Archive for ‘writing’

July 11, 2012

Speculative Fiction: Literature’s X-Games

The X-Games can be amongst the most exciting sporting events to be found anywhere on the planet.  While I grew up watching baseball and expect to forever count it my favorite sport, I also have a real affinity for watching the extreme sports that make up the X-Games.  I don’t know any technical terms in any of the events, nor do I really care to go into it in such detail, but I do find it quite thrilling to watch the skills of the athletes who participate in the games.  They are strong, they are savvy, and they are serious risk-takers.  The feats they accomplish on bikes, boards, and climbing can be absolutely stunning, even to an eye not trained in the intricacies of the respective events.

The strange thing is, the X-Games are something of a marginalized event in the sporting world.  Worldwide, football/soccer is the main sport to follow.  In the US, there’s the big three of baseball, American football, and basketball.  Other events such as cricket or rugby get a similar following in other parts of the globe.  Tennis, golf, polo, hockey, badminton, lacrosse, water polo… you name it, they all have a more prestigious image than the X-Games.  The extreme sports sit on the edges of respectability.  They are the fringe culture of the sporting world.

For those of us who write in the speculative genres, this might sound familiar.  Science fiction, fantasy, and horror (the mainstays of the speculative field) dwell can be counted the marginalized voices in literature, only occasionally getting a nod of approval from the more mainstream literary giants.  Those of us who write in this field understand what it is like to be on the verge of respectability, yet remain on the outside looking in — just like those athletes who compete in the X-Games each year.

But I would submit that, like the X-Games, the speculative genres are capable of producing spectacular feats.  Pushing boundaries, climbing higher, taking risks… these are all characteristics that writers of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi share with extreme athletes.  Just as they compete in the extreme, we write to the extremes.  And while sometimes we might have terrific falls, we might also just manage a stunning trick from time to time.

So all I can say is, keep watching.  You never know what might be coming next.

May 7, 2012

Short Story coming out soon

I just got word today that my sci-fi short story “Rewrites” is going to be included in the Singapore anthology Fish Eats Lion.  It was a lot of fun writing the story, and I am pleased it is going to be included in the anthology.  And to top it all off, Jason Lundberg has been a top-notch editor to work with.

What more could you ask for?

April 26, 2012

Recent Publication

My essay “Deep Pockets, Shallow Lives” appeared this past week in the online magazine Xenith.  It’s a “fragmented essay,” and it’s a piece that I have a real soft spot for.

Over the years, I’ve had a couple of other pieces appear in Xenith, including another fragmented essay and a translation of an anonymous Chinese poem.  Those two are also works that I have a real soft spot for — it looks like I’m seeing a theme for those pieces accepted at Xenith.

It’s always great to find a magazine that resonates for you, that seems to be a good fit for your own writing.  Xenith is exactly that sort of publication for me.  I hope you’ll pop by and see what all they’ve got going on there too.  Maybe you’ll find you like it as much as I do.

April 21, 2012


I’ve recently had a couple of poems appear at Eunoia Review.  “In Captivity, by the Streams of Babylon” is a reprint of a piece that was exhibited at Things Disappear in Shanghai in 2011.  “Random Access Memory” is published at Eunoia Review for the first time.

Both of these poems are in a form I call “erasure,” for reasons that will be clear when you have a look at them.  (Or, if it isn’t immediately clear, then highlight the text at those sites and you’ll see how the form works.)  I like how the form says something by taking away, how it speaks through the negative spaces.

I came to the form via Edwin Morgan, one of my favorite poets.  I don’t know that he ever referred to it as “erasure,” but it is what I call it.  His poem “Message Clear” is one that just floored me when I first read it.  He was not the only (nor the first) poet to write using this technique, but that particular piece made an especially deep impression on me, and it was the one that compelled me to experiment with the form myself.

I’ve experimented with erasure on several occasions, with varying degrees of success.  What I love most about it is the way it forces you to discover poetry in words not (at first) your own.  In doing so, it provides you with the opportunity to find yourself in the words of others in a unique way.

January 4, 2010

Repost: Rhysling Eligible Poems (2010)

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Rhysling Eligible Poems, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

With Rhysling nominations open to SFPA members, I thought I would provide a list of my poems that were first published in 2009.

