Things coming soon to an e-reader near you

/ June 13th, 2012 / No Comments »

Art by Avery Liell-Kok
Art by Avery Liell-Kok

Art by Luis Beltran
Art by Luis Beltrán

Mythic Delirium 27 update

/ June 10th, 2012 / No Comments »

As far as I know, I’ve sent everyone who sent in work for the March-Arpil submission window a response at this point. If you submitted poetry for this issue and you haven’t heard from me, please query.

“Twa Sisters” makes latest Locus Recommended Reading List

/ June 5th, 2012 / 1 Comment »

Rich Horton reviewed two of my short stories in the June 2012 issue of Locus, and put one of them, “Twa Sisters,” on the magazine’s monthly Recommended Reading List. That’s the first time that’s happened to me, so needless to say I’m thrilled.

Here’s what Rich had to say:

In the second April issue [of Beneath Ceaseless Skies] I enjoyed Mike Allen’s “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”, another very dark story, about a girl orphaned when her parents are murdered for rebelling against a cruel Lord, who escapes her orphanage only to come to the sinister Manse Lohmar, where she encounters great kindness, but a horrible secret as well. The only weakness is a deliberately off-center telling — a letter from the protagonist to a lover we never meet, long after the central action — I think I see where Allen is going with this strategy, but in the end I think it frustrates the reader more than needed.

Mike Allen is good again in Not One of Us for April, with a very odd SF story, “Twa Sisters”, set in a city controlled by the Hierophant, and beginning with a deliberately retro painter encountering a person half tree/half woman and just getting stranger from there.

In which I cameo in a friend’s short story collection

/ May 29th, 2012 / No Comments »

This handsome new hardcover short story collection from British puckster (prank-star?) Ian Watson….

…contains the wacky novelette that he and I co-wrote, “Dee-Dee and the Dumpy Dancers,” accurately described by The Guardian as a “bizarre vision … featuring aerial ballet and alien turkeys.”

My poem “Surcease” reviewed at Versification

/ May 11th, 2012 / No Comments »

Versification has published a poem-by-poem review of Inscrawl #3 by Amal El-Mohtar. About my contribution, “Surcease,” she writes:

Mike Allen’s “Surcease” puts his characteristic horror-spin on things, and very vividly and evocatively describes a plague-ridden man in the last moments of his life. The rhythm and pace of it are extremely well-wrought, and I both wrinkled my nose and shuddered a bit at the last line, so well done Allen, well done.

Guest posts about poetry at Locus Online

/ May 9th, 2012 / No Comments »

Karen Burnham, who runs the Locus Roundtable at Locus Online, has rounded up a series of speculative poetry-related posts, podcasts and interviews for the month of May, and I got to be first out of the gate.

Here’s my guest blog post: “Let us go then, you and I: an introduction to speculative poetry

And here’s a podcast I did with Karen and Star*Line editor F.J. Bergmann.

In both I’ve taken the names in vain of a number of poets and poetry publications.

Reviews of “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”

/ May 7th, 2012 / No Comments »

My new short story at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade,” has garnered a couple of reviews I’m pleased to share.

First a review from Tangent Online by Chuck Rothman. He writes:

“The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” takes the form of a letter from Daeliya, a woman who has managed to escape her terrifying past and make a new life for herself. But she is forced to return, and to explain to her lover Eyan why and all the things he doesn’t know about her. What follows is a tale of fear and terror, and of her meeting with a man in a mysterious castle to whom she owes everything. Mike Allen creates a very convincing world and strong and memorable characters.

Elsewhere in the Internet wilderness, my story apparently found its ideal reader at the Sword and Sorcery blog. The writer states:

I loved this story. It brought to mind, in the best possible way, Brian McNaughton’s “Throne of Bones” or a less hashish suffused Clark Ashton Smith story. The roots of “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade”, like so much great S&S lie deeply in horror. I’m glad to encounter them in such an well told tale.

Tor.com reviews Mythic Delirium 26

/ April 30th, 2012 / No Comments »

As part of its National Poetry Month series, Tor.com has posted a lovely review by Brit Mandelo of the latest issue of Mythic Delirium. Among the things she had to say:

Every poem in Mythic Delirium 26 has powerful imagery; capturing in words a startling scene or visual is something that speculative poetry lends itself to. The majority of the poets also have fun with syntax and diction in ways that produce interesting tensions. Another thing that is intriguing about this issue is something that Allen notes in his introduction: the sense of community among speculative poets in on display here. That closeness produces and inspires so much continuing work — poems for birthdays, poems for other poets’ recent work; the strands of influence and inspiration are an intricate spider’s web to trace across the readings in the issue.

The issue itself is organized in a thematic arc — it opens with science fictional poems and then shifts through fantastic genres, with poems grouped along the spectrum. That, in particular, is one reason I thought to include Mythic Delirium 26 in our Poetry Month discussions: it’s a good introduction to spec-poetry, thanks to the variety within.

Art by Tim Mullins

Congratulations to all the contributors, and special congratulations to G.O. Clark, S. Brackett Robertson, Rose Lemberg, Alexandra Seidel, Amal El-Mohtar, Sonya Taaffe, C.S.E. Cooney, and Virginia M. Mohlere, whose works were highlighted for further praise and scrutiny. (And of course, if you want to read them yourself, here’s how to get them.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that this series also contains a review of Stone Telling 7, an appreciation of Goblin Fruit, and excellent poems by Catherynne M. Valente, Jo Walton and Roz Kaveney. To Tor.com, the Poetry Guy doffs his hat in gratitude.

I’d also be remiss in not pointing out that tomorrow is the final day of the Mythic Delirium 27 submission window.

New issue of Goblin Fruit featuring Mythic Delirium artist Paula Friedlander

/ April 24th, 2012 / No Comments »

A new issue of Goblin Fruit is always a reason to celebrate. And I’m delighted that this issue’s guest artist is none other than longtime Mythic Delirium contributor Paula Friedlander.

Goblin Fruit co-editor Amal El-Mohtar is also a contributor to the latest issue of Mythic Delirium, and received her copy in time to pose the two newborn issues together. Note that by coincidence (or is it?) they are color coordinated.

The ReaderCon cup (also black and red on white) is not insignificant: ReaderCon is where we’ve held joint readings of our two venues and hope to hold a celebration of mythic poetry this year. Well done, Miss Amal.

New short story “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” appears at Beneath Ceaseless Skies

/ April 19th, 2012 / No Comments »

My dark fantasy short story “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” just appeared in the newest issue of literary fantasy adventure zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It was inspired by a nightmare I had while attending the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH in 2010 — though the scene that sparked the idea is not actually in the story. You’ll have to guess what it was.

I’m grateful to Scott Andrews for giving this piece such a prestigious home. The cover art by Zsofia Tuska, while not commissioned to illustrate my story, still matches it to eerie perfection, heh.

I hope to revisit this world in the not-too-distant future.

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