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The Stars as Seen from This Particular Angle of Night

by Sandra Kasturi, ed.

Any organizing principle so loosely defined as to comfortably include Milton’s Paradise Lost and a poem about robots clearly derivative of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man is likely of little to no use for a poetry collection. Such is the bind that editor Sandra Kasturi finds herself in with The Stars As Seen from This Particular Angle of Night, “an anthology of speculative verse.”

Kasturi’s introduction does little to alleviate the problem, talking around issues of genre and style without actually defining “speculative poetry.” Ultimately, there is little to differentiate speculative verse from the bulk of poetry, contemporary and traditional (the true trick might be to find poetry that doesn’t fall under Kasturi’s “speculative” rubric). Ultimately, the anthology is a mixed bag of original contemporary poetry. The subject matter ranges widely, from devotional poems to “genre” poems to literary poetry with an imaginative flair.

There are some strong poems here. Heather Spears addresses the very issue of genre poetry in “Asked for a Science Fiction Poem,” with language at once cutting and beautiful, tightly observed yet wonderfully digressive. Eileen Kernaghan’s “Running Out of Time” is an imaginative, delicately satiric examination of time, reminiscent of German fabulist Michael Ende. Jason Taniguchi’s “The Genre in Brief” is a selection of 100-word stories (“prose poems” would be the operative term here) that distill genre conventions to the essentials.

Unfortunately, the collection is characterized by a disproportionate amount of dross. Far too many of these poems are characterized by sloppy construction, pedestrian word and stylistic choices, and, perhaps most damningly for an anthology where imaginative leaps are the purported order of the day, unimaginative conceits.