Women in Horror, Pt. 2


Brian James Lewis

Last week we lauded some super women in horror who are authors, so this week it’s the poets’ turn to shine. Valentine’s Day, another February landmark is chronologically over, although I’m sure that many folks will enjoy it during the weekend. So we can’t celebrate half price chocolate just yet. But those of you sharpening your axes and lubricating chainsaws, continue on and read up on a more socially acceptable way to vent your unbridled lust and anger about a lover who just will NOT get with the program. Until recently I would have encouraged you to get a tetanus shot before going out into that rusty toolshed. But since I’m still suffering the ill effects of a TDAP vaccine that GAVE me Whooping Cough (Yep, I’m that 1% that has extremely adverse reactions to shots! Yayyy) I can see that it might render you unable to act upon those threats you made…Hmm…Okay, so anyone feeling violent should report directly to their health provider and request a TDAP vaccine immediately! This has been a public service announcement.

All right, enough with the malarkey! Without further delay, our three “Wall of Fame” poets are Stephanie Wytovich, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and Sara Tantlinger. Let’s begin with dog lover, teacher, and dark poet, Stephanie Wytovich! Her excellent book Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare published by Raw Dog Screaming Press is not your average poetry collection. If you foolishly think that all poetry is hearts, flowers, and things that rhyme, you better pick another book before you either have a meltdown or lock yourself in the closet! Wytovich is opening the door to her mind and daring us to look inside. Make no mistake, this is NOT a frivolous invitation. We’re allowed in with stern warnings about what we will find in those dark, blood-tinged recesses and to beware of Jolene-One other important thing-If you start hearing music, run!

Right now you might be asking “Who’s Jolene? I thought Stephanie was writing the poems, here!” Truth be told, most writers have a muse who follows them and knows how tricky a knife is to hold when covered in blood. Jolene arrives most often at these times to sing her songs and sink her teeth into the dead. She also protects Stephanie because without her host, Jolene will cease to exist. To quote the back cover Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare was written “during a time when the road was her home.” When reading Wytovich’s work you can feel the melancholy, fear, screaming frustration, and even the orgasms. You are lost on some highway with Stephanie and Jolene waiting for a fat, hairy truck driver to give you a ride. Will you give him a ride in return or jam an icepick into his neck and take all his money? Just another rube killed by a lot lizard. Yeah, this is THAT kind of poetry! Come on, let’s get between the sheets…of paper that contain her powerful words. Wytovich’s use of imagery to make an ordinary item exceptionally creepy happens in 395 Miles to Memories. Check this:

“The steering wheel holds a toothless grin.
  Black gums beneath rotting lips,
  It laughs louder with each mile I drive;”

Feel that? This woman is driving away from something while her brain bashes her over the head with a metal folding chair. She thinks about what she’s left behind in living color, but as the distance increases so does the physical until it fades into a ghost. Looking for more? Then make sure to head on over to www.RawDogScreaming.com. You can see what Stephanie is doing next at http://www.stephaniewytovich.com and on Twitter @Swytovich.

Sara Tantlinger is another fine female horror poet and reviewing her powerful and bloody collection Love For Slaughter was an eye-opening experience. Brought to us by Strange House Books, an imprint of Rooster Republic Press, this collection is very contemporary and real feeling. While alluding to a deep love for all things Poe, Sara writes her own poems and I like that. She is without a doubt a fast rising writer that we’ll be seeing a lot more of! One of my absolute favorites in this collection is Skull Pop-

                 “I got lost between
                   Crystal Head vodka
                   and chewing stereo wires
                   trying to recreate the way
                   your tongue tastes like
                  drunken sparks against mine”

If that’s not love, then it’s fierce desire. Tantlinger paints a very graphic picture in the reader’s mind of a woman sweating out expensive vodka that makes mascara run down her face and into a lipstick smeared mouth. With teeth bared, she chomps down on speaker wires from a huge stereo blasting Alice Cooper into the humid midnight hour while her lost eyes stare at something only she can see. Is her lover coming back or is his naked corpse hanging from a railroad bridge? Powerful stuff! Make sure to check out all the books available from Strange House at www.strangehouseonline.com or Amazon. To keep up with Sara and what new projects she’s working on, you can check out her site http://saratantlinger.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraJane524  

Our next honorable guest poet is Jeannine Hall Gailey, winner of the Moon City Poetry Award for her excellent collection Field Guide To The End Of The World which tackles what life will be like after the apocalypse. With its excellent cover art and survivalist look, one might mistake Field Guide to the End of the World as an instruction manual for the day that horrible event comes to pass. In a way, they’d be right. Writing poetry helps us to cope with a lot of pretty awful stuff. It also celebrates life and living it. Jeannine Hall Gailey uses her poetry to do all of that and makes more than a few social comments along the way.

For those who truly wish to survive the apocalypse, you might want to be-bop on down to your local extreme survivalist store for necessities. Just don’t forget to pack this book to keep you from going insane in your underground bunker while waiting for the “all clear” signal! You will definitely enjoy Martha Stewart’s Guide to Apocalypse Living featuring the line “Now’s the time to get out your hurricane lamps! They create a lovely glow in these last days.” Also remember that, Zombie Stripper Clones: They Are Not Regenerating.

In the Cultural Anthropology section of her book, there is an interesting re-take on Dorothy, the wizard, and the Land of Oz. It makes her much more modern and flawed. There is also an Introduction to Teen Girl Vampires that pairs real issues with the super powers of the undead. Even when Gailey is using scientific terms, the humanity comes bursting through. This fine book of poetry never feels cold or loses the reader. Sometimes we might have to follow markings made on dead trees, but we’re included and encouraged to take a good hard look at ourselves along the way. Want to get your own copy of Field Guide To The End of The World? Just go to www.mooncitypress.com

I’d also like to mention another title out recently from Jeannine Hall Gailey and Two Sylvias Press PR For Poets-A Guide to Publicity and Marketing. This is a book that gives poets and writers the tools they need to be a success, and does so in plain English. This is the book many of us wish we had when we started navigating the murky waters of getting published. It includes dealing with the stigma of promoting your own book, getting a book deal, social media, release parties, book tours, and more! At less than twenty bucks for a ton of information, PR For Poets is an excellent deal and reads like you’re talking to a good friend. Head on over to www.twosylviaspress.com for more information or visit Jeannine’s website www.webbish6.com or follow her on Twitter @webbish6.

Thanks again for checking out Gallows Hill Magazine’s celebration of Women In Horror Month feature! Stay tuned for next week when we admire more women in the business of scaring us and making us think! Until next time, remember this…A kiss is but a kiss and a few bucks will keep your favorite independent horror presses up and running.  

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