Sunday Poems

The cover of "Sunday Poems"Starting in 2005, game designer Raph Koster decided to post a poem to his popular blog every Sunday. Ten years later, this is a selection of eighty of those poems, accompanied by gorgeous pen-and-ink illustrations and illuminating endnotes.

These are verses written to an audience that didn’t necessarily care about poetry; verses about whatever was happening that week. They comment on the news, on his children’s homework, on books he was reading or music he heard. In them we voyage across the world, or deep inside apples; we see a toddler become a pterodactyl, and clouds become mundane water vapor. We see sonnets written in computer code.

These are poems for everyday people about ordinary things made extraordinary.

…Sustained and sustaining enthusiasm, joy, play, and wit at work… A richly varied world saturated with myth and stories.

— Hank Lazer, poet and author of The new Spirit and N18 (Complete), on Sunday Poems

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After years of threats, I finally made it happen. Sunday Poems collects many of the poems published here on the blog in the Sunday Poem tag, as well as a smattering of others.

There are likely many out there who see this as an indulgence, and certainly in some senses it is. I have an MFA in writing poetry, but it’s not a career, nor even really an avocation. It is a hobby, something I do for enjoyment, when the muse strikes.

The poems I posted here were often read far less than the blog posts about games, of course. Poetry readership is quite anemic these days, and the fact that some of the poems on here were read by thousands actually puts them in fairly rarefied company, I suspect.

As I wrote, I found myself bending the writing to suit the audience: rather than confessional or deeply personal work, I tended towards light verse, towards musings on history or science, or even on programming and video games. And of course, the sort of subject matter that still carries echoes of the world of geeks: ghost stories, real world mysteries, mythology and magic.

In these engaging poems, which tease the conventions of formal verse, Raph Koster shines a curiosity laser on topics ranging from the building of the Globe Theatre to the BASIC programming language. Koster memorializes far-flung journeys through such locales as mountainous Afghanistan, exurban China, Las Vegas casinos, and a very real-seeming Seoni jungle visited not IRL but through Kipling and gaming.

— Tarin Towers, author of Sorry, We’re Close, on Sunday Poems

Blog readers who commented on the poems on the blog over the years make cameo appearances in the extensive end notes. The blog posts that accompanied each poem are in the book, you see! If you get the e-book, all the footnotes are hyperlinked to the various sources that inspired the poems. And where poems were prompted by readers, or commented on, the readers get due credit.

The book doesn’t just contain poetry. It is also illustrated. I did a series of digital pen-and-ink illustrations based on various photographs I have taken in my travels: scenes from Finland, Japan, Florida, Boston, Switzerland, and more. The e-book edition includes these, but of course, given the limitations of e-book layout, they look better in the paperback. (Click the image to open it in a light box and see it in a larger size).

  • San Diego from Presidio Park