Wednesday, April 1, 2020

HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol 7 Meet and Greet


Hello and Good Morning, Folks: 

As most of you know, April is #NationalPoetry Month, and the Horror Writers Association (HWA) is opening submissions for the seventh installment of the HWA Poetry Showcase. The showcase will open on April 1st and run until May 31st and is open for HWA members only. 

Full details to submit can be found here.
Note: I will be editing this year’s anthology alongside judges Gwendolyn Kiste and Carina Bissett. All types of poetry are welcome and encouraged, as well as all types of horror, although poems that elicit themes of child abuse/pedophilia, racism, homophobia, or transphobia will be immediately dismissed.

So let’s meet the judges and have a little chat!

WYTOVICH: When did you first get into poetry? If you remember the first poem/author you read, feel free to include it here.

KISTE: The first poem I remember is definitely my dad reciting “The Raven” to me when I was very young. He actually started reading me Poe while my mom was still pregnant with me. That means there’s never been a time when poems like “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” weren’t part of my life, so without a doubt, I can trace my love of both poetry and horror directly back to Edgar Allan Poe and my dad.

Other than Poe, another spooky favorite is “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. My dad also recited that one to me a lot, often on car trips. Because he has a huge number of poems memorized, he could make any car ride infinitely more exciting by suddenly breaking out in verse. Since I’ve always loved how my dad knew so much poetry by heart, I memorized my first poem at around seven years old. It was “Ozymandias” by Percy Shelley. The irony is that of course, now I’m a way bigger fan of Percy’s lovely wife, Mary, but for what it’s worth, I still know that poem to this day. It’s a beautiful piece and one worth seeking out if you’ve never read it.  

BISSETT: I remember seeing The Outsiders when it was released. Like Pony Boy, I was struck by the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I wrote small poems as a young girl, but that movie marked the moment when I realized the true power of poetry. However, it wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to Anne Sexton’s Transformations, and my pursuit of poetry became a more focused goal.

WYTOVICH: What are you hoping to see this year from poetry submitted to the showcase?

KISTE: I’m so excited to see a wide variety of horror subgenres—give me your fairy tale horror, your body horror, your Gothic horror, truly any kind of horror there is! I love it all. I very much hope to receive submissions from a diverse group of authors. Women, authors of color, LGBTQ authors—we always need new voices in horror, so I highly encourage everyone to consider submitting. Even if you’re more of a fiction or nonfiction writer, but you’ve been curious about branching out into horror poetry, please send something our way. That’s a conversation I’ve had with authors in the past—that they feel like they might not “belong” because they aren’t a published poet yet. Truly, though, everyone has to start somewhere, so please don’t self-reject! I would love to read your work!

BISSETT: I’m always interested in poetry that carries multiple layers of meaning. I’m currently immersed in reading work by Ada Limón, Andrea Blythe, and Cate Marvin. I love poems with a fabulist bent, and I’m especially interested in pieces that explore culture and community through a feminist lens.

WYTOVICH: It’s no secret that horror poetry—or poetry with a dark, speculative bent—is certainly getting more popular. How do you interpret the rise in dark poetry over the year?

KISTE: Horror in general has been having such an incredible resurgence lately. Now, for those of us who’ve always loved the genre, we know that horror never really went away, but it is nice to see the genre getting a more mainstream spotlight at the moment. I think the popularity of horror poetry is definitely related to that. I’ve always believed that shorter forms are uniquely suited to horror. Both short fiction and horror poetry have the ability to pack such a powerful punch in a very small space. Poetry can sometimes be the most potent form of all literature, and horror might very well be the most potent genre of all, so put them together, and it’s truly a dynamite combination.

BISSETT: Despite its form, I’ve always thought of poetry as being similar to novel-length fiction. They are both platforms for “big” ideas. Poetry offers a way “to see a World in a Grain of Sand” (William Blake). Our world is a place where shadows have form and substance. I think dark poetry gives readers and writers a way to explore those shadows.

Bio: Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books; and the occult horror novelette, The Invention of Ghosts, from Nightscape Press. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Vastarien, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Unnerving, Interzone, and LampLight, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com

Bio: Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and interstitial art. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in multiple journals and anthologies including Arterial BloomGorgon: Stories of EmergenceHath No FuryMythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V and VI. She teaches online workshops at The Storied Imaginarium, and she is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at Stonecoast. Her work has been nominated for several awards including the Pushcart Prize and the Sundress Publications Best of the Net. Links to her work can be found at http://carinabissett.com.


