Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Science Poetry, As Opposed to Science Fiction

I'm not quite sure how I ended up writing the following poem or what led me "into" it. Ultimately the poem turned into a little science-fiction scene. "Science poetry" isn't an expression parallel to "science fiction." I think to most people, "science poetry" would mean poetry that somehow concerns the topic of science, not poetry that speculates about other worlds or creates imaginary futures (and so on).

I think I added the title, which obviously alludes to Coleridge's famous "Kubla Khan," after the poem was pretty much done, or as done as it was going to be. Sometimes I write the title, or a title, first, but more often than not, the title comes late if not last.

I believe this is the only thing I've published in a science-fiction magazine. It was published in Hadrosaur Tales, which prints mostly science-fiction stories but also takes some "science poetry," so to speak. Anyway, I think I was playing around with the idea that one day, nobody will go outside; already a great number of American teenagers don't outside, except to get in a car or a bus to go to school--or so they tell me. Maybe--who knows?--"outside" is over-rated. I still like it quite a bit, but that's just me. The poem:

Suburban Xanadu


In this present
mood, mist filters
through massive
oaks, settles on
gravestones. Birds
are not far off.
It’s all computer-
generated, of course.
We haven’t been
outside our assigned
dome for thirty years.
We suffer from VTS—
Virtual Trauma Syndrome,
in which even
thoughts of visiting
a forest or an un-domed
sector give us terrors,
savage this present mood.


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