April is Furry Poetry Month – guest post by Shining River.
by Patch O'Furr
In the United States and Canada, the month of April is celebrated as National Poetry Month, a tradition in the United States since 1996 and in Canada since 1998. Many literary magazines, libraries, authors, schools, and websites participate in this in a wide variety of ways. Since 2015, writers of the furry community have been celebrating their own version of this, which we may now call Furry Poetry Month.
The writing of poetry by furries, whether they be dedicated writers or occasional writers of poems, is not just a recent development. Poems can be found online in the Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry, of the 1990’s. A once-active site that featured furry literature was Anthrozine. Starting as early as their second issue in 2005, twenty-six furry poems were published over the years that the site was maintained by Michael Bard and Quentin Long.
Poetry probably appeared on Fur Affinity user pages soon after it’s beginning in 2005. Over the years, approximately eight groups have been created to feature poetry and other writing. Most of these groups have had little activity in recent months, some of them not for several years. The Poets Guild began in 2009 features two poetry anthologies and four dozen individual poems that are posted on the site. Their activity declined for a year or so but has recently had an increase in posting. The most active FA group for poetry at this time is Poetic Furs. Begun in 2015, they have featured an interview with a different poet each month.
Over the years there have been some printed versions of furry poetry. This writer still has his copy of the 1999 Conifur NorthWest furcon con book and we find on page 41-42 what might best be described as a rap, but it’s still poetry, titled “I Am The Very Model Of A Furry Individual” by Mee-Shee. Another example was the first volume of Allasso in 2012, edited by Brian Lee Cook, which contained seven poems along with fiction short stories.
More recently, poetry has been featured on Adjective Species. Their first publishing of a furry poem, “Whiskey Sour”, by Lunostophiles, appeared in 2013.
In March of 2015 an essay written by this writer, titled “Finding the Animals in Modern Poetry”, was followed by the creation of the “Inaugural Adjective Species Poetry Collection”. It was curated by Lunostophiles. This featured original animal themed poems from thirteen writers of the furry community. The following year in April, Adjective Species published another essay by this writer, “Finding the Animals in Cowboy Poetry”, which was soon followed by the “Second Adjective Species Poetry Collection”, with nine poems contributed. This was curated by a prominent furry writer, Poetigress. Also at that time seven original poems written by Poetigress were published over three days.
The Furry Writers Guild was founded in 2010 to be a group for writers to share their experiences and to provide information about writing and publishing. In April of 2015 on their site forum, a new discussion board for poetry was created. Also at this time, Laura “Munchkin” Govednik and Altivo Overo developed the idea for a book of poetry featuring animal themed poems from Furry Writers Guild writers. The sales of the book would be donated to an animal charity. This successful project, titled “Civilized Beasts”, appeared in December 2015, published by Weasel Press.
In 2016, the project was begun again, as reported here on Dogpatch Press. Poem submissions are closed at this time and the release of the new book has not yet been announced.
Finally, the enjoyment of poetry does not have to be just a solitary, silent, experience. There are many un-traditional ways of creating and experiencing poetry. Recitation and performance of poetry occasionally occurs in the furry community. Fursuiter rap performances on Youtube are a good example, and this writer enjoyed poetry readings by two furry writers at Rainfurrest 2015. You might find a way to poetically express yourself with some of these activities: https://www.poets.org/national
Poetry comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, much like the fursuits of the furry community. Poetry written by others can put into words the ideas and emotions that we ourselves may not have the skill to express. Poetry that we write can be a way to gather together our thoughts and emotions and get a clear look at them. Somewhere out there in the world there is a poem, or maybe many poems, that is good for each one of us.
– Shining River
Is this list complete?
March is Furry Women’s Month
April is Furry Poetry Month
October is Furry Book Month
Have I missed any? What’s next?
In February we had Black Furry History Month going on on Twitter
I don’t recall if there were any other sites that took up that subject. It is based on the celebration of, I prefer to say, African American History Month which occurs during February in the United States.
