Scifaiku Poetry Workshop at Janet Goeske Center

Poetry is special to me. I am a published poet of many years and I specialize in scifaiku poetry. This is science fiction themed haiku. This past December, I had the pleasure of teaching a scifaiku poetry workshop in Riverside, CA.

The Janet Goeske Center hosts over 200 classes for the active seniors of its area. The instructor of the literature class, Celena Diana, has been teaching literature at the Center for the past eight years and her class is ongoing and open to members there. She invites readers for their Tuesday Literary Series.

Celena had invited me to be a speaker to her class back in 2018 and we scheduled ahead of full year before I arrived. She told me I could read any of my work to the class. Most of my writing peers had read from their prose. I asked if I could read poetry and talk about the local poetry community. She agreed.

I started the workshop by reading a selection of poems from my new poetry collection “The Planets”. Followed by several of my longer science fiction themed poems. After the reading, I passed around a stack of my scifaiku art prints as a sort of “show & tell” item. These are illustrations of the scifaiku poetry I sell across the United States at various science fiction art shows.

The artwork was a prompt for a long Q&A session. We discussed: journaling, fountain pens, creating artwork with your poems, places to publish science fiction poetry, where to find inspiration, etc. I did not have to pick and choose who to talk to, their teacher handled all that. It made my job easier and it seemed to give confidence to the students.

I finished the Q&A by telling the story of how I became a poet. In “The Poet In Spite of Herself” I explain the accidental way I stumbled into a scifaiku poetry workshop at a local science fiction convention. There I wrote my first scifaiku poem and sold it on the spot. Being budding poets themselves and unsure if they could write a poem in this unique form, the story gave them the confidence that anyone could write scifaiku.

This led to the workshop. Instead of slides, I have a large paper poster board that can folds into a triangle so that it pops up on its own. My analog slides are pre-made for the class. On the back of the poster board, is a functioning whiteboard that I use for brainstorming during the class. I use this because most of the time I am teaching small groups without access to audio/visual supplies. Since this was a large class of 20 with a professional whiteboard on the wall, I ended up using the larger provided whiteboard. The workshop started with explaining the parts of scifaiku, the form that the poetry takes, and how to brainstorm ideas via my method of generating phrases that become the final poem.

I found the group to be exciting to teach because they were a highly creative group of writers delighted to discover a new form of poetry. The class ran longer than the one hour I had been scheduled for, but their teacher told me to go ahead and finish because the students were engaged. At the end of the session, I asked the students to write their scifaiku poem and we would share the poetry after the break.

While the students grabbed a cup of coffee or a snack, I signed a few books, had several further discussions about poetry and illustration before we resumed the workshop. I asked if anyone wanted to read the poem they wrote. Six people raised their hands. The poems they recited were excellent! I was so pleased. As a teacher, you don’t always know how well your class will respond to the course. Evidently, I made a favorable impression. Their teacher Celena kept telling her students to submit their work to their group anthology or to a manuscript they were collating with her guidance. They were excited about poetry and kept telling me what a fun time they had. I had a great time with them too!


I enjoy teaching and prompting poetry in my local area. If your writing group is in the Los Angeles area, I am open to teaching my poetry workshop to your group. Contact me via my website if you are interested.

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday!  This week the top ten writing article links feature a bit about the writing community, bookstores, libraries and two features of two favorites of mine from the science fiction genre. Both Atwood and Gibson are must-reads as far as I’m concerned. I hope you enjoy the articles!

How to Tell a Story Within a Story

Margaret Atwood: Top 5 Tips for Writers

Fantasy Fortifications

Mastering Show, Don’t Tell

Creating Custom Scrivener Templates

Writers: Embrace the Bleak in Your Stories

Indie booksellers create community to survive the age of Amazon

How the decade in books changed what and how we read

HOW LIBRARIES ARE DEALING WITH BEDBUGS

HOW WILLIAM GIBSON KEEPS HIS SCIENCE FICTION REAL

The Curate’s Brother by Wendy Van Camp

The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion
by Wendy Van Camp

Available on Amazon

A Regency Historical based off the characters and settings from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion.  It can serve as a stand-alone or a prequel to Austen’s book.


It is the summer of 1806 in Somerset, England.

EDWARD WENTWORTH, a young curate, is surprised by the arrival of his brother, Commander Frederick Wentworth, the “hero of San Domingo”, who is on shore leave from his battles in the Napoleonic wars and has come to spend time with the only family he has in England.

