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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.

Philosophic Stuff



On Haiku (Senryu that parody or allude to haiku)

Other Silly Stuff