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Issue 27 • January 2018
edited by Adele Gardner

Introduction to Issue 27 • Arthuriana

Thank you so much for joining me for the Arthuriana issue of Eye to the Telescope!

I set out with a general aim: celebrating the Arthurian legends that have been such a rich source of inspiration for so many. As submissions poured in, I found myself immersed in an even larger version of this issue, composed of all the wonderful poems that I got to read. I’m so thankful to all the poets who made the selection process so difficult with their excellent work.

Though I’ve loved the legends of the Round Table from an early age, reading everything from Tennyson, William Morris, and the Mabinogion to Camelot 3000 (DC Comics), I’m by no means an expert. So I requested that contributors offer some clues to source material in their cover letters. The results were so fascinating that I’m sharing them with you in a special section, “Authors’ Notes about the Poems,” which I hope will also make the issue more accessible to everyone. Though each poem can be appreciated on its own, be sure to consult these notes if you are curious about a specific inspiration.

While you will find several poems that feature a particular character like Sir Gawain or Morgan le Fay, each takes a unique perspective on that legend. Just as with the original body of Arthurian romances, I received a wealth of material about each character, with subtly or widely different interpretations. (The variety of legends has also quite naturally resulted in different spellings and variations on character names.) In the end, I tried to choose just a few representative poems per character or idea, but this meant that I had to pass on a lot of fantastic poems. I also found that the breadth of submissions meant I could select material that in some ways formed a speculative microcosm of the Arthurian cycle.

As part of the difficult selection process, I did try to provide a roughly equal number of poems that dealt primarily with a known female or male main viewpoint character; we also have several poems not specific to human gender, taking on, for example, the point of view of Excalibur, or the hawthorn tree that holds Merlin captive, or the cats of Camelot. A few poems also step into the reader’s vantage point, reflecting on the lessons of a legend or bringing the myths home through parallels to modern life.

These poems open up so many new ways of looking at the legends—delightful, funny, profound, and deeply human. While some of the interpretations here might seem to hold opposing views, in the end they all share my enthusiasm for these tales that continue to enchant and haunt us.

I appreciate so much the artistry, heart, and hard work of everyone who sent me poetry for this issue. I am awed by the talent and beauty expressed, in an issue that will always be far larger in my mind. I’m so grateful to SFPA and all the poets who submitted for creating this, your issue of speculative poetry devoted to Arthuriana.

May the road rise up to meet you on your quest!

—Adele Gardner