All the good Commander wants to do is flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to sea, but when his flirting extends to SALLY MARSHALL, an outgoing beauty that Edward always disdained as “a child”, the curate becomes aware that his opinion of Sally is sorely outdated. Meanwhile, Frederick becomes drawn to shy wallflower ANNE ELLIOT. She is the daughter of a baronet and above his station, but Frederick pays no heed to his brother’s warnings that class may prevent their union.

At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

A Primer on Speculative Poetry by Kimberly Nugent

When Wendy approached me about writing an article for “No Wasted Ink,” I was thrilled and immediately began to waffle about which idea to put to digital paper. Despite a career in editing, I kept coming back to a topic about which both Wendy and I are passionate, speculative poetry. Genre poetry has a lovely community of poets, and a thriving market for both paid and unpaid submissions.

Like a lot of creators, I had a long break from poetry until editing an e-zine that featured speculative poetry. I was fascinated and thrilled! So, I began writing again. Whether you are returning to poetry, looking for a change in your existing poetry, or would like to write for the first time, I have a few tips for writing in general, and a few specific to speculative poetry.

Keep a notebook. This notebook can be a 99-cent special or something bound in leather, but whatever you pick, keep it with you. And keep your favorite writing implement in stock. Keep pencils in your car, pens in your purse, grab some markers, something that will make a mark. I previously kept notes digitally but have since switched back to physical writing. Not only do you not have to worry about backups or where you saved that file, you will find the thought required to put words on paper also puts contemplation into your ideas and word choices.

Write. Just write in that lovely notebook. It can be anything from words and phrases to outlines and perhaps even a rough draft. But don’t worry about form—yet. The goal here is just to create the words that will build your poetry. Feel free to be wordy. Write in the margins, make notes. The more words in your notebook, the easier to compose your verses. Also, I find inspiration in various media, especially scientific articles and lectures! Your muse can be anywhere, so be sure to jot down all your ideas.

Buy a good form reference book. Now that you have those lovely thoughts and phrases, combine them into the forms that feel natural to the ideas when writing your final poem. I suggest buying at least one (or more!) form reference books. Two of my favorites are “The Prosody Handbook: A Guide to Poetic Form” by Beum and Shapiro and “The Book of Forms” by Turco. The more you write and create, the more you should challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone. If you generally write a sonnet, try an epic poem or haiku! What specifically sets speculative poetry apart is the topic. The is sky is NOT the limit! Putting the fantastical, science fiction, and even mythological themes into form (and yes, you can include free verse) is what will set you apart from flash fiction and the short story.

After you write your poetry, always let it sit overnight before you make any changes. Like prose writing, a little distance between yourself and the words will make the editing process easier. Now is also the time to share your work with a trusted listener or reader. Your sounding board should give both praise and constructive feedback.

Your edits are complete, your trusted evaluator has appraised your efforts, and you are ready to submit your first poem! But, where? The largest poetry-only markets typically shy away from genre poetry, however, there are organization specifically for the speculative poet. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and Horror Writers Association are both excellent resources for a genre poet. Also, look for publications and journals that are focused on certain forms in addition to genre-specific publications.

When you have decided on a market, read the submission guidelines carefully. Always follow their directions and pay close attention to if the market accepts simultaneous submissions or those that have been previously published. I also highly recommend you keep a log of your submissions so you can keep track of where you place your poems, and which publications you should follow up with.

The most important thing after submitting your work is to congratulate yourself! Whether your first submission or your 100th is your first published poem, creating a work you can be proud to submit is an accomplishment in itself.


Kimberly Nugent lives near the beautiful Sandia Mountain range and edits speculative fiction and RPGs. She spends her free time with her family, cats, and various nerdy hobbies! You can find her on Twitter at @BlueTeaEditing

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

What is a Monday without a top ten list of writer’s articles to peruse?   The majority of these are general writing tips, just the thing to help you get revved up for a new year of writing.  Enjoy!

WHY YOU SHOULD FLASH YOUR FICTION

What is a rite of passage?

Organic World-building Through Ecology

KEEP READING!

Critique: 10 Ways to Write a Better First Chapter Using Specific Word Choices

Voice: What is Writing ‘Voice’ & Why is It Important to Storytelling?

Taming Your Exposition

Blood for Money: The Origins of the Mercenary

3 Steps To Writing Diverse Characters

5 Ways to Quiet Your Inner Editor

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

%d bloggers like this: