I’ve always loved senryu, poetry that is in the same form as haiku, but its focus is human nature, rather than the seasons or nature. Senryu is pronounced sen-ree-YOO by Americans, but often just like send-roo when the Japanese say it. Both haiku and senryu originated in Japan centuries ago.
Senryu is often humorous. It often has wordplay, irony, satire, and other literary devices. Unlike what some people try to claim online as good senryu, it isn’t supposed to be in bad taste, offensive, or having no literary value. Senryu can have dark humor, but there has to be literary value to it. Like all haiku, it must evoke some type of emotion in the reader.
A lot of haikuists don’t differentiate between haiku and senryu, but just call senryu “haiku.” You can do either, differentiating or not.
Here is a senryu:
aging . . .
getting the freckles
i wanted in childhood
by Charlotte Digregorio
Years ago, I wrote and published the senryu below that some might consider dark humor, but I feel it has literary value, and apparently, so did the esteemed editor who published it:
after his death . . .
they fill our table
with cold cuts
by Charlotte Digregorio
I have run many senryu in The Daily Haiku posts of this blog. I am entertaining the idea of at least running more and more senryu, and possibly devoting a month’s worth of senryu to my Daily Haiku posts.
My wish is that everyone will start to familiarize themselves with the true nature of senryu and not write it like it was a bad joke. Written well, it requires the type of skill that all haiku does. Sometimes, haiku and senryu overlap, and the reader must decide for herself/himself whether it is a haiku and senryu.
If you’d like to investigate senryu, please read my book, Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All, that deals with senryu in detail. It is truly beautiful when written well. There are ample examples of it in my book. When you begin reading a lot of it, you will likely get hooked on it. I also give the history of senryu in the book. It has a fascinating history both in the Japan and in the U.S. And, of course, I provide information on how to publish haiku and senryu, and how teachers can teach the forms to their students of all levels. Sadly, I have found that teachers often try to teach haiku and senryu without knowing what they really are.
My hope is that everyone who reads The Daily Haiku posts who is a beginner at these forms will truly educate themselves about haiku and senryu.
Best Wishes for your success in writing and publishing haiku and senryu!
Copyright 2015 by Charlotte Digregorio.