Bibliography

Posted in Bibliography, Gargoyle, Morbidezza, My Bantam Black Fay, Spectral Realms, Speculations: Poetry from the Weird Poets Society, terza rima, Thalía, The Baleful Beldam, Vampire Vigil with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

A listing of my published works and appearances.

2018

Thalía (poetry): Spectral Realms #9 [Hippocampus Press]

2019

Morbidezza (prose poem): Spectral Realms #10 [Hippocampus Press]

Gargoyle (prose poem): Spectral Realms #10 [Hippocampus Press]

My Bantam Black Fay (poetry): Speculations: Poetry from the Weird Poets Society 2018

Vampire Vigil (prose poem): Spectral Realms #11 [Hippocampus Press]

The Baleful Beldam (poetry): Spectral Realms #11 [Hippocampus Press]

Night Hag (prose vignette): The Phantasmagorical Promenade [Planet X Publications]

The Fell Fête (tribute fiction): The Averoigne Legacy: Tribute Tales in the World of Clark Ashton Smith [Pickman’s Press]

2020

Satanic Sonata (prose poem): Spectral Realms #12 [Hippocampus Press]

Kiss of Life (prose poem): Spectral Realms #12 [Hippocampus Press]

Spectral Realms #12 soon to be available!

Posted in Albert Joseph Pénot, Dan Sauer, Hippocampus Press, Kiss of Life, S.T. Joshi, Satanic Sonata, Spectral Realms with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Spectral Realms #12 is now available for ordering at http://www.HippocampusPress.com, It features my prose poems Satanic Sonata and Kiss of Life along with some of the best contemporary weird poetry and prose this side of the veil! Check it out:

This twelfth issue of Hippocampus Press’s award-winning journal of weird poetry begins with David Barker’s affecting acrostic sonnet in memory of the late W. H. Pugmire. Contributions by other leading contemporary poets—Leigh Blackmore, Frank Coffman, Adam Bolivar, Benjamin Blake, Christina Sng, and many others—are scattered throughout the issue. We also find vivid and evocative prose poems by Maxwell I. Gold, Manuel Arenas, and Wade German.

Thomas Tyrrell writes a poem in tribute of renowned fantaisiste Lord Dunsany; Don Webb evokes the shade of Edgar Allan Poe; Carl E Reed draws upon the work of Arthur Machen; and Manuel Pérez-Campos pays homage to the comic book Creepy. Nicole Cushing contributes a poem that fuses grimness and beauty, while Scott J. Couturier teases out the horrific potential of Greek myth.

Two classic reprints—by Ernest Dowson and Arthur Symons—hint at the bountiful stores of weirdness in poetry of the turn of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. S. T. Joshi offers his assessment of Wade German’s recent poetry collection, while Donald Sidney-Fryer waxes eloquent about D. L .Myers’s long-awaited omnibus. [retrieved from https://www.hippocampuspress.com/journals/spectral-realms/spectral-realms-no.-12, 01/25/2020]

Glorious cover art for Spectral Realms #12 by Dan Sauer, based on “La Femme Chauve-Souris” (c. 1890) by Albert Joseph Pénot.

 

Poechella (01/23/2020)

Posted in Aaron Johnson, Bernard Schober (The Klute), Edgar Allan Poe, Greetings from Krampus, Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery, M C Tristan Marshell, Morbidezza, Phoenix Educational Programming (PEP), Poechella, Shawnte Orion, Tim Burton, Vincent (1982) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Artwork used for Poechella event promotion.

Last Thursday night I read my prose poem Morbidezza at the Poechella event held at the Lost Leaf Bar & Gallery in downtown Phoenix. As I was coming directly from work and had some time to kill, I grabbed a chicken sandwich at Popeyes. It was the first time I’d tried the infamous sandwich that had caused such a ruckus a few months ago, and in my opinion, it was a lot like the Chick-fil-a sandwich only crunchier, like their Louisiana fried chicken. Not bad mind you, but certainly nothing so good as to warrant shooting anyone for. That being said, my colleague at work assures me that had I eaten the spicy chicken sandwich, rather than the classic, I might have a volte-face on that opinion.

