Senryu (which I've heard pronounced as if it included
a "d" - sendryu) is a Japanese form that developed
as an offshoot of haiku. A senryu (and forgive me, those
in the know, if, perhaps, "senryu" is only
the plural usage) is haiku-sized and formated, usually
three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, though that's not
an absolute requirement.
Senryu look like haiku on the page, but have a different
intention and feel to them. Whereas haiku are usually
about the most direct and immediate relationships between
self and universe, containing only what anyone might
see, not the conclusions therefrom, omitting, to a large
degree, the speaker, except as an understood presence,
all emotion also present only by implication, omitting
most devices of poetry (metaphor, puns, witticisms,
verbal pyrotechnics, etc.) - just a few details from
a moment in autumn or spring or winter or summer that,
somehow, tantalize the reader into recreating an entire
world, past, present and to be, containing those details.
Senryu deals more with relationships among humans,
with manners, social issues, philosophical conclusions,
witticism, etc. Haiku may be funny, but they do not
go after laughs with wit or punchlines. Senryu do, and
use other poetic devices considered too gross for the
delicacy of haiku. The main devices of haiku are omission
and juxtaposition. A haiku based on a simile, for example,
is rare - would be like trying to insert a light-bulb
filament with a large pliers.
Haiku is sometimes considered to be the ground of
poetry, the way of looking from which poetry may arise,
a potential for poetry, but is not, itself, what we
ordinarily call poetry - or, rather, it is usually not
"poetic". Senryu is poetry and often very
clever poetry - in miniature.
The distinction is not, of course, absolute, and
many poems fall between these two genre. I'd say about
half the poems I included in my "Haiku" pages
might be adjudged senryu by haiku afficienados - because
of their puns, their ruminations, their satire, etc.
Something about them, a certain distance and implied
surrounding silence, led me to put them among my haiku,
but I'm too easy on myself.
In this section I give you poems I feel best fit
into the senryu genre. I've many more, hidden away among
my poems (I never throw back the little ones). These
are a sampling.
On Haiku (Senryu that parody
or allude to haiku)
Other Silly Stuff