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Issue 47 • January 2022
edited by R. Thursday

Introduction to Issue 47 • Frankenstein

You know the story. Man plays God, then abandons his creation, who in turn, tears his life apart until they are both destroyed. 

You might know the story behind the story:. a year without a summer; a group of rebel poets and their paramours (and reluctant doctor) escaping scandal and debtors. A rented house on Lake Geneva, a ghost story competition. An inheritance to lovers of horror: the suave vampire dandy, and the stitched together composite creature. You’ve probably seen the Discourse over what actually should count as the first science fiction novel, or how inflated/ignored Mary Shelley’s impact on The Genre is perceived, or even (sigh) debate about if she actually wrote it (she did). And to be fair, these are excellent discussions to have, especially as we reconsider the “canon” and its tendency towards Eurocentrism. But there’s no denying that Frankenstein permeates science fiction, and Mary Shelley is our collective gothmother. It’s no challenge to understand why: the themes of hubris, abandonment, kinship, and tragedy are universal. Add a fascinating group of people in an exceptional time as your backstory, and there are endless directions to analyze this fascinating text from. Every time I have reread Frankenstein, I have come away with something new, and many of the poets who submitted to this issue echoed the same; it is a rich text with something for everyone, whether its window or mirror.

To honor such an illustrious history, I was ecstatic to choose from so many marvelous entries. Many spun the classic story in totally new directions, or explored an aspect (historical or literary) from a new lens, and while themes certainly emerged, it was clear this tale means something slightly different for everyone who encounters it. The poems below are just a taste of that diversity. They range in length, form and focus; from haiku about the director of Universal Studios’ 1938 classic that still defines our vision of the Creature, to a multi stanza sestina from the point of view of the novel’s framing narrator, and everything in between: pantoums, and repurposed lullabies, free verse, and contrapuntals. Some will make you smile, some will break your heart, some will make you want to grab a pitchfork. They are all distinct, yet cohesive, like … well, like a single being made from disparate parts. I hope you like the monster we’ve created, and recognize the outline of the tortured soul we stand in the shadow of, along with that of the woman who brought him to life with the galvanizing of her pen.

—R. Thursday