After eating, I drove to the Lost Leaf with the intention of getting there early to find a good parking spot, and to check in for the show. When I got there, it was not the place I thought it was. I had been there years before, but I didn’t realize that it was the Lost Leaf. Upon arrival, I immediately spotted my old comrade, poet M C Tristan Marshell, who motioned for me to take a seat at his table. He was there, with a friend, for a poetry slam which was being held before the Poechella event. It was good to hear him read again, as it had been a while since the last time we were at the same event. A couple of other friends from my open mic days showed up for the show (my friend Dani and her husband), but oddly, not the ones I expected. Two of the young ladies from my Horror Book Club showed up as well, and one even recorded my performance on her iPhone to share with the group.

There was no definitive end to the Poetry Slam and the show just sort of morphed into the Poechella event, with the only indications of event change being the very informative introduction on the life of Poe by emcee Aaron Johnson, and the influx of people clad in black; these were mostly young women in their weekend vampire threads, although there was one young man dressed up as Poe.

Not everyone whom I expected to perform was present, and I understand that Mr. Johnson did ask some of the slam poets if they wanted to stick around and contribute to the Poe event. The first performer up was Shawnte Orion, a regular from the Phoenix Poetry Slam scene. He read a series of haikus he had written for the occasion and ended with the poem from Tim Burton‘s animated short film, Vincent (1982).

Next up was The Klute, another veteran of the scene, who recited (declaimed, more like) his two poems with much gusto. The first was a clever rant about the life of Poe, which came off almost like an aggressive rewrite of the Shaft theme, but with the subject being Poe. The other piece did not have quite the same effect on me.

At this point in the show I was busy swigging a glass of Malbec, and looking over my shoulder for my friends and family who hadn’t shown up yet, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening on stage. Before I knew it, I heard Mr. Johnson making my introduction; reminiscing about the holiday themed Phoenix Educational Programming (PEP) rally from 2014 where I debuted my Krampus poem, and saying some very complimentary things about my writing, so I took that as my cue to move towards the front. Being that the stage at the Lost Leaf is in a tight enclave to the right of the bar, the standing spectators were spilling out into the bar and clogging up the entryway, so it took me a minute to make my way through the crowd and toward the stage.

The staging area was floor-level and had a few brief rows of folding chairs right in front. The lighting on stage was red and the ceiling low, and if anyone seated there were listening closely, I imagine, in their mind’s eye, the boxy room might have become the gloomy little tower cell of the Vampiress, Morbidezza.

I had rehearsed a little preamble for the show explaining Poe’s influence on my writing, but judging from the crowd and the tenor of the show thus far, I scrapped most of it and just went directly to the prose poem.  I think the general atmosphere of the crowded little room helped to put me in the zone. The piece was well received, and I even got a query from one woman as to where she might find my work online. I directed her here for information, of course, but explained that I do not post my work online anymore.

After thanking Mr Johnson for the show invite, I said my goodbyes and left, as I had to work early the following day. I am not aware of who all came afterward, so perhaps the other artists were just expected later on, as the show was slated to run till at least midnight. I hope it did, because there were some great artists scheduled to perform that night and I had yet to see them in the crowd by the time I left, which I reckon was somewhere between 10-10:30.

As an added treat, there were some attractions going on outside the venue in the Raven Market such as art prints from PM Art, tarot readings by Becca Rose Tarot, crystal infused candles from Little Maya Moonbeam, and apparel from Cellar Door Vintage.

Chalkboard at the Lost Leaf Bar & Gallery announcing the show.

