Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review of Prime Directive Press's Anthology: Make It So, a collection of poetry inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation

Make It So, a collection of poetry inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation, edited by Margaret Bashaar. Prime Directive Press, an imprint of Hyacinth Girl Press, 2011.

*Note: I'm not going to bother giving detailed backgrounds of each character. My apologies, but it would take up the bulk of this review.

In Bashaar's introduction, she stresses that she wanted to compile a collection of poems by serious poets, "that was not just poems with Star Trek as a topic, but rather poetry that I felt had artistic merit beyond simple fan writing. Too often, I think, it is presumed that while fan art can be beautiful and, well, art, fan writing must all be poorly written smutty slashfic." And I believe she's succeeded. The anthology opens with an untitled poem by Jessica Dyer that places certain key characters from the show within the context of the Tarot: Tasha Yar* as The Star, Data as The Hanged Man. Many of the poems act as character studies in which the authors compare themselves to one of the popular characters from the show. "The Uncanny Valley or Data Explains," is a monologue by Data, probably the most popular character represented in the anthology. "Ready Room," by J. Bradley stands out, not only as one of the shorter poems, but I happen to be a fan of Bradley. It begins: If I was as suave as Commander Riker,
I could convince you to slow dance
to anything.

It I was as suave as Commander Riker,
we would also be at the clinic
praying for curable results.

Many of the poems focus on key incidents from the series, "Holodeck Piscopo" lampoons the appearance of Joe Piscopo on the show as a representative of "comedy."  There's even a poem about the sole cat on the ship, Spot.

Even though the focus of this anthology is very specific, there is a feeling, in these poems, not of the exclusivity of a 'club' but of a group of people celebrating something they love. There are references one wouldn't get without a decent familiarity with the show, for example, "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot," by Sarah Reck, which touches on a well-known line from Captain Picard:
When ordering tea, I like to say
"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."
to see if the barista cracks a smile
or not.

As for myself, I admit that I've probably seen every episode of Next Generation. I watched them when they aired, and probably haven't seen them since. I was a fan back then, but probably wouldn't watch the show now. Having said that, I very much enjoyed this collection. The poems are funny, smart, accessible, and well-written. Clearly, they were written by talented poets writing about something they love. The anthology, itself, was a great idea, and I recommend reading it. On a side note, I'd just like to point out how difficult it has been not making Star Trek puns while writing this. Of course, I've narrated the entire thing in Captain Picard's voice in my head.

-CL Bledsoe


Anonymous said...

What a great idea! It's embarrassing how I, too, hear "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." in a particular voice and cadence. You remember of course the two poems at Data's reading? One about Spot - "carniverous by nature" and one about sitting on the beach at sunset. I loved those poems. For a while I used to say the end of one to my cat: "And though you are not sentient, and do not comprehend --- ."

Thanks for the walk into the pleasant mists of the past.

CLBledsoe said...

I really enjoyed the collection because of the memories it brought up. I wish I could think of things like this...