Category Archives: Poetry

Speculative Poetry

So Chicago Literati published five of my poems today, and it felt like a celebration. Not that my poems haven’t been published elsewhere, they have been – often, and in a variety of different literary magazines and websites. But this group of poems to me really feels like that start of a collection. For a long time I have admired speculative poets. I’ve also admired genre poets who write Fantasy and SciFi poetry, some great examples of poets that have inspired me are Matt Bialer (whose most collection – Tell Them What I Saw was published recently by PS Publishing,) Tracy Brimhall (whose collection Our Lady of the Ruins,) was a true inspiration, and also poets like Roz Kaveney (who I heard speak about genre poetry at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton last year and she truly inspired me as well.) All three poets are really different in style, but I admired them for different reasons.

ruins brimhall cover  bialer cover  Kaveny_2012a-212x300

It was hard for me to break out of realism. It’s hard for me in general because even though I studied Poetry in university, I started out as a Nonfiction Writer – I loved Literary Nonfiction – so much so that I combined it with a history degree. But I’m a big lover and reader of fantasy. It’s been a process this year. In my poetry at least, I’ve been trying to break free, trying to be a little less afraid not to tell the truth. I’ve been working on it in my fiction too – with a collection of short stories that are based in magical realism and that have speculative elements, but this is really the first set of poems that I am truly proud of.

I feel, for the first time since I started writing poetry again (after a long hiatus of about ten years,) that I’ve really found my voice and that these poems are the beginning of a collection. They are five poems that tell a story, they all speak to each other, they are all sort of set in the same “village” in my mind, they describe the desert and the surrounding area in which I live, but they take elements of that natural world and play with them, all in all I’m just super excited about them.

You can read them here:



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Catching up on Poetry – NaPoWriMo after the London Book Fair

Once the London Book Fair was in full swing I did not have the space or time to keep writing. I have spent the weekend trying to catch up.

I really want to say how amazing the NaPoWriMo blog has been – not only in encouraging writers to keep writing poetry every day this month –  but in posting truly fabulous inspiration and challenges that have taken me out of my comfort zone and gotten me to try to ideas and styles that not only have I loved, but feel compelled to return to after this is all over. In the meantime, I keep following and enjoying the challenges – not all of them, but most!

Here is the poem inspired by Day 20 – the challenge was to use 5 random words from a list and make it into a poem – I didn’t use the entire list, but I used most of it – more than 15 words – which was even more of a challenge.


The owl absconds with my pencil
she flies upwind, my afternoon’s
work squandered, so I pour tea
that smells of clove and cinnamon
it’s a miraculous elixir, amber as
it pours out from the thermos, under
the watchful eye of the thief, cyclops
who stole to build a nest in some willowy
tree. The afternoon is mercurial, the air
scented, more seaweed than gutter, it changes
quickly, wind gusts like artillery fire, salt tang
of the sea on my tongue, the curl of my toes
in response to a chill burst, it is ego, elusive
in its quest to commune, twice I have been
confounded by a ghost, an owl once stole
my wedge of cheese, but left the truffle.
It is why I am still svelte.

The second challenge that I took on was quite unusual but a lot of fun – the challenge was in making what I wrote make sense afterwards. This challenge had us take a poem in a foreign tongue that we don’t know at all and “translate” it as best we could. I chose a poem entitled Delphi IV by Jos De Haes from Belgium.

Delphi 4

I suppose that the lake was hidden
blood-red over the silver sheen
flowing salvation, marred beneath
the poor vole sad and missed.

Over the ribbon of the iceberg
the ripples of the slavering deep
this stream runs alcoholic mergers
shot with starlings that won’t waken.

So many shimmers in the stream
blood-wingers plant still birth
– and on the bluff all’s in a tomb
of once haunted mounds of silk.

Blink once in the splintering wood
your glow and prime are coming
die there panning for the goldpost
on which they wrote in blood your name.

O children, my puppies, my wonder
we die cold in the ocean seas
and waken with a blood curse, standing
the dagger is a sword of sound.

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The Tryst – Poetry Noir

I’m in London now for the London Book Fair. I am under no illusion that I will be able to write a poem a day, but I’m having fun with this as I go, and trying to squeeze in some time here and there.

This is poetry noir – another genre I have never attempted. Great challenge. I had enough fun with this to even return to it again some time. The poem isn’t perfect but it was fun to write.

The Tryst
By Rena Rossner

Her hand trembles, she stabs at her eye
with a mascara wand. The lover on her bed
watches and takes a drag of cigarette, the ashes

fall. The phone rings. They stare
at it, but don’t pick up. The sound
of breathing fills the room. She pours

a drink. Shoots it down fast. It’s all
been done. She lies back down. He reaches
for his gun. They kiss, the metal cold

and hard against her slip. His car is down
below, for getaways and midnight trysts, for
endless stakeouts. But here its a freefall,

her arms a secret scar. Light edges in
from streetlamps, the rumble of a distant car.
The sound of laughter is like thunder, rising from

the hotel bar. Her ears against his shadowed chest.
There is no time for love. The knock is soft at first,
then harder, like the beating of her heart.

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Cin-quain-on and a Goobye Poem

I’m still behind, doing the challenges now for days 5 and 6…

The first is a Cinquain – a structed metered poem that really appealed to me in a way that somehow Haiku’s don’t. It was stuctured enough but unstructured in the sense that it did not require rhyme which is perhaps why I enjoyed the form more – freedom within constriction and all that, as well as the serious challenge of putting the words together in a way that makes sense and follows a pattern – a great jigsaw puzzle, and I so do love a challenge.