Bio: Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous venues such as Weird Tales, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year's Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.

Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, and most recently, The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.

Follow Wytovich on her blog at 
http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com/ and on twitter @SWytovich​.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

HORROR CLUB AT POINT PARK UNIVERSITY HOSTS FUNDRAISER FOR WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH


Hello and Good Morning, Everyone--

As most of you know, February kicks off Women in Horror Month (WiHM), and over the years, I've worked hard to bring you a blog series that features spotlights on women working in the horror industry, whether that be through art, film, or literature, and then back in 2014, I even wrote a string of memoir pieces about my own experiences in the genre. However this year, I wanted to push myself, and my students, to get out in the community and spread the world and participate in an event that would help benefit women and children in need.

As faculty advisor for The Horror Club at Point Park University, and as a SafeZone Volunteer, my students and I have been talking a lot about the feminist wave that's currently moving throughout the industry (and the world). We've been discussing empowerment, equality, independence, living authentically and un-apologetically, and also talking about the reclamation of words and the character tropes they live in, i.e. the final girl, the witch, etc. Naturally, with all of that said, one of the topics that comes up quite a lot surrounds that women and violence.




Now I've been an advocate for the horror genre for as long as I can remember, and I think it's important that our stories and worlds and monsters exist because they shed light on humanity and all the conflicts and evils that we deal with on a regular basis. Our genre is light and dark, ying and yang, self and shadow, and these movies help us confront our fears, deal with our traumas, and not only learn to survive, but show us that it's possible. For me, it's been a saving grace, and I feel like I'm stronger because of it, not to mention more empathetic. Honestly, horror has taught me how to be a better person, how to love harder, how to care about those in my community, and it's shown me how to step up when I see someone in need of help.

And lately, I've seen a lot of pain.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National News Network (RAINN), "on average there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United states." In fact, every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted, and out of those numbers, "82% of all juvenile victims are female, and 90% of adult rapes are female, [too]." 

With those numbers in mind, we wanted to do something big this year--our first year-- for WiHM, and I'm proud and excited to say that we'll be doing a fundraiser all month to benefit Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), an organization that is "dedicated to assisting victims of sexual abuse and ending sexual violence in our community."

If you're interested in joining us for this cause, there are a lot of different ways to contribute:
  • Our fundraiser information can be found here, and we're looking for donations for PAAR to help benefit homeless youth, sexual assault victims, and victims of sex-trafficking. Items we're specifically looking for include: makeup bags, tampons, pads, sanitary wipes, tissues, makeup remover, Band-aids, shampoo, body wash, lotion, lip balm, toothbrushes, deodorant, body wipes, dry shampoo, loofahs, hair ties, and black hair care products (both travel sizes and full). Other items are welcomed, too, such as plain t-shirts and sweaters of all sizes, although we cannot accept anything used, so products must be new.
  • If you or someone you know is suffering, both RAINN and PAAR have hotlines and live text-to-chat options to help listen, to help coach, and to help assist you.  You can get in touch with RAINN here, and PAAR here, and please know that you're loved and not alone.
  • Raising awareness is also hugely important, so never hesitant to share information and resources on your platforms, with friends and family, at your job, etc. We're all in this together.
Note: if you're long distance and want to donate, you can certainly do so! All donations and/or checks (made out to PAAR) can be mailed to:
Point Park University
ATTN: Stephanie M. Wytovich
Center for Student Success
201 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1984
If you have any questions or concerns about the fundraiser, please be sure to reference our web link, but also don't hesitate to reach out to me directly. In the meantime, cheers to WiHM, and cheers to The Horror Club at Point Park University. You all make me so proud and grateful to be a part of this community.

Best,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Accepting and Dealing with Burnout


I’ve been a workaholic my entire life, and a big part of why that is deals with the fact that I struggle intensely with chronic depression, anxiety, stagnant migraines, and emotional trauma. When I work and throw myself into creative and academic ventures, I don’t think about all that ugliness, and as a result, it helps me cope and survive and do work that helps people all while giving me something to be proud of.

For 30 years, that lifestyle worked and helped me keep the monsters at bay. People were thrilled to see me at every event, at every reading. They were excited when I would travel to conventions and conferences, when I would organize workshops and events throughout the city. 

