Dec 17, 2009

Spreading the Love

Pre-ordering for the chapbook is going well and I want to toot this horn as much as possible while I have a horn to toot. It is my goal to post all the press the book gets here on this blog, good or bad, though I may change my mind about the bad ones...It's my party... Here's a little snippit I found while reading my good friend M. Rather, Jr.'s blog.

"J Bruce Fuller's excellent chapbook 28 Blackbirds at the End of the World is available for pre-order at It is an inexpensive $8 and worth every penny. I read this collection prior to its acceptance by Bandersnatch Books. It is amazing and unique. I highly recommend you check it out."

What can I say? Thanks, and of course, listen to the man...

Dec 15, 2009

28 Blackbirds Raffle

Bandersnatch Books is offering a pretty awesome raffle for people who order 28 Blackbirds by January 30th. Anyone who orders the book (including pre-orders) will be entered to win one copy of each Bandersnatch title released in 2010. Sweet. Here's some details.

* To celebrate our first release, we will hold a raffle for a year's subscription. The winner will receive copies of all the 2010 Bandersnatch releases, which, as of this writing, includes titles by T.M. Wright, Bob Freeman, and Wrath James White. To enter the raffle, all you need to do is buy a copy of J. Bruce Fuller's 28 Blackbirds at the End of the World by the end of January 2010.

28 Blackbirds Available for Pre-order

28 Blackbirds at the End of the World is now availbale for pre-order through Bandersnatch Books. Here is the news release from the publisher:

* J. Bruce Fuller's 28 Blackbirds at the End of the World has gone to press, and in the interim, it's up for preorder. If you'd like to preorder this title, send an email to Be sure to include how many you'd like and your paypal email address. As with all Bandersnatch Books, preordering entitles you to a signed bookplate by the author.

So there you have it. A copy signed by moi. Go get one.

Dec 14, 2009

28 Blackbirds Soon to go on Pre-order

My chapbook has been sent to the printers, and Bandersnatch is about to start taking pre-orders. I will put the pre-order info up as soon as I get it.

The final cover is done. Bob Freeman did a great job on the art and design. There are also two blurbs from Greg Schwartz and Charles Gramlich which are flattering and greatly appreciated.

Bandersnatch Books is supposed to do a contest for people who order the book, for a chance to win every Bandersnatch title released in 2010, I will have info on that as soon as I get it.

Anyone who would like to review the book please get in touch with me or Bandersnatch for review copies or a .PDF to review.

Nov 8, 2009

Broadside Reprinted

My broadside Counting Dust Devils: Early Season has been given a second printing. This is also a very limited run of these so if you missed it the first time here's a second chance.


J. Bruce Fuller - Counting Dust Devils: Early Season


Nov 6, 2009

What's This Blast From The Past?!?

Gave the ole' blog a new look, the old one was so out of date that the template had to be changed by hand.

It also makes following the blog easier because there was no such thing as followers when I made this blog. SOOOOO...Follow me.

Nov 5, 2009

Imagination and Persona in Horror Poetry

This article appeared in the September issue of the HWA Newsletter, as a guest column for Marge Simon's Blood and Spades column.

Imagination and Persona in Horror Poetry
J. Bruce Fuller

Ahh, the blank page. How many of us have started with a blank page, a clean slate, something to dirty up and smear with our words and thoughts and fears? Each and every one of us, as writers, have looked down upon a blank page and tried to coax out of it our poems and stories (and in my current predicament, an essay about poems and stories). What ultimately leads a writer to fill a page?

Sounds simple, right? It is, but let me explain further. All writers imagine, make-up people, create situations, and then funnel those elements into a cohesive work. It is ultimately what separates us from all those people who would like to write but sit down at the shrine of the blank page and decide that they can never come up with anything to say. Even the most straitlaced nonfiction writers have to imagine what would be interesting enough to research and write about, and then often find themselves imagining what some historical figure might have done, or what might have happened next. Imagination.

Writers of horror, fantasy, and science fiction have imagination in great abundance. You do not need me to tell you this. What I would like to tell you is that this can also apply to poetry. Yes. Poetry.

