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Submitted on
March 6, 2013
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24 (who?)

PE - SciFaiku Poetry Form

Wed Mar 6, 2013, 4:32 PM

What on earth is SciFaiku?
SciFaiku (science fiction haiku) is a minimalist science fiction poetry form similar to traditional haiku. According to Wikipedia (grain of salt guys), the earliest publication of SciFaiku was likely in 1962. It became known officially as SciFaiku in 1995 when the SciFaiku Manifesto was posted up by Tom Brink. (At the time of finalizing this article, the  website is down; however, I have seen it go down and come back up before, so it's worth saving. They may be having server issues.)

How does one write SciFaiku?
SciFaiku is written like traditional contemporary haiku, and as such, SciFaiku seeks a sense of immediacy. A capture of a moment. A directness of expression, avoiding abstractions. A good SciFaiku does not make any judgments. Conveying a feeling of immediacy is important. Here's an example:

     Digging up an ancient city,
     finding the print
     of a tennis shoe.

Notice the snapshot feel? The author also makes no judgments on this event, but leaves that up to the reader. 

SciFaiku "indicator" words
Just like haiku, SciFaiku centers around an "indicator" word.  Traditional haiku which uses a "kigo," a word which emphasizes which season a haiku's snapshot takes place:

     snow mixes with rain-
     my mother keeps calling me
     by my brother's name

                         (Paul David Mena)

"Snow" is the kigo as it indicates that the season is winter.

SciFaiku requires the use of a science fiction "indicator" word. Let's take a look:

     more than a planet
     does teraforming

"Teraforming," is a traditional SciFi trope for "new worlds" and so that is your "SciFi kigo." Taking a second look at that first SciFaiku again:

     Digging up an ancient city,
     finding the print
     of a tennis shoe.

What's the "SciFi kigo" here?  Well, one does not expect a tennis shoe in an ancient city. Personally, I think that's what makes SciFaiku fun: there's a whole range of play to indicate to your readers that they are reading SciFaiku.

SciFaiku is not a poetic sentence
"..what IS required, is that the total ku doesn't read like a sentence," so while it may have two phrases like our example above, it is not a complete sentence (Sam's Dot Publishing.) 

Fun Extras
*SciFaiku can be written in a series. So go ahead, tell a whole story. Example on page 2  
*Horrorku is a similar form; like SciFaiku it uses haiku as a basis, but instead of using SciFi for kigos, it is written with horror tropes as kigos. Our local Horrorku group is: :iconhorror-ku:
*SciFaiku fits "twitter" guidelines. Milo James Fowler has a list of SciFaiku tweets here.
*SciFaiku, while a young poetry form, does have an audience and there are publishers seeking new submissions.  Why not? Places like Sam's Dot Publishing are just waiting for you.  The editors are very encouraging and personable--and in a world of terribly busy editors and form rejection letters, it's a very nice change of pace. Kiresg

Let's make a "SciFi-kigo" list! Feel free to throw up your suggested additions below.
*Moons, or a moon unlike our own (large or icy, etc). 
*Binary suns, or a sun unlike our own (supernova, etc).
*Also works with sunlight/moonlight - ie "red moonlight"
*Spaceship/Star Ship/Space Shuttle/Wormhole/Spacetime/Maneuvering or flying with reference to space objects/Teleport
*Beta Colony/Terraform/"New World"
*The opposite of this is talking about the "Old World" or "Back on Earth" references
*Aliens/Tentacles/Tails/Odd #s of body parts

Many thanks to :iconkiresg: who allowed me to interview him for his expertise. And since I couldn't have said it any better than him:

When you're writing scifaiku and compelled to follow the rules, always remember: scifaiku gives you license to be a badboy. 

So tell me, who else writes SciFaiku? What are your experiences? What have I maybe missed?

Any additional questions about the form?  Please ask.  I'll answer what I can. :)

Add a Comment:
kissysaltcoatedangel Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, seems like a really interesting thing to write! I'll surely give it a try! :D 
vespera Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
kissysaltcoatedangel Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
blubbityblub Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I think I'm going to try this when I have time... Although I do have to go and do some research on what in the world is a haiku
vespera Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:iconthe-haiku-club:  is a good place to start :)

or :iconmulthaiku:
leyghan Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Verrry intriguing. Just might give this a shot. :)
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
phoenixleo Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013
Bwahahaha. Even 'kigo' is transformed to sci-fi as 'indicator' :lol:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yea, I don't think there's a formal, established term really for it in SciFaiku, but kigo mostly means "seasonal" so you really can't use that :D
phoenixleo Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
It's just that..I have just recently started to do some haiku for that February Haiku writing month, which I have a backlog and have to finish. Seeing so many other forms of it, and finding out about other forms is interesting. Not to mention, this actually is amusing. Kind of like, evolution at work. :D
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