Genre Poetry Round Up March 2015 – Haiku!

Before I get on with the Round Up, I’d like to take a moment to honor the life of Leonard Nimoy. By now, we’ve all read many obituaries, tweeted our own reactions, and changed our Facebook profile pictures in his honor. Most reading this post have also read his penultimate tweet put I’ll include it here because I find it rather poetical:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

Did you know that Nimoy also wrote poetry? As far as I can tell, none of it was speculative, but rather about love or self-discovery. If you are interested in reading a few examples go here. He also published several chapbooks, which can be found on Amazon.

Go boldly, Mr. Nimoy, and prosper!

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It’s all about haiku in this round up! Specifically speculative haiku, “scifaiku”, “horrorku” or any other of the genres we love. I’ll showcase a few magazines that haven’t appeared here previously and one that I’ve featured several times before. Most of these magazines are either dedicated exclusively to haiku/scifaiku and related forms or have featured it recently. Plus I’ll point you toward where you can read more online and in print.

Honestly, I don’t know that much about haiku, but I’ve learned a lot through this intensive investigation. All of the sudden, speculative haiku (and mainstream haiku) were popping up on my radar and I thought, since the stars were aligning, the time was right to feature it here. This entire article would not have happened without the invaluable help of both Deborah P. Kolodji and Julie Bloss Kelsey, both members of the SFPA and winners of the Dwarf Stars Award.

So, what is haiku, anyway? The current Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives, Marlene Mountain, said this when asked if she had a definition of haiku:

M: Yes, it’s relatively short.

I: Your definition?

M: No, haiku.

And if there’s anything I’ve learned about haiku, it’s that it’s not what most of us learned in school. Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t have said, “It’s a short form of poetry from Japan in 3 lines with syllable counts 5-7-5” when asked for a definition! Apparently, that isn’t really the case for anything but haiku actually in Japanese. And even then you’ll find exceptions. One thing that seems to be a requirement for haiku is that it contain some seasonal element and images that are in juxtaposition to one another and conjure up something new in the mind of the reader. Speculative haiku is quite a bit looser in the sense that it isn’t a seasonal element but some science fictional, fantastical, horror or other genre element which is present. The character of the poem is the more important aspect to haiku than syllable counts.

There are a number of online pubs dedicated to haiku. I’ve discovered them through my work compiling a monthly list of the SFPA’s members’ publications. There are a few members whose dedication to haiku is significant, namely Deborah P. Kolodji (a former SFPA president), LeRoy Gorman (a former honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives), Julie Bloss Kelsey, Ann K. Schwader, Joshua Gage, and David C. Kopaska-Merkel (former SFPA president / aka assu).

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ScifaikuestThe only publication dedicated to Scifaiku and related forms like senryu, tanka and haibun is Scifaikuest. This print magazine also publishes a significant portion in their online ‘Zine. This month the magazine published haiku by 14 different poets including LeRoy Gorman, Joshua Gage, Lauren McBride and Deborah Walker. One of my favorites is this one by LeRoy Gorman:

taller on Mars

yet I still have to reach

for the stars

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Silver Blade No 25The most recent issue of Silver Blade Magazine (No. 25), which I’ve mentioned in these Round Ups features Deborah P. Kolodji. This includes an excellent interview, in which she details her haiku writing process among other things. It also features reprints of several of her award-winning haiku.

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Grievous AngelGrievous Angel is a magazine published by Charles Christian. He alternates irregularly between genre Flash Fiction and speculative poetry. Recently, Scifaiku was featured and he’s published haiku in the past. The February 8, 2015 issue featured scifaiku by N.E. Taylor, Joshua Gage, Tracy Davidson, Guy Belleranti and Susan Burch, who won a recent competition to have her haiku featured in tree boxes in downtown Washington, D.C. – see this article in the Washingtonian.

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BonesBones is a haiku journal, which is especially interested in experimental, surreal, fantastical sorts of haiku and haiku sequences:

at the end of the day nobody remains real – Dietmar Tauchner


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7×20 (seven by twenty) is a twitter journal, which publishes micro poetry, much of it haiku, but most of it mainstream, if you will. They were on hiatus the last week of February but the previous week they featured the haiku of Deborah P. Kolodji (@dkolodji) and the first week of February they featured Julie Bloss Kelsey (@MamaJoules).

one fish two fish… / he reels in a sand shark / from the Venice pier // @dkolodji


rapping / at the window / the ice storm / beckons // @MamaJoules

These haiku are perhaps representative of the sort of  “stealth” speculative haiku that many poets with a soft spot for genre fiction are able to place in more mainstream venues. Science poems and those leaning toward the dark tend to have a greater chance than outright spec poems. Deborah wrote, “Haiku about data, astronomy and light horror seem to be doing well in those markets. Avant Garde is the new fad, so some of scifaiku can slip in under that guise.” She also pointed out that, as SFPA members Scott Green and Denise Dumars are fond of saying, “If you don’t tell them it’s speculative, they may not realize it is speculative.” Kolodji has a haibun  about the La Brea Tar Pits coming up in Modern Haiku. Other friendly journals include A Hundred Gourds (Australian journal – the current issue has poems by Kolodji, Schwader, Gorman and Tauchner) and The Heron’s Nest (including poetry by Kolodji, Schwader, Gorman, and Lauren McBride), all mainstream, non-genre focused journals. Other excellent haiku journals include: frogpond (Haiku Society of America), Moongarlic. tinywords is a daily haiku/micropoetry magazine. The poems often have a speculative feel to them. You can sign up for a daily email, which is a great way to take in a daily poem.

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Julie Bloss Kelsey and Ann K. Schwader were both finalists in haiku contests with speculative poems:

binary star —

the cat’s eyes

– Julie Bloss Kelsey (Kusamakura 2010 – a Japanese/International haiku contest)


this world’s

long shadow

blood moon

– Ann K. Schwader (The Heron’s Nest Second Annual Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award 2014 complete with a great discussion on what is so great about this poem)

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There are many poets who publish a lot of their haiku on their blogs, notably David C. Kopaska-Merkel, and Bryan Hall. Julie Bloss Kelsey says, “Twitter has an active micropoetry community and many of the poets I see published in today’s journals maintain a presence there. Following the hashtags #micropoetry and #haiku will bring up a wide range of quality but over time you learn which poets to follow.

Mars canals

the overturned sign reads:

under construction

– Bryan Hall (Scifaiku #3 – Jan. 17, 2015)


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StarLine38.1If you are interested in reading haiku in print, there are many options: Star*Line includes many speculative haiku and other very short poems; Popcorn Press publishes anthologies of speculative haiku, short poetry and flash fiction annually (à la Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness) and the SFPA publishes annually the Dwarf Stars Anthology, from which a winning short-short poem is chosen by the membership. Other print journals dedicated to general haiku (or at least not specifically speculative haiku) are: bottle rockets, Acorn, the Red Moon Anthology 2014 “big data” (with a good showing by SFPA member poets), Blithe Spirit (UK), Ginyu (Japan, edited by Ban’ya Natsuishi, who is known for his “flying pope” haiku), Haiku Canada Review (ed. LeRoy Gorman), KoKado (New Zealand), Presence (UK), and Paper Wasp (Australia).

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Next time I’ll continue with a review – I hope you’ll join me then!

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