Available Now

The Macabre Modern cover image

The Macabre Modern

and Other Morbidities

by Kyla Lee Ward

156 pages
Trade Paperback

PRICE: $16.00 AUD


A contemporary re-envisioning of the medieval “The Dance of Death” theme (fourteenth-century), written for the twenty-first century onward. Fantastic, imaginative poetry written and illustrated by award-winning poet, author, artist, playwright, performer Kyla Lee Ward. Her poem “Revenants of the Antipodes” (in this collection) won the AHWA Australian Shadows Award for poetry 2018. ... [Read more]

Book Catalogue

Avatars of Wizardry cover image)

Avatars of Wizardry

Poetry Inspired by George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith

George Sterling, Clark Ashton Smith, S. T. Joshi, and others.

Item type: Anthology
Format: C Format Paperback
Pages: 116
ISBN: 9780980462586

Buy now

Avatars of Wizardry - second printing - $16.00 (AUDAustralian Dollars (AUD))

Poetry readers and fantasy connoisseurs the world over have treasured “A Wine of Wizardry” and “The Hashish-Eater” for almost a century. Written by George Sterling in 1904 and Clark Ashton Smith in 1920 respectively, these poems have been the supporting lintel and threshold to a fantastic doorway of the imagination for generations of enthralled readers.


Now at last there is a contemporary response to these masterworks from poets as diverse and distinguished as Richard L. Tierney, Bruce Boston, Alan Gullette, Leigh Blackmore, Michael Fantina, Wade German, Earl Livings, and Kyla Lee Ward. Their magnificent poems evoke the enduring, timeless qualities of Sterling’s and Smith’s masterpieces and rework the spell to enthral a new generation.



We seem to be in the midst of a renaissance of fantastic poetry, as the present volume attests. The poets in this book have found in their work the inspiration to weave a tapestry of weirdness that stands as a substantial contribution to the fantastic verse of our own time. Connoisseurs of poetry know what aesthetic pleasures are in store for them when they read vivid, meticulously crafted work such as is contained in this book.

S. T. Joshi (author Supernatural Literature of the World, I Am Providence, H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography)


Inspired by George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, yet fueled by the twenty-first century talents of celebrated poets from both hemispheres, this collection of vintages has something for every rarefied taste. From hashish dreams to psychic expeditions through deep space-time, here are experiences not to be found elsewhere. Sip slowly, and revel in the flight.

Ann K. Schwader (author Twisted in Dream, In the Yaddith Time, Wild Hunt of the Stars)


A feast of fantastic verse, a special delight for Klarkash-tonians who need no further reassurance that the stately, cosmic tradition represented by such masterpieces as "The Star-Treader" and "The Hashish-Eater" is alive and well.

Darrell Schweitzer (author Pathways to Elfland, Windows of the Imagination, Exploring Fantasy Worlds)


Foreword, by S. T. Joshi


Publisher’s Preface


A Wine of Wizardry


George Sterling


The Hashish-Eater; or, The Apocalypse of Evil


Clark Ashton Smith


Visions of Golconda


Richard L. Tierney


Memoria: A Fragment from the Book of Wyvern


Leigh Blackmore


A Trip to the Hypnotist


Alan Gullette


Thirteen Ways of Looking At and Through Hashish


Bruce Boston


The Mantle of Merlin


Earl Livings


The Necromantic Wine


Wade German




Michael Fantina




Kyla Lee Ward


Select Bibliography


About the Contributors



Reviewed by Kenneth W. Faig, Jnr.


            Editor and Acolyte Charles (Danny) Lovecraft has centered this collection on two classic poems by George Sterling (“A Wine of Wizardry”) and Clark Ashton Smith (“The Hashish-Eater”) and dedicated the collection: “For George and Clark.” Eight other poets─Richard L. Tierney, Leigh Blackmore, Alan Gullette, Bruce Boston, Earl Livings, Wade German, Michael Fantina and Kyla Lee Ward─contribute their own verse reflections on the rich drug-inspired visions of Sterling's and Smith's poems. It is an effective thematic gathering of work, meticulously produced and edited by Lovecraft.

            Gavin O'Keefe, who does so much wonderful work for Fender Tucker's Ramble House, has contributed a striking cover illustration. Another nice feature of this edition is a collage of the poets as frontispiece and an “About the Contributors” appendix with photographs of many of the poets.

            Certainly, there are other poets working in the domain of the fantastic─Donald Sidney-Fryer, Cardinal Cox, Ann K. Schwader and Acolyte Fred Phillips to name only a few─whose work would also have been welcome here, but no collection can truly hope to be comprehensive and furthermore I like Lovecraft's concept of an elegant, thin volume of choice contributions.

