I received a jacket blurb for my book of poems this spring from David H. Levy, the poetry-appreciating astronomer famous for his co-discovery in 1993 of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994. What a thrill this was... and so very appreciated:
"Remember when, in Carl Sagan's Contact, the main character said "They should have sent a poet?" Now we have. In a skeptical age, it is extraordinary that we still have dreamers. Mary McCray is one of the best and brightest. From the great Tharsis volcano on Mars to Olympus Mons, these poems are a celebration of what is best about humanity's exploration of the planets. We are moving out among the stars, and Mary McCray is leading us there." --David H. Levy, astronomer and author of The Quest for Comets and David Levy's Guide to the Night Sky
I was on cloud nine I tell you!
Last week I also received a review in Savvy Verse & Wit. Excerpts from the review:
"These poems mesh not only the exploration of space with the modern world here on Earth, but they also harken to older themes of Manifest Destiny dating back to America’s youngest roots as a nation. It’s a collection about the opportunities space exploration can represent, which is highly ironic given the government’s recent decision to shut down the manned shuttle program...a reflection of space, and the amazing experience of “Sex in Zero Gravity”:
“astronaut, astronaut –/kiss me with your incomplete sentences/and your raw relativity,/run your fingers like lasers,/escape velocity through my motor heart,/the acceleration thrust/of your deep-space Cadillac cruising/my jelly-fish tremors,/touching the swirling hurricane/that is the red G-Spot of Jupiter/”
There has never been such a beautiful references to spaceships taking off and hurricanes on foreign planets in poetry to describe a sexual encounter.
[The book] is imaginative and one of the best written science fiction collections of poetry out there, and it will have readers questioning their place in the world and the need to explore more."
Last week, the book also received a mixed review in Star*Line , the publication of The Science Fiction Poetry Association. Reviewer Susan Gabrielle felt I "offer some uniqueness of language and lovely images" but she didn't respond to the humor in the book. Whereas Savvy Verse & Wit singled out the poem "Sex in Zero Gravity" as a "beautiful reflection of a sexual encounter," Gabrielle read that poem as satire and wanted me to deal with the book's "subject matter in a serious and sustained way."
I talked this over with my husband due to the fact that my poems are, to a large degree, humorous. I gravitate to the queer and comical take. How should I take this first not-so-hot review? Monsieur Big Bang surmises that science fiction poetry is struggling to be taken seriously right now and so they may not feel inclined to enjoy the kind of funny I do with space poems.
I'd love to hear from others about this. What is your take on humorous versus "sober" poetry? Especially in the context of space and science fiction themes?