Senryu Survey Results!

Senryu Survey Results

Back in August, I asked my international blog readers and members of the Haiku Society of America and Haiku Canada to respond to a question about senryu:


What is one word that you think best describes senryu? Obviously, there are several words, but just select one. Try to be original and not use the same word you would use to describe haiku.


I also asked poets to respond to me by email, rather than to post their word on the blog, so they wouldn’t be influenced by others’ responses.  I received 53 responses from 12 countries. (Of those, I disqualified three responses because two were irrelevant and one submission was two words that could have been reduced to one. When I asked the three respondents to submit another word, they didn’t.)


A popular word was “humanity” or related forms of the word.

I was especially pleased to find unexpected responses.


In general, respondents appeared to consider more of the humorous aspects of senryu, rather than the sometimes serious overtones of it. I was surprised that no one submitted the word “compassion,” though one respondent submitted “pathos” which is comparable.

I hope these responses keep you focused when you write senryu going forward, and that you judge your senryu more critically to determine what you’re trying to convey.

The submissions below are in the order received.

  1. pithy

Michael Henry Lee (USA)

2.  humanity  

Jill Spealman (USA)


  1. clever

 Ronald K. Craig (USA)


  1. humanitarian

 Myron Lysenko (Australia)


  1. city-mouse

 David McMurray (Japan–from the countryside)

 Note from McMurray:

Senryu can be defined as “city-mouse” poetry. Haiku can be defined as “country-mouse” poetry.  I refer to the dichotomy of “human affairs/nature” and “non-seasonal/seasonal” in “city-mouse/country-mouse” to convey the meanings of “senryu/haiku”.

The protagonists in Aesop’s fable have become idioms we can use to understand the difference between senryu and haiku. The city-mouse lifestyle is fun and has much human contact and human foibles. City adventures allude to dark humor and are often cynical and risque. The city-mouse used objective clearly worded criteria and preferred a city life with plenty of non-seasonal cakes and ale.

The country-mouse lifestyle provides a peaceful life with seasonal food such as wheat stalks, roots, and acorns, with a dash of cold water. The country-mouse used subjective or nuanced words and preferred to talk about and live in his safe farmlands without fear.

  1. enlightening

Harvey Jenkins (Canada)


  1. Wham!

Christine Eales (UK)


  1. witty

Philomene Kocher (Canada)


  1. humanity

Bryan D. Cook (Canada)


  1. humanity

Barry George (USA)


  1. connected

Joanne Morcom (Canada)


  1. humanity

 David Oates (USA)


  1. real

Dina E. Cox (Canada)


  1. humour

Liette Janelle (Canada)


  1. human

 Janice Doppler (USA)

  1. seasonless

 Al W Gallia (USA)


  1. existence

Blanca Baquero (Canada)


  1. coy

 Suzanne Warren Powell (Canada)


  1. sardonic

        Susan Spooner (Canada)


  1. irony

 Nancy Brady (USA)

  1. bawdy

 Barth H. Ragatz (USA)


  1. surprise

  Cynthia Gallaher (USA)

  1. satire

Lakshmi Iyer (India)

  1. eye-opening

Barrie Levine (USA)


  1. witty

 Mary Stevens (USA)


  1. corporeal

      Amelia Cotter (USA)


  1. human

 Joshua St. Claire (USA)


28. quirky

Ingrid Baluchi (North Macedonia)


  1. humanly

 Rick Daddario (USA)


  1. chuckle

 Caroline Giles Banks (USA)


  1. reflection

Jean Luce (USA)

  1. “inself”

Donna Bauerly (USA)

 Note from Bauerly:

I borrow from G.M. Hopkins who coined the word “inscape” to describe his poetic muse. Hopkins felt that everything in the universe was characterized by what he called inscape, “the distinctive design that constitutes individual identity.” This identity is not static, but dynamic. Each being in the universe ‘selves,’ that is, enacts its identity.

  1. foible

 Marilyn Appl Walker (USA)


  1. bittersweet

 Roberta Beary (USA/Ireland)


  1. personal

  Bee Jay (Australia)


  1. haikuesque

  Tom Painting (USA)


  1. witty

  Paula Griffin (USA)


  1. wry

  Peter Newton (USA)


  1. pathos

 Jerome Berglund (USA)


  1. seasonless

 Nani Mariani (Australia)


  1. wordplay

 Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)


  1. emotional

  Lenard D. Moore (USA)


  1. mortal

 Maureen Weldon (Wales)


  1. satirical

  Stoianka Boianova (Bulgaria)


  1. humanity

  Minko Tanev (Bulgaria)


  1. mindful

   Eavonka Ettinger (USA)


  1. relatable

  Paul Beech (Wales)


  1. soul

  Eufemia Griffo (Italy)


  1. perspicacious

Tom Clausen (USA)


  1. whimsy

Polona Oblak (Slovenia)


Copyright 2022 by Charlotte Digregorio.


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. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois 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 seven books including: 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; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. 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 by Charlotte Digregorio." 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 two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen 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.
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14 Responses to Senryu Survey Results!

  1. Thanks 🙏 Charlotte!

    So interesting to read responses both diverse and similar to your senryu survey.

  2. Al W Gallia says:

    Thank you, Charlotte, for this comprehensive list that helps to understand the essence of Senryu. 💐

  3. Eavonka Ettinger says:

    Thank you, Charlotte. This senryu survey definitely helped expand and refine my understanding of senryu.

  4. Thank you very much, Charlotte to including my word in this list. Really interesting to read so many responses from so many poets from all over the world.
    Best wishes,

  5. Pingback: Senryu Survey Results! | Il fiume scorre ancora

  6. Interesting survey, Charlotte, and great word choices for what senryu are. ~Nancy

  7. What a great word bank to describe the qualities of senryu, Charlotte. Very useful, particularly as I begin preparing this year’s poetry in schools workshops!


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