that I wouldn't have classified as speculative, most notably Greer Woodward's 3-line tribute to Stephen Hawking. Of the 54 longer poems, I particularly liked Michael H. Payne's rhyming portrayal of the life of an ant, "The Protest: Ant Work Ethic"; the unusual quandry posed in F. J. Bergmann's "3-Minute Future"; the dwindling sisterhood in Alexandra Seidel's "Seven Witches"; and Jessy Randall's steadfastedly-enthusiastic anthropomorphization, "Cassini's Mini-Packets Home".

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    A great collection of science fiction poems selected by the members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. I always find some truly great poems each year and this one was no exception.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Timons Esaias

    I am frequently very disappointed in the Rhysling Anthology, as my tastes in poetry do not generally align with that of the membership. I note that my votes are rarely mirrored in the list of winners, and I am only willing to mention my favorites after the voting has closed, so as not to be blamed for a kiss-of-death effect... This year, I found the voting much more difficult than usual, mostly in the short form category. There were many poems I read with pleasure, or at least respect, and my fir I am frequently very disappointed in the Rhysling Anthology, as my tastes in poetry do not generally align with that of the membership. I note that my votes are rarely mirrored in the list of winners, and I am only willing to mention my favorites after the voting has closed, so as not to be blamed for a kiss-of-death effect... This year, I found the voting much more difficult than usual, mostly in the short form category. There were many poems I read with pleasure, or at least respect, and my first cull of possible winners is as follows: "Okuri Inu, or the sending-off dog demon" by Betsy Aoki "Planktivorous Fish and the Structure of Pelagic Plankton" by David Clink "Galahad Returns from the Holy Wars" by David E. Cowen "Laika" by Holly Day (and I'm old enough to remember that event, fictionalized here) "Relic" by Kari Flickinger "Pinocchio Plays the Cotton Club" by Alan Ira Gordon "as if" by LeRoy Gorman "Planetary Lensing" by Herb Kauderer "Things That Go Bump & Smile in the Night" by Kathleen A. Lawrence "The Sea Never Says It Loves You" by Fran Wilde "Seraphima" by Hal Y. Zhang (though I persist in thinking it should have been spelled Seraphina) I generally find the Long Poems section tedious. It seems to me that SF poets go into low gear when they write over, say, 60 lines. That makes even successful poems feel unworthy of winning an award. There's also more prominent ax-grinding and preaching in the long category, which also bothers me. This year there was another issue: non-SF poems. There were several poems I didn't even consider voting for, because I found no genre element in them to speak of. I interpret this contest as being about genre poems, not genre poets. I found only two poems that met my basic requirements for an award-winning long SF/F/H poem. "Dragon Mountain" by Mary Soon Lee "Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld" by Sarah Tolmie [added later: I should also remark that I found the third and fourth stanzas of Ali Trotta's "Lorelei" to be strong, and almost wished they had been a poem by themselves.] I repeat, this was a much stronger selection than I've read in several years, and bravo to that. I also encourage anyone who wants to get a feel for the genre to buy this anthology. The variety is so great that it gives an excellent idea of the range of SF poetry.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Richard Magahiz

    As I did last year, I read the collection first to scan for any standouts. I then read each item closely to see how each one stacks up on its own merits, then read through the ones receiving favorable marks to see which ones really felt like they deserved special recognition as an award, then finally a pass to rank my top three in both the short and the long categories. I noticed that while there were many which featured a strong speculative sense, there was about 10-20% which didn't feel tied t As I did last year, I read the collection first to scan for any standouts. I then read each item closely to see how each one stacks up on its own merits, then read through the ones receiving favorable marks to see which ones really felt like they deserved special recognition as an award, then finally a pass to rank my top three in both the short and the long categories. I noticed that while there were many which featured a strong speculative sense, there was about 10-20% which didn't feel tied to either science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Some of these might have had a name-check or a mention of some technological item in the real world, but to me that would not be enough for a poem to be considered one of the best of the year in these genres. The ones which made it all the way through my process all had something sticky that I would keep returning to, an intriguing take on their subjects or a nice turn of phrase or a bold breezy attitude that I found attractive, and to me this was interesting because of how hard it is to write a good poem that features these sorts of elements naturally. As for the authors, there are quite a few names I recognize as having been around for years now, but the majority are ones I didn't find familiar, with their work appearing in venues I might not know a lot about. I like it that no one small group of publications has a lock on science fiction/fantasy/horror poetry, which I can see has spores that travel far. The anthology and award have been around over forty years now and I think these have a shot at continuing for a good long time to come.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Richard Leis

    I'm still relatively new to speculative poetry, so reading the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association's annual Rhysling Anthology is a bit of chore. That is, I have a lot of “well, that’s not really my thing” moments punctuated by a few “oh, yes, this one!” that keeps me reading. I feel this year I was better prepared to read the anthology and more open to the poetry. I especially welcomed the dearth of werewolf poems; I like werewolves just fine, but for some inexplicable reason I have a I'm still relatively new to speculative poetry, so reading the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association's annual Rhysling Anthology is a bit of chore. That is, I have a lot of “well, that’s not really my thing” moments punctuated by a few “oh, yes, this one!” that keeps me reading. I feel this year I was better prepared to read the anthology and more open to the poetry. I especially welcomed the dearth of werewolf poems; I like werewolves just fine, but for some inexplicable reason I have a bias against poems about werewolves, and perhaps shapeshifters in general. Sorry! Lots of good poems this year, but when I read the poems I later selected while voting for the Rhysling Awards, they really leapt out at me and I love them fiercely. Without revealing my specific picks, I'm really fond of the poems by Beth Cato, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Soon Lee, Christina Sng, and D. A. Xiaolin Spires, and there were poems by new-to-me poets that are among my top three choices in both the short and long categories. Read speculative poetry! Join SFPA! I'm glad I did.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Fellows

    Now I have to figure out how to vote for the best in this anthology. I've marked 23 as my finalists, but there are so many great poems in this collection. Now I have to figure out how to vote for the best in this anthology. I've marked 23 as my finalists, but there are so many great poems in this collection.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joseph VanBuren

    This is a great collection of poetry from a wide variety of voices. I discovered so many talented poets thanks to this anthology! The pieces within range from short to long and run the speculative spectrum from fantasy, sci-fi, horror, hybrids, and the just plain old weird. Thank you, SFPA, for spotlighting these wonderful poems!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Blythe

    The 2019 Rhysling Anthology, edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel, which contains all the current poems nominated for the Rhysling award hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. It’s an honor to have “Pouring the Pennyroyal,” a collaborative poem by Laura Madeline Wiseman and I, included in the collection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kari

  15. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles Moffat

  17. 4 out of 5

    David C

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Blackford

  19. 4 out of 5

    F.J. Bergmann

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Worra

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Gombert

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juanjo

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine Schindel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Swenka

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Reinhart

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Lang

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fosburg

  31. 4 out of 5

    Milouchkna

  32. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  33. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  34. 5 out of 5

    Bola King-Rushing

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