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Dark Energies Paperback – February 8, 2016
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I read a lot of weird poetry, am partial to it, so when something is even better than the stuff I already like, I become fearful that superlatives could cause me to sound too fawning. These poems are avowedly influenced by classic weird fiction and by the pulp magazine WEIRD TALES, but some of these phantasmagoric landscapes fall closer to PreRaphaelite in their strange elegance, the work of a fearsome, dangerous, elven creature, such as were Christina Rosetti and her brother Dante Gabriel Rosetti.
Not to be too obscure in comparisons, but I was also reminded of Lilith Lorraine, a poet for the original WEIRD TALES who had an incredible capacity to blend science fiction themes with elements of terror and gloomy mysticism. One of the admitted influences are the arabesquely inclined Clark Ashton Smith, the most poetically advanced of the WEIRD TALES triumvirate commonly alluded to by initials, REH, HPL, and CAS; plus influences of Robert W. Chambers of "King in Yellow" fame. I have to guess also Arthur Machen and the Rosettis but perhaps it is only coincidentally of similar merit. The result often bleeds into heroic fantasy, as if these poems were transmitted across aeons of space from decaying worlds very different from our own.
Schwader is not without humor, as for example a "children's poem" about spiders. It is similar to a type of verse I too have written, in jestingly sadistic moods, and which I categorize as "inappropriate day care poems." There are feminist touches here and there, nothing so political a non-feminist need feel annoyed, but broadening the humanity of horrific allusion. "Extras" in this volume include an afterward by weird tales scholar, editor, and author Robert M. Price, and academic appendices; and a gushing introduction by leading Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi, and an excellent interview with the poet executed by the volume's editor, Charles Lovecraft.
If you have not yet tested the dark waters of modern weird verse, but have been curious, you can't go wrong dipping your toe into DARK ENERGIES.