Thursday, September 3, 2009

Private Worlds: Poetry by Scott E. Green

I recently received a copy of Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas, a collection of sf/f/h haiku and other short poetry by Scott E. Green, published by Abbott ePublishing. While I was certainly interested in reading it, I thought I'd find someone else to do a little review of it for this blog, since I don’t really consider poetry to be a form that I am particularly well suited to discuss. Despite having a B.A. in English, which included a great deal of study of English and American poetry in many forms and from every era, I don’t regularly read it in civilian life and my critical eye for it is rather un-nuanced and inarticulate, limited to: either 1) “I like it”; or 2) “yeah, whatever, it’s OK.” For example, I could not tell you what the difference is between haiku and senryu without looking it up, and even then would not get too exercised about it.

This little volume, however, I found perfectly accessible because its subject matter is authors of speculative fiction as well as a few creators in other related media. I took a peek inside to see what was there, and just kept reading it all the way through. Green has endeavored to capture in a few words the essence of the worlds that these writers created. Each poem is simply titled in the style of “Bester’s World,” “Heinlein’s World,” “Lovecraft’s World,” and so on. Each one could serve as a poetic, and sometimes enigmatic answer to the question “what made this author tick?” I’ll quote one of my favorites, this brief item titled “Vance’s World 2”: “A robot/ sipping motor oil/ from a bone china cup.”

Of course the topic of this collection fits into a decidedly small niche and would probably not be fully comprehensible to someone who is simply unfamiliar with all these writers and other creators, but for the reader of sf and fantasy, these short verses are a fine treat. In the introduction, the author says that he did not include a table of contents, wishing the reader to not skip around and instead just encounter each poem as it appears. I took this advice and read them in order, though I wouldn’t say that doing so necessarily enhances the reading experience since they are organized in a simple alphabetical fashion by subject from A to Zelazny rather than in any kind of special progression thematically or otherwise. The individual poems are so brief, however, that taking them in order at least insures against missing any of them as could easily happen if one were flipping randomly through the pages.

Private Worlds is published by Abbott ePublishing in PDF and Mobipocket formats, and sells for a mere $2.49. It is a revision of Private Worlds, originally published in 1985.

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