When the Pilotless Plane Arrives

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THE AUTHOR: Ann Cefola

THE EDITOR: Linda Simone.

THE PUBLISHER: Trainwreck Press, a Canadian press that has published Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, Christopher Smart’s Jubilato Agno, and most recently Mary Newell’s Re-SURGE, celebrates “the innovative, the non-conforming, the radical, the alternative, the avant-garde, the non-linear, the abstract, the surreal, the visual, the concrete, the experimental.”

SUMMARY: When the Pilotless Plane Arrives taps into 1950s sci-fi/horror/suspense film narratives as metaphors for the perils of writing poetry—it features familiar if sometimes cringe-worthy scenarios. Writing poetry can be a terrifying, horrific, or suspenseful act; and poetry culture a strange new world. Pilotless is as much a cautionary tale as an amusing look at beloved B-movies that illustrate the twists and turns that the writing life can take.

THE BACK STORY: Years ago I hooked into “Svengoolie,” a campy TV show that features classic sci-fi and horror films from the 1940s-1970s. I could not believe how the story lines engaged me, or how good the acting was. “Don’t change that station!” I would shout. “I want to see what happens.” I saw a correlation between the extreme or unexpected narratives and often unacknowledged aspects of the poet’s life.

WHY THIS TITLE?: This is the title poem about the classic sci-fi film, This Island Earth (Universal-International, 1955). The plane represents the unknown, what poets must often welcome to advance in their work. We have to jump in—on faith.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you’re a poet, there’s not much out there that affirms the astonishing path this vocation can take, or what you may witness along the way. This book does that—and can delight film aficionados with its poetic take on well-known sci-fi and horror movies.


“Poetry that snaps, crackles and pops.”

— Beth Gersh-Nesic, art historian and director of the New York Arts Exchange

“Great fun.”

— John C. Goodman, poet, translator, and Trainwreck Press publisher

“Well-crafted and awesome.”

— Cindy Hochman, poet, and editor, First Literary Review-East.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I love old movies and there is something about getting lost in the narrative that is akin to a poem’s holographic qualities. I like to stretch poetry by introducing unusual subject matter—such as the isolation of plutonium in Free Ferry (Upper Hand Press, 2017), or a feminist exploration of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon, “Demoiselles 7,” a poem in Face Painting in the Dark (Dos Madres Press, 2014).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Poetry can elevate any subject, and these poems honor films that might be dismissed compared to more lauded movies of the time. They also evoke familiar artistic issues—ethical, personal, inspirational— that I hope will resonate with and encourage poets, writers, and creators in general.


When the Pilotless Plane Arrives
– After This Island Earth (Universal-International, 1955)

Get in. Lean back. No need for seat-belt strapped.
Like Dr. Cal Meachum, you’ll be taken to plantation where
Exeter and Brack, both cliff-like brow, albino mane, expect
your research to end war; but where? After you mention Mozart
at dinner, Exeter says Oh! Your composer. You and scientist Ruth,
who refuses to recall skinny-dipping in Vermont with you,
escape in small plane, which Exeter’s saucer beams aboard
en route to Metaluna, whose ionic shield failing under
Zahgon attack you cannot possibly fix but Ruth admits
that chilly New England lake, and despite meteors
fire-bombing Metaluna, alarming journey to this
devastated planet from blue Earth, you hug
this truth like you once held her naked hand.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Trainwreck Press

PRICE: $7 plus shipping; roughly $10.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Through anncefola.com

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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