Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cemetery Dance Reviews Diary of a Sorceress

Joshua Gage reviews Diary of a Sorceress on the Cemetery Dance blog!


Diary of a Sorceress by Ashley Dioses
Hippocampus Press (October 2017)
170 pages, $15 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Ashley Dioses has established herself as one of the leading voices in contemporary weird poetry. Known for her meticulous use of rhyme and meter and her melding of the strange and the romantic, Dioses has gathered some of her recent poetry into her first collection—a scintillating assemblage of nearly 100 poems short and long, published and unpublished. Titled Diary of a Sorceress, it is a really exciting collection of weird and dark fantasy poetry sure to appeal to any reader.

Diary of a Sorceress is broken up into four sections: “Atop the Crystal Moon,” “Kiss the Stars,” “Star Lightning” and “On a Dreamland’s Moon.” Each section reads like its own chapbook of poetry, focused around one particular theme. “Atop the Crystal Moon” seems to be focused on fantasy poetry. “Kiss the Stars” seems to be focused on more nature-based poetry. “Star Lightning” is a chapter of love and romance poems. “On a Dreamlands Moon” is the darkest, and more horrific, collection of poems. Each section propels the reader forward into the next, creating a very complex tome of poetry.

“Atop the Crystal Moon” is the most fantastic of the four chapters. It contains poems about creatures like unicorns, Pegasus, gorgons, selkies, satyrs, etc. It really covers a lot of classical western fantasy tropes. However, these poems are not the trite and cliché offerings that one might expect from a new poet, especially one dealing with formal poetry. These poems are rich in imagery and narrative, and create clear pictures in the minds of the reader. The eponymous poem of this section is an eight=page poem that leads the reader through a fantasy-soaked journey. It is an impressive undertaking, both in length as well as in craft, and it really serves to catch the reader’s attention and enrapt them in Dioses’s language.

“Kiss the Stars” continues the dark fantasy ideas from “Atop the Crystal Moon,” but focuses on more natural images and subjects. This is a chapter of plants and gardens, though Dioses still manages to make them dark. For example, her poem “Graveyard Blossom” begins:

The scent of roses sweetens all behind
The graveyard gates, yet graves so far away
Could not send forth a fragrance so refined
Like phantom rich perfumes, without decay.

This olfactory imagery juxtaposed against the setting of a graveyard serves to pull the reader into the poem and really helps to evoke the scene that Dioses is trying to create. Readers of this section will be caught up in the imagery and the dark spells that Dioses weaves.

“Star Lightning” takes a shift and moves into more romantic poetry. Dioses continues with some of the imagery from the previous chapter, but it’s now set in a more romantic setting. For example, in the poem “Lover’s Witch,” we get this image:

Her love, a spell, is wound around
My soul, like lingering perfumes
That emanate from floral crowns
Of belladonna all abloom.

When the poems in this section work, they work well; however, there are many poems in this section that seem too personal, and take the reader out of the fantasy realm that Dioses has created. As such, this is the weakest section of the book, and fortunately not the last.

The final section of this collection, “On a Dreamland’s Moon,” is probably the most horror oriented of the four. Dioses moves between traditional horror tropes to the explicitly raw and grisly, as in the poem “The Rotting Goddess”:

Her reddened fingertips pluck at the strings
Of the intestines strung throughout her loom.
She weaves the fates of fighting men and kings
While severed heads are hanging in the gloom.

This is an excellent section to end the book on, a horror-driven selection of poems with tributes to some of the great names in horror literature.

Overall, Diary of a Sorceress is an excellent initial effort by a promising young poet. While the book has its weak spots and could have been curated more, it stands as a solid first book by a poet who has a lot to add to horror poetry.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Weird Fiction Review #8 by Centipede Press

Weird Fiction Review #8 by Centipede Press is on sale for $19 at the Centipede Press website.  It contains my poem, To Court the Dragon and the Snake, which was inspired by the Penny Dreadful episode, "A Blade of Grass".

                       

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Yearly Recap

This was an exciting year writing-wise for me! 

