Welcome to Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre!
As you can probably tell, this website is a work in progress. Even this Introduction will eventually be a real introduction – that is, introducing you to the idea of fantastical poetry. But for now, it’s going to be an introduction to the project itself.
Let me tell you what I’m doing here, and why.
Several years ago, I started teaching classes on fantasy literature. It was relatively easy to find fantasy short stories to teach. There are anthologies out there. But it was almost impossible to find anthologies that included fantastical poetry. I had to find the poems I wanted to teach myself, looking through general poetry anthologies.
At that point, I decided to create a website called Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre, the precursor to this one. Back then, websites were much more difficult to create. I spent hours coding each page. As a consequence, I was not able to include as much poetry as I would have liked. So when I created a new website for myself, I also decided that at some point I would create a companion website, the new version of Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre. And here it is.
The goal of this website is to gather my favorite poems with elements of fantasy or the macabre together in one place. You may disagree with my selections – or you may want me to include some of your own favorite poems. If so, you are welcome to contact me through my website by clicking on Editor above. Just remember that any poems I include have to be out of copyright. I want teachers, and anyone who likes fantastical poetry, to have a place where they can find the poems they want. This website has a second goal as well, which is to introduce you to poets you may not have heard of. Poetry has undergone a process of canonization over the last hundred years or so: there are many poets we have not heard of because they are left out of the major anthologies. I want to include some of those poets, to show you that the world of poetry is broader than you might have imagined.
I will be adding poets and poems to this site as I come across them. I’ve just begun, so there are obvious gaps. Don’t recommend poems I’m sure to include over the coming months. But do check back to see who appears here. I think this is going to be fun.
Just a couple of concluding notes.
How am I qualified to undertake this project? I am a professional fantasy writer and poet, a winner of the World Fantasy and Rhysling awards. Additionally, I teach fantasy literature at Boston University, and am working on completing a PhD in English. This website is, of course, not the sort of critical textbook you might buy for a class. But I can promise that the poems I’ve included have been edited with care and attention, and I’ve included a bibliography of my sources.
The illustration I’ve used above comes from a painting by John William Waterhouse called Ulysses and the Sirens (1891). If you’re interested, here is what the painting looks like:
I hope you enjoy Poems and the Fantastic and Macabre. Come back to see the website as it evolves!