In school we were led to believe that poetry was for the well educated, for people who could decipher complex historical and sentimental codes, that a poem was a puzzle to be solved. The truth is that poetry today is fresh and open to imagination, and even the grand blustery poems we read in school were using a great deal of it.

Perhaps the most powerful tool we poets have is persona. A persona poem is a poem in which the speaker is not the poet. This may sound simple and maybe even a little patronizing, but the fact is that most casual readers of poetry have trouble determining whether the speaker is the poet or an imagined or historical character. Blame the Confessional movement. Blame every teenager that ever poured their angst onto a page and called it poetry. Whatever the reason, poetry has come into a time where both personal and persona poems are abundant and living side by side.
Persona is the most versatile of poetic devices. We can be whoever we want to be, dive into the head of whatever character we choose, be as bad or good as we want. It is no different than creating a character for a novel or short story.
I suspect that many speculative novelists and short story writers could thrive and be successful as poets using exactly what they have been using all along. Imagination. Sure, the rules are slightly different in poetry, but in format only—the place where good writing comes from is the same.
I would like to show a few examples of my own attempts at creating persona in horror poetry. I will start with a poem that I co-wrote with the poet Ana Spann, called “Blood in the Bourbon.”

The bell-curve in the streetlight sent it
Down the casings of my bones.
Behind the smell of fried dough
Daubed with sugar, behind the slick
Sweet of sizzled pork and mustard,
Behind the oily crunch of peanut shells
Under the soles of my boots, behind
The wind-borne tang of whiskey spit,
The dusting of red like shattered lipstick
Woke it up—inside me the thorough shudder
Licked down at the mist of blood. I need this
Tonight. She disappears behind a
White cross-marked tent to staunch her
Pretty nose smashed by the smudged steel
Of the guardrail. The Ferris wheel
Cranks slowly away from the dirt.

Keen are the musings of the knifeman.
His apparatus, ordered and polished clean
throw sparks on the tent roof, moments of
diamond-shine cast into a night sky
covered by the smoke of daydreams lost.
Woke it up—he says to himself over and
over again, though none have puzzled out
what had been sleeping. It was his performance
to give and the lines were shuffling into the
tent like targets. The cold instruments tinkled
like a tea set in his carpetbag.

Henrietta’s hair catches a tuft as one nicks by,
Close enough for the gasp, banging smooth
Into the boards. The sweat behind her shoulders
Marks the wood dark, and the black handle
Shudders. The big sepia of her eyes blinks
Calm as a cow. A sparkle in her dress mirrors
From the next blade tweezed in my fingers—
My feet in leather shuffle the sod. A moth the
Size of gumballs blips between her thighs
And I fling the knife like a falling bird.
Metal sheathes in the slight space midway,
The intake of breath, a lever pulled.
Bells and whistles woke it up, woke it up.
Henrietta’s knickers are purple tonight.
I wet my lips with a scarred tongue.

The show was fine, though Henrietta
sweated more than usual tonight. It’s
this goddamned South with its deadpan
swelter and mosquito bites and they are all so
bloody proud of it. Keeps my performers in
a ruckus is what it settles up to and it’ll cost me
an extra barrel of whiskey to keep the crew in order.
He slipped out of the back flap to avoid
the gawking public. Just hugged his set
close like it was Spanish steel. Good for business
I told him, got to work the crowd, I said
but he just sniffed the air loudly
Good for business I said.

The drops like olive oil beaded in the powder.
Henrietta shook off the knives like
A specimen under collector’s pins.
Metal and mud, metal and mud,
I can taste the vein-borne rock salt heavy
In the choking air. His words battered by
My ears… I will slip unnoticed like cancer.
There’s someone to be freed
In the curtain’s stripe, in the bathroom’s
Plastic cage. A donkey bellows, shits
Inside his wire pen. These knives draw
Close to my skin like magnets, marked
With the stain of my fingers, the knowledge
Behind my filtering sight. They know
What comes when the foghorn blows.
I will mix bourbon with blood tonight.

