Last year, being a dutiful member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, I emailed my nominations for the annual Rhysling Award, and even got permission from one of the writers to reprint his poem here. Time went by, and I received the annual anthology of nominees, and neither of mine were included. I gently asked my friend Mike Allen, president of the SFPA, if I was considered too radical to be a nominator, since I've said a few times I don't believe in the basic concept of "science fiction poetry", but, being an inveterate postmodernist, this doesn't mean I don't support the efforts of the SFPA to bring attention to good poems. Mike assured me that what had happened was that my nomination had simply gotten lost, and the nominating process has been tweaked a bit to try to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
Thus, I have now returned to nominating. In the short poem category, I am nominating Chris Fox's poem "Scorpions" from Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (no. 16), and in the long poem category, I am nominating "Croatoan" by Louis Armand from Jacket 28.
Two very different poems, indeed. "Scorpions" is a poem I have remembered ever since I first read it this summer, because for one reason or another it amused me, and I like the turn it makes in the last two stanzas. The poem verges on being cute, and I like that in a poem titled "Scorpions".
"Croatoan" is a difficult poem. I have read it three times, and that clearly is not enough. It is one of the richest poems I have read in quite a while, both conceptually and linguistically. This is another poem I remembered long after first reading it, and I nominated it because whole phrases from it had stuck in my mind -- a mind that doesn't usually remember many phrases of any sort. In my failed attempt at nomination last year, the short poem also came from Jacket, and I was wary of drawing from the same place twice. I read lots of great long poems last year (I particularly liked a number of poems in Agni 61), but "Croatoan" was the one that stuck with me most vividly, the one that continued to make me think and wonder.