From Cyborg Chimera, a collection published by Sam’s Dot Publishing (poems unpublished before 2009)

Morpheus                                Merlin

A Nightmare’s Whisper           Bill Passed, a Fib

FreeFall                                  Conviction

In Exile                                    Dozer

Orion Out the Window            Watchdog 6.9.2

Unhand Me                            Cyborg Chimera

Avatar                                    Not Programmed That Way

Suffrage                                 Sphinx-Speak

Horrorscope                           Generic

The Sacred, the Savage        Double Helix

Censor Censure Censer        Gone Awry

Id                                            Insomniac

In Aoife’s Kiss

Colonizers (June 2009)

Under Pressure (June 2009)

Fortunes Told (June 2009)

A Note on Her Pillow (December 2009)

In Astropoetica

When the Seeing is Good (Autumn 2009)

In Contemporary Haibun Online

Project (March 2009)

Mr. Lincoln’s Program (June 2009)

In Cover of Darkness (poetry anthology)

Night Falls (May 2009)

In Expressions newsletter

Our Universe Expands (June 2009)

Each Particle Contains the Whole (October 2009)

in early autumn (November 2009)

Night Watch (December 2009)

Ambarvalia (December 2009)

In The Fifth Di…

Dreams of Elsewhere (March 2009)

In The Genesis Project

Visitation (2009)

Men of Renown (2009)

In The Martian Wave

Bypassed (June 2009)

In Mirror Dance

Cave Drawings (Autumn 2009)

Long Compton (Winter 2009)

In Motel 58

Chicago, 1893 (March 2009)

In His Images (March 2009)

In Not One of Us

electrodes hooked up (April 2009)

a bulleted list (October 2009)

In Scifaikuest

Manipulated (May 2009, online)

In Space, Lost (May 2009, print)

always pleased to serve (May 2009, print)

gods who frighten us (August 2009)

Organic Emissary’s Fib (August 2009)

Hide and Seek (August 2009)

beneath icy plains (August 2009)

non-binary codes (August 2009, online)

Harvest Moon (November 2009)

Juno’s Itinerary (November 2009)

elderberry wine (November 2009, online)

In Sloth Jockey

Pellinore’s Dive (Feb 2009)

Faultlines (May 2009)

In Spaceports & Spidersilk

mane proudly shaken (June 2009)

“Manipulated” is the only one that falls in the “long poem” category.  All the rest are below 50 lines.

I will be happy to email the full text of any of these poems to SFPA members upon request.  A few samples are available here.

My contact information:  shellybryant [at] yahoo [dot] com

December 26, 2009

Repost: Something New for 2010

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Something New for 2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

For the new year, I am starting a new project.  I will be offering poetry and writing coach services for people who are interested in learning or improving the writing craft.  You can see how it works on the website I’ve set up.


Engaging a poetry or writing coach can be a useful for:


  1. ✦people who have to write as a part of their job and would like to make their writing more effective


  1. ✦“closeted” poets and writers who would like to prepare their work for eyes other than their own


  1. ✦poets and writers who want to learn how to prepare manuscripts for publication


  1. ✦poets and writers who would like to better prepare their writing for publication, in hopes of receiving more acceptance letters


  1. ✦novice poets and writers who want to understand the conventions of writing better so that they can shape their work to interact with a community of other readers / poets / writers


  1. ✦readers, poets, and writers who want a broader appreciation of the tradition of poetry (see poetry courses)


Not every writer or poet is fortunate enough to have other writers with whom they can interact and share the writing experience.  Many writers would like to take their work to the next level, putting it into circulation and seeing it published, but are unsure how to go about the whole process.  An experienced coach can help poets and writers who find themselves in such situations.


I have decided to start offering coaching services because my own blend of skills, experience, and interests suit such an arrangement.  I have always loved reading and writing — the two activities in which every good writer is sure to be absorbed — and also teaching.  I have 6 years’ experience teaching undergraduates in the English literature department of a private university in Singapore, and more than 15 years’ experience tutoring adult students in writing (academic and creative).  I have always preferred individual training sessions to classroom time, as it allows for closer interaction between student and teacher.  In addition, it allows the pair to focus on specific needs rather than simply aiming to cover a set of material.  In one-on-one training, the focus is on the needs of the learner.  And I really like that.


As a writer, I have enjoyed seeing my own work grow over the past several years.  As an undergraduate student (20 years ago!), I was engaged to assist one of my professors in completing two manuscripts that he was preparing for publication.  Since then, I have done professional writing for more than 15 years, developing material for businesses ranging from entertainment giants to shrimp farms.  I’ve written material for historical societies, magazines, corporations, and advertising agencies.  I branched into more creative endeavors roughly 10 years ago, but mostly, at first, only helping with editing and proofreading.  After a while, I began to send out my own poetry for publication.  I currently have about 200 poems, book reviews, and articles in print or accepted for publication.  My first poetry collection, Cyborg Chimera, was released by Sam’s Dot Publishing last year, and 30 of my haiku appeared in dark ‘til dawn, a collection of designer art pieces.  I’ve enjoyed the process of growing as a writer, and hope to share that experience with others who are interested in engaging coaching services.


