Your Responses: Senryu vs. Haiku

Here are the responses from “Senryu vs. Haiku,” a recent post. The responses were brief with the exception of the one by Alan Summers who was obviously impassioned by the topic. Please read until the end, as there are many large spacing gaps in WordPress.


David Boyer:


Personally, I think the senryu designation is unnecessary. After all, it’s all nature, human or otherwise.




I often have problems distinguishing between the two, Charlotte (as I did here on your blog last week). I am sometimes concerned that I will label a poem incorrectly and look foolish: you have now given me a license to stop
worrying about this!
I enjoy writing both forms, but find haiku slightly easier as I feel a senryu has to contain an element of wit, irony or dark humour, and this can often take some work to get right. Although I’m sure it’s like everything else, the more you read and practise, the easier it becomes.

Paul Beech:


In responding to nature through haiku, we surely reveal something of ourselves as individual human beings. In rendering quirks of human nature through senryu, the natural world surely provides a backdrop, even if unstated.
At their poles, haiku and senryu may be different genres but I believe there‘s a point where they mix and merge and I tend to label borderline pieces as haiku for convenience.
I enjoy writing both but tend towards the borderline.



Alan Summers:





Here’s a take on senryu that I developed when asked for some blurb for this senryu anthology: Pieces of Her Mind: Women Find Their Voice in Centuries-Old Forms
Omega Publications, 2012, ISBN-10: 0985035064, ISBN-13: 978-0985035068




I’ve expanded it to:




Senryu are short aftertastes like amuse-gueule, or small arms visual gunfire, and potent as longer satirical poems. The examples in this book create shredded shooting gallery targets within the bull’s-eye area, and will help re-invigorate senryu and give a boost to the confidence of new and established writers alike.

Its bittersweet, ironic, poignant, truthful, painfully revealing verses will delight the taste buds of readers as I tend to think honesty has a higher register in senryu, if done well. Even if we don’t want to see the honesty of senryu verse, it’s there as checks and balances in our own lives: It feeds a need of a different place than haiku can accomplish.

In Pre-Islamic poetry there were lampoons denigrating other tribes called hijāʾ (satire of enemies). This genre of Arabic satirical poetry was introduced by the Afro-Arab author al-Jahiz in the 9th century where he introduced biting humour in the developing subjects of what came be to be known as the subjects of anthropology, sociology and psychology.
Well-written senryu verse cover these areas in all its sub-genres enveloping politics in particular, and family life and everything in-between where needs must.

Note: hijāʾ (satire of enemies)

R.H. Blyth said one of the properties of senryu should be to expose pretense, and this is where senryu is master or mistress. Politics has been where senryu should stand center, but not in its political views of course:

political election
my application to be
a) human

Alan Summers
Haiku News, Vol. 2, No. 24, 2013



And social issues such as justice/injustice, and debt (false and real):



zombie debt–
the practised slice
of a bread knife

Alan Summers

Haiku News, Vol. 1, No. 41, 2012

Senryu can be brutally honest when it comes to our busy, don’t make our lives even more difficult existences whether an adult now, and homeless, or starting off early:

sunlit swea
the young vagrant
sucks a thumb

Alan Summers
Haiku Harvest: 2000 – 2006



Senryu can also be as soft as a loving parent’s caress, at times, when it comes to our children:

Father’s Day
a child circles the tree
in his own John Deere

Alan Summers
Scope, Vol. 60, No. 4, May 2014




Children are certainly an engaging topic for senryu, sometimes highlighting what we as “mature” adults have lost:


snow flurry
a child thrusts his anorak
into it

Alan Summers
Simply Haiku, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2003

And the open curiosity of children:



wind-spun flakes…
a child’s world escapes
the snow globe

Alan Summers
Tinywords Photo Prompt: Joint-Winner




(Keep reading below. There are gaps in WordPress.)



And then we have to embrace changes of all kinds:



fresh start
all my childhood
in book covers


Alan Summers
Asahi Shimbun, 2011

And it is vital to return to some childlike innocence now and then:




Milky Way Train
I bring my inner child
down to earth



Alan Summers
hedgerow: a journal of small poems, Issue 1, September 2014



If we lose too much, we lose what a childhood should be, and what we should and could inherit from it.

school memories
one tadpole left in
the collection jar

Alan Summers
Simply Haiku, September 2003, Vol. 1, No. 3



We can poke fun at ourselves and our love life, and Christmas is a great time for senryu. Just think of all the social gatherings, faux pas etc…



the sticky label
over the christmas card
the new boyfriend’s name

Alan Summers
Raku Teapot: Haiku, 2003




We can certainly be explicit in many ways with senryu:

sunnyside up
the autopsy shows
a decent breakfast

Alan Summers
Prune Juice, Issue 9, July 15, 2012




Senryu is coming back into our lives, and we should welcome it for the wake-up call that it is, where all too easily a casual thoughtlessness becomes a callous lifestyle choice. Sometimes we need shock treatment in the shape of a highly focused, ruthless sense of humour as a poetic blow to the head, for a moment, before we then resume our life. After we’ve been pulled up abruptly for a few seconds of something thought-provoking, it could steer us in the right direction.

