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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS + How Black Spec Po is different + 5 questions answered
See, I fell asleep and I had a dream
It was all Black everything
As part of a continuing effort to amplify Black voices and to serve the greater field of Speculative poetry, the SFPA is thrilled to announce the creation of an ALL BLACK issue of Star*Line magazine. You are reading that correctly, the Revolution is here and it is in print. Issue 43.4 of Star*Line will feature Black voices from around the globe in what promises to be a historic first for our organization.
Submissions are open to Black speculative poets from anywhere in the African Diaspora which includes those who are mixed-race of Black-African descent. Whether or not you are personally able to submit for this issue, we would be honored if you could help be a part of making this thrilling venture a success by encouraging others to submit before the deadline.
SUBMIT UP TO FIVE POEMS BY AUGUST 31, 2020
How Black Speculative Art is Different
Delineating Black speculative poetry is as challenging as defining the broader categories of speculative poetry and speculative fiction. This is all without ever touching on the fact that a monolith of Blackness does not exist. While we cannot know what incredible wonders will make their way to our submission pile, one thing we anticipate is that this issue will be personal.
Black speculative poetry may or may not have kinky hair, dark skin, Hoodoo, Voodoo, Ifa, or shea butter powered spaceships in its imagery, but it is almost always more personal than other offerings in the way that a Bryan Thao Worra horror poem inevitably has an echo to it that is generations deep and continents-wide. It can be slipstream, it can be cyberpunk and it can be indistinguishable from what you’re used to reading. Rather than being driven by speculative metaphors asking “what if?”, sometimes there are speculative frequencies of lived metaphors describing “what is,” metaphors that feel like a foreign lump just under the skin of the poem.
And why shouldn’t it? Black identity, Black culture, Black myths, and Black minds have been aliened and alienated even within the realm of the speculative, so sometimes Blackness itself being seen, heard, and celebrated functions like a speculative element within the poem. Cthulhu’s tentacles may shrink in size and seriousness when you compare them to how revolutionary a dreadlock still is, to say nothing of police violence, poverty, and the collective-lived horrors over several hundred years of concerted acts of racism and terror. But still, there will prolly be some tentacles.
The alienation and silencing of Blackness are present on all continents. One of the most radical statements on Black art is embodied by the line from “Where This Flower Blooms” by Tyler the Creator:
“Tell these black kids they could be who they are”
It does not all have to be horror, because the other side of horror is hope and hope is a future-leaning tense. Worth noting is a concept that Academic, Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, has vocalized many times: the field of science fiction has long been white-male dominated, driven by a thirst for progress, Black speculative arts in their myriad forms are a response to that system and driven by a thirst for freedom.
Fun fact: Janelle Monáe has built her music career on science fiction. To date, all four of her albums detail the unfolding saga of Cindy Mayweather, a fugitive android from the 28th century who committed the crime of loving a human. It’s one of the best things out there that you can listen to, and also serves as a just-beneath-the-skin analog of Black and queer lived experience. Over the albums, Cindy Mayweather ignites a revolution that summarizes the foundations and goals of Black speculative art. Just what are her demands? Simple:
She wants a Crazy, Classic Life.
Whatever happens, when you receive your copy of Star*Line Issue 43.4 this October (also Black Speculative Fiction Month!) it is our goal to give you such a view of speculative poetic Blackness, that it invokes those holy and sacred lines:
My God, it’s full of stars.
And Now, Five Questions Answered by Guest Editor, Melanie Stormm
I have so many questions…
Start with one, my love.
I’m considering submitting, anything you looking for in particular?
Please submit! If it’s speculative and poetry, submit it! But since you’re asking… Hmmm. Shea-butter powered spaceships? Time-machine boom boxes? Duppy Conquerors? New superheroes? The Sigidi of overdue library books? *gulp* New Ile Ife is the first city founded on the moon? Voodoo? Hoodoo? Undead Frederick Douglass? Excalibur as an Afro pick? Don’t be afraid to whip out some John Henry in all of this. Reclaim Brer Rabbit. You know, go on, get yours, do you. Floss, flex. You be writing, I be reading.
I’m not a regular subscriber to Star*Line, will I be able to purchase this historic goodness?
Yes, my love. You will, and I encourage you to do so! Not only will it be amazing to own a copy of this issue, but it will also send a clear message that BLACK VOICES MATTER, all while helping to support further endeavors that expand speculative poetry as an art. You can order this issue and any other past issue of Star*Line that we have in stock by sending your payment via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A PDF copy is just $2.50 and a print copy is only $7.00. Be sure to specify which issue you’re ordering (i.e. 43.4) and include your shipping address in the note.
Do the poems I submit have to be speculative?
Yes. They must be speculative, meaning that the structures of the poems are intrinsically connected to the genres of fantasy, science fiction, or horror or any of their sub-genres.
Where can I read more Black speculative poetry while I wait?
Oooooh, I am so glad you asked! Check out this resource linking to 10 Black Spec Poems that Invoke Madness. Also, subscribe to FIYAH, you will not regret it. Help yourself to Black From the Future, a book I own, and love. Oh? You want some more? Okay, get yourself a copy of the dark fantasy and horror volume Sycorax’s Daughters. It’s loaded with short fiction and poems. There’s way more, but I think that’s a start.
Is Afro-futurism and Black speculative poetry relatively new?
Nah. Not even a little, although “Afro-futurism” dates back to the nineties. Black Speculative arts have their roots in the 19th century, but like a lot of Black art, accessing platforms to share that art with the world has been a constant challenge. Here’s some fun for your genre-geeks out there: check out W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Song of the Smoke written in 1907.