2022 Rhysling Award Long Poem Reading Series

The SFPA is trying out a different modus operandi this year with regard to the Rhysling Awards. Previously, Rhysling Anthologies containing each year’s nominated poems were released in April, with an award voting deadline of June 15th, giving SFPA membership around two months’ time to thoroughly consider all candidate pieces. In recent years, however, unforeseen publishing complications, massive delays with the US Postal Service, and international postal issues have all contributed to pushing publication and distribution of the anthology past schedule. These issues were unfortunate but unavoidable, and more often than not, the only recourse was to delay the Rhysling voting deadline by a week or two to allow members time to actually read the poems they were voting on.

To avoid a repeat of this situation, this year, the voting timetable for the Rhysling Awards has been divided along short poem / long poem lines, with the short poem voting deadline falling on June 15th and the long poem deadline on November 1st.

2022 saw a record number of poems nominated (103 “short” and 78 “long”) making for a nice, thick Rhysling Anthology. You can view the impressively long Table of Contents here. In print, the short poem section of the anthology runs 91 pages while the long poem section runs 191. Due to this notable difference in length and to the fact that other SFPA-administered awards (i.e. The Dwarf Stars Award for poems 10 lines or fewer and The Elgin Awards for best chapbook and best full-length collection) are already on the docket this summer and autumn, the SFPA executive committee felt it was best to move the long-poem voting deadline later in the year, when members would, in theory, have less on their plate.

Historically, fewer people regularly vote in the long poem category of the Rhyslings than in the short poem category. By extending the long poem deadline, we hope to give voters a better chance of participating in this side of the awards.

More information on the history and rules governing the Rhysling Awards can be found on the SFPA website.

Also in 2022, in an effort to further engage Rhysling voters and speculative poetry audiences at large, lifetime SFPA member Akua Lezli Hope organized and hosted three virtual gatherings on Zoom at which poets with work nominated to the short poem category of the Rhyslings read their work aloud. If you missed these reading sessions when they first went live, you can still watch the recordings on the SFPA YouTube channel; click here for the full playlist.

In the case of this year’s long poem Rhysling nominees, poets with nominated work have been encouraged to create individual recordings of the relevant pieces to be shared on YouTube and this blog. Some have already sent in recordings of their own performances of their work. Others have opted to have their poems read by Diane Severson Mori, Jordan Hirsch, or Jasmine Arch. For poets who indicated they would like a video to accompany their recordings, animated text visuals are being put together by Brittany Hause.

Many thanks to the poets and to the other volunteers involved in bringing these wonderful poems to life. Thanks especially to the authors for granting permission for re-publication of their work in audiovisual format to this site and to the SFPA YouTube channel.

Those interested in following along with these readings should keep an eye on the Rhysling Long Poem Nominee YouTube playlist, to which pieces will be added daily. Two videos in the series are already up online for your enjoyment:

 “Death Opus” by Romie Stott (read by the poet). From The Deadlands #1, available at: https://thedeadlands.com/issue-1-2/
“Interview with a Goddess” by Lee Murray (read by the poet). From Tortured Willows: Bent, Bowed, Unbroken.

Going forward, 5 or 6 audio and/or video readings of Rhysling long poem nominees will be posted to this blog each week, so please do subscribe to stay up to date. Or for more frequent updates on the video front specifically, subscribe to the SFPA YouTube channel!

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