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.
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. 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.
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 have a PhD in English literature with a focus on the Victorian era. This website is not the sort of critical textbook you might buy for a university 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!