My friend Susan Burch and I co-edited a special feature at Atlas Poetica (thanks, M. Kei!) on science fiction tanka. In the style of previous special features, that allowed for one poem per poet – 25 poems, no more, no less.
Susan and I had a blast working on this. We met for lunch several times to go over the submissions. Her poetic story began with tanka, the five-line poem with Japanese origins, whereas I started my short-form journey with scifaiku, a unique cross of science fiction and haiku. There isn’t much written to define science fiction tanka, so we explored the boundaries of the form. Strong candidates were well-crafted tanka, had a clear voice, and had the immediacy of immersing you in an alien world.
As editors, our goal was to interact with the poets as one voice. Behind closed doors (of Olive Garden), however, we debated the merits of the submissions. I have a stronger science background, so I wanted the poems we published to be scientifically sound. Susan has a much better grasp for the feel of a good tanka, so she made sure the pieces we chose were well-crafted.
Even though our backgrounds are different, we tended to like the same poets. There are definitely a few “Julie poems” in the mix, as well as a few that I shrugged my shoulders at but Susan felt we should include. My thanks to all of the poets who submitted to this special feature and entrusted us with their odd little poetic children.
In addition to little poems, I make little wreaths. Some are odder than others.
I’ve read that reading a good haiku sampler should be a similar experience to trying a box of chocolates – lots of variety, a few favorites, but nothing tastes bad. I think we’ve achieved that here.
25 Science Fiction Tanka and Kyoka can be viewed here. (If you can’t get the link to work, try standard view.)