            I would be less than honest not to admit that Smith's “The Hashish-Eater” is still difficult reading for me, despite its wealth of striking images and beautiful phrases. Reading it in the context of these other poetic reflections helps me to understand its relevance for those with stronger imaginations and better vocabularies than I who can appreciate it better. I think Clark Ashton Smith, in particular, would have been pleased with this volume, which mirrors in format his own thin poetry collections Spells and Philtres and The Dark Chateau from Arkham House in the 1950s. With a new comprehensive edition of Sterling's poetry in the works from Messrs. Joshi and Schultz, it seems we will be hearing more of the other featured poet in the years to come as well. A new biography of Sterling would help to foster appreciation of his work. The literary posterity of Clark Ashton Smith has already benefited from the scholarly work of Donald Sidney-Fryer; hopefully Scott Connors' biography of Smith will be joined to that work before too many more years elapse.

            Since the death of August Derleth in 1971, Steve Sneyd of Hill-Top Press, Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press and Charles Lovecraft of P'rea Press have emerged as three of the most persistent publishers of the fantastic in verse. I hope Steve, Derrick and Charles will keep their torches burning for many years to come.


Review by John R Fultz on link





To let the book speak for itself and stand alone (as all good poetry will), here are some selected lines from the anthology:


                                ... writhing vapors make

Dim augury, till shapes of men that were

Point, weeping, at tremendous dooms to be ...


And Satan, yawning on his brazen seat,

Fondles a screaming thing his fiends have flayed,

Ere Lilith come his indolence to greet ...


The blue-eyed vampire, sated at her feast,

Smiles bloodily against the leprous moon.


—George Sterling



    ... continents of serpent-shapen trees,

With slimy trunks that lengthen league by league,

Pursue my flight through ages spurned to fire ...


Whereat my soaring ecstasy may stand

In amplest heavens multiplied to hold

My hordes of thunder-vested avatars,

And Promethèan armies of my thought ...


—Clark Ashton Smith



Leaving upon the glittering expanse

Like bright wave-stranded shells upon a beach,

Great gleaming ornaments of flaming gold

In shapes fantastical and demon-wrought ...

Whose naiad-shapen forms shed such a spell ...


—Richard L. Tierney



Strong anodyne and opiate I quaff

To lull me slowly from the waking world;

The air hangs heavy, hot and drugged ...


Throbs, as of some unending heartbeat, move

The heavens (filled with amaranthine light)

To violent turmoil. Veils of crimson cloud

Tear wild across the blazing welkin; fires

Outpour the rift in opal-flashing streams ...


—Leigh Blackmore



                                    And I floated there,

Borne on the inner tide until my birth,

A timeless span in sanguine twilight spent

Aware of nothing but the beating heart,

Dim songs, sharp laughter, and the wail of tears.


—Alan Gullette



Once I emerge on the surface of the earth

the world is transformed to my bidding.


A glass carriage iridescent with northern lights

appears before me, its lucent seats cushioned


with extravagant pillows of liquid burgundy. ...



She devoured rubies

of the finest persuasion

and emeralds

from the hearts of lizards.


She swallowed

diamonds drenched

in the aqua vitae

of extraterrestrial streams ...


—Bruce Boston



And then an alder tree, with skulls for fruit.

Their voices rise and fall, no wind, yet light

Pours out their eyes, with waves of splintered words,

A curse for those who sing without that gift

Of inspiration, salmon truths, dark tongue.

One skull shrieks, tosses wildly, drops between

My feet, splits open, swells into a cauldron

Bubbling with gushing, gaudy stars that whisper ...


—Earl Livings



For there are other ways to gain the roads

Which dark magicians tread to seek strange truths;

I need not raise a corpse from its repose

By crude reanimation, or invoke

The wraiths who linger at unquiet graves;

I need not deal with ghouls in catacombs

Who sup on foul corruption in the crypt ...


—Wade German



And so it is I leave and find a lane.

Now here it is I take the narrow path

Past idols tilting in the icy rain.

The road rides higher toward the mythic hills

Whereon the crowns of castles whitely bulge.

I travel leas I’ve traveled here before

In other dreams both evil or benign ...


—Michael Fantina



I die, beyond a hundred crimson crimes.

Now as my judges bring the rod and flame

I cry for darkness, prodigal in shame

and only dread the work that they now do

will leave life's final shackle on my wrist.

All I have been brought screaming down to this ...


—Kyla Lee Ward



With such lines as these above strewn throughout the work like rockfall down a sere slope, one knows one has been transported to the badlands. Will one be able to get back? Find out for yourself.