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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.
                         (from scifaiku.com)

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
     form
                         (possibility.com)

"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:
 
:iconkissysaltcoatedangel:
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 
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:w00t:
Reply
:iconkissysaltcoatedangel:
kissysaltcoatedangel Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:ladummyhighfive: 
Reply
:iconblubbityblub:
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
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:iconthe-haiku-club:  is a good place to start :)

or :iconmulthaiku:
Reply
:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Verrry intriguing. Just might give this a shot. :)
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
OH YES
Reply
:iconphoenixleo:
phoenixleo Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013
Bwahahaha. Even 'kigo' is transformed to sci-fi as 'indicator' :lol:
Reply
:iconvespera:
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
Reply
:iconphoenixleo:
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
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oh yea, a few months ago when I discovered this I was like... NO WAY!!!! lol

I have a handful of them lurking around, now.
Reply
:iconphoenixleo:
phoenixleo Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013
I wish schools didn't teach the whole 5 - 7 - 5 mantra everytime haiku were mentioned.
Would have been awesome to see scifaiku in my Writer's Craft class. :lol:
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
oh man, me, too. it's such a lame crutch. I don't even think I learned about Kigo as much as "haikus are about seasons." It seems so backwards to teach 5-7-5 and not the specifics of a kigo.
Reply
:iconphoenixleo:
phoenixleo Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2013
I learned all about Haiku when I found them on dA and the articles and links I found. After reading more, I think I had that "what was I reading all these times? o__O " moment. D:
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:lmao:

I had a similar experience - I was taught that haiku isn't *always* 5-7-5, but I wasn't taught specifically about Kigo, just that they're generallay bout nature. Talk about leaving a lot out. Thank god for dA ;)
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013  Professional Writer
There's a horror haiku group, but not yet a sci-fi haiku group? Weird.
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well.... I haven't SEEN one. Who knows, there could BE one? But there are also a lot of scifi literature groups - so that could be why? They may not have made a scifaiku specific group?
Reply
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Writer
Are there any sci-fi themed poetry groups? Maybe they'd be interested in running a contest or a prompt to gauge interest.
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I dunno? I'm not personally active in any of them.. :/
Reply
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Professional Writer
And... your guess is as good as mine.

:sherlock: A quick search thru Groups turned up several sci-fi groups that also accept poetry; a couple of poetry groups that happen to take sci-fi; and of course a number of all-in groups that mention both sci-fi and poetry by name.

:plotting: Maybe, if you're so inclined, it could be time to start a sci-fi (and/or fantasy and horror) poetry group, and make scifakus their first prompt?
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I wish, but I just have too many other groups going on :(
Reply
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2013  Professional Writer
:nod: Completely understandable; I know what that's like.
Reply
:iconnichrysalis:
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Perhaps you should remedy this. :nod:
Reply
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Professional Writer
I would, if I could be sure of committing the necessary time and resources to run it properly. But as it stands, I already have a few other irons in the fire.
Reply
:iconnichrysalis:
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Looks like you have a project where scifaikus/horrukus might be of interest though. :)
Reply
:iconhavetales-willtell:
HaveTales-WillTell Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Professional Writer
If they can fit the group's guidelines, they're welcome to participate. We may even do a themed tie-in prompt down the road.
Reply
:iconnichrysalis:
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome. :)
Reply
:icontehangelscry:
TehAngelsCry Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
I didn't know SciFaiKu's were a thing D: BUT THEY'RE AWESOME!
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Aren't they so much fun!? :squee:
Reply
:icontehangelscry:
TehAngelsCry Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Sure are! :squee:
Reply
:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Snazzy article, my dear.
You may have....possibly...sparked my interest.
And ya know, I don't like science fiction anything.
So uhh....look at you. ;)
Reply
:icondigikijo:
digikijo Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm not really into poetry, but this might change my mind :) I'll sure share this with my scifi-hooked friends.
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:highfive:
Reply
:iconlombregrise:
lombregrise Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Professional Writer
I didn't know it... Thx!
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Very welcome ;)
Reply
:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013
Interesting. As a potential term for the "SciFi-kigo" I might suggest the word "subgenre". Planetary exploration, android-style robots, etc could all be called subgenres of Science Fiction, and the haiku's kigo can hone in on which subgenre you're talking about. (For example in the "shoes" poem I might call the subgenre "post-apocalypse".)
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That is a really good suggestion. If a SciFaiku group starts up on dA, I'm going to suggest that.
Reply
:iconnichrysalis:
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hi `vespera, I have a few things to recommend for the article that I feel would make it more consistent throughout, because as it is written now, it's very confusing as to how a scifaiku is written. First off, I'd recommend stripping all mentioning of the 5-7-5 syllable myth from the article. For example, this:

