Marge Simon lives in Ocala, Florida. She edits a column for the Horror Writers Association newsletter called “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side” and serves on Board of Trustees. She is the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF &F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award. She has won three Bram Stoker Awards, Rhysling Awards for Best Long and Best Short Fiction, the Elgin, Dwarf Stars, and a Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, New Myths, Urban Fantasist, and Daily Science Fiction, to name a few. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation.
Marge describes War: Dark Poems:
War: Dark Poems is obviously not a novel. However you feel about poetry, I doubt you’ve ever read anything quite like my collaborative collection with Alessandro Manzetti from Crystal Lake Publications. The poems are vivid, fierce, sad, and horrific, and based on actual wars of all kinds through the ages.
Look at my million golden teeth necklace. Ring any bells? Maybe you’re too young. I probably should have mentioned the fireworks over the Baghdad night sky, my new friend, or the live broadcast of two great skyscrapers disintegrating. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, you can call me by one of my many names: Great General, Lock-box of the Powerful, Red Rain, Lord of Steel or, more simply, WAR.
I appear as strife of many kinds, from Stalingrad to Scotland. Africa to Afghanistan, the civil war of Italy and the War Between the States, ghostly wars, drug wars, the battle of the sexes, World Wars I, II and visions of a holocaust yet to come. It’s all herein and more, with poems both collaborative and individual.
Did something in the real world inspire your book?
I should say so! Wars and conflicts come in all forms as various as rainclouds and are among my favorite themes.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
It’s hard to pick just one collaborative poem, but for sheer horror about what happens to the soldier who takes a teenaged whore up on her offer, here are some lines from a favorite set in the Sixties: “Little Miss Saigon” (Alessandro’s lines). After researching what some of these young girls had in mind for gullible soldiers occupying their city, I wrote the ending. Believe me, it’s too shocking to include in an interview.
…her t-shirt that says
‘Black Clap’ in golden letters.
She’s playing with us, she smiles
and grabs my beer to have a little sip;
a healthy 14-year-old girl like her,
with those perfect white teeth,
can’t host the black eggs of syphilis.
It’s still too early for her,
even in this overturned paradise,
in this city where dust
doesn’t have time to settle down
dragged away together with the corpses.
As for independent poems of my own in this, I guess “General George Tecumseh Sherman’s Ghosts” fits the bill, as it won a first place Rhysling Award last year!
It’s told by a young Black boy in Florida recounting his grandfather’s tale about what happened to the Blacks who joined the Yanks during the Civil War. He says the ghosts (haints) of that war rise up from the swamp on summer nights. Here are the last lines:
Granpappy almost starved,
beings how the soldiers got the food
and only scraps for the Brothers that survived;
still more drowned at Ebeneezer Creek
trying so hard to keep up,
a-marching straight to hell,
all the while still being slaves,
no better than the Rebs to them.
But them haints, General Sherman,
they all look the same.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
Alessandro was the maestro. He measured the number of collaborations and individual poems we would need, and provided the start for our collabs. Sometimes we switched stanzas around to make the poem flow better. The book was a year in the making.
How about your promotion of the book?
Besides an interview in the June HWA Newsletter by Natching Kassa, I am awaiting an interview with questions for both Alessandro and me. Alessandro, editor Joe Mynhardt, and others have been posting news and info, plus the knock-out cover by Wendy Sabre-Core and fantastic interiors by Stefano Cardoselli, on the HWA FB page on Saturdays and to the public on Facebook.
What do you have planned next?
I have a new poetry and flash/prose poetry collection (tentatively titled Victims) in the works with Mary A. Turzillo. Satan’s Sweethearts, my last collaboration with Mary, was a Stoker Finalist this year. Our collection Sweet Poison was also a Stoker Finalist and won an Elgin Award in 2016.
Pick up a copy of War: Dark Poems on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LUBtt6.
Keep up with Marge:
Her homepage: http://www.margesimon.com/
The Literary Darkness Group on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/13824-literary-darkness
The Independent Legions publications page: http://www.independentlegions.com/