My debut horror and dark fantasy poetry collection, Diary of a Sorceress, came out far sooner than expected,





I made not only my first story sale but my first TWO story sales in the same month,

(Rat in the Rabbit Cage appears in Weirdbook Annual #1: Witches by Wildside Press)

(The Goblin of Tara appears in the Ravenwood Halloween Special by Electric Pentacle Press)

I met someone I'm a fan of,

(Bruce Campbell)

I had an amazing and epic time at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival where Diary of a Sorceress debuted, where I did a few readings as well a signings,



I signed sheets for Black Wings VI edited by S. T. Joshi by PS Publishing,



I met internet friends in real life for the first time,

(SM Wright and Thomas Broadbent)

I went on a pumpkin growing endeavor that provided one pumpkin that lived shortly then rotted,


I created a Patreon that one person cares about (Thank you!  You know who you are.), I had a blast at StokerCon on the Queen Mary, where I participated on a badass poetry panel (also where I was confused as being a part of the junior prom that was also being held on board),


and I had an extremely successful year getting published.  This year I sold 37 poems, 2 short stories, one article, and one poetry collection.  I was also interviewed on my poetry and collection 4 times.  

I hope next year is an equally productive and fun year.











Friday, December 8, 2017

Projects

I'm still trudging along. 

Current Progress-

The Withering- 51 poems
Diary of a Vampyress- 24 poems
Project 3- 14 poems
Project 4- 24 poems

I had planned Project 4 to be, well, my fourth project/collection.  I just took a look at it today and realized it had more poems in it than I thought.  I'm thinking that maybe it should be bumped up to number 3's slot.  We'll see.  I'm trying not to focus too much on 3 and 4 right now.

Altogether, that's over 100 poems; definitely enough for a collection on it's own, but that would be a hodge podge mess.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Time of the Sorceress — An Interview with Ashley Dioses by David E. Cowen

The Time of the Sorceress
Weird. Most dictionaries will include in its definitions of this word the phrase “suggesting something supernatural; uncanny.” H.P. Lovecraft, an imperfect human who strove to perfect his craft, referred to his work as “Weird Fiction” S.T. Joshi’s classic “The Weird Tale” (University of Texas Press 1990) states in the preface that the Weird Tale “does not exist as a genre but as a consequence of a world view.” The Weird Tale has been a stable of horror for many years. Ms. Dioses has emerged as a rising star in a subset of this body of work: Weird Poetry. Ms. Dioses is a frequent contributor to Spectral Realms (Hippocampus Press) a journal edited by S.T. Joshi and devoted to this subgenre. It is perhaps no coincidence that Hippocampus Press is the proud publisher of Ms. Dioses first volume of weird poetry Diary of a Sorceress.


Highly stylistic, the poems send the reader back to more traditional poems using rhyme, meter and mythical allusions. This volume is not an imitation of Poe as the images and work draw from more ancient muses. Ms. Dioses book has won high praise from many circles and is sure to be remembered long after the current cycle of hopefuls for the Stoker award.

Q: Let’s start off with the easy questions. Even the cover notes state clearly that your work falls under the classification of “contemporary Weird Poetry.” Educate the reader what this is and the influences you have drawn upon to create this volume.

A:  Weird contains aspects of the supernatural with an emphasis on atmosphere.  My poems are rich with atmosphere and contain many supernatural and fantastical themes.  My strongest influences come from Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, and David Park Barnitz.

Q: All of the poems use rhyme heavily which is a more traditional form and a trademark of weird poetry. Some use meter and some do not. Is this driven by the nature of the poem, your style and preferences or some other ambition?

A:  All of them, actually, use meter and they tend to vary from the common iambic pentameter to iambic hexameter, also known as Alexandrines, and others, depending on the mood of the poem.  I find that certain themes call for certain meters and I follow what my instincts tell me to use.

Q: I’ve seen a strain of those adhering to Weird Poetry who have absolute disdain for contemporary free verse; even calling it fake poetry.  Is Weird Poetry the antithesis of free verse? Why do you choose this over more contemporary forms of writing? Is it akin to a seamstress who prefers hand stitching to a machine? The art of crafting the cloth being its own reward?

A: I think that when it comes to poetry, it’s not necessarily the form of poetry being written that makes it Weird, but the themes in the poem itself. Wade German and Ann K. Schwader, for instance, are amazing contemporary Weird poets and they use free verse.  The flow of formal verse is more musical to me and it fits my style of writing.  Writing free verse is just not to my taste and therefore, I don’t write it.