There was a spark in the air
like the feeling you get when the sheep have been
spooked and it was real and it tasted like ozone.
Folks were milling about the area with their
ice cream falling off the cone, and some
with their hands in other people’s pockets.
When I got to the front of the crowd Henrietta
stops me and she says that it was him and he
always made her sick with his smell and his seclusion
and whoever in the world licks his knives like that?
She was riled and asking me a hundred questions
and would she have a job still and the body
was lying there for the crowd to see like a
side of beef fell off the back of a wagon. There’s
a job still honey, I told her and damned
if she didn’t skip off to a new tune.

Kneeling, I feel the cap over my knees
Creak. I am rusting old. I will drink it fast.
Their silhouettes bobble like frantic
Children behind the tent’s rubber veil.
It grooves down the duller edge, staining the
Belly of the amber-filled glass, swirling
Lazy like the vinegared drops that color eggs.
I stir with the tip of my smallest nail.
Their indignant coughs swallow up the trees.
They are headless fowl. They search me out.
My head falls back, I smash the glass,
Sucking the taste at my tongue’s far base.

(Originally published in Chimaera Serials, November 2006)

The poem is set in an early twentieth century travelling sideshow, a time and place that neither I nor Ana had any personal knowledge about. We researched. We imagined. The setting itself lends the kind of atmosphere we wanted, so the true work of the poem was creating believable people to live in it.

There are several personas working in the poem at once. The italicized stanzas are the thoughts of a knife thrower who sees an accident, and upon seeing the blood, reverts to horrific thoughts that have been dormant. The other stanzas are in the persona of a man who is the proprietor of the sideshow, and is recalling the incident after the fact. The two perspectives give the poem its tension, as the two personas push and pull on each other.

Persona does not have to only deal with people, but can be applied to creatures or objects. In my poem “28 Blackbirds at the End of the World,” I tried to imagine what the end might look like through the eyes of the blackbird, an already ominous omen. The symbol of the blackbird adds to the dark subject matter, and seeing these events through fresh eyes helps to give the subject matter a fresh feel. Here is an excerpt—

in the darkness
man cannot see the blackbird

blackbirds feast
on blackened clouds
swarm of locusts

south for the winter
black silhouettes
against a burned sky

the four horsemen
scatter blackbirds
charging across the fields

starving times
scavenging the ryegrass
blackbird survives

world aflame
the sky, short sanctuary
feathers in the ash

world burned black
the hearts of men are black
blackbird’s eye is black

(Originally published in Scifaikuest, November 2007, reprinted in The 2008 Rhysling Anthology (SFPA/Prime Books, 2008))

By using the tool of persona we can bring fresh ideas and new experiences to both poetry and the horror genre. It is, in the case of the latter, a necessary tool in order to bring to life those darkest notions of humankind (I mean, how many of us are actually knife throwers?). All it requires is a little imagination and a blank page.

Why Greg Schwartz Needs to be on My Christmas List...

If you guys aren't reading Greg Schwartz's Haiku & Horror blog, you're missing out. There are always very interesting things on there. Cruising the blog I noticed that he's been giving me some shout outs lately and some good ideas for my own under-nourished blog. Stop on over at Haiku & Horror and read his article on haiku that appeared in the October HWA Newsletter. I will be posting my own article from the September issue, which never would have crossed my mind if I had not seen his. By the way, buy his books! Spec House of Poetry.

Oct 29, 2009

28 Blackbirds at the End of the World

Bandersnatch Books will be releasing my first chapbook, 28 Blackbirds at the End of the World. Some of you may remember this, it was first published as a poem in Scifaikuest and was nominated for a Rhysling Award. Bandersnatch has agreed to publish it in its perceived form, that is, as 28 separate haiku in a sequence. This is how I originally envisioned the work, and I am thrilled that it is being released as a chapbook.

The release date is not yet official, but we are hoping for a late November release. Be sure to visit for info and official release date.

The cover art is by Bob Freeman.

Sep 28, 2009

New Poem up at JMWW

I have a new poem available at JMWW: A Quarterly Journal of Writing called "The Dirty Side." Read it for free here...

Jul 6, 2009

New Poem in Lilliput Review, OUT NOW

My poem "How to Make a Poem" is in the recently released Lilliput Review #170. This issue also has poems from Hosho McCreesh, Alan Catlin, J.E. Stanley, Adelaide Crapsey, and Basho.

