The University of Iowa

Dragons and Rayguns: Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry

Weekend June 27 to June 28 2020

Speculative literature—science fiction, fantasy, horror—explores our world and our lives through asking “What if?” This all-consuming question is a mainstay in contemporary popular culture. One notable example is the zombie craze: the blockbuster TV series The Walking Dead will soon finish its tenth season.


Speculative poetry as an endeavor and an industry has been growing over several decades; the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. As the editor-in-chief of Star*Line, the SFPA’s print journal, I’m well positioned to help you write better speculative poems.


This class is geared toward those who are fairly experienced already in writing poems. Before the workshop, you will send me three speculative poems. In the course of the weekend you will also write one speculative poem. We will workshop your poems in class and discuss their craft as well as how they fit within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror traditions. Our goal in the workshop is to help you become more aware of the possibilities of speculative poetry. What you will find after the workshop is that your poems will be more imaginative, more weird, more fun!


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; critique writing you bring from home; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.