Slaying Genre: Speculative Poetry

Poetry isn’t a matter of language, it’s a matter of space westerns and sea monsters.*

OK, so maybe I’ve bastardized the above quote a bit*, but for good reason. There’s been a dearth of posts on poetry in this column and, of course, since genre poetry often gets short shrift, I’m hoping to shake up your world (or, ahem, worlds for the intergalactic among us) and introduce you to something brand new and decidedly kick-ass.

Are you a stargazer? A myth-monger? A devotee of romantic Klingon balladry?

If so, check out speculative poetry. It is just as awesome as the name suggests, which basically means poetry that includes a sense of imagination, wonder, and the fantastical. Speculative poetry trades in everything from fairy tale retellings to hard science fiction to horror verse and is written in a great variety of forms. One of my favorites is scifaiku. And as the summer days are lengthening and the sun calls us outside, it’s the perfect form to practice before heading to the beach.

So what is scifaiku exactly?

Scifaiku takes the form of haiku as its base (a poem written in three lines, the first and third lines containing five syllables and the second containing seven) but instead of exploring themes of nature and the passing of seasons takes as its subject themes of speculative fiction (for example, robot kittens, or alien horticulture). And scifaiku always works on three key principles: minimalism, concrete sense perceptions, and some kind of insight into the human (or decidedly inhuman) condition.

Here’s an example of a horror-themed scifaiku:

Darkened room at dusk

The corpse-bride wakes hungry and

Alone. All have fled.**


And one of my favorite examples of scifaiku:

your telescope arm

around my metal corset--

calculation in my steam-lit heart

-- Deborah Walker


So what are you waiting for? Get creating! The best scifaiku in the comments gets their piece posted in next month’s column!

To read more scifaiku, check out these links:


*“Poetry isn’t a matter of language, it’s a matter of life” is the original quote from the fabulous Lucille Clifton, refashioned for my own selfish and highly speculative purposes.

**By KL Pereira


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About the Author

KL Pereira's chapbook, Impossible Wolves was published by Deathless Press is 2013. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are forthcoming or appear in The Drum Literary Magazine, Shimmer Zine, Lightning Cake, The Golden Key, Innsmouth Free Press, Innsmouth Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, The Medulla Review, Bitch Magazine and other publications. Pereira’s work on fairy tales, sexuality, Wonder Woman, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are featured on Studio 360 and other radio programs, cited in numerous publications, and assigned in courses all over the United States and Canada. Find Pereira online on and @kl_pereira

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