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Poetry in SF -- Recommended Reading List - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry in SF -- Recommended Reading List
One of the panels I presented at Archon/NASFiC this past weekend was about poetry in science fiction and fantasy. Here is the recommended reading list that I handed out to the audience. You folks are heartily encouraged to add your own recommendations or discuss the ones I've listed here. These aren't even all of my favorites -- I cut a lengthening list down to what would fit on the two sides of one page. Have fun!

Recommended Reading List from Hypatia’s Hoard for
Figuring Out the Figurative:
Poetry in SF and Fantasy

Presented at Archon/NASFiC 2007


The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics – Third Edition by Lewis Tresco. University Press of New England, 2000. A detailed guide to specific forms, including many ethnic and obscure ones; includes theory and technique, vocabulary, and a glossarial index.

Composing Magic: How to Create Magical Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers by Elizabeth Barrette. New Page Books, 2007. Poetry & prose for magical/spiritual writing; useful for creating prophecies & other plot-related tidbits of your characters’ culture.

Creating Poetry by John Drury. Writer’s Digest Books, 1991. The best book I’ve found on composing poetry, which covers both the technical and sublime aspects. Features splendid exercises and some examples.

The Random House Rhyming Dictionary edited by Jess Stein. Random House, 1960, 1986. A pocket-sized guide listing one-syllable and two-syllable rhymes, plus a brief glossary of poetic terms. An essential resource.

The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook by Suzette Haden Elgin. Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2005. Explains how to make speculative poems work, and how to sell and promote what you’ve written.


Arabesques Vol. 3, Iss. 2 with poetry by Laura Lehew. Read poems by panelist Laura Lehew, including “Maelstrom” and “The Meticulous Use of Words.”

The 2007 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2006 edited by Drew Morse. Prime Books, 2007. If you only buy one book of speculative poetry, buy this; it boasts an excellent selection of short & long poems. It also includes “Beach Climbing” by moderator Elizabeth Barrette.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. Del Rey, 1968. This novel uses short poems as chapter headers, introducing the culture of Pern.

Dreams & Nightmares edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel. Magazine of dark fantasy and horror, mostly poetry with some short-short fiction.

Fantasies, Dreams, and Realities by Steven M. Hewitt. Paradigm Press, 1997. A single-author chapbook of mythic and magical poetry, mostly rhymed.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954-1955, many subsequent editions. The trilogy features many beautiful poems of Middle-Earth.

The Magazine of Speculative Poetry edited by Roger Dutcher. Publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry; includes review section in back.

“Things I Write” page by Larry Hammer, 2003-2007. Read the poetry and prose of panelist Larry Hammer, including “The Myrmidons.”

Twenty-One Novel Poems by Suzette Haden Elgin. Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2007. Science fiction narrative poems by a master poet.


“About Science Fiction Poetry” by Suzette Haden Elgin. Essay & poetry.

Fantastic Poems is a site devoted to archiving great fantasy poetry.

“Fresh Graves: An Essay on Horror Poetry” by Tim Pratt, 2002. This horror editor explains how to get it right.

Mytholog is an online magazine of mythic and fantasy fiction and poetry.

Poets.org offers poetry, articles on how to write it, & other resources.

Science Fiction Poetry Association publishes the magazine Star*Line, hosts the Rhysling Awards, and otherwise promotes F&SF poetry.

Story Pilot’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Market Engine can be set to select markets that publish poetry. http://storypilot.com/

“The Ultimate Science Fiction Poetry Guide” by Magic Dragon Multimedia, 1996-1998. History and sources of speculative poetry.

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