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.
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.
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.
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:
my application to be
Haiku News, Vol. 2, No. 24, 2013
And social issues such as justice/injustice, and debt (false and real):
the practised slice
of a bread knife
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:
the young vagrant
sucks a thumb
Haiku Harvest: 2000 – 2006
Senryu can also be as soft as a loving parent’s caress, at times, when it comes to our children:
a child circles the tree
in his own John Deere
Scope, Vol. 60, No. 4, May 2014
Children are certainly an engaging topic for senryu, sometimes highlighting what we as “mature” adults have lost:
a child thrusts his anorak
Simply Haiku, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2003
And the open curiosity of children:
a child’s world escapes
the snow globe
Tinywords Photo Prompt: Joint-Winner
(Keep reading below. There are gaps in WordPress.)
And then we have to embrace changes of all kinds:
all my childhood
in book covers
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
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.
one tadpole left in
the collection jar
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
Raku Teapot: Haiku, 2003
We can certainly be explicit in many ways with senryu:
the autopsy shows
a decent breakfast
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
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