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A Brief Introduction to Scifaiku

About a year ago, I recorded myself speaking about science fiction haiku (or scifaiku) for THF’s new Haiku Outside of the Box. I’ve included that video, along with a transcript of my short speech, below.

Some of you may have recently been exploring this fun offshoot of English-language haiku through Alex Fyffe’s current Ad Astra (To the Stars) series on Haiku Dialogue. However, not all of the poems written for this series are scifaiku. Where do we draw that line? What makes a poem speculative?

This topic is up for debate. I would say that a poem crosses into scifaiku when there is a way to read the haiku that brings the otherworldly to mind. For example, looking at the fine submissions to Ad Astra – the universe, we find this touching poem by Florin C. Ciobica:

Milky Way…
my baby gives up
the pacifier

While this is a bittersweet and lovely poem, it does not call to mind the otherworldly. By contrast, this poem by Bruce Feingold can be read either figuratively or speculatively:

endless sea
an empty kayak drifts
into the Milky Way

And this poem, by Pat Davis, clearly takes place off Earth:

the view from Mars
another notch in
Orion’s belt

I invite you to explore the recent posts at Haiku Dialogue and join in the next prompt from Alex Fyffe for Ad Astra. For more information about scifaiku itself, enjoy me fumbling through my first recorded poetry reading!

[TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO]

Hello.

My name is Julie Bloss Kelsey. I’m a haiku and scifaiku poet living in Germantown, Maryland.

I used to hate haiku. I thought it was boring, pretentious, and confusing. That was before I discovered scifaiku.

The term scifaiku, for science fiction haiku, was coined by Tom Brinck in 1995 as part of his SciFaiku Manifesto. Scifaiku was written before that time, but no one paid much attention to it. Since 1995, scifaiku poets have expanded the term to include other speculative realms such as fantasyku and horrorku.

I began to write scifaiku in 2009. After reading and writing scifaiku, I discovered that I liked haiku too. I thought I’d share some of my favorite scifaiku that I have written.

first holiday meal—
my mother- in-law’s tentacles
in every dish
– Star*Line 37.2, Spring 2014

alien charm—
his first gift to me
was a tracking collar
– Scifaikuest, May 2018 (online)

the perfect cover
for our spaceship…
lenticular cloud
– Star*Line 37.2, Spring 2014

alone, finally
I can unwind
my skin
– Seven by Twenty, September 13, 2013

handmade rocking chair—
the creak
of old bones
– Scifaikuest, November 2012 (print)

the spaceships
we left behind—
gender roles
– Eye to the Telescope Issue 5, July 2012

the perfect evening:
you wrap your arms
around and around me
– Scifaikuest, February 2011 (online)

in-laws at the door—
those panicked moments
before I shapeshift
– SFPA 2018 Poetry Contest, Dwarf Form 3rd place

another nightmare—
the window creeper feasting
on your alpha waves
– Cthulhu Haiku 2 (2014)

beneath the veneer
of polite society
her visage slithers
– Cthulhu Haiku 2 (2014)

If you like speculative poetry, I encourage you to follow the links in this video learn more about scifaiku.

For More Information:

(My thanks again to Mikey for putting this video together for me!)

Julie Bloss Kelsey is the current Secretary of The Haiku Foundation. She started writing haiku in 2009, after discovering science fiction haiku (scifaiku). She lives in Maryland with her husband and kids. Julie's first book of poetry, The Call of Wildflowers, is available for free online through Title IX Press. Connect with her on Twitter @MamaJoules.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Many thanks Julie, I would like to share a cinquain of mine from a 2017 issue of Prune Juice:

    Pity
    Those aliens
    They are far from home and
    Nearly all of them are cursed with
    Two hearts

  2. Here is both a science fiction haibun with haiku both science fiction, and some science fact, from the “Rocket Dreams” commission performed on U.K. National Poetry Day October 4th 2007 by myself along with Space Historian Piers Bizony, that featured selected NASA images, as part of World Space Week! 🙂

    I also loaned an adaptation of my space detectives artwork (commissioned from Sonia Leong) for the Prune Juice Science Fiction haiku special issue! 🙂

    Nova Normandy 3044 – a science fiction haibun tribute to all World War veterans both past; current; and in future wars – haibun is prose with haiku
    https://area17.blogspot.com/2017/04/nova-normandy-3044-science-fiction.html

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