The wonderful writer E.P. Beaumont did a very nice and touching review of my 2013 collection DEMONSTRA this week at her journal, likening it to "A Supernatural Song of Ourselves," and also including a lovely original poem in response. She's reviewing the deluxe edition of DEMONSTRA, in this particular instance. DEMONSTRA features my poetry and photography, as well as the visual art of Vongduane Manivong, who is based in Dallas, Texas.
It's certainly been an interesting journey for this collection, which I initially proposed to Silvia Moreno-Garcia at Innsmouth Free Press in Canada without my hopes being too high at the time. Was there a market for a book of Lovecraftian poetry, especially one from a Lao American perspective? It was certainly an absurd and daring proposition, and the first book of poetry the press had ever considered publishing. I'm grateful that they took that chance.
In the time since, Innsmouth Free Press has been presenting several exciting projects including the Sword and Mythos anthology, and the current She Walks in Shadows an anthology of Lovecraftian tales from women's perspectives, actually written by women that's getting significant acclaim. I'm always delighted and honored to be part of that house. They took a chance on many of my early works of short fiction and microfiction when they were actively presenting Innsmouth Magazine.
In any case, E.P. Beaumont identified many of the elements I'd incorporated into DEMONSTRA and much of the significance I'd hoped it would have, in the off chance that it would resonate with my readers. It's not an easy book, particularly in the expanded edition. But at the heart of my somewhat horrific and quixotic quest was opening new vistas not only for the Lao community in diaspora, but regular readers as well.
We are on a journey together in this odd cosmos, after all.
For the Lao, I feel the question we must ask is: In the aftermath of everything we witnessed during the 19th-20th century, and earlier, what, then are those things left that are truly indescribaby horrifying? As some have suggested, we've had a front row seat for the Apocalypse, but where do we go from there?
I'm delighted she caught both the humor and the horror within my text, and how we were looking at the familiar and the unfamiliar through new lenses. It was a delight to meet her in person, and her literary partner in crime, as well. I'd been following her on Twitter for some time, and elsewhere, and we share a good number of friends in common. I regret that we didn't have more time to hang out one-on-one during CONvergence this year, but in the near future, we'll remedy that. Be sure to check out her review, as well as the other fascinating discussions on her journal, and in her novels.
And as a poet should never let a gift of poetry go unremarked, one good turn, and all of that:
Strange Trees From Strange Stones
To see truths cosmic, the eye is but a start,
A seed in the cold, the infinite whirling...
A spark, some water? Some igniting heat,
A collision of chemistry and mystery...
The next thing you know, you're a poet
With a body of ink rivers, paper bones, or
Maybe a novelist among empires and nomads
Who can ponder dreaming old things, vast seas,
New memories for unimaginable generations
Tinkering in night's laboratories on those
Rare inhabited worlds,
Filling quickly with warm mortals.