SciFaiku is written in contemporary international haiku, or 5-7-5, or 3 lines with more-or-less 17 syllables total. Like traditional haiku, SciFaiku seeks a sense of immediacy. The capture of a moment. A directness of expression, avoiding abstractions. A good SciFaiku does not make any judgments. Conveying a feeling of immediacy is more important than a strict adherence to syllable counts. Here's an example:

could be changed to:

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:

I dislike doing this to ~Kiresg, but in this case he's absolutely wrong. I'd recommend scratching this entire section of the interview so as not to further confuse (or perpetuate the 5-7-5 rule) readers.

Funny story: I was taught to be very mindful of the form used in haiku. Traditionally, haikus are very strict -- I was always told that it's bad to ignore their parameters, so I've always been very adherent to the 5-7-5 boundaries.

Incidentally, scifaiku is very different. When I first started writing them, I made a point of being observant and respectful of tradition. Both times I sold a piece, I was advised to stop it. The editors told me syllable count is not strict in scifaiku. Teri Santitoro of SciFaikuest even told me he liked his poems less wordy.


One last nitpick:
more than a planet
does teraforming
form
"teraforming" should "terraforming"
Reply
:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Pssst...Nic, when quoting someone, are you not supposed to quote them as they said something? That's my understanding.

("teraforming" is how it appears on the website.)

Oh, and I thought mentioning the 5-7-5 style was helpful, just to give a basic feel to what the formatting would look like. Some writers need that, even with a sub-form that's more loose, like scifaiku. :)
Reply
:iconnichrysalis:
Nichrysalis Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Not to be the villain here, but when it comes to this subject and how misleading he is, I feel it's appropriate to remove his interview, or either explain how his views differ from that of the traditionally held view on haiku.

I see. :)

I don't necessarily agree with that, but I understand what you mean, as some writers start off using the 5-7-5 rule and then transfer out of it.

PS, I would have loved to see some Horrorku(?) examples. :D Forgive me if I missed them.
Reply
:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I know `vespera asked if someone could explain Haiku FIRST before she did this article. Nobody was rounded up for it and this was SciFaiku specific. And honestly, most people outside of the immediate lit crowd are going to think Haiku is 5-7-5. That's been my experience, and I work in enough groups to have noticed that. So really, the article seems well rounded and in my opinion touched on all the key elements without being confusing. I suppose that's all in how the reader looks at it, though. :)


P.S.
The horrorku group is provided to find examples. I saw quite a few there, actually.

:heart:
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
We're trying to correct the misconception about requirements of syllable count in haiku (among other reasons, because there are always a few people who unfortunately jump on a haiku DD insisting that it's not real poetry, even though it is actually truer to the modern interpretation of things). There are posts going up later this week that should help clarify. :)
Reply
:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oh yeah, I get that. And I've seen a lot of people get mouthy over such issues when it's not only unwarranted, but just plain rude.

Also, `vespera is working today. She's super busy, so I doubt she's gonna be on dA. But she's mentioned if any of you guys wanna edit something, have at it. That is, if y'all can edit each other's articles?
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Pff, yeah. Also it's kind of embarrassing when things can be resolved with a Google.

Oh, thanks for the heads-up! I don't think I know enough about scifaku to make any changes, but I'll poke the poetry experts. :salute:
Reply
:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, really. :roll:

No problem. (:
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconparsat:
Parsat Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013   Writer
Very interesting...I've always been intrigued by forms with a thematic element! I've never heard of a SciFaiku.

I should note that in the English haiku "scene," the 5-7-5 rule is NOT enforced...pithiness is. The main reason is that the Japanese on is not the same as syllables.
Reply
:icontwilightpoetess:
TwilightPoetess Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my goodness, I didn't even REALIZE things like HorrorKu and SciFaiKu existed! This is awesome, thank you.

>.> Also, this may or may not have just made me want to haiku again. Like. Right now.
Reply
:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Addict! ;) HA HA

They are so much fun! :D :D :D
Reply
:icontwilightpoetess:
TwilightPoetess Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes! I am! :nod:

I wrote a SciFaiKu once for a commission, but of course at the time I didn't even realize it was actually a real thing. :boogie:
Reply
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