Succeeding at speculative verse can be a difficult task. There are so many aspects of that need to be developed according to the type of verse, and the forms that the speculative elements will take. So that science fiction lyrics demand certain things from a poet, and dark fantasy narratives another.
Ilona Hegedus, here, in her Unearthly Companion
, has attempted a a chapbook-sized collection of her dark fantasy narratives. The poems, that is, tell stories that attempt a frisson of unearthliness, as evinced in the collection's title: Unearthly Companions
. For the most part, she succeeds in getting a basic speculative element there. The opening poem, "Ghost Story", opens well:
He often came to the villa.
He was my doctor,
and a nice fellow, I thought.
But now I'm on the other side of the grave.
But it falls short at the end; it falls flat, and this points to the chief failing with these poems.
The poems themselves all start well, but when they fail, and quite a few do, it is with the maintainence of the atmosphere. Where they work, they work excellently, though. "Lover" is a perfect example of this; the twist in the poem's premise appears at the middle, and the second half is involved with its ramifications. It is less unsettling, too, than unnerving, and this ability to sidestep mundane reality is a skill that Ilona possesses to a great degree. Unearthly Companion
is not a collection to scare so much as unnerve, and several of the poems fortuitously linger in the memory, such as "Museum".
That English is not Ilona's first language does not become apparent from all but the most minute scrutiny of these poems. They speak well of her ability as a poet that they are for the most part excellent in their performance, with only an unnevenness here and there to detract from her performance. Ilona also keeps a blog where she encourages and promotes European writing. That she does so here as well, in Unearthly Companion
, should be no surprise for the afficionado of speculative poetry.
Try Unearthly Companion
, and I am sure that you will want to read more of her work.