This week the WEIRD Bookshelf is proud to present an interview that poet and author Ann K. Schwader was kind enough to consent to.
Ann’s newest Collection of poetry “Twisted in Dream: The Collected Poetry of Ann K. Schwader”
is available here…. Amazon.com
And Here….. Hippocampus Press
And here is a lovely review of the collection… Innsmouth Free Press
And here is Ann’s Homepage Ann K Schwader’s Official Website
And lastly, here is Ann’s complete listing over at AMAZON.COM
Here is Ann’s official biography which covers her career much better than I ever could….
Ann K. Schwader
Schwader’s most recent collection of weird verse, Twisted in Dream (Hippocampus Press), was published in December 2011.Wild Hunt of the Stars (Sam’s Dot Publishing), a collection of dark science fiction poems, appeared in 2010. Her SF / Lovecraftian sonnet sequence, In the Yaddith Time (Mythos Books), preceded these in 2007. Her frequently dark poems have also been collected in Werewoman (Nocturnal Publications, 1990), The Worms Remember (Hive Press, 2001), and Architectures of Night(Dark Regions Press, 2003). In company with Keith Allen Daniels and Jerry H. Jenkins, she made up one-third of The Weird Sonneteers (Anamnesis Press, 2000). A selection of her science fiction poetry also appeared in the speculative anthology Time Frames (Rune Press, 1991). She has contributed poems to several Chaosium Press anthologies, including The Nyarlathotep Cycle, The Innsmouth Cycle, and The Book of Eibon, with others forthcoming. Her poems have also appeared in A Season in Carcosa (Miskatonic River Press 2012), Fungi (Innsmouth Free Press 2012), Horror for the Holidays (Miskatonic River Pres,s 2011), Candle in the Attic Window (Innsmouth Free Press, 2011), and Future Lovecraft (Innsmouth Free Press, 2011).
Strange Stars & Alien Shadows, her first collection of Lovecraftian Mythos and other dark tales, was published in the fall of 2003 by Lindisfarne Press. Her short stories have also been anthologized in The Book of Cthulhu 2, The Book of Cthulhu, Rehearsals For Oblivion, Horrors Beyond, Tales Out of Innsmouth, The Darker Side, and elsewhere.
Her fiction and verse have been published in such magazines as Weird Fiction Review, Dark Wisdom, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Dreams & Nightmares, Mythic Delirium, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Weird Fiction Review, and Space & Time. Her mainstream haiku have recently appeared in nothing in the window (Red Moon Press 2012), Haiku 21 (Modern Haiku Press, 2011), Modern Haiku, big sky, carving darkness, and Frogpond , as well as online journalsHeron’s Nest, Notes from the Gean, and A Hundred Gourds
I want to start off by saying how much I appreciate your finding the time to participate in this small interview. Thank you Ms. Schwader!
This is not meant as a left handed compliment in anyway what so ever, but I’ve never been much of a poetry person. Yet it is your writing that has revealed to me the pleasures poetry offers. And I’m eagerly awaiting my copy of Twisted in Dream, your newest collection of poetry. And I must add that it’s doubly exciting since it contains currently OOP works such as In the Yaddith Time, The Worms Remember and new material and illustrated by Steve Lines!
What I wanted to say is that you’ve made a believer out of me. So do you think that it is an up hill battle to convince Philistines like myself that poetry and the prose poem are worth taking the time to discover and appreciate? Or that we might just be slowly coming around? Sadly, I lack the eloquence to describe how strongly I have been enchanted by the language and imagery you use in your writing and can only hope that, like me, many others will take the chance and submerge themselves in the worlds that you have created.
I don’t see it as an uphill battle at all. I think it might just be a matter of poets meeting the readers where they are (or at least halfway!), giving them something accessible while they’re discovering another way to enjoy the weird. Narrative verse seems to work well. Everybody wants a good story, and formal verse offers many ways to deliver stories. In the Yaddith Time is a 36 sonnet sequence – my response to Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth – but it’s also a fully plotted dark SF adventure.
I’ve been very fortunate lately. A few editors decided that a touch of verse was what their projects needed, so I’ve got work in otherwise all-fiction anthologies like A Season in Carcosa (edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.) and Tales of Jack the Ripper (edited by Ross Lockhart). I also have poems appearing and forthcoming in Mike Davis’s Lovecraft eZine, so I can only assume that what I’m trying to do has resonated with readers.