What they didn't like, however, was about two years ago when all that started to stop, when I started to say I was tired, that I didn't have the energy to keep working at that pace. I stopped going to a lot of events. I took a break from doing readings, from going to every conference, and people had no problem telling me I was selfish, that I was throwing away opportunities, that I was being a bad friend--and because I didn't want to be perceived as weak or rude, I told myself I could handle it and I kept pushing through.

And then I got sick. 
And then I got sicker.

And as they tend to do, things only got worse.



Let me talk about my average workday:
  • I wake up around 6:30 a.m., shower, get ready for work, wrestle an adorable pit bull out of bed so I can take him outside, feed him, smother him in kisses, and start my day.
  • I usually listen to an audio book during all of this (because I have to squeeze in time to read when I can), or I put on my tape recorder and talk through story ideas.
  • I have a full-time position that I'm responsible for, but I also teach an undergraduate literature class, too, and then I’m currently teaching two graduate courses online that I also have to prep for, teach, and then grade. Note: Sometimes there are more than three classes in total, but this semester, I only took on that amount.
  • A lot of my work includes me starting at a computer screen or reading non-stop, which puts  strain on my eyes, which often times triggers a migraine, and for the better part of this year (until recently because I dragged myself kicking and screaming to the doctor) I was getting migraines about 15 times a month.
  • When I clock out for the day, I try to cook dinner---not because I have to for Dennis, but rather because I love to cook and it helps me manage my stress and do something I love at the same time—and then I take a break for about 60-90 minutes.

Next, I have a list of tasks that on any given evening, I have to work through:
  • I have to prep for and grade papers for my undergraduate and graduate classes.
  • I edit for a small-press so I have manuscripts to work on, read through, and/or market.
  • I mentor/edit for another small-press so I have clients who I need to work with and lessons that needs to be prepped there as well.
  • I review books on my website, so once a month, I try to write a book review. (Please note that I do this for free because I love books and supporting authors).
  • I host author interviews on my website, so I juggle that in when I can, too. (Please note, that I do this for free because I love books and supporting authors).
  • I edit the HWA Poetry Showcase every year so from April-August, I’m usually working on that; I also juror for the Stoker Awards from time to time.
  • I have to maintain scholarly research and publications in my field so a lot of research goes into my job, not to mention to course proposals, etc.
  • Oh, and then I write. 

Please note that none of the above includes any—and I mean any—typical day-to-day stuff like: laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, walking our dog, meal prepping, scheduling doctor appointments, picking up medication, going to the gym, doing lawn work, etc.---all of which still gets done throughout the week when I can muster up the energy to do it.

This was all easier to maintain when for years—and I do mean years—I suffered from insomnia. I hardly slept, and when I did, I slept on the couch or on the floor of my living room because the comfort and intimacy of my bedroom terrified me. When I reconnected with Dennis a few years ago, he—my forever guardian angel--helped me through this, and now I can usually sleep in our bed (with Apollo, my other little blessing) to be asleep around 10:30-11:00 p.m.---something that I’m trying to be very strict about (mostly for my migraines).

I’m bringing all of this up because I know that I’m not the only one whose life is structured like this, and mind you, I don’t have children so I have it a lot easier than most. Even still, I can’t leave my house without my planner or my cell phone because all of my obligations, meetings , and deadlines are pre-programmed into them and without that type of organization, things simply wouldn’t get finished when they needed to, and with the field that I’m in, everything depends and functions based on deadlines. Nevertheless, I write this—mostly because I need to read it and see it on the page—because I have zero time for myself, for fun, for relaxation, for general enjoyment. I’ve become so engrossed in trying to survive, and pay my bills, and keep ahead of the game, and publish, that I forgot how to live. I feel immense guilt (and shame) if I’m not working constantly, and with the amount of people who depend on me (and who think it’s okay to use me because they know I’m a teacher and an editor), my life is often suffocating.

Honestly, I find myself crying a lot these days.

Now I talk a lot about mental health every day in my day job, and let’s not lie, it’s everywhere in my creative work, too, and something that I consistently ignore--despite the fact that I tell everyone else this--is that you’re not any good to others unless you’re good to yourself first. I mean, that’s why they tell you to put on your gas mask first before helping others in the event that something happens on the plane during your flight.

Why? Because Self-care is important. 
It’s necessary.
And I’ve been giving it the middle finger for 30 years.