All in all, I had a fun time and would love to do it again next year. It was also a lot of fun reading in front of an audience again after not having done so for so long. I need to do more of that again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vamps: An Anthology of Female Vampire Stories (1987, Daw)

Posted in Brothers Grimm, Carmilla, Charles G. Waugh, Jill Bauman Versandi, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, La Morte amoureuse 1836, Martin H. Greenberg, Morbidezza, Snow White (fairy tale), Théophile Gautier, Vamps: An Anthology of Female Vampire Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

One of the earliest collections of vampire tales I ever purchased is Vamps: An Anthology of Female Vampire Stories edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. This was my introduction to some of my favorite vampire tales, like Théophile Gautier‘s La Morte amoureuse (1836, a/k/a Clarimonde, or the Dead Leman) and my beloved Carmilla by J.S. Le Fanu. It has been reprinted several times over the years, but the version I had was the 1987 mass market paperback from Daw books, which bore the engaging cover art by Jill Bauman Versandi. I recall staring endlessly at the vampiress on the cover and wishing I would be visited by such a comely revenant. I loved the purple backdrop which reminded me of a matt painting from a Hammer film, and how it tied into the color scheme of the lady’s wardrobe and makeup. I am partial to pale brunettes with shapely lips and large eyes and this one even had tiny fangs protruding from her sensual smile. I dug her high-collared cape, her little bat broach, and her purple eye shadow which accentuated her penetrating gaze.

Vamps: An Anthology of Female Vampire Stories (1987, Daw, illustration by Jill Bauman Versandi).

For a while, I had lost the book, but found another copy to replace it, which I recently took out when re-reading Carmilla for the umpteenth time. When I looked once more upon the features of my darkling vampiress, I was struck by the fact that she bore many of the features I put into my Morbidezza. Of course, my girl doesn’t have the 80s Halloween costume vibe of the vamp from the cover art, but her coloring and general features are a match. I now believe it very likely that along with the Grimm Brothers’ Snow White, Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Poe‘s Morella, I can add Ms. Jill Bauman Versandi’s vamp girl to the list of influences in the creation of my Venetian Vampiress.

For more information on Ms. Bauman, check out her blog at http://www.jillbauman.com/

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”

Posted in Bram Stoker, Carmilla, Christopher Lee, Collinson twins, David Henry Friston (illustrator), Dracula, Emily Gerard, Hammer Horror, Ingrid Pitt, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Juan López Moctezuma, Karnstein Trilogy, LGBT vampires, Lust for a Vampire, Madeline Smith, Michael Fitzgerald (illustrator), Morbidezza, Peter Cushing, Robert W. Chambers, Roy Ward Baker, Shout! Factory, Thalía, The Dark Blue (magazine), The King in Yellow (1895), Transylvania Superstitions (1885), Twins of Evil, Vampire Fiction, vampire novellas, Yutte Stensgaard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

At some point in my life I became fascinated with the Victorian Vampire tale and sought out every extant instance of it that I could find. I haunted my local bookstores and purchased from mail order catalogues specializing in Dark Fantasy and Horror (obviously this was in the days before the Internet) but after a while I began to see the same stories and after reading them, there were only a select few which I ever felt compelled to return to. Such a one is Carmilla, the infamous novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. It is largely known nowadays as the story that spawned the genre of sexually ambiguous  vampires, but it is so much more than that and deserves to be acknowledge as one of the greatest Gothic Horror stories ever written.

“…I saw a female figure standing at the foot of the bed, a little at the right side. It was in a dark loose dress, and its hair was down and covered its shoulders. A block of stone could not have been more still.” (David Henry Friston, 1872)

It was originally serialized in the short-lived literary magazine, The Dark Blue, from 1871-1872, with illustrations by Michael Fitzgerald and David Henry Friston (respectively). It is presented as an account written by the protagonist, Laura, 10 years after her encounter with the eponymous vampire. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Basically, Carmilla is an aristocratic teenage vampire who plays on social etiquette to wheedle her way into the homes of the gentry where she woos and feeds on the young women of the household. To keep herself fettle during her protracted courtships she creeps out at night and drains the village daughters. It is this emphasis on same sex seduction that has given the tale its notoriety. Hammer studios exploited this in their 1970 film, Vampire Lovers, which alternately boosted and doomed the career of the curvaceous Polish born actress Ingrid Pitt. Although in her 30s at the time, her mesmerizing portrayal of the predatory countess is so iconic that it guaranteed her an esteemed place through posterity in the Horror film annals alongside her male counterparts, like Christopher Lee.

