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Tell us what you thought of the August 2009 issue

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Post August 12, 2009, 05:21:21 AM

Odyssey by J. Davidson Hero

Aphelion is really starting to develop a speciality for Haiku. This one is nicely unified. I'll let you science mavens discuss the biological structures necessary for sheep on Ganymede.

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Post August 12, 2009, 11:53:47 PM

comments

Thanks for your comments TaoPhoenix.

To clarify (and I'm not correcting you), I like to categorize my feeble attempts in this form as scifaiku. It makes me feel less tied to the traditional/cultural elements of haiku.

Scifaiku's an inviting form, probably because of the length. But there's also a real danger of being trivial or trite, which is something the other poets on Aphelion who work in this form do a good job of avoiding.

For anyone that is interested, here is an online definition of scifaiku that seems to wrap it up nicely:

Scifaiku (science fiction haiku) is a form of science fiction poetry first announced by Tom Brinck with his 1995 Scifaiku Manifesto. It is inspired by Japanese haiku, but explores science, science fiction, and other speculative fiction themes, such as fantasy and horror. They are based on the principles and form of haiku but can to deviate from its structure.

Scifaiku follow three major principles – minimalism, immediacy and human insight:

Scifaiku follows the haiku model, including its spirit of minimalism. While traditional Japanese haiku usually has 3 phrases of 5, 7, and 5 onji (sound symbols), haiku in English usually has seventeen or less syllables. Scifaiku is even more flexible and may be shorter or longer (allowing for longer technical terms, e.g. anisomorphism).

Immediacy is the use of direct sensory perceptions to give a sense of being in the moment. Concrete, rather than abstract terms are used. Metaphor and allegory are rarely explicit though sometimes implied.

Human insight comes from the idea that the purpose of much science fiction is to understand ourselves better through exploring possible futures or speculative realities.


"Scifaiku." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 30 Jun 2009, 00:14 UTC. 30 Jun 2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Scifaiku&oldid=299414640.

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Post August 13, 2009, 01:21:17 AM

A mythic haiku blended with a healthy dose of astronomy and a cupful of the fantastical; what a great way to get so much mileage out of so few words! I sense more than one meaning beneath the straight description, although it doesn't seem to stray too far into the realm of metaphor or allegory. There is possibly more than a hint of allusion, though.

Let me just post a link directly to the the Scifaiku Manifesto, currently the best introduction to the form (if growing a bit dated):

http://www.scifaiku.com/what/

Although, I have heard word (indirectly) from one of my on-line scifaiku-composing friends, a speculative and traditional haikuist of some note, that an updated scifaiku handbook is currently in the works. I do know that recent trends in haiku and scifaiku composition are moving away from the 5-7-5 syllable count into an even more severely minimalistic style and format. Scifaiku that seemed well within the accepted rules a year or two ago may be seen in some circles as being too wordy today.

And yes, scifaiku should have a moment of realization beyond the trivial or trite. I've seen some "cute" scifaiku out there, but the form should ideally have depth beyond those three lines, those few words (or maybe behind or within the words). That may be the hardest part of scifaiku composition. At least, it is for me.

Also, I think different people interpret the whole concept of the "ah-ha" moment in haiku and scifaiku differently. Is it a twist, or a change from describing one thing to describing a disparate but possibly related thing, or elements that make you think of things in a different way? Or maybe it's a matter of all of the above? I hear the idea of "revelation" or "ah-ha moment" thrown around a lot, but was is really meant? I think I have an idea, but others may look at it differently.

Ah, haiku and scifaiku. Seemingly so simple, and yet so complicated.

Anyway, I like this one. It works for me.
"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did. I'm going to recite poetry!"

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Post August 13, 2009, 02:27:31 AM

Thanks for your comments Richard and the link.

I was trying to work on two levels in this poem: a scene from the Odyssey with Odysseus and his men cowering among the sheep of the blinded cyclops, Polyphemus, superimposed over a scene of settlers, sheep farmers, on a cold terraformed Ganymede beneath Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Maybe it's obvious, maybe not. I'm not sure whether it really makes a good scifaiku or not.

I have to credit Heinlein's book Farmer in the Sky for some of the inspiration. For those that haven't read it, it's one of Heinlein's "juvenile" novels about a teenaged boy who settles with his family on a newly terraformed Ganymede and faces a lot of the same types of difficulties that American settlers in the west faced.

Richard wrote:

Although, I have heard word (indirectly) from one of my on-line scifaiku-composing friends, a speculative and traditional haikuist of some note, that an updated scifaiku handbook is currently in the works.


If you get word it's available online, please share it here. I like the restrictions that following a specific form creates, but I tend to get a general idea of a poem and then try to determine if it would work well in one specific form or other. So I feel like a dabbler when it comes to any specific form. Those who are specialists in a form could probably easily find problems with my loose use of form in any of my poems. My approach is there's probably a balance between following the form and making the form work for you. Of course, I know some people who would say we should only be writing free verse. :wink:

Richard, you've obviously made yourself a student of the scifaiku as your skill and many published examples at Aphelion show. So again, I appreciate your comments.

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Post August 13, 2009, 04:25:08 AM

davidsonhero wrote:Richard, you've obviously made yourself a student of the scifaiku as your skill and many published examples at Aphelion show. So again, I appreciate your comments.



At times I may, like you, only follow the form loosely. Up until recently, I fairly consistently followed the 5-7-5 syllable count format (especially after encountering an editor that was a stickler for the format, as well as some opinions that it couldn't be a haiku at all if not in 5-7-5 format), but more recent discussions (and rejections from other markets) have begun to steer me toward an even more minimalist approach. Right now, I feel that some markets are working under an unwritten rule regarding the form. I do hope it does get written down soon (and perhaps posted on-line), for those of us not necessarily always "in the loop".

My opinion (not always shared by my speculative poetry peers) - if it works for you, go with it! I've caught grief here and there for such rebellious thoughts, but I don't think art should be chained too tightly to rules and guidelines.
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Post August 13, 2009, 04:38:00 AM

Although, I should add that an artist also has to be able to learn and adapt with the changing times. The current of popular trends can, at times, dash an aging hulk of an immovable artist to bits!
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Post August 13, 2009, 02:06:53 PM

Richard wrote:

Although, I should add that an artist also has to be able to learn and adapt with the changing times. The current of popular trends can, at times, dash an aging hulk of an immovable artist to bits!


I totally agree Richard. A lot of artists from the past who have been considered genius are the ones that pushed their artform beyond its excepted form into something new, Van Gogh, for instance, or Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot. But the Van Goghs and Pounds and Eliots know the rules and work expertly within them before they break them. So there is incentive to become an expert at your craft as well as to look for ways to be innovative.

That push you are seeing by some scifaiku poets towards even more minimalism is probably part of that drive for innovation that those poets and editors are looking for. From what I remember from my studies of poetry in college, it seems the history of American and British poetry can be looked at in terms of schools of poets and movements, i.e. the Modernists, the Beat Poets, the Confessionalists, the Black Mountain Poets, the Martian Poets, etc... We tend to lump poets together based on some innovation they all make use of. So, if you have your finger on the pulse of a movement in scifaiku, stick with it, and join in. You might become part of something a lot bigger than you expect. :)

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