A few years ago, I put myself back in therapy. I’ve watched myself go through a lot of pain in my life and a lot of time it’s hard to get up and look in the mirror, to look at my scars (both real and invisible), not to mention visit family on holidays, go the cemetery to pay my respects, or pick up the phone to tell someone that I love them. It’s hard for me to pretend everything is okay, when it’s not, and hasn’t been okay for a very long time.

Some of that is my fault.
Some of that isn’t.

So here I am, writing this letter to myself and to you, because I’m tired: mentally, emotionally, and physically. I need a break. I need to teach myself how to be happy again, and I need to remind myself that I have wonderful, beautiful, inspiring people in my life who love me and care about me, and then I’m going to let myself spend more time with those people because that should be a priority, that should be on my to-do list.

I’m going to let myself sleep when I’m tired. I’m going to drink water (instead of coffee or tea). I’m going to go to the gym and nourish my body with food I spent time preparing and blessing in my kitchen. I’m not going to set a reading goal next year and I’m only going to read books I want to read regardless of whether or not they’re timely or recently published or something I’ve been shamed about not reading because I have gaps in my knowledge and reading history (just like literally everyone else does on this planet). I’m going to finish my next book when I finish it, not because I have to meet some imaginary deadline in my head (one that I put there), but because I want to enjoy writing it. I need to slow down, to learn to say no instead of always saying yes, and I need to be okay with putting myself first.

Why?

Because I told myself that when/if it stopped being fun, I wouldn’t do it anymore.

And lately, it’s stopped being fun.

So it’s time to breathe some life back into myself and my art. It’s time to realize that some things and people are never going to change, but that I’m not one of those things; I can change and I can choose to remove myself from situations that make me feel uncomfortable or bad, or from people who don’t cherish or appreciate my time, my mind, and my heart.

Does this mean I'm going to quit doing everything? No. Of course not. At the end of the day, I really love what I do, but I need to learn how to structure and manage it better.  All of this just means that I'm going to be pickier about how I spend my time, who I spend it with, what projects I take on, etc. It means that I still want to be included and brainstormed with and invited out and to things, but that I might have to say no from time to time.

I need to rebuild myself, to put my best self forward, and I’m looking forward to meeting a new version of myself, and to seeing a lighter, happier, healthier version of her, too, because burnout is real and the pressure in this industry and in this field and in this life is intense. So while I hope that you all continue to be kind to each other, I hope you’ll also remember to be kind to yourselves, too.

Because I know it’s something that I really need to work on.

And for once, I intend to put in the work.

With love and gratitude,
Stephanie







Thursday, September 26, 2019

WHEN THE MANNEQUINS COME TO TOWN

Hi Everyone--

Today is the publication day for my sixth book of poetry, an apocalyptic SF/Horror collection titled The Apocalyptic Mannequin. This book is published through Raw Dog Screaming Press and the cover art is done by Steven Archer.

I wrote about my experience and influences writing these poems in an article via Speculative Chic (you can read the full article here), but I wanted to include a small snippet in this post to give some more background on how this project came to be: "A few years ago, I wrote a sci-fi/horror poem titled “The Apocalyptic Mannequin.” It’s a post-apocalyptic robotic soliloquy that challenges the definition of body and how it became reinterpreted when the world collapsed. See, after experimenting with memoir and genre in my collection Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, I wanted to do something completely different and really challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, so I grabbed my crossbow and axe and headed into my own version of a science-fiction horror story while I contemplated the cause and effects of the apocalypse and then mined the wreckage for scraps of poetry."

Please consider adding the book to your TBR pile on Goodreads, picking up a copy via AmazonRaw Dog Screaming Press, or Barnes and Noble, and/or reviewing how my mannequin army treated you on your favorite review site.

About the book:

Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats.

This is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away.

These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive.

What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are.

So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?

What They're Saying:

“Like a doomsday clock fast-forwarding to its final self-destruction, Wytovich’s poetry will give you whiplash as you flip through page after page. The writing here is ugly yet beautiful. It reads like a disease greedily eating up vital organs. The apocalypse has arrived and it couldn’t be more intoxicating!”—Max Booth III, author of Carnivorous Lunar Activities

“In this hauntingly sensuous new collection of poetry, you’ll long to savor every apocalyptic nightmare you have ever feared. Blooming in the beauty of destruction and the terror of delight, Stephanie M Wytovich’s poems remind us that we feel the world better, love the world better, when we recognize the ephemeral nature of everything achingly alive beyond our mannequin minds. Here, we are captive to our deepest velvet snarls, zombie songs, and radioactive wishes, at the mercy of a neon reaping. Reading this collection is like dancing through Doomsday, intoxicated by the destructive, decadent truth of desire in our very mortality. In these poems, you will find revelry in the ruins of everything you once held dear — and you will love it to the last as you watch the world unravel around you.”—Saba Syed Razvi, author of Heliophobia and In the Crocodile Gardens

