scifaiku planet
- home - read it write it share it credits
- what is scifaiku? * feedback * haiku

SciFaiku Writing Groups The Egg Logo

Participating in a SciFaiku writing group can be a rewarding activity. To give some flavor of how a writing group might work, Eva Eriksson describes how one writing group got started over the internet... For those interested in criticism, Eva includes some commentary on various authors in the writing group...

The SciFaiku writing group -
and why to start your own

by Eva Eriksson

Tom Brinck, author of the SciFaiku Manifesto started a writing group in January 1996. I was one of the members in the group. It's an ordinary mailing list but we use it in a different way. We send our SciFaiku poems and the comments on the poems from the previous letter to Tom, and he compiles it and sends it out. It works very well. I think all active participants have had a lot of pleasure and benefit from it.

We seldom communicate directly on the mailing list but if we want to the possibility is there.

A writing group has several advantages over an ordinary mailing list.

Here are some of the benefits of our group:

1. We regularly receive a bunch of poems neatly sorted.


2. We have a deadline.

We have to make an effort to get our poems ready at a specific time. Sometimes that's good for inspiration. Inspiration often is on top when you have just read the last letter, but sometimes you think that you'll do that later and then it's never done, unless you have a deadline.

3. We get read.

It's easy to get published on the Internet. You can send your SciFaiku poetry to Tom's SciFaiku Message Board, or make your own home page. A writing group is a more personal way, but not too personal. It's not like mildly forcing your family to read what you write, and then getting a creeping suspicion that they hate it, but don't dare to tell you. The readers are interested, otherwise they wouldn't have joined the group.

4. We get comments on the poems.

The feedback is important. That's the main reason to join a writing group. There is much to be learned from sharing poems. Often others see things in your poems that you never intended, but when you read it you can see that they are right and that it adds to the poem. It's also very interesting to read comments to other peoples poems. They can see things that you completely missed, but when you read the poem again you see that they are absolutely right (or wrong). Usually you don't know many people who actually care about these things in your immediate surroundings. This is a good way to find each other. The members understand the difficulties and joys of writing since they also write.

5. We give comments on other peoples poems.

This actually helps you get out more of what you read. If you are going to say anything about a poem you have to read it a bit more carefully before you decide what to think. Some poems are easy to appreciate immediately, but some need hard thinking to be understood. The demanding ones can often be better, and you might have missed the whole thing if you just read it once. (Personally I am a bit on the analytic side so it feels pretty natural to me, but I'm sure that it works for the more artistic type too.)

Oh, yes. If someone in the group in the future should win the Nobel-prize in literature or something like that, I want some credit for it. ;-) After all, by stating my opinion I have helped a little in the development of a writer.


1. The letter might be tiresome.

The first few letters were a little hard to read. After a while we worked out a system which make it easy to navigate in the letter. You can see which poems which member wrote in this letter. You can also see which member comments on which poem belonging to whom, without unending quotes. Maybe we were a bit shy in the beginning, but after a while you get acquainted.

2. Tom gets some extra work.

I suspect he loves it, at least he doesn't complain. We send him suggestions about the letter too, so he doesn't have to do all the thinking by himself.

I edited the letter once when he was short on time. It was rather fun and not too much work, but to tell the truth I missed the excitement. It's exciting to open the mailbox and find a SciFaiku letter. I usually read it through right away and often there are bright gems among the poems. Then I check the comments and sometimes there are surprises. I sent five poems to the very first letter. I considered four rather good, especially one that had a nice surprise in the end. The fifth I put in for sentimental reasons, it was inspired by that excellent classical short one-page story by Frederic Brown. I didn't expect the others to appreciate it since it was so simple. I was wrong. Two people mentioned that poem and only one of my other poems was explicitly mentioned. Here it is.

caressing his only friend
the phaser.

Eva Eriksson,

The SciFaiku Writing Group

I believe that there are practical limits the number of members, the number of contributions, and how often the letter comes out. Tom was careful and took advice when he begun the group. We haven't had any problems, so we probably have a pretty good balance. There are usually about 30-40 poems and also comments to poems in a letter. The layout of the letter has improved since the first ones and it's now easy to read, find, and compare the poems and comments.

There are fourteen people in the mailing list and about eight contribute regularly. A couple of people have contributed once or twice, and one has begun to contribute lately. We get a new letter about once a month.

We are a pretty assorted bunch and it probably adds to the writing group's usefulness. We get many new ideas, we can experiment and compare our styles. We often have themes and it's really interesting to see how many different angles can be found in a rather narrow subject. So far we have had the subjects Time Travel, CyberPunk, Alien Attack, Planets and Robots. The theme for October is Gadgets. We have also made variations on a single poem and have had some other special activities.

Members and styles in the group


The key word here is harmony. Her poems often have depth and a special human touch, but above all they are usually very harmonic. The language is controlled and the syllables are counted but somehow the poems seem very natural and "self-grown". Despite that, the content can be very dramatic. Below is a contribution to the theme Robots.

Baby robots cry
untended in nursery beds...
nano-rage begins.

Pam Smith,


Jeff often alludes to not-so-well-known things which sometimes makes his poems hard to understand. Other times these allusions make the poems wonderful. Jeff also experiments with the form, palindromes and other things. Sometimes there is vivid beauty in the poems. Here is a contribution to the theme Robots.

We swarm through the Belt,
Mining Lifestuff from the rock
To build new friend-beings.

Jeff Romano,


Yuri's poems are often deep and open to many interpretations. Some seem designed for contemplation. There is much to be read between the lines. He has also made a very clever pun on the theme Alien Attack. Here is a contribution to the theme CyberPunk.

from unborn embryo
a hunter was made
to hunt illegal repros

Yuri, or Taku Nakajo,,


James isn't fussy about rules and his poems are sometimes very free experiments with the form, palindromes and such. There can also be a wild and daring content. James favorite theme is Cyberpunk, but I chose a poem on the theme Alien Attack.

Voyager probe
alien response: LET'S EAT!

James Palmer, JPAL5738@Mercury.GC.PeachNet.EDU


Andy often has well-described original ideas, although the poems can often be subtle. Some poems contain clear cold clean beauty and often the very best are sad. Here is a contribution to the theme Planets.

The light-yacht's field pings
Laughter dies as we cruise past
Pieces of lost Earth.

Andy McCann,


Bruce has good control of the language, the syllables and the mode. He has made several series and they are well-constructed, controlled and free at the same time. The poems are in many styles and the subjects are varied and thoughtful. The poems can be very subtle or give you a good surprise. This is a contribution to the theme Time Travel. It's not typical SciFaiku, it could be a start for a new genre, Fantasyku (Fanku ?).

time is a serpent
eating its tail with its eyes
its shed skin forms dreams

Bruce Wyman,


Tom seldom makes the very best poem in the letter, but he has often made several of the five best. That is, he has a high even quality in the contributions. I believe he has a steady eye on the rules for haiku and keeps pretty well to them. It's often a good description of small simple details, and the implications, which can be huge, are left as an exercise to the reader. The ideas are often good and he is careful with the mood. Here is a contribution to the theme CyberPunk.

At age 12,
my father softly tells me
I'm an android.

Tom Brinck,


I usually work with contrasts. The poems often begin innocently and end in quite another direction. I present ideas and whims this way, but often they have deeper meaning too. One of the points of science fiction is that short moment when one loses one's mental foothold and then regains balance, maybe just a tiny little bit wiser. Since English isn't my mother tongue the language might be uncontrolled, but I like double meanings so sometimes it's quite intentional. I respect harmony and beauty when I see it, but I have not done much in that area myself. Here is a contribution to the theme CyberPunk.

Natural Look fashion:
wear two eyes
in your head.

Eva Eriksson,

I chose the examples to get an assorted mix. The description of the author's style may not coincide with the examples, but we have all tried several approaches. I chose many examples from a single theme, CyberPunk. As you see there are many different ways to treat a single subject.

As you see there is much to be gained by participating in a writing group. Why don't you start your own, maybe for Horrorku or another interesting genre.

You are welcome to mail comments to the writers. After all, that's what writing groups are all about. Some of us have homepages with SciFaiku which you naturally are very welcome to visit.

Copyrights are held by the authors of the individual poems above.

Copyright of the remaining text is held by Eva Eriksson (Used by permission),

Back to the SciFaiku Booth Home Page

The Egg Logo

Home · what is scifaiku? · read it · write it · share it
credits · feedback · haiku   © 1996, 1998 Tom Brinck. All rights reserved.