vol 45, no. 4
Three short lines, one ferocious attack.
When I started reading Star*Line and other publications from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, I was bemused by the shortest poems, those one or two or three line wonders that offer a quick punchline or pithy speculative thought. It wasn’t clear to me what these tiny poems were trying to do. Where they meant to be a joke? Filler? For poems so short, they come in a bewildering number of forms and variations on forms. A scifaiku, for example, is like a haiku, but with science and science fiction as its subject matter. Free form poems of only a few lines and words are also common. All kinds of elements of craft are on display.
Despite not quite understanding the purpose of these tiny poems, I kept reading, and started to enjoy many of them, especially after reading individual poems multiple times. The best of them are like gravity wells. They draw you into multiple layers with repeat readings, and as a reader, I found my imagination sparked. They leave the reader with fascinating and productive questions. These poems, regardless of size, open up into their own universe of possibilities.
Then I tried to write these tiny poems, and I was surprised by how fun but difficult they were to get right. In fact, I still consider myself an amateur at the art of tiny poem-making. I’m striving to reach the layers and possibilities of the best short poems by poets I admire like Christina Sng, Mary Soon Lee, and Jamal Hodge. I’m practicing by writing a lot of these little poems and then revising them, trying to compress their ideas into as few words and lines as possible. I also enjoy playing with enjambment at this small scale; where a word goes on a line can radically change the line’s meaning or suggest a range of possible meanings.
All that being said, one of my tiny poems has now been published in Star*Line, vol. 45, no. 4 (Fall 2022)! It’s an untitled poem that begins with an animal revolt and ends with… Well, you’ll have to read it to find out! This is my second published tiny poem, and I plan to keep working on them and sending them out.