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new MythicDelirium.com featured poems (the next level)

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When (at Anna Tambour's urging) I first started the doing Featured Poems on the Mythic Delirium website, I did not archive them. It became my habit to simply replace each poem with the next one, leaving no trace of what went before.

However, inspired by and in friendly competition with the Goblin Fruit gals (mer_moon and tithenai), I started seeking out extra bells and whistles: first, audio compenents and, now, video. Once I took that step, it started to seem like a waste to just dump that stuff when I lined up the newer poems. It seems even more of a waste now that I've started doing the "Classic" features, putting up poems that have some signifance to Mythic Delirium's tiny piece of poetry history.

Our newest featured poem presentation is a serious double-whammy, with two watershed poems in Mythic Delirium's evolution. First we have Theodora Goss' "Octavia is Lost in the Hall of Masks," winner of the 2004 Rhysling Award in the long poem category, the first poem from our pages to claim that prize (though others have been runner-ups). It's perhaps an understatement to say that Dora's star as a fiction writer and editor has risen dramatically since "Octavia" first appeared in my slush pile sometime in '02. As a poet, Dora is best known for fantasy verse that recalls 19th century formalism; but though "Octavia" evokes old history in its own way, there was something about this piece that I recognized as not just a radical departure for her ... it just wasn't like anything I'd ever seen before in speculative verse. The SFPA's vote, I've felt, ultimately vindicated my gut instinct. (Truth be told, Anita always told me she didn't like "Octavia" until she heard Dora read it at the first Rhysling Award Poetry Slan at ReaderCon 16. Now, you can have the same experience, with video we took of Dora reading in the hallway at ReaderCon 18. Please don't give the elevator dings too much mind.)

The second half of our double feature is a different kind of landmark: certainly one of the interesting punctuations to it is that I remember what I was doing when I first read it. Anita and I were driving home along the winding roads of Floyd County, where we had gone to help read fiction submissions for the magazines at DNA Publications; we had with us some poems for Mythic Delirium that had been sent to the publisher instead of our own editorial address. As I drove, Anita read and announced that she had found a poem she really, really liked. The poem turned out to be "Turn of the Century, Jack-in-the-Green" by Sonya Taaffe (sovay) and we became the first to purchase and publish one of her poems. Well, little did we know ... that poem appeared in Issue 5, and Sonya has had at least one poem in every issue ever since, by far the most of any contributor. And there was that Rhysling Award in 2003, when few knew who she was yet (for a poem I rejected — oops!) — and her first poetry collection in 2005, declared one of the best books of the year at Locus Online ... my God, what have we unleashed? Heh. Here, too, we caught Sonya on video at ReaderCon 18, and you can at last hear her first published poem in her voice.

And: when I put up the new poems with the video from Dora and Sonya, I also created archive pages for the previous pieces with extras: by Catherynne Valente (catvalente) (her Rhysling nominated "The Descent of the Corn Queen of the Midwest"); Anna Tambour (the wildly weird "Trapped Words," with a wacky reading by Alistair Rennie); Samantha Henderson (samhenderson) (her disturbing and poignant "King's Man"); and Ann K. Schwader (our first "Classic Feature," 2001 2nd place Rhysling Award winner "Reflections in a Fading Mir," accompanied by a moving reading from Dmitri Zagidulin (justbeast)). I've actually improved those pages, as now the audio is embedded so you can play the files and just let them run as you read, rather than a new window opening up.

So by all means come and look and listen as we usher in the new world order. *g*
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