Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
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Early Science Fiction Poetry

extracts from letters to Steve Sneyd

29 July 1987   

I'm not quite sure what you regard as 'SF poetry', but early fns did include poetry of sorts. I enclose two rare and rotting copies of the 'legendary' Zenith, with offerings by Sam Youd (John Christopher) and Dorothy Morton (a non-fen but a pal of Marion's and fellow-attender at a writers' class in the Glasgow of the late 30s-40s.

The reference to a contribution from H.K. Bulmer on page 13 of Z1, reminds me that this was a poem which never saw print; originally, it had been sent for the proto-Zenith that appeared in Mike Rosenblum's Futurian War Digest (Fido). As I recall, its non-appearance provoked Ken to write and accuse me of burying it because I'd raised my standards too high (maybe I did!).

My memory of the content of the sheets I sent to Mike during 1941 for inclusion in his mailing is of the vaguest. I seem to recall I illustrated poems sent in by fans - Don J. Doughty's name surfaces - and, indeed, I have a manuscript copy of a rumty-tum bit of space imperialist verse by Arthur Clarke, which also was not published (by me, at any rate; I daren't let you see this as Arthur would sue me if it were spread around...).
    [see also Jottings, 12/11/1997 Ed.]

If you want to dig further into this prehistoric aspect of fans and poetry and publishing, I suggest you need to get into touch with the Vin¢ Clarke Fanzine Library. I enclose my copy of the catalogue that Vin¢ issued a couple of years back, since he acquired a wp last year he may have produced an up-dated version. I suggest you write and ask him if he can give you details of the verse-content of the Fido litter during 1941, and it might also be worth investigating John Burke's Satellite (1938-40) and Fantast, started by Sam Youd (1939-42) and continued by Doug Webster (which Vin¢ doesn't list in this catalogue).

So that line of enquiry should absorb all the spare time that remains. Like you say, the nearer you get to the horizon, the wider it gets... ■

3rd October 1989   

Vin¢ sent me a pile of Fido litter material recently. I didn't realise I'd done so much stuff for Mike in the way of covers and inserts. The proto-Zeniths in the Fido mailings were all Illustrated verse ? I presume Vin¢ sent you these ? I think I must have looked for better things when I started in on the full-blown Zeds: I was into Read, Spender, Eliot, Pound and Day Lewis at this time. Still have several slightly damp-stained slim volumes, acquired in those days, on the shelves. Was also discovering Modernism in painting and reaching the inevitable conclusion that a goodly number of fannish contemporaries were right philistines.

Amused to notice that on the dust jacket of Faber's Spender Poems it ses in large red print "third impression of the revised and enlarged second edition" -- not exactly a lpoint today's marketeers would stress. Still at 40 poems for 6 bob, not bad value. Hardback, too.

I like that "fanzies" ... it's a good word to describe Eric's prose output.■

one of a series of occasional pieces published by the Septua/Octagenarian Fans Association © Harry Turner, 1987.

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