About Writers, blogging, book reviews, Poetry, Uncategorized

Carl E. Reed’s review of Spectral Realms #11

Carl E. Reed has now published four poems in Spectral Realms (issues #10 and #11), with more poems scheduled to appear in issue #12. He has just published an exhaustive and picturesque review of Spectral Realms #11 on John O’Neil’s Black Gate website.

An earlier poem of Carl’s was published in The Iconoclast a decade ago.

Thanks, Carl, for suggesting that we post this link:


16 thoughts on “Carl E. Reed’s review of Spectral Realms #11

  1. Thanks, GD! Poetry is potent practice, whether read or written: a heightened immersion in experiential phenomena evoked by words and breath. I took Bradbury’s advice long ago: read a poem a day. I am thrilled beyond measure by what S. T. Joshi and his coterie of weird poets are doing over there at Spectral Realms.

    PS. I took the liberty of slightly modifying the blog post. (I had suggested the line about Poe and the nihilist croakings of a certain raven as a potential springboard into the topic for you to follow, if desired.) As for myself, I have long thrilled to the poetry of poets as diverse in style, subject, and temperament as Robert E. Howard, Allen Ginsberg, Stan Rice, Charles Bukowski, James Dickey, Siegfried Sassoon, and Wilfrid Owen, to name but a few.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. victoracquista says:

    Oh my! I almost don’t know where to begin. I have not been an aficionado of “horror” stuff; although, the universe keeps reminding me to read H.P. Lovecraft. Furthermore, I tend not to read poetry but I think that’s because I feel intimidated. Okay, I said it–I am a little intimidated by poetry. I am fearful that I miss the depth of meaning in this form of expression. Huh…what is the poet conveying???
    Having discharged this confession I can go on to say that the review is intriguing by its depth and content. Am I worthy to acquire this edition of Spectral Realms or will it just reinforce my feeling of impotence? [sigh] I just don’t know what to think, but it is an extremely well written review of something I have worked to avoid.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed my review of Spectral Realms #11, Victor! I endeavored to give the reader of that review a capsule experience of what perusing the journal is actually like. If you were intrigued and/or entertained by that review, you would enjoy reading Spectral Realms: simple as that.

    As to your protestations that you’re afraid you wouldn’t “get” poetry, I say: nonsense! This is the damage tone-deaf, wrong-footed teaching by otherwise well-meaning adults demanding children wring “meaning” from a poem have done to the collective appreciation of the art form: most now actively avoid it. What an introduction to poetry most of us get in school! Entire generations have grown up suspicious of the form(s), on guard against feeling stupid because they fear they might not “get” a poem. But poetry is simply verbalized music! Nothing more, but certainly nothing less: cadence, inflection, impactful imagery. Different kinds of energy: semantic, tonal, experential. Rhythmic pulsing of the breath.

    Consider: When a song starts to play within our hearing, do we immediately hunker down in a defensive crouch, ball our fists and squint cross-eyed with intensity in order to extract “meaning” from the song? Do we listen in guarded, near paranoiac fear to the lyrics, suspicious of being “tricked” by the songwriter? Of course not! We simply open ourselves to melody and lyricism (or the appalling lack thereof, heh!) and either surrender (or if that’s too strong a word, consider the milder phrase “have an emotional response”) to the music, or decide, “Err . . . not for me.” Well. Just so poetry!

    Hear Billy Collins on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf69NbUlZXk

    A poem that reaches us can make our bodies resonate like a struck gong. It can raise every hair to a preternatural crackling erectness, take the back of our heads off and open us up to cosmos and the void. Once you’ve had that experience with poetry, you will seek it out again! The aesthetic tragedy for many is that they have been taught to hate and fear poetry, believing their first duty when confronted by a poem is to pin the goddamn thing down and wrestle meaning out of it.

    Don’t do that!

    And anyway–as the poet Archibald MacLeish has observed (Ars Poetica):

    A poem should not mean
    But be.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Yes, yes, yes! Your response to Victor’s fear of not “getting” the meaning of poetry is exactly what I was formulating in my head as I read Victor’s post. The problem isn’t poetry, it’s bad teaching!! Poetry is meant to be experienced, not analyzed.

      When I taught a poetry “unit” (groan) to 11th graders, I was getting the “oh, I think the poem means this or that; here are the symbols to prove it.” I finally got so exasperated that I put the class through an experiential exercise of listening to a song by The Cars. I turned out the lights, told them to close their eyes, and just listen to the song, then write down what they saw, what they heard, what they smelled, what the images and rhythm reminded them of, how they felt as they were listening, and we’d have a conversation about their experience. Of course they did great with it because they understood how music works on the listener. Then I read them a poem and told them to do the same thing.

      I would also add that writers choose poetry over expository writing because what they want to express is in part ineffable. If it could be easily explained, they’d just write an essay not a poem!

      Liked by 6 people

    • victoracquista says:

      In my youth, I penned a number of poems. I like what you have shared, “But poetry is simply verbalized music!” Perhaps I need to sing and listen to the music of poetry once again, to appreciate the song of “…the pitter-patter raindrops upon the sills of my imagination…” [sigh] I mourn the innocence of my youth, when the poet within sought and found expression.
      Oh well, back to work!

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL, Victor! “. . . the pitter-patter raindrops upon the sills of my imagination . . .”

        I, too, have a trunkful of groan-inducing failed manuscripts. (I give you now, 14-year-old me: “The hour was late / a full moon burned / horned goblins balled . . .”) God knows why we keep this stuff around! Perhaps it’s to prove to ourselves that we’re getting better at the craft . . . and to indulge in a couple of red-faced, rueful chuckles at our own expense.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    Poetry and/or verse (I call my stuff verse. Poetry is a higher calling) requires that you choose your language very carefully, for an efficiently communicated thought with maximum impact. It is good training for any writer.

    Narrative verse is a hybrid form. Precise language is crucial when you need to move a story forward with style, which I count as essential for verse. I am telling a solid story, that you follow rather than experience. And I want you to follow the action while you’re delighted with my surprising rhymes and off-balance point of view.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. atthysgage says:

    Carl. Splendid review.

    There is an element of play in the poetry I tend to like best. (I’d say the same the thing about the prose I tend to like best.) Both your prose and your verse have always had that playful element, even in its darkest and most savage moments. It’s a quality I admire in Nabokov, in Melville, in Borges, in Tiptree, in Delany…to name a shiny few.

    Liked by 3 people

    • @Atthys: you’ve stunned me into speechlessness for a moment. (Not an easy thing to do, heh!) You may have just succinctly described my truest, most authentic writing voice: “playful savagery”.

      But calm down, folks! Atthys did not directly compare me to Nabokov, Melville or Borges–he stated that he detected a similar tone in play in my writing. Though such an observation is gratifying and energizing, I shall be the first to state publicly that I am the merest fingernail paring, plucked ear hair, or wind-whisked scalp fleck as compared to any of the aforementioned literary greats.

      Still–’twas a pretty compliment, wasn’t it? ‘Twas! Therefore, I shall bask in it a moment before continuing to scritch-scribble away at the midnight hour. . . .

      Liked by 3 people

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