background stars background text eye to the telescope tour of alternate worlds spacer



Issue 25 • July 2017
edited by John Reinhart

Introduction to Issue 25 • Garbage

As an arsonist, speculative poetry continues to be a fascinating avenue to explore issues that are important to our society today. How we dispose of the by-products of life has a long and involved history. Today we recycle, compost, and reuse, but the debate over garbage is far from over.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I volunteered to edit this issue. By the end, I had received 367 poems from 161 poets from at least eighteen different countries. Based on names and pronouns, approximately 49% of the submissions came from women, 50% from men, and 1% from nonbinary authors. The poems ranged from extended sagas to haiku.

The theme of garbage elicited more than a few references to cockroaches, a phoenix or two, and many nuanced and unexpected approaches to waste of many varieties in future worlds, fantastic worlds, or our world a little torqued. While reading all the poems, I felt an overwhelming appreciation for the editors who go through the so-called slush piles every day. I had to turn down many strong poems – either not quite speculative enough, not clearly enough on theme, or just not the right fit for my evolving vision as I curated this particular exhibit. I am still humbled by everyone who entrusted their work to me – I now have a host of poets who have come to my attention in a new way, and I look forward to following their work.

The issue includes fairies, escape, divorce, illusion, construction, religion, socks, ghosts, mythical creatures, and self-reflection. It could be its own series on HBO!

With no further yammering from me, please enjoy the outstanding work from these 19 poets. Thank you for reading!

—John Reinhart