“Beautifully bleak, Stephanie M. Wytovich’s latest collection posits scenarios of the apocalypse and the horrors to come thereafter with language like fragrant hooks in your skin. Vivid, each word a weight on your tongue, these poems taste of metal and ash with a hint of spice, smoke. She reminds us the lucky ones die first, and those who remain must face the horrors of a world painted in blisters and fear. Leave it to Wytovich to show us there’s beauty in the end, just beneath all that peeling, irradiated skin.”—Todd Keisling, author of Ugly Little Things and Devil’s Creek

“Set in a post-apocalyptic world that at times seems all too near, Wytovich’s poems conjure up frighteningly beautiful and uncomfortably prescient imagery. Populated by a cast of unsettling, compelling characters, this collection is one that stuck with me.”—Claire C. Holland, author of I Am Not Your Final Girl

“A surreal journey through an apocalyptic wasteland, a world that is terrifyingly reminiscent of our own even as the blare of evacuation alarms drowns out the sizzle of acid rain, smiling mannequins bear witness to a hundred thousand deaths, and “the forest floor grows femurs in the light of a skeletal moon.” Stephanie M. Wytovich’s The Apocalyptic Mannequin is as unsettling as it is lovely, as grotesque as it is exquisite.”—Christa Carmen, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

"Wytovich is a witch goddess who weaves together shadows, cobwebs, skulls, and pain. She is more than an author–she is a force of nature overflowing with incredible power."- A.E. Siraki

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

MIGRATING TO THE PLACE OF BROKEN THINGS: AN INTERVIEW WITH LINDA D. ADDISON AND ALESSANDRO MANZETTI


Good morning, friends and fiends--


Today in the MADHOUSE, we're sitting down with Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti  to chat about their collaborative poetry collection, The Place of Broken Things published via Crystal Lake PublishingThis wonderfully dark, surreal book is filled with music and nightmares as it explores the darkness surrounding the words "Broken," "Things," and "Place." When reading it, I was immediately struck by the way the two of them complimented one another, their words each breathing into the other's like soft prayers and suffocations. 

I hope you'll add this book to your TBR list soon, but in the meantime, we're going to talk about the construction of a collaborative work, the narrative flow of poetry, and how rhythm and repetition influence the musicality of the form. So grab some coffee or tea and snuggle up because we're about to fall into the most hauntingly beautiful dream.

With broken teacups and honey,
Stephanie M. Wytovich 



SMW: Tell us about your collection. What gave you the idea to create in this world, and in your opinion, what does it represent at its most literal and figurative heights?

Linda: Alessandro came up with the idea of us writing together and found a publisher, Linda suggested the title. There weren’t any hard rules (any theme distant or close to either Place or Broken or Thing…). We didn’t have a defined plan, the collection created its own unique music and we examined the inner and outer world through the lens of Broken, Things, Place.

SMW: What was your favorite part of the collection to create and explore, and then to play devil’s advocate, what was the hardest for you?

Alessandro: I really enjoyed working with Linda on the collab poems, it was absolutely the best part of the project. It was like exploring many places together, seeing all the things with four eyes. The hardest part was to write my solo poems, since my ‘instruments’ was so wonderfully tuned with Linda’s, and I needed to hear her voice near me.
Linda: I’m in total agreement with Alessandro; it was exciting to write the collab poems because the music of his words & images varied from mine and inspired a different response than my solo poems, but even those were influenced by being in a shared mindset.

SMW: How was your experience collaborating with each other? Can you speak to your process a little?

Linda: The first poem we wrote was the collaborative poem with the same title as the book—after that we knew we could dance gloriously together. We were inspired to write by each other’s individual poems & others poetry, music, art, movies, friends, forms (haiku, concrete, etc.), real & imagined places; basically everything and anything.

SMW: The collection itself reads like a surreal nightmare, something that’s both present and rooted in reality, yet cloudy, almost as if it’s a past dream, familiar yet foreign. How do you personally define surrealism, and how did it influence/inspire you as you worked on the poetry for this book?

