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In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Marie Vibbert's "To Current Occupant," with commentary by the poet.

 

From the poet:

Its inspiration was actually a spam email that I got, and I thought the spam email was rather poetic, and I had been collecting bits and pieces of spam to make into a poem. And so I started out just crunching together this poem called, “To Current Occupant.” I liked the way those words sounded together.

I actually wrote just a plain, straight-up, normal poem, I guess you would say, but the first line was always, “To better serve your needs, this poem is interactive.” And when I showed it to my poetry workshop buddies, they were all, “You're a computer programmer, why don't you make it interactive?” And then I was like, “Ooo, that's cool!”

Making it interactive did change some of the content. I ended up removing a lot of the spam email inspiration stuff to focus more on stuff that directly addressed the reader. The poetry consumer.

The original poem ended, “Dear poetry consumer, what words would make you buy more poetry? Buy poetry. Please buy poetry.”



Besides publishing twenty-odd short stories, a dozen poems and a few comics, Marie Vibbert has been a medieval (SCA) squire, ridden 17% of the roller coasters in the United States and has played O-line and D-line for the Cleveland Fusion women’s tackle football team. She is also a web developer.
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We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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