Q: Your poetry draws upon a number of archetypes: wizards, the god Pan, zombie-like Valkyries, warlocks, goblins, and other fantastical creatures. I sense a more fantasy realm than horror much different from the works of Lovecraft (with his penguin eating old gods and tentacle faced monsters).  Many of the poems hint of love and lost love as well. I am taken to the works of a number of fantasy writers reading your poems. So I see a bridging of fantasy and the Weird Tale with your poems. Do you consider your work true horror or a hybrid bringing fantasy, the Weird Tale and horror into a merged road?

A: Fantasy was always my first love and blending it with my second love, horror, seems to be what Weird is all about. A lot of Weird fiction and poetry is supernatural and have fantasy elements and, though I may not write about giant albino penguins (though what an awesome idea that was!), I like to blend my horror with fantasy and/or the supernatural. 

Q: Have to ask. Several poems are dedicated to a K. A. O.” even making a reference to a “Crimson Tome” related to this person. Who is this mysterious person and how has he or she influenced your work.

A: Oh my, where to begin? K. A. O. is Kyle Opperman, or known on social media as K. A. Opperman and he is my beloved of five years.  We met online.  Kyle was a poetry editor for a now defunct zine called Dark River Press and I had just gotten published, for the first time, at The Horror Zine.  He read my work, emailed me, and invited me to submit for Dark River Press.

Before Kyle, I had never heard of Weird fiction or Weird poetry.  I never heard of H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert W. Chambers, M. R. James, and others before knowing Kyle.  I think it’s safe to say that my work would be entirely different without him.  He also still remains my poetry editor.  Every poem I write goes through him before I submit them anywhere.

Q: What’s next up for you?

A: I have two projects I’m currently working on. The first is a collection of juvenilia horror poems called, The Withering.  It will contain about 50 poems from my pre-teen and teenage years.

My second project is my next poetry collection called, Diary of a Vampyress.  Unlike Diary of a Sorceress, which has sections divided by themes (fantasy, nature, romance/erotica, horror), Diary of a Vampyress is divided by subject, as this collection will be focused more on Gothic and supernatural horror.  Diary of a Vampyress will loosely follow the story of Nadia, who makes her appearance in Diary of a Sorceress, in the first 4 sonnets of her sonnet cycle.

A Queen in Hell

To Edgar Allan Poe

Upon a moonlit eve, we strolled along the shores
Of a still lake, all atrament save for the bright,
Rich, hoary moon-glow, which threw wide dark, eldritch doors
Into a hell of reeking hells that stole her light.

My love, my gorgeous love, how could you abandon me?
What haunting daemons lured you to your early grave?
How could you not perceive that you were always free?
Why, why was it not you, my love, that I could save?

The years have passed and sadly I stand so alone
Beside you, by your grave, yet in my heart you dwell.
Your kinsmen knew of your great beauty, and it’s known
That we lament so deeply for a queen in Hell.

On Amaranthine Lips

My purple font of his desire
Invites the tongue of my vampire.
He tastes the nectar sweet therein,
And drinks his fill of darkest sin.
His kiss on amaranthine lips
Delivers bliss down to my hips.
Forever his caress is cold,
Yet how I itch for him to hold
Me in his arms, for every star
Above to see us from afar.

Lover’s Witch

The Sun’s gold gleams beneath her skin,
And gives its warmth with every touch.
Her eyes are gems, the Moon’s blue twins,
Which sparkle, barely hinting much.

A promise of sweet Heaven’s kiss
Forever lures me to her hold.
Her gaze upon me is pure bliss,
And that was how my soul was sold.

Her love, a spell, is wound around
My soul, like lingering perfumes
That emanate from floral crowns
Of belladonna all abloom.

She is the star and its fierce fire,
The Moon and its deep darkest phase,
The red, red rose of the great briar,
The center garden in the maze.

When those in favor fall from grace,
Her skin sears with Hell’s hottest flame.
Her eyes grow dark with new Moon’s face,
And lips give way to fangs’ quick aim.

I am her lover; she, my witch.
She, my desire, for only I
Can coax the Moon back from the pitch,
And the fine gold from flame’s last cry.

Horror

In dark cathedrals and woodlands mist-laden,
A horror lurks in realms beyond, unseen.
Few fae are pretty and appear to maidens—
Most of their kind are cruel, and ugly green.