I am looking forward to 2010 and this new step in my own writing and teaching.  It is nice to bring my professional experience together into one service that I think can be of help to other writers and poets.






©2009 Shelly Bryant





2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I hope this works out well for you!
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 05:13 AM
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 03:03 PM
November 9, 2009

Repost: decollection Launches its dark ’til dawn Collection in Shanghai

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

decollection Launches its dark ‘til dawn Collection in Shanghai

Monday, November 9, 2009

Over the weekend, decollection launched its first line of collectible art pieces, the dark ‘til dawn series of designer lamps.  Each lamp is hand-painted and designed by decollection’s Peter Zhou around one of my haiku.  There are 30 pieces in the collection.  Each is unique, and comes accompanied by a birth certificate signed by both poet and artist.

You can download this PDF catalog with pictures of each of the lamps and poems.  You can get a bit of a feel for the whole series from those images.


At the launch, I read from my newly released poetry collection Cyborg Chimera.  The book, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing in October 2009, will arrive in Asia later this month.  Several guests at the launch placed advanced orders.


Excerpts from two of the poems from Cyborg Chimera app

ear in the dark ‘til dawn collection, making for an interesting crossover.  the book is a work of speculative poetry, focusing on cyborgs, hybridity, dreams, the subconscious, and questions of freewill and human initiative.  The dark ‘til dawn collection, on the other hand, features only haiku, and aims for a more soothing effect than what is featured in most of the poems in Cyborg Chimera.  Zhou’s lamp designs and paintings help torecontextualize the poems in a way that suits their new setting, showing the versatility of the written word, particularly when engaged across traditional boundaries of language and culture.

The launch of dark ‘til dawn was a 2-day event held at the decollection office.   Of the 30 pieces in the collection, nine were sold at the event.


If you are interested in purchasing one of the lamps, please drop me an email and I can let you know the prices for the lamp, shipping, etc.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

October 24, 2009

Repost: Reflections on dark ’til dawn

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Reflections on dark ‘til dawn

Saturday, October 24, 2009

There was really only one thing that ever kept me from becoming a visual artist of some sort — a decided lack of talent.  I don’t have a steady hand.  My fine motor skills are, well, less than fine.  I have never been able to put the pictures in my mind onto the page without recourse to words.  Words, it seems, are the only chance I have at producing art.  I have always felt it a pitiable lack in myself, that I did not have even a shred of talent that would allow me to enter the world of visual arts.


Because of this particular ineptitude that I’ve always known was mine, collaborating on the dark ‘til dawn series with Peter Zhou (周宇) of decollection has been a great pleasure.  The project involved creating 30 designer lamps sporting Zhou’s paintings, with both the design and painting growing out of my haiku.  Each lamp was to be a one-of-its-kind art piece, with a unique design and painting inspired by the haiku.  The idea was to incorporate East and West, contemporary and traditional.  It was a huge undertaking, and I am very satisfied with the job we’ve done, having just completed it this week.


The process began with poem selection.  I went through my existing body of work, and took out several haiku that would form a basis for the series, including some that were previously published, like the haiku portion of the haibun “Blowing Smoke,” still available in the archives at Sloth Jockey.  Haiku seemed to be a natural choice for the form of poetry that would suit the lamps, both for its brevity and for its emphasis on image and “the moment.”


As Zhou and I sat discussing the poems, me trying to translate the ideas into Mandarin for him, we found that the best approach was to first talk image, then move to feel, effect, and associations.   It was an invigorating process, and also quite humbling.  It is very difficult to pick apart one’s own poetry and put it into such bald, exposed terms (though I never mind doing it to the work of others).  Zhou impressed me with how quickly he could capture the ideas and relate them to the pictures floating around in his own mind.


Our next step involved Zhou producing sketches for the paintings and lamp designs, while I put together a few more poems to flesh out the series.  We ended up going through about 45 poems in order to find the 30 that we finally settled on.  Some of the haiku were, typical of my work, first created as works of speculative poetry.  Watching Zhou recontextualize these poems into a more traditional Chinese setting was amazing.  For instance, there is one piece that was written as part of a longer poem, envisioning the view of Earth from space:


compelled by her hues

overlaid by swirling whites

her rich greens, deep blues


Zhou’s image of this poem is a scene of a river gorge cut between two mountains, with the clouds rolling over the waters in the middle of the valley.  It is very typical of a certain style of traditional Chinese painting, and nicely places the words of the poem into a new context that I had not imagined for them.  Similar work of situating the verses into new surroundings happened over and over with the 30 pieces, bringing Merlin into contact with Da Peng Niao, the phoenix with a Chinese sunbird, and meteors with Chinese astrology.  It has been lots of fun watching all of this come together.


