SF Poetry Workshop: ReaderCon 19
by Mike Allen
Review by Mike Allen
Readercon19 Event ISBN/ITEM#: SFPWSR19
Date: 28 July 2008
Links: Science Fiction Poetry Website / Show Official Info /
Here are some short poems written at my poetry workshop held Friday, July 18 at ReaderCon in Burlington, Mass, which I hope you'll enjoy. To be a good sport, I'll begin with a ditty I scribbled out as we were doing the exercise. Visitor by Mike Allen
At the great Exhibition Faire of SF and fantasy, poetry exists on its own small stage in a tent alongside the Big Events that constitute fiction. Though it's a stage that doesn't attract huge audiences or big name reviewers, it's still quite lively, with its own triumphs and controversies.As with all poetry in this day and age, science fiction poetry or speculative poetry or whichever you want to call it gets perpetuated because of the authors and editors who love it as a form of writing, who enjoy both science fiction and poetry and aren't afraid to let them mix. The still-growing Science Fiction Poetry Association now boasts more than 250 members. Hundreds of poems appear every year in print and online venues, from Asimov's Science Fiction to Strange Horizons to Weird Tales to Goblin Fruit. As with speculative fiction, with its this-punk and that-punk, SF poetry even has its own unique camps and subdivisions -- recently, one of the most intensely active schools has centered around a quaint little creature called a "scifaiku" --- which is, as you can probably guess, a haiku written about an SF or fantasy-related subject. Poets such as Deborah P Kolodji, Ann K. Schwader, Teri Santitoro, Geoffrey A. Landis and others have made serious studies as to how haiku can be used in this way, and could tell you better than I about things like the use of kigo words to signify seasons, or how the standard 5-7-5 syllable pattern you learn in school doesn't really translate the spirit of Japanese haiku into English, or how the unsaid things evoked by haiku matter at least as much as the things said. If these things pique your interest, you can explore further by starting here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scifaiku My own connection to Scifaiku is less philosophical and more pragmatic. When I conduct one of my quick-and-dirty poetry workshops at a convention, I pledge to make all the workshopees produce poems, and a haiku-sized poem tends to be about the longest thing a participant can reasonably be expected to produce from scratch in under an hour. I aim my workshops at introducing the folks who attend to the concept of speculative poetry, rather than more rigorously refined writing exercises, because of time constraints; but I often enjoy how the workshop attendees will startle and entertain me (and each other) with their spur-of-the-moment creativity and off-the-cuff cleverness.