Alessandro: All my works are inspired by surrealism, I love its atemporal dimension, beyond time, and its dreaming way to tell something, which allows me to describe something not only on the surface, but diving into it. From the inside, things seem to change their form, showing themselves without skin and compromise.

SMW: There are a lot of nods to religious iconography and themes in the text. Can you speak to how notions of recovery, forgiveness, and redemption are used throughout the collection?

Linda: The word Broken is very strong; there’s so many ways for humans to break, for society to break. We both opened our imagination completely and let it flow, without limits.

SMW: Something that I particularly loved here was the way voyeurism was applied in the book. It was almost like you both were asking: why do we look? Why does the macabre interest us? So I’m curious, what is it about horror that makes you continue to look?

Alessandro: It all comes down to our controversial approach to the unknown and death. On one side we fear to open a mysterious door leading to another dimension, where we have no control over it but, on the other hand, we're fascinated to peek behind it. Horror plays the role of the keyhole of that door.

SMW: I also enjoyed the many nods to minimalist music/form. What is it about minimalism that you think works so well in the horror genre, and how does that sound translate to poetry?

Linda: We’re both exhilarated by our senses; what we hear, see, feel emotionally in the world. It doesn’t have to take a lot of words to invoke emotions of loss, regret, fear through poetry.

SMW: What’s in store next for your readers?

Linda: We both have poems in the upcoming issue of Weird Tales Magazine, which is great because Jonathan Maberry is the new editorial director, who will make sure mistakes from the past will not be repeated. Alessandro wrote his poem first and sent it to me to read; I used it to add some flavoring to the poem I created.  I have a story coming out in 2020 New Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark anthology, edited by Jonathan Maberry.

Alessandro: I have two new books of fiction upcoming this year: the dark thriller/Sci-Fi novella The Keeper of Chernobyl, to be released by Omnium Gatherum, and the hardcore-horror/weird story collection The Radioactive Bride, coming from Necro Publications. Also, I have a story coming out this year in Basphemous Rumors anthology, edited by David G. Barnett and Regina Garza Mitchell.

SMW: What advice do you have for writers working in poetry and/or considering working on a collaborative project?

Linda: It’s very important when doing a collaborative project with another creative person that each person enjoy and respect each other’s work and each other, as well as the ability to take feedback, without ego.Writing poetry should include reading poetry, all types, all genres, and all forms. When creating work, it’s fine to break the rules, but you have to know the rules first. It doesn’t hurt to try some different forms, you never know when some shape/rhythm will appeal/influence your work in a good way. As in any kind of writing:
1-write a piece as well as you can (include getting separate edit/reader feedback, if you can)
2-find an appropriate market & submit
3-write another piece; start at (1) again…

Back of the book summary:

Bram Stoker Award® winners Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti use their unique voices to create a dark, surrealistic poetry collection exploring the many ways shattered bodies, minds, and souls endure. They created poems of visionary imagery encompassing death, gods, goddesses and shadowy, Kafkaesque futures by inspiring each other, along with inspiration from others (Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Phillis Wheatley, etc.).

Construction of The Place started with the first bitten apple dropped in the Garden. The foundation defined by the crushed, forgotten, and rejected. Filled with timeless space, its walls weep with the blood of brutality, the tears of the innocent, and predatory desire. Enter and let it whisper dark secrets to you.

Blurbs:

“Addison and Manzetti … collaborations are seamless. Powerful stuff, indeed. You will find yourself re-visiting the pieces in this book, each time discovering something new.”
—Thomas Monteleone, author of FEARFUL SYMMETRIES and recipient of the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

“There is no book of poetry quite like THE PLACE OF BROKEN THINGS! Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti spin dark magic! Highly recommended!” 
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-WARS and GLIMPSE

“This book is totally alive. Addison and Manzetti have written a volume in which literally every line is worthy of being that book’s title.”
—Josh Malerman, bestselling author of BIRD BOX

The Place of Broken Things is a dark delight of a collection. Each piece embraces flavorful language that sticks on your tongue as you read along and digest the poems. Highly recommend this collection to all fans of darkness and the macabre!”
—Sarah Tantlinger, Bram Stoker Award-winng author of The Devil’s Dreamland




Authors Bio:

Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of four collections, including How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, and recipient of the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Her site: www.lindaaddisonpoet.com.

Alessandro Manzetti, award-winning author of five poetry collections, including Eden Undeground and No Mercy and works of fiction, among which the novels Naraka and Shanti. His site: www.battiago.com