Zhou is an amazing artist, endowed with all of those talents that are necessary for one to be successful with the visual arts — a steady hand, a good eye, a cool demeanor, and a quick recall across the huge breadth of images residing in his mind.  It has been a great pleasure to see my poetry being brought to new life by his hand.



By next week, there should be photos and descriptions of the lamps up on the decollection website.  Check back if you’d like to have a look.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant


2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
What fun–and what an inspiring way to create art.


Sunday, October 25, 2009 – 03:12 AM
It really has been fun, Malcolm.  I enjoyed the discussions with Peter (and appreciate him bearing with the roughness of the translations I was able to offer!).  It’s been quite fun for me, working on this project.
Sunday, October 25, 2009 – 08:18 AM
October 10, 2009

Repost: Upcoming Projects

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Upcoming Projects

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cyborg Chimera

My first poetry collection, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, has been released.  The poems probe into questions of programming and free will, hybridity, the subconscious, and all sorts of control mechanisms.  You can order your copy ofCyborg Chimera from The Genre Mall.



Speculative Poetry Anthology (a call for submissions)

Firstfruits Publications, Singapore’s most renown publisher of poetry books, seeks submissions for a poetry anthology slated for late 2010. The anthology will aim to introduce speculative poetry to a Singapore audience. We hope that this will generate more interest in genre poetry in the country, and that both poets and readers will seek to experiment more in the field. Our interest runs the gamut from hard science to mythopoeia to horror to fantasy to the surreal. We are interested in

finding a broad range of speculative poetry to introduce to a local audience.


You can send submissions to me at the address listed below. No more than 10 poems (of any length) per poet. If your work is accepted, there is a possibility we will solicit more pieces from you down the road. Submissions should be addressed to project editor Shelly Bryant at shellybryant (at) yahoo (dot) com.  (You’ll have to make that a usable address.)  Please put POETRY SUBMISSION and your name in the subject line, and include the poems in the body of the email. And please remember to include your contact information.  No reprints.  Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please inform the editor if the work is accepted elsewhere.


Payment will be in contributors’ copies, 2 per contributor.



Dark ‘til Dawn

Next month marks the launch of a project I am working on in conjunction with decollection, a Shanghai-based designer of soft furnishings.  The Dark ‘til Dawn series of designer art pieces is a space for the intermingling of my poetry and the paintings of Chinese artist Zhou Yu.  Each piece grew out of one of my haiku, with Zhou’s painting and lamp design developing around the imagery of the poem.  There will be 30 lamps in the collection, each a unique design, with a unique poem and painting hand-painted on the piece.  Each lamp will come with a birth certificate, and will be signed by the artists.


Watch for more information as the launch date draws nearer.



Pocket Guide to Suzhou

I have been engaged by Urbanatomy to write a pocket guide to the city of Suzhou. The book will be released next year, in conjunction with the World Expo, hosted in Shanghai.  Urbanatomy has published guides to Shanghai over the past several years, and is currently expanding its work to include other cities.  Suzhou is a beautiful place, and I am very pleased to be writing about it.


Expect the book to be released sometime in early summer 2010.  I will, again, include more information as we get closer to the release date.





It’s going to be an exciting few months, with lots of new projects on!  Keep an eye on this blog for more updates.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

6 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Exciting stuff, Shelly!  This should keep you out of trouble for awhile.
Saturday, October 10, 2009 – 11:50 PM
4Keep me out of trouble?  Might have to work harder than that…
Sunday, October 11, 2009 – 01:57 PM
WOW!! what awesome stuff you’ve got going! good for you! would love to see the lamps. is there a website for that?
Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 05:30 AM
It is exciting, silken.  The lamps aren’t quite done yet, as there are a few more to paint.  But, they are supposed to be done this week, and we’ll have the images up with the lamps ready to order on the 23rd, if all goes as planned.  It will be at the link listed above (  There’s a link to the company’s site from my main page, which I’ll change to the lamps’ site when they are done.

I’m very pleased with the way the lamps have turned out so far.  Zhou Yu has done a great job with the art work.  I hope next week, when they are finished, to do a little debrief of the process in an entry here, and will have more to say then.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 09:34 AM
It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by…looks like you’ve been busy!

I just ordered my copy of your book and can’t wait for its arrival!  :O)

Thursday, October 22, 2009 – 02:25 AM
Thanks for popping in, Beth, and thanks for ordering a copy of Cyborg Chimera.  I don’t think it is shipping yet, but should be very soon.

I have been very busy, and loving the projects I’ve been working on.  I’m looking forward to seeing things take a firmer shape over the next few months (year, really).  It will be nice if all goes as I hope with each of the projects…. is that too much to ask for????

Saturday, October 24, 2009 – 09:34 AM