senryu and notes©Alan Summers 2012-2016



Area 17:


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 recently received an Official Commendation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am 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 regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won forty-seven poetry awards, writing twelve poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. 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 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 am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and 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, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
This entry was posted in Alan Summers, Appreciating Haiku, Appreciating Poetry, Beginning Poets, creative writing, Experienced Poets, Haiku, Humorous Haiku, hurmorous poems, Japanese-style poetry, Language Arts, literacy, micropoetry, Poems, Poetry, Senryu, Short Poems, Writing Senryu and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Your Responses: Senryu vs. Haiku

  1. haikutec says:

    Reblogged this on Haikutec’s Weblog and commented:
    Thoughts on senryu by myself and others.

  2. Susan Furst says:

    Excellent responses Charlotte! I agree with Alan’s take on Senryu. I love the truth and honesty that Senryu can accomplish in just though few words. To evoke an emotion in eight syllables, to facilitate change, that is the power of poetry.the power of the mighty but humble haiku/senryu. The still small voice!


  3. haikutec says:

    In time the Living Senryu Anthology will have essays and articles:

  4. aloha Charlotte. i saw this post and meant to respond. however my life was such an apples and oranges cart, teetering on the precipice of the street curb—yeah, i didn’t get to it—more like time simply evaporated around me.

    still, i’d like to respond. so here it is. and then i’ll add it in a comment to the response post too.

    when i set out to write, unless the intention is specifically to write one or the other, haiku or senryu, i prefer to allow my writing to simply explore and unfold focused on what ever triggered my desire to write. this may be from inner or outer observation of course. sometimes in that exploration the focus may shift in one direction or another—haiku or senryu.

    i tend to keep most all variations of my writings, even parts as i write, whether it is haiku or senryu, without marking the distinction for each variation. i then select what i prefer as the better version of these writings as needed. occasionally there may be more than one version i like. whether they are senryu or haiku is critical to me only when it’s predetermined that the writing should be one or the other. this might be a stipulated component of a publication or challenge for instance. however i also like to be able to distinguish which the writing is for my own understanding and so apply the basic premise i see as haiku or senryu. this is simply the focus i feel is dominant in the work—the natural world or human nature.

    haiku vs senryu is a curious division, nature or the natural world of the planet vs human nature. yet it’s one that human beings have been making for a long time. i believe it’s all one. however we could make the same distinction between any selected part of nature and label it as different than all the rest. in fact that’s what we do when we label anything. we make a distinction of this one thing from all the other things.

    so i accept that the distinction has been made and in general i observe with that in mind after i’ve written. of course the awareness is often there as i write too. haiku may have a human being in it, and senryu may have elements of nature in it. i go by what i feel is the dominant focus of the work—the natural world or human nature—as to whether it is haiku or senryu when needed.

    i recognize that my call on haiku vs senryu may be disputed. mostly for me i’m willing to allow others to present their case for a work being one or the other. if i’m asked, i may give my thoughts on it as well. what matters to me more in my own writing is whether the writing works, not which it is (unless as i mentioned the distinction is required).

    occasionally i look at my own writings or other writings and make my call on whether i think it is haiku or senryu. this is simply me trying to apply my thinking on haiku and senryu. of course some of my labels might be revised when others are giving their thinking on the same works.

    i don’t yet have a preference for writing haiku or senryu, although i occasionally get on a track writing one or the other. i like writing and reading both. a steady diet of only one might leave me feeling something is missing.

    one of the reasons this response took so long to come to fruition is my engagement in my month of haiga on my blog—September, 30 Days of Haiga (30doh). still i was thinking about it. at one point i became aware that in some cases i use senryu as the written component of my haiga rather than haiku as the written component of the haiga. i wondered about that, particularly when the image might be from the natural world. things like, is senryu okay in haiga.? should haiga with senryu also use an image that is more human based? does haiku in haiga require an image that is focused mainly on the natural world? these question have come up in me, however i have not been particularly concerned on these points—yet. any thoughts?

    thank you for the invitation to think out loud on my keyboard regarding the place of haiku and senryu in my own writing. fun. aloha. rick.

  5. Oliana says:

    I need to be reminded of this…when I first started writing haiku I would be able to distinguish senryu and haiku and lately I’ve become lazy…the haiku you have posted here are so stunning…fresh start, book cover brings me back to elementary school, covering all our books at the start of school…so many move me. John Deere and Father’s Day…such a precious one. I must reblog this to my blog but as well to my blog of waka, at

  6. Cheryl-Lynn says:

    Reblogged this on Tournesol dans un Jardin and commented:
    A beautiful post with stunning senryu included by Alan Summers…must read!

  7. Oliana says:

    Reblogged this on Traces of the Soul and commented:
    Thoughts of senryu and the poetry included are stunning!

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