On ‘Dogwood’ Poetry and Its Place Within Weird Fiction

HP Lovecraft, who is, as some of you might have noticed, my self-appointed paragon of literary beauty, tried his hand at poetry only a few times in his tragically cut-short life.  Having read several of these attempts, I can confirm the belief that poetry of prose does not directly correspond with poetry of verse.  Kindle erotica writers, with the help of Sir Mix-A-Lot, might be able to moonlight as lyricists for Nicki Minaj (id est “Anaconda”), but it seems that not all authors are born with the gift of songwriting.  Regardless: it is Lovecraft’s prose, not his verse, that defines the genre of weird fiction (see my thoughts on that here).  Which begs the question, “Does poetry have a place within Lovecraft’s genre?”

I prefer my poetry in forms of Andrea Gibson and Taylor Mali, but I’m into the weirder side of things, too.  And, going back through old copies of the locally (to me) edited, nationally published Dogwood literary magazine, I would argue that “Sea Stories” by Derek Sugamosto (published in Dogwood 2013) and “The Moths” by Jan Bailey (published in Dogwood 2003) would both feel at home, to one extent or another, in a journal of weird (in the Lovecraftian sense) poetry.  To me, at least, it’s about the minuscule details that illuminate the larger concepts: the strands of DNA that house remnants of a long-dead sun.  The best of Lovecraft’s work lingers on each living moment, something that all great fiction should do.  And I suppose the only thing that separates weird fiction from popular fiction is that it gets to the inner workings and the ultimate truths of the universe not through everyday human drama but through celestial geometry and the fever dreams of discarded youth.

So yeah, if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to join us.  Cthulhu bakes a mean cookie.

From and On ‘Paper Dreams,’ edited by Travis Kurowski (2013)

“1922–Hemingway publishes his first story, ‘A Divine Gesture,’ in the New Orleans literary magazine The Double Dealer. Throughout the following decade Hemingway continues an active, though often contentious, relationship with literary magazines….” (393)

I have a dislike-hate relationship with Ernest Hemingway in addition to any and all other authors who would reduce the already-bland sentence “John sat down to dinner with his wife” to “He ate with her.”  Knowing Hemingway’s disposition, the sentence might more accurately read as “He ate.”   And again, knowing Hemingway, we’d see that two-syllable sentence many times over the course of the novel in which it appeared, the contents of a soup given greater play than interpersonal relationships and/or internal musings.  The current school of fiction-writing dictates that terseness is next to godliness; I have seen far too many Hemingwannabes in my time.  This is why I, perhaps erroneously, value the second paragraph of HP Lovecraft’s “Celephais” as one of the most beautiful and truthful pieces of English fiction.  I search for and fail to find those “fountains that sing in the sun” among the pages written by the so-called father of modern fiction.  I have a growing disbelief in the value of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature.  And as an editor of my own inconsequential shit-stain of a collegiate literary magazine, part of me takes a fair amount of pleasure in knowing that my turn-of-the-century forefathers gave Hemingway something of a “contentious” time.

For the ill-fated ones among us who hold value in adjectives: Lovecraft’s “Celephais.”

For those who would rather read of pasta-consumption: The Hemingway Cookbook.