BLOG The Rhysling Awards
Which SF awards do you follow? Blogger Stuart Hall discusses the overlooked Rhysling prize:
The Rhysling Awards
The Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C Clarke are all awards with which you will be familiar. But, I wonder how many have heard of the Rhysling Awards? Even though the winners are regularly reprinted in the Nebula Awards Anthology the Rhysling remains below the radar of most readers. I hope you’re now intrigued. If the Rhyslings are significant enough for the winners to be reprinted alongside the Nebula winners, why do they have such a low profile?
The answer is simple: the Rhysling Awards are given for poetry.
Named after the blind poet who appears in Robert Heinlein’s novel The Green Hills Of Earth and awarded annually since 1978 by the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the Rhyslings are divided into two categories. The short poem award is for works of less than 50 lines and the long form is awarded to the best poem of 50 lines or more.
There are many familiar names among the past winners and nominees. Gene Wolfe, Thomas M Disch, Ursula K Le Guin, Joe Haldeman and Lucius Shepard are all past winners, while nominees have included Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Benford, Roger Zelazny and Margaret Atwood. Two familiar names from the British SF establishment have been nominated for the award this year, Brian Aldiss and Ian Watson, who has also been nominated on a number of previous occasions.
If you’re still not convinced that speculative poetry is worth investigating perhaps a brief look at its history will persuade you. An anthology of genre poetry, Tales Of Terror And Tales Of Wonder, was published as early as 1801. Of course elements of fantasy and horror are found in the work of many mainstream poets; Poe in particular springs to mind. It is, however, around the beginning of the 20th Century that poets writing specifically in the genre begin to make their mark. The poetry scene has, since then, broadly mirrored the short story market, the same magazines, New Worlds, The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Amazing, for example, providing outlets for both.
Today, the main places to find SF poetry are still the magazines. Asimov’s Science Fiction is not only the premier short story magazine at the present time but also the prime outlet for poetry, each issue usually contains three or four poems. Many of the on-line magazines also carry poetry and the Science Fiction Poetry Association also prints poetry in its bimonthly newsletter, Star*Line.
I hope I’ve encouraged a few of you to seek out and read for yourselves some genre poetry. Perhaps you might even be tempted to write something of your own…
This is a personal article by Stuart Hall, one of our new bloggers – read more about our volunteer contributors on this dedicated page. Find out more about the Rhysling Awards at the official site.
Are you a writer who’s composed poetry in the past? Do you read many poems? Your thoughts welcome as always, in the comment thread below or on our forum.