Senryu # 13 Partial Beeb.

Senryu are not Haiku! I think …… but I only just discovered Senryu over the weekend. My first 25 Haiku were mostly about the seasons, particularly Autumn, but a few were not. Nobody picked me up on this, and yet traditionally Haiku ARE about seasons and nature, whereas there is a style of Japanese poetry still following the 5-7-5 structure which is more about human nature and can be funny, clever, cynical, tongue-in-cheek …… Senryu. Named after Karai Senryū, a poet who lived during the Edo period from 1718 to 1790. I’ve written a little more below with some references for those interested, but I’m a stickler for tradition so will in future be differentiating between the two.

In the meantime, here is my 13th Senryu but which is actually the first I’ve created knowingly. Hope you can identify with it wherever you are on the planet! In case you don’t get it ….. its a piece of tongue-in-cheek cynicism.

“The best in the world
Accurate and impartial
Long lost BBC”

The Two Doctors

Introduction to Senryu

Senryu focuses on people. Men, women, husbands, wives, children and relatives. It portrays the characteristics of human beings and psychology of the human mind. Even when senryu depict living things such as animals, insects, and plant life, or when they depict inanimate objects, they are portrayed with the emphasis on their human attributes.

Senryu can make use of poetic devices such as simile, personification, and metaphor. It can also employ puns, parody and satire. Unlike haiku, senryu are not reliant on a seasonal or nature reference, but they DO occasionally use them. When they do, it is secondary to the human comedy or drama underlying the poem.

Senryu are not all strictly intended to be humorous. Many senryu express the misfortunes, the hardships and woe of humanity.

Alan Pizzarelli, Poetry Society (NZ)

  • Subject matter: Haikus frequently explore nature and the natural world as a topic. Senryus, by contrast, are often concerned with human nature, focusing on the foibles of human nature. 
  • Style: While haikus are often stark and ascetic, senryu poems can be puckishly funny. Some are clever, some are a bit cynical, and some are tongue-in-cheek. Although humor is not necessarily embedded in the definition of senryu, the form is, as a general rule, lighter and funnier than your standard haiku. 
  • Word choice: A haiku must traditionally include kigo (season words) and a kireji (cutting word). A senryu does not require such words.

Masterclass, How to write Senryu poems

Categories: Senryu

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3 replies

  1. Wow! I had never heard about senryu before. Thanks for the introduction 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, thank you, Dr. B. You are a wonderful teacher. I will investigate this more.

    Liked by 1 person

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