I'm teaching a poetry unit in Publications Workshop, which gave me an excuse to pick a couple of poetry anthologies off my shelf. Also an excuse to actually finish something.
Personal Acquaintance Warning: I've known Geoff Landis, and his poetry, for quite a number of years now. We usually end up reading together at Confluence every year, and twice at WorldCons, and we've served on panels together, and shared meals. I also always, unless cross-scheduled, go to every talk he gives at the conventions I attend. In his day job, Geoff is a space scientist, working, for instance, on the Mars Exploration Rovers.
When his head isn't in space, Geoff is a poet. And writer of science fiction. It's the poet I'm reporting on today, having finished his recently published collection, Iron Angels.
This collection certainly shows his range. I admire poets who are willing to be playful sometimes, silly sometimes, thoughtful sometimes, and deadly serious sometimes. All those modes are on display, and the only complaint I'd make about this book is about the same problem I've had when trying to assemble my own work: it can be jarring to change gears from one type to the next. (Grouping the poems by type, which one thinks would be the obvious solution, uhmmm, it doesn't work that well on the page. The sections can feel ghettoized. I've seen it.)
I had several favorites. In class on Friday, I read "Arabica, About 10, After the Poet's League", which is a sweet little exercise in reminding writers what their work can mean to others. There's the tragic "Bull's-eye" and the memorial poem for the Challenger astronauts (I assume) "Requiescat in Pace." And there's a pastiche of my favorite Janis Joplin tune, asking the oft-heard question, "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me an SSTO?"
Here's a sample I had (with permission) to quote:
The Surface of Venus
glows dull infrared
a surface of sterile baked igneous rock,
with motionless, poisonous, dense black thick air
Oh, yes, there's no question: the planet of love.
And then there's "Savage Time" that begins with the nice couplet
Savage time is a cruel tyrant
not beauty nor art endures.
And there is more, but perhaps you should find it in the pages of your own copy.