author profile08 May 2017 11:34 am

David Kopaska-Merkel has appeared in Polu Texni many times over the years. He has recently been named a Grand Master by the SFPA. We will run poems by him over the next four weeks.

1) Are you primarily a poet, or do you write in other forms as well?

I am primarily a poet, if you go by number of pieces written (close to 2000). However, I wrote fiction first (I still write some), and in terms of total words written, fiction garners first place. Or it would, except I’ve written more than 100 scientific articles, and two science books (a college textbook and a popular-science book, both with co-authors).

2) Tell us about your other writing projects. What are you working on now?

I am working on collaborative poems with a couple of folks I’ve written with before (Ann K. Schwader, Kendall Evans). And I’m working with several poets on a project I can’t say anything about just now. As for solo writing, I am always writing something. And I try to write at least one short poem a day, just to keep my hand in. I post them on my blog:

Geologically, I’m writing about trace fossils and fossil reefs.

3) Who are your favorite authors? In particular, do you have a favorite who is under appreciated that we should check out?

I have no favorites, cos I like too many, but, Roger Zelazny was a genius. Lord of Light juxtaposed the Hindu pantheon, aliens, and future tech with delicious humor. He was a poet, too. Tim Powers is another genius, and a poet. The Anubis Gates combined time travel with Egyptian gods in an enchanting way (and it’s about a poet!). P. C. Hodgell is, I think, greatly underappreciated. God Stalk is the first of a fantasy series, but it can stand alone. The god-filled world is fascinating, and the young protagonist is both adorable and unexpectedly dangerous. Kim Harrison’s “Hollows” books are paranormal romance, but they are superlative. A similar protagonist, in a way. Hard SF? Jack McDevitt is also underappreciated. Read Chindi, even though it’s part of a series (near-future exploration). You probably meant favorite poets, but I am even less able to answer that question.

4) What are you reading now?

I am rereading Rudy Rucker’s collection The 57th Franz Kafka. Some of the best SF that was ever written around unfamiliar math and physics concepts. Alternate worlds, the 4th dimension, what we think we know about time, and so on. 15 more books on my to-read pile, but the topmost is the 2017 Rhysling Anthology.

5) Do you do any other creative work (music, visual arts, etc)?

I have been publishing genre poetry since 1986. I started Dreams and Nightmares because I couldn’t find enough venues for speculative poetry. They existed, but it was hard to find them before the internet. Issue 106 of DN is coming out imminently. Over the years I have bought more than a few “first sales,” which is fun for both parties.

I like drawing, but I’m the only one in my family who utterly lacks talent for it. Even worse at music, though both of my kids are talented there, too.

6) What is your latest big discovery (art, lifestyle, anything really.)

I hoped to raise at least one scientist, but have failed miserably. I am a geologist, and recently discovered a new fossil species. What is it? No one really knows. Many ancient critters have no close living relatives. We know a bit about them, but experts don’t agree whether some fossil species were animal, vegetable, or other. So that’s pretty cool. I have inadvertently specialized in unknown critters, as a matter of fact. The previous project concerned a fat crustacean known only from its burrows.

I was recently named Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Ass’n. I’m still excited about it: I have joined a select group, which includes Ray Bradbury and Jane Yolen.

7) Basic old biographical details? (family, work, why do all writers seem to have two cats, etc?)

Spouse, two grown children (all good artists); 1 dog, two cats (I hate being predictable); live in a 117-year-old house, which once was located out in the countryside. Boards in the closet wall still have bark attached. Have lived in 6 US states plus Canada. I study geology for the people of Alabama.


One Response to “Profile for David Kopaska-Merkel”

  1. […] on Polu Texni – A Magazine of Many Arts (editor  Dawn Albright). The series begins with an interview with Kopaska-Merkel and will continue with his poetry posted over the next 4 […]

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