A door can lead to their true territory—
The Otherworld, where anyone might stray.
It changes Paradise to Purgatory,
And all cold shadows pave, for you, the way.

Daemonolatry

Elysian daemon worship is more than it seems,
For many fiends reside in the deep haunted reaches
Of our vast psyche. Shun them, and they escape through dreams.
Approach them with respect; wait what the daemon teaches. . . .

Bio:

Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark fiction and poetry from southern alifornia. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released this year from Hippocampus Press.  Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review #5, #7, and #8 (Centipede Press, 2014, 2016-17), Skelo Issues 1-3 (Skelos Press, 2016-17), Weirdbook #31-34 (Wildside Press, 2015-17), Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing, 2017) and others.  Her poem “Carathis,” published in Spectral Realms 1, appeared in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase 2016 for her poem “Ghoul Mistress.”  She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.  She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.

Need a Poetry Christmas List?

HWA poets have amazing new volumes of poetry available. Here are some but certainly not all of the newest volumes currently circulating:

Satan’s Sweethearts (Weasel Press 2017) by Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo. Poems that bring feminism to mass murder chronicling female mass murders over the centuries.  (I assisted editing this so I get to add a short blurb on it)

Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest (  ) by Robert Frazier and Bruce Boston.

PseudoPsalms: Sodom (Bizarro Pulp Press – JournalStone 2017) by Peter Adam Solomon.

No Mercy: Dark Poems (Crystal Lake Publishing 2017) by Alessandro Manzetti.

Escape Claws (CreateSpace 2017) by Angela Yuriko Smith.

Meanderings of a Dark and Lonely Cycle Path (er … um … Psychopath) (Amazon Digital Services LLC 2017) Randy D. Rubin’s third dark poetry collection.

The Lay of Old Hex (Hippocampus Press 2017) by Adam Bolivar. Another contribution to Weird Poetry.

A Collection of Nightmares (Raw Dog Screaming Press 2017) by Cristina Sng.

When the Night Owl Screams (MoonDream Press 2017) by Michael Hansen.

Til Death: Marriage Poems (Raw Dog Screaming Press 2017) by Janice Leach and James Frederick Leach.

Love for Slaughter (Strangehouse Books 2017) by Sara Tantlinger.

The Cabin Sessions (Hellbound Books 2017) by Isobel Blackthorn.

and of course

HWA Poetry Showcase Volume IV (HWA, D. Cowen Editor, 2017)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Infernal Ink Magazine Copy


I have finally received my copy of Infernal Link Magazine.  My reprint, Maenads, appears in this issue.

Maenads is one of the 10 poems that have a black and white illustration in Diary of a Sorceress.


Table of Contents

Notes From the Editor by Hydra M. Star
Our Bond Complete by Mark A. Mihalko
Howling in the Night by G. Large
Calender Witches and Steel Interview with Paul Sherman
Short Memoir of an Ed Gein Disciple by Steven Allen Porter
Thought's In Bed with Pain by Patrick Winters
Act of the Loathsome Intimacy by Norbert Gora
The Chocolate Box by Holly Flynn
Defrosting by Robert Beveridge
The Predator by Timothy C. Hobbs
There is No Sin by John Siney
Valium by Jessica Williams
A Fetishistic Feast of Indulgence by Rick Powell
Horny by Evelyn Eve
Tormentor by TheByStander
Maenads by Ashley Dioses
The Author Bordello with Alder Strauss

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review of The Rat in the Rabbit Cage

Tangent reviews Weirdbook Annual #1: Witches by Wildside Press, edited by Douglas Draa and gives a brief review of every fiction piece in the anthology.  Unfortunately Tangent never reviews poetry, so this is the first time they have reviewed my work.

“The Rat in the Rabbit Cage” by Ashley Dioses

"Emily is visiting her distraught sister, Theodora, in this short horror story. After accepting a strange white rat from her equally strange neighbor, Theodora’s pets are disappearing. Color changes in the rat convince Theodora that it’s eating each pet. The rat acquires a patch of fur the same color of each pet when that pet disappears.

Emily hears how Theodora returned the rat to her neighbor, but her new dog still goes missing soon after she brings it home. Now she has convinced Emily to go and confront the old witch next door.

The intrigue about the rat provided enough pull and the writing craft was okay. It was an interesting story that left the reader mystified."

Not bad for the first review on my first published story.  I'll take it!