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.