| 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
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
4. We get comments on
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
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
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
caressing his only friend
Eva Eriksson, email@example.com
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
Baby robots cry
untended in nursery beds...
Pam Smith, PamS14@aol.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com,
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.
message: COME SEE EARTH
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
The light-yacht's field pings
Laughter dies as we cruise past
Pieces of lost Earth.
Andy McCann, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
time is a serpent
eating its tail with its eyes
its shed skin forms dreams
Bruce Wyman, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
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
Copyright of the remaining text is held by
Eva Eriksson (Used by permission), firstname.lastname@example.org