Two other possible celebration months that come to mind are “Native American Indian Heritage Month” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Indian_Heritage_Month to be celebrated in November, and also possibly “Hispanic History Month”
(September 15 to October 15)
I hope that members of the furry community who identify with these groups would make an effort to promote these as celebrations in the furry community. I wrote last month in my story about Furry Women’s Month and I felt it should have been written by women of the furry community, rather than just this old white bull. Far be it from me to tell other people how they should represent themselves! I support efforts on behalf of racial, ethnic, and gender groups in the furry community because it is my observation that the community is (and I believe there are some valid surveys that support this) very predominantly white (European-American, if you will). I remember the first furcon that I attended, the 1999 Conifur NorthWest that I mentioned above, and how I recall seeing only one African American furry there. I know the situation has changed since then, and I look forward to seeing new ways of expressing one’s furry nature come from people who identify as being other than white, male, suburban.
Another point I hope to make is that celebration months can be a way to promote the economic opportunities for people in various groups. I hope that Furry Poetry Month and Furry Book Month (which has been primarily an effort by Huskyteer) both provide some awareness-raising or the works of writers in the furry community. You also do a good job at this, Fred, with your book reviews. Keep on keepin’ on.
Oops. So this should be:
February is Black Furry History Month (or Furry Black History Month?)
March is Furry Women’s Month
April is Furry Poetry Month
October is Furry Book Month
September is Furry Hispanic Month
November is Furry Native American Month
I dunno. I can see promoting furry poetry and furry books, and should be plenty of furry women (there are plenty of furry women authors; not so many furry women convention attendees), but doesn’t promoting furry Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans instead of animal species defeat the goal of furry-dom?
Thanks for the compliment. Don’t worry; Dogpatch Press currently has a backlog of 19 of my book reviews in its queue — enough for several weeks.
I think I understand your concern about bringing special themes based on race and ethnicity into the furry community. It’s the kind of thing that can sometimes slide into unfriendly and sometimes politically charged exchanges among furries. My hope for the recognition of (I hate to use this phrase) “minority groups” through the celebration of themed weeks or months is that young people especially will see that furry can be for them too and that it’s not just the white kids party. If we have Native American, and Hispanic, month recognition and celebrations in the furry community, these should occur because furries who identify with these groups want it to happen. I’m not qualified to initiate such events and I’m not planning any writing at this time to promote this.
This Furry Poetry Month is kind of something I just made up. I promote it on Furry Writers Guild’s Anthroaquatic forum board “Poetry” , and here in my Dogpatch post, but it doesn’t really exist anywhere else that I can see. I’m mostly hoping it will catch on more in the future.
Finally, I’ll say that in the furry community I feel we should keep to our furry identity and our common interest in animal themed entertainment and literature, both real and fantasy. Perhaps more than other fan communities, furry stands in both reality and fantasy. We have to work at maintaining a healthy balance of the two.
This place a sandbox, and if people are submitting and there is room for more, anything even partly furry is welcome. Go wild!
Earlier this month I discovered that May is considered Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
I have not planned to write an article about this but I did some browsing at my local library, looking for books with a theme of Asian popular culture and found two interesting ones. I’m not an anime fan, but I have seen and appreciated several such animated cartoons and films going back to childhood when I watched Gigantor and Speed Racer on television and just a couple months ago, just by chance, I watched the film Alakzam on a late night (like 3:00 AM) broadcast. So when I found Anime Explosion!, The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation, Patrick Drazen, Stonebridge Press, Berkeley, CA, 2003 791.433 D769, I brought it home from the library and have been very impressed by the story behind anime. Reading the Wikipedia page on this book,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime_Explosion! revealed how significant this book is; how it is used as a college text book on anime. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about anime and how we see it’s influence in the furry community.
So, I think that an important function of the celebration of ethnic group heritage months is the opportunity for people outside those groups to learn about their cultures. Sometimes what we think we know about others is just not so, and sometimes we find the roots of what we now have adopted as our own.