The movie was basically Hammer’s attempt to spice up their brand with a saucy new franchise, which came to be known as the Karnstein Trilogy, named after the family of vampires from which Carmilla was one of the lone survivors. Surprisingly enough, the film follows Le Fanu’s story fairly closely, although they do play up the erotic aspects of the tale and even have Ms. Pitt frolicking naked with co-star Madeline Smith (who plays Emma, the film’s equivalent to Laura) and seducing anyone and everyone (male or female) who has the arguable misfortune to come within her path. She is very charismatic and has a sensual allure that is very like her literary counterpart and, like her, when it comes time to vamp out, she is genuinely terrifying.

The film did well enough to spawn two sequels, however Ms. Pitt declined to renew her role for fear of being typecast, and subsequently the follow-up film, 1971’s Lust for a Vampire, was a weak link in the series. The story had some good plot ideas but was marred by the cardboard acting of Danish model turned actress Yutte Stensgaard and an emphasis on lurid, puerile softcore scenes. The 3rd installment, Twins of Evil (also 1971), had a better script, the delectable Collinson twins, and a grave performance by the recently widowed Peter Cushing, to recommend it.

Magazine promo featuring the ladies from Vampire Lovers. Ingrid Pitt is in the top row, dressed in blue.

Oddly enough, in the  featurette on the Blu-ray release of Vampire Lovers, from Shout Factory, the director, Roy Ward Baker, as well as many of the others involved with the movie claimed they never saw the Sapphic subtext in the Le Fanu story. I find that hard to believe; either they’re being coy or they are willfully ignoring the obvious. That said, I don’t think Le Fanu intended for his tale to be salacious, as he never stoops to tawdry titillations in his descriptions of Carmilla’s heated declarations and osculatory embraces. A modern reader must understand that in the Victorian mind, homosexuality was considered an unnatural transgression and a damning affront to God; this can be seen in Laura’s adverse reaction to Carmilla’s advances, which she initially tries to dismiss as “mysterious moods”. They trouble her greatly, but Carmilla’s glamour of preternatural beauty and persuasive powers have a way of softening her aversion.

There is great Gothic atmosphere in the story as well as some genuinely creepy moments that are brilliantly written, like when Laura describes her spectral visitations; the first visit from Carmilla as a young child is particularly vivid and disturbing. I was also blindsided by the implication that Laura is distantly related to the Karnsteins. It made me wonder, is Carmilla trying to bring another family member into the depleted Karnstein family vampire coven? Laura’s mother died young and I believe she may have been taken or at least an attempt was made to take her, although this isn’t fully explored in the tale. Carmilla hints at such a thing, and more, in this telling passage from chapter 4 wherein I believe she hints at her vampiric nature, which she claims even she cannot control, and that, once initiated, Laura will bring others into the fold as well:

She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ear, “Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die—die, sweetly die—into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit.”

Although not the first literary vampire, Carmilla did help establish many of the tropes we expect nowadays from our vampires, like returning to their place of burial each night, their mesmeric power, pointy teeth, the ability to shapeshift (Carmilla turns into a great shadowy cat), and even the ability to breach locked doors without effort.

Bram Stoker appears to have been familiar with the story, as there are some analogous scenes and details in Dracula (1897). In fact, before he discovered Emily Gerard‘s treasure trove travel essay Transylvania Superstitions (1885), he was going to have the novel take place in Styria, the Austrian state where Le Fanu’s tale takes place. I also suspect that perhaps the Baron Vordenburg, who is the vampire authority in the tale, could have been an inspiration for Stoker’s Abraham Van Helsing.

I wonder as well whether the tomes Le Fanu mentions as coming from his library which, after an unfruitful precursory search, I assume are fictitious, might not also be considered precursors to the imaginary grimoires of the Lovecraft mythos, predating even Robert W ChambersKing in Yellow.

Nowadays, any time someone writes an erotic vampire tale, especially if it hints at lesbianism, the character of Carmilla is bound the make an appearance at some point. The Karnstein name has been bandied about in many Horror and exploitation films over the years, and Carmilla has appeared in countless comic books, cartoons, video games, you name it. In fact, despite never having  quite become household name, she is probably the most famous literary vampire after Dracula.

