Senryu: What the Heck Is It?

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

: q

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.

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About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. I am also the author of five non-fiction books: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; and Your Original Personal Ad. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I have signed books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won thirty-three poetry awards. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I am an internationally-published haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, haibun, free verse, acrostic, cinquain, etheree, and sestina poet. My poetry has been translated into six languages, and I have done poetry readings at a variety of bookstores, libraries, art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. My poetry has been displayed at supermarkets, art galleries, libraries, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I've been interviewed on cable television about my poetry. I also hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I was also self-employed as a communications/public relations/marketing consultant with 111 clients in 16 states. In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give special lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and to those at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and to libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America. Currently, I am Second Vice President of the Haiku Society.
This entry was posted in Charlotte Digregorio, creative writing, Creativity, Haiku, Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All, Haiku Poets, Japanese-style poetry, micropoetry, nature poems, poems about human nature, Senryu, Short Poems, The Daily Haiku, Writing Haiku, Writing Senryu and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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