You are also quite successful with your short fiction, which I enjoy just as much as your poetry. It might sound like a silly question, but do you feel that you have much more structural freedom when writing fiction as compared to poetry?
In both cases, it takes me a while to figure out how a particular idea needs to be written. After that, I don’t think I have much structural freedom – I need to go with what I think will work best, and I’ve got to keep it consistent.
With poetry, it’s a question of free verse vs. formal (not too much of a question, lately), then what form or improvised form. With fiction, my biggest problem – other than plotting, which takes me a very long time and frequently gets revised on the fly – is figuring out whether I have a past tense story or a present tense story. I tend to use third person POV in most cases, but some stories need to be told in the present. These stories are usually my more “poetic” ones, rather than my action-oriented ones.
It was just last night that I read Her beloved Son in the 30th Anniversary Issue of Fungi. I found it to be extremely satisfying and full of new insights concerning a certain story written by Mr. Lovecraft. It was both entertaining and thoughtful. I wouldn’t call it in any way revisionist, but it did make me view certain aspects of the Mr. Lovecraft’s story in an entirely new light. I don’t want to reveal too much of the story, but I greatly appreciated seeing Lavinia portrayed as a figure who is much more than a half witted victim. And yet it stays entirely faithful to the original piece. I don’t want to read too much into it, but it comes across as a very subtle piece of feminist (for lack of better word since Feminist carries so much baggage.) or humanizing story telling. Am I reading too much into this? Or can I simply see it as a female insider’s view of the original story?
“Her Beloved Son” is based on some rereading I did for a new sonnet sequence in Twisted in Dream. It’s entitled “Lavinia,” and has this epigraph from “The Dunwich Horror”:
“Lavinny’s read some, an’ has seed some things the most o’ ye only tell abaout.”
That, in a nutshell, is what readers may have overlooked about Lavinia Whateley. She is Wizard Whateley’s child, and he has educated her – in his own fashion — with the same books his grandson will later inherit. He does not expect her to keep house, but to study and grow and participate in his plans to let the Outside back in.
Yes, I do think this story, and the sonnets, are feminist. I’m not criticizing Lovecraft for neglecting the character, however. I’m just attempting a little fictional secret history – women’s history – to bring out a different set of details in the story. Since these details happen to include traditional pagan holidays like May-Eve (when Wilbur and his brother were conceived), Imbolc (when they were born), and Samhain (when Lavinia disappears), making Lavinia a “wise woman” in her own right seems well within the scope of Lovecraft’s text.
Steve Lines’ artwork is a perfect compliment to your writing.
How did this come about and is he now your official illustrator?
I can’t remember when I first had work illustrated by Steve Lines, though it may have been with my fiction collection Strange Stars & Alien Shadows ( Lindisfarne Press, 2003). We just seemed to work together well. I admired (and still do) his updated Virgil Finlay style, and he seemed happy to ask me questions about various illustration possibilities in my stories. Thanks to e-mail and the Internet, a writer in Colorado working with an illustrator in the UK is no longer a problem!
It may help that I’m a lifelong Anglophile. When he’s asked me for references or ideas, I’ve been able to provide some that we both get. (Example: he wanted to know what the demon Anorex in my non-Mythos tale “The Prince of Perfect” looked like. I suggested David Bowie in the Thin White Duke phase. He understood perfectly.)
I’m not sure that I’d call him my official illustrator, but he’s certainly one of my preferred illustrators. Marge Simon, who illustrated my Stoker-nominated poetry collection Wild Hunt of the Stars (Sam’s Dot 2010), is another. I’ve been very lucky to work with both of these highly talented artists.
And before we go, is there anything you would like to share with the readers?
I have a cosmic horror tale, “When the Stars Run Away,” in Lois Gresh’s new anthology Dark Fusions (PS Publishing 2013). I’ve also got fiction forthcoming in Searchers After Horror (Fedogan & Bremer 2014) and Black Wings IV (PS Publishing, probably 2014), both edited by S.T. Joshi.
P’rea Press in Australia will be bringing out my next collection of dark poetry, though it’s looking like 2015 at the earliest. I’m still assembling (and writing!) the work for that one. No title, yet.
Is Wyoming Lovecraft Country?
Oh, definitely. I think anywhere can be Lovecraft Country, but Wyoming has those wide open spaces where you can imagine anything happening, and nobody ever finding out. Then there’s the wind . . . You can get a real sense of cosmic desolation, particularly in the winter.
And once again, thank you very much for consenting to this interview!