Both stories are heavily plundered in the exploitation film Alucarda, by Mexican director Juan López Moctezuma. A few scenes are taken directly from Carmilla, like the scene with the hunchback who tries to sell the girls charms, and the bit where they enter the crypt and find Alucarda’s friend reposing in a coffin overbrimming in blood.

Lastly, I have been smitten with Carmilla for decades. Her story has definitely had an influence on the development of my own vampire women, Thalía & Morbidezza, and I reckon I’ll continue to be in her thrall until the day I stretch out for a dolce far niente in my own narrow house, to dream of bats, blood, and fair fey women amidst the crumbling tombs of the Karnstein family crypt.

 

 

 

Update 01/15/2020: Contributor copy of The Averoigne Legacy

Posted in Ashley Dioses, Averoigne, Carmilla, Clark Ashton Smith, Dan Clore, Diary of a Sorceress (2017), Edward Stasheff, Hippocampus Press, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Averoigne Legacy, The Fell Fête, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Monday night I received my copy of the Averoigne Legacy, and it is very cool! It’s a lot heavier than I expected and there are a few contributors whom I didn’t realize were in here, like Dan Clore and the editor himself, Edward Stasheff. I immediately re-acquainted myself with the poem Sephora by Miss Ashley Dioses, which is based on the character from Smith’s The Enchantress of Sylaire. It first appeared Weirdbook #34 and is collected in her Diary of a Sorceress from Hippocampus Press. It is a great poem and true to the weird romanticism of Clark Ashton Smith. I haven’t read anything else although I have my eye on the Return of the Colossus by Brian McNaughton because I just re-read Smith’s The Colossus of Ylourgne.

There are a lot of great writers here and I am excited to delve in as soon as I finish reading J.S. Le Fanu‘s Carmilla, which I am re-reading (for the umpteenth time) for inspiration with a possible novella featuring my own vampiress, Morbidezza.

My story, The Fell Fête, is near the back, and is a sort of vampire/fairy/mythos mash up.

Here are some pictures my good friend Thérèse Lavery took some snapshots of the book in the breakroom at work.

Requisite author pic with the Averoigne Legacy.

Here’s my story, The Fell Fête.

Close up of the The Fell Fête.

“The Hell of Mirrors” accepted for first issue of Penumbra!

Posted in Hippocampus Press, Penumbra (Journal), S.T. Joshi, Spectral Realms with tags , , , , on January 11, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well, I have received a response from S.T. Joshi regarding my submission of The Hell of Mirrors for Spectral Realms #13. He said that in his view it wasn’t quite a prose poem, rather a short story, albeit “a mighty good one”. He then went on to say that he’d like to use it for a new journal from Hippocampus Press to be called Penumbra. It will be a literary journal dedicated to the criticism of weird fiction, which will also have the odd story or two. Apparently it is slated for publication in the summer. I am very excited about this opportunity, and will post more details as things develop.

 

Update 01/23/2020:

I found the post on STJoshi.org where Mr. Joshi announced the Penumbra journal. It can be found at the end of the blog post Lovecratiana and Joshiana from July 14, 2019.

Morbidezza accepted to be read at Poechella!

Posted in Aaron Johnson, kevin flanagan, Lawn Gnome Publishing, Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery, Morbidezza, Poechella with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2020 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I got a message from my old comrade, Kevin Flanagan saying that Aaron Johnson of Lawn Gnome Publishing was looking for me to see if I might contribute to a celebration of Edgar Allan Poe taking place at the end of the month. It is to be called Poechella and will take place January 23rd from 9 pm to 1 am at the Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery. Well, I got in touch with Mr. Johnson, and after some messaging and sharing a copy of my tale, he has allowed for me to read Morbidezza in its entirety for the show!

Here is the line up so far from Mr. Johnson: Kevin Flanagan, The Klute, Lexi Lockett, and Mr. Johnson himself shall be performing. More details to follow….