Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book Review: Dreams and Nightmares 81

David C. Kopaska-Merkel is an incredible and prolific poet. He is the author of fourteen chapbooks and hundreds of poems and short stories, which have been published in dozens of venues since the early 1980s. He has been nominated for many Rhysling Awards, which he won with Kendall Evans for their poem "The Tin Man." Recently, he was nominated for SFPA Grandmaster status.

It should be no suprise, then, that Kopaska-Merkel is also an incredible editor. He was for six years the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He currently is the editor and publisher of Dreams and Nightmares, which is now in its 81st issue.

Issue of 81 represents all genres of speculative literature, from horror to science fiction to fantasy and any melding or blend of the above, all of it worth reading. For example, the cover poem, a wrap around color collage of word and image by Steve Cooper, blends imagery from the CERN Hadron Collider, the Mayan Calendar and a suicidal protagonist. Between the covers, readers are presented with a mythopoetic castle by David R. Sullivan, a used android wife by Deborah P. Kolodji, and instructions for the apocalypse from Bruce Boston. Readers are also treated with short scifaiku, horrorku and tanka from Deborah P. Kolodji, assu and g smorpian, as well as illustrations by Randy Moore, Anne Stone, and Jeff Creek. There are short prose pieces from Nicholas Ozment and Ruth Berman, and a three page religious science fiction poem by Kendall Evans and Samantha Henderson. In these 20 short pages there are many dreams, many nightmares, and something to appeal to every reader.

What makes this magazine even more attractive is the incredibe price--$4!!! A poet can sell a $5 chapbook, buy a copy of Dreams and Nightmares, and have half a cup of coffee left in change! Also, Kopaska-Merkel is selling lifetime subscriptions--LIFETIME--for $90, which includes any available back issues, which I assume would include issue 81. This is a great deal, and offers up a lifetime of, from what the small sampling in issue 81 presents, great speculative reading.

1 comment:

J.E. Stanley said...

Sorry for the belated response. On the SFPA site, Josh had asked readers to pick a favorite poem from this issue.

I'd have to go with the cover poem, Steve Cooper's "Big Bang Blues." I especially like the way the piece so successfully juxtaposes and intertwines its many diverse elements into the whole. One doesn't necessarily appreciate this at first because the movement of the piece is so natural.

The artwork is very effective but also quite original in that it starts as illustration and then shifts in character and becomes an integral part of the story itself.

There are other excellent pieces here, of course, but "Big Bang Blues" alone is worth the price of the issue.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau