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Saul's Death & other poems
Joe Haldeman
Anamnesis Press, 77 pages

Saul's Death & other poems
Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman awards include the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award. His SF classic, The Forever War, along with The Hemingway Hoax, and the Worlds trilogy are just a few of the titles which have made him a household name in the realm of SF.

Joe Haldeman Web Page
ISFDB Bibliography
Anamnesis Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Ruthman


I first encountered Joe Haldeman's poetry in the February '83 issue of OMNI. Three years later, he was kind enough to autograph my copy of “Saul's Death” at the 1986 World Fantasy Convention. It was my one goal when I made the trek to Providence.

If speculative poetry speaks to you like that, then this latest offering from Anamnesis Press is a must-have. It collects 32 of Joe Haldeman's poems together in a compact trade paperback. The poems include two Rhysling Award winners: “Eighteen Years Old, October Eleventh” (1991) and “Saul's Death” (1985). Not all the poems are speculative, but all are excellent. The book groups them into 5 stories and 27 people, places and things. “Saul's Death” is one of the stories.

This presentation lacks the beautiful layout I remember in OMNI, but perhaps that only means less distractions from the beauty of the poetry itself. What I did miss from the OMNI version, however, were the few afterwords from Joe Haldeman without which I never would have appreciated that “Saul's Death” is a sestina, for example. I would have enjoyed a few of his comments about this and other poems sprinkled throughout the collection.

Of the 31 other poems, my personal favorites are “Homecoming”, “Machines of loving grace” and “ice”. “Homecoming” tells the life story of a space junkie; “Machines of loving grace” laments the slow extinction of the manual typewriter; and “ice” captures the image of a small ice-sheathed tree. I could easily include a half-dozen more. As I read and re-read them over the years, I'm sure to find new favorites depending on the moment. I hope you take the opportunity to do the same.

Sestina is defined by Webster's as “a poem with six six-line stanzas, each having the same six line-end words though not in the same order, and a three-line envoy containing these six words.”

Anamnesis Press is a self-described “small but cutting-edge electronic publishing company devoted to the preservation of poetry and literary non-fiction on the electronic frontier.” They also publish selected works in more traditional forms. Look for their Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany: A Correspondence, coming in January 1998.

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Ruthman

Todd Ruthman is the SF Site Poetry Editor.

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