At the end of last year, I approached a few editors of speculative poetry to recommend five “Best of…” poems of 2012. I asked that the five recommended poems would be written, edited and published by other people, rather than the editors themselves.
I am now happy to share the editors’ recommendations with you! We begin the series with Adrienne J. Odasso, a poet and co-editor of Strange Horizons and the Dark Mountain Project. Thank you, Adrienne!
1. “How to Undress a Mountain,” by Aditi Rao (qarrtsiluni, The Fragments Issue, Autumn 2012)
This piece of prose-poetry explores storytelling in the form of a metaphor I’m sure I’ll never forget. We take mountains for granted: as bucolic backdrops, as inhospitable landscapes, as statistics in geology textbooks. After reading this, you will never look at mountains—or at yourself—the same way again.
2. “Sister,” by Alex Dally MacFarlane (Through the Gate, Issue 1, September 2012)
Tales of fox-creatures and other similar shapeshifting beasties have become (at least it seems to me) more prevalent in the landscape of fantasy and speculative poetry in the past few years or so, almost to the point of being overdone. Not so with this piece, as uniquely spun themes of anger, grief, obsession, and familial love hum through its lines to a haunting and satisfying finish.
3. “In His Eighty-Second Year,” by Dominik Parisien (Stone Telling, The Queer Issue, March 2012)
This poem stands as an eloquent, melancholy, and spellbinding example of why we need more narratives about and from the perspectives of those who are older, wiser, and see the world from perspectives that many of us cannot.
4. “Sarcophagus,” by N. E. Taylor (inkscrawl, Issue 3, April 2012)
We have waited long enough for a magazine that celebrates poetry in its briefest, most incisive forms, and, thus far, inkscrawl has more than delivered. In this brief, biting gem, history, magic, and mortality come full circle in two elegant lines.
5. “Heart Rot,” by Amanda Reck (Goblin Fruit, Summer 2012 Issue)
Fairytale echoes fuse seamlessly with the difficult reality of losing a parent to terminal illness; leaves and bark, pages and spines (trees both living and dead) guide us through a wistful, lovely text documenting decay and rebirth. Amanda Reck is one to watch, as her poem called “Skin Walker,” (http://www.goblinfruit.net/2012/spring/poems/?poem=skinwalker) which appeared in the Spring 2012 Issue of Goblin Fruit, nearly also made my list.