May 26, 2009

Still Available

I was browsing the magazines at Books-A-Million the other day with the poet Steven Brown, and I came across the new issue of Doorways Magazine. I was delighted to say that I had appeared in one of the magazine's earlier issues, #3. It got me to thinking that I really only post new publications around here, but many of my poems stay online, or the journals they are published in do not sell out, and perhaps I missing out on a little long term promotion. It is my new goal to keep reminding folks, especially new readers that happen by, that some of these releases are still available and worth reading. So I'll start, naturally, with Doorways...

The poetry in Doorways is edited by the Rhysling Nominated poet Stephen M. Wilson. This issue also has poetry by Bruce Boston and Marge Simon. My collaboration with Ana Spann, "The Flaming Carousel: A Recant" is in this issue. Buy it here .

The 2008 Rhysling Anthology includes my nominated poem, "28 Blackbirds at the End of the World." Buy it from

Broadside slideshow...

The American Press of Lake Charles, LA has posted a photo slideshow of the Vision/Verse show on their website. View it here

May 13, 2009

Updates and other effluvia...

Yup. That's my new word of the day...

So I have finished my first full year of graduate school, where I have been working on my Masters of Fine Arts in poetry. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. Two more to go. Since I will have most of the summer off I have lined up a few things for myself to do beyond the obligatory hours I will spend on the Xbox 360.

I seriously hope to get some translating done, as I have been picking through a book of poetry by Javier Lentini. That is my top priority. I also hope to finish a chapbook that I have been working on. I plan to get back to my editing duties at three different presses, as I have had to neglect several releases due to my new schedule. Sorry bout that...

I also hope to add more friends to my Facebook and Twitter sites, which have become a good way to disseminate information about my writing to people who get it whether they want it or not. Ha ha. Follow me .

May 4, 2009

Yellow Flag Broadsides Sold Out

My two broadsides released this week from Yellow Flag Press have officially sold out. Sorry if you missed them, but they were very limited editions. Hopefully there will be more such projects in the future.

Apr 30, 2009

New Releases!!! (Finally)

There's been a bit of a drought around here, and I'd like to think it is due to being so busy with graduate school. I have managed to send out work to a lot of places, and I am slowly hearing back from some. Well, as they say when it rains it pours, and this month several things are being released with my name on them...

First off, The Louisiana Review has come out with their new issue, and my poem "The Frog Kings of Bayou Lafourche" is in it. They were also kind enough to select my poem for their website to promote the issue, and you can read it HERE.

Also two of my poems will be published as broadsides this month by Yellow Flag Press, as part of the Vision/Verse series. Vision/Verse is a collaboration between Louisiana poets and artists, and will open as a gallery show at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, LA on May 1st.Yellow Flag Press will have the broadsides for sale on their site May 1st, for $3 each. Each broadside is hand-numbered and signed by the author, and they are very limited editions so try to get one quick. You can have a peek at them here.

Jan 31, 2009

New Poem forthcoming in The Louisiana Review

The Louisiana Review has accepted my poem "The Frog Kings of Bayou Lafourche" for their upcoming issue. I will of course let you know when it is released, until then check out their website-
The Louisiana Review

Jan 20, 2009

Neglect, Among Other Things...

My, my, how time passes... I haven't posted since October, but it seems like I was just on here. Time runs differently in my head I suppose.

Want some J news? Well, here it is.

Lots of things going on in my poetry universe. Most notably, I will be presenting some of my poems at the 8th annual Louisiana Conference on Language, Literature and Culture, March 5-7 in Lafayette, La. My presentation is titled "'27: A Creative Look at Desire in the Great Mississippi Flood." This will be my first academic presentation of my work, so we'll see how it goes. I am looking forward to it. It's high time I pumped up the CV.

I'll also be in Chicago this year for AWP. I'll probably leave behind most of my clothes in the hotel room, to make room for all the books I'm going to buy. I won't need them in the warm, beautiful south anyway. Snow is for suckers.

There is also a TON of publishing stuff going on with Spec House and the all new Yellow Flag Press, but I won't get into that here. I have other blogs for that.

I did my part, now post some comments so I know you are still out there.