The second is a goodbye poem – this one has a lot of meaning for me personally, but I like the concept of it’s ambiguity – a writer saying goodbye to his/her story – or is it something more? The intimacy of the relationship between the creator and the created…

By Rena Rossner

It’s now,
when day is done
that I can hear my voice
In silence thick as night I play
with words.

By Rena Rossner

I make a study of your letters
the words you formed
that ran across the page
away from me
sometimes they form
a concrete poem
your face in the morning
over coffee
you were always
far away.

Remember me like a window
open or shut, translucent,
full of glass and sunshine
I never meant to be a cage
I am but another demon
from your past
a face you pass
you turn your head as you go –
Was that just? No. Move on.
Keep moving. But you recognize
the echo.

Do you feel it still?
As I do? A low grumbling
like thunder, hungry,
an itch that you can’t scratch
a lonely angel, trailing you
ghost-like, calm, you turn
again, you hear a song,
a tear comes out of nowhere
unbidden, it falls and wets
the page. There is no pain,
it’s compensation, a mark
of cain, a passage back
into the intimacy
of silence.

Perhaps you are as glad
to be rid of me
as one who finally snuffs
the buzzing of a fly.
I am danger, keeper,
watcher, lover
of all your stories
you loved me best.

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A Lie. New Poem From Day 2 of NaPoWriMo.

So it’s day two of National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo (yeah, I know it’s April 5th which means that it’s day 5, and this should be my 5th poem, but the second poetry prompt was write a lie, so I am going to pretend I’m actually keeping up with this!)

The prompt was to write a poem that’s a lie, or a poem about a lie, or a poem that tells a lie, and this was a very big challenge for me because I don’t do “cute” poems, my poems are usually muses or images or ideas, flitting things that come to me and then cross lines and somehow can only be expressed in poetry. I write about visions, dreams, odd juxtapositions of things, small objects, feelings, I don’t usually write “clever” or story poems. But that’s what I like about this challenge – it’s taking me out of my comfort zone.

So here is my attempt at a lie.

A Lie
By Rena Rossner

I rose to greet the dawn, some things stay true
the sun that rises, faithfully, the house
that never sleeps, though contents do.
I made a cup of coffee, silently, some
habits never die, and turned on the computer.
I didn’t intend to lie. The bounty of places,
names and dates, the possibilities, an open face,
a door, a chance to travel across lines. Caught
in the net, suspended there, I thought to spin
my tale, become un-trapped. It was a little lie,
my age, a different face, a new name for this thing
I call myself. It grew. Until I did not know who
lived inside my skin, and who had dared
to claim that she was me behind the screen.
I tried to take her down, to lose her cool,
but she had taken on an alias, her presence
known. She took my time, she wanted more,
she had the friends I never had, the views,
a platform on which to stand, and she was
young and she was free, and she was everything
that wasn’t me. I spent more time attempting
to be her, less time professing to be me, and then
one day I didn’t recognize myself, a husk
of flesh and bone, a fly, caught in a tangled web.
A lie.

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Napowrimo Day 1 (two days late)

So I finally got around to doing poetry prompt one from Napowrimo (National Poetry Writing Month) – a challenge during which I am supposed to write a poem a day for 30 days.

The first challenge (via the NaPoWriMo blog) is to take the first line of a well-known poem and make it your own.

This is the line I chose: Slowly, silently, now the moon

There is something ethereal about it. And sitting here in my comfy chair, large sliding glass doors to my left that lead out onto the balcony, I can feel the moon’s presence over my shoulder as it slowly, silently takes a peek at what I’m writing.

The original poem is called “Silver” by Walter de la Mare


By Walter de la Mare

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

And this is my feeble attempt:

Different Flame

By Rena Rossner

Slowly, silently, now the moon
a spot of bother in the night
half past shoulder, quarter-
sized, appears. The balcony
is fraught with hassled light,
worried moths, long-legged things,
attracted by the glow, the hum, the other-
worldly radiance, my hands,
illuminated, insectile, tap
dance across the keys, my lap-
top, shaded in blue, in black on white,
in words fleshed out, fragile as wings,
dead things, insect markings
on the screen, flattened,
here be bug things. Moths
to a different flame.


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National Poetry Month, Napowrimo, and My Own Personal Brand of Madness

I am doing something decidedly insane this month, especially considering the fact that I am going to the London Book Fair in the middle of all of this, and I have to hand in edits for my cookbook (Eating the Bible, coming out in September from Skyhorse Press and already available for pre-order on Amazon!) in the next few days, and I am in the middle of working on the first book in a fantasy series. But, it’s NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and it’s Napowrimo so…I will be writing one poem a day for 30 days starting April 1 (I may have to double up on some days especially when I am in London). I am certifiably nuts. But some of you already knew that.

I will also be participating in the following: THE BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY 2013

My Try Poetry Giveaway

I will be giving away two books of poetry.

One by my favorite poet of all time: Pablo Neruda and another by a new, lesser-known poet: Traci Birnhall.

I haven’t decided which Pablo Neruda book yet. I’m still debating…Check back here to find out!

This is the Traci Birnhall book:


Very excited to be doing this (and a little nervous!) I’m not sure if I’ll post the poem that I write each day, because I would like to be able to submit them afterwards, maybe snippets of the poems and something about the process, the ideas I touch upon and where my inspiration comes from.

Please comment below in order to enter the giveway!


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