Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Senryu (1 Viewer)

petergrimes

Senior Member
Hi,cheers, thanks
yes, no, perhaps - maybe.
You decide.

Hi Tim - Cheers for the poem. I had seen a thread about senryu vs haiku but not read it, so these are the first I've seen. I tried one, but have most likely got it wrong. Thanks, for I like the form and thought your poem, precise and witty. Yes it speaks of the human condition and no I didn't think it too short. The humour to me was very British, perhaps this is why I like it so much. Maybe I will try some of my own. Cheers PG

edit - I change my senryu
 
Last edited:

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
I put this senryu up in response to Carole (Pip) who had asked to see some of mine. I just wrote this one in the moment. The discussion I was trying to promote at the time on Carole’s thread was the concept of “kiriji” in haiku. Kiriji is central to haiku or senryu. It separates the poem into two balanced parts and creates a yin/yang relationship. The two parts are generally antithesis or paradox which form two parts of a whole. The first part is the opening, the kiriji is the turn, and the second part is the close. In Japanese, the kiriji or turn is usually a single word, called the “cut word”. English is structured differently. We don’t have words that also serve as punctuation (unless you call conjunctive punctuation). So, in English, the cut, or “kiriji” is formed by punctuation: a comma, dash or semi-colon. As Bob points out above, this punctuation can also be implied through a line break or midline break of some kind but it takes a bit of skill to make that cut obvious if there is not punctuation.

The two senryu put up here by Stahl and Peter do not show clear antithesis between two parts. There is not a clear yin/yang structure. These two pieces are more like a thread where one line leads into the next. It is more like a story structure or narrative. The important thing is to create tension between the two parts through the use of imagery.
 
Last edited:

rcallaci

Staff member
Administrator
Been doing haiku/senryu for well over thirty years and there's a myriad of how too's, what to do, not to do, punctuation vs no punctuation, what type of punctuation is proper, English vs Japanese, vowels and so on and on and on, so I will not be doing a step by step how to. I'll just write about what I like and don't like about these two. Yours and Pulse's. Stahl although a nice attempt needs to study the basic rules and peter's attempt showed a lack of understanding about the form but he's a fast fast learner.


the elevator
rose quickly to the top floor;
no one died that day.

This is a senryu through and through, correct punctuation, cut - and portrays a slice of life moment. It's decent, but it doesn't pop. It's not memorable or enlightening, humorous or a political social or religious statement. It's mundane and that probably was your intention. One rides the elevator to the top and no one died that day from an accident, or various other things that can make you die while riding an elevator. I'm saying it doesn't pop but for what it is, it's very good statement on the mundane. This is proper senryu.

Science is wary
elevated though it is.
Call statisticians!

This is upside down. the cut should be on the 1st or second line. This is not a proper senryu but a variation. Although I'm avid crusader when it comes to variations, this for me doesn't work. Never liked capitalization on haiku/senryu, not pleasing to the eye or giving off a meditative feel. When you put the cut on the first line, take out the capitol letters, then this works. It become a pretty good senryu. In this case your variation makes it a poor senryu. The imagery is confusing.

call statisticians!
science is wary
elevated though it is
 
Last edited:
  • Thanks
Reactions: PiP

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
This is a senryu through and through, correct punctuation, cut - and portrays a slice of life moment. It's decent, but it doesn't pop. It's not memorable or enlightening, humorous or a political social or religious statement. It's mundane and that probably was your intention.

Maybe we should start a thread in Poetry Nuts and Bolds regarding what makes GOOD Senryu so everyone can particpate. Your words: memorable or enlightening, humorous or a political social or religious statement is what I am trying to achieve.

In Tim's poem above the 'pop' was too subtle and I lost the message (sorry, Tim)

Haiku to me is a different beast and one I need to injest separately. For me, Haiku is a moment caught in meditation.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
There’s really no message, Carole. There is the juxtaposition of an elevator rising to the top floor on a day that no one died. These are two images that would not normally be associated so when you put them side by side there is a surprise that causes the reader to look for meaning in the statement. Of course, there is no reason why they would not be associated. Death could have happened on the elevator, or on the top floor, or somewhere else all together. But on this day, it didn’t. There is as much meaning there as you put into looking for meaning. Is the elevator a metaphor? Is the top floor a metaphor? You tell me.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Now I am confused, If there is no message, however the reader interprets, then surely it has no soul. No roots. Like trees and roots. Or icebergs. They have depth. Otherwise the senryu or indeed haiku could just be a table. It has no depth beyond what you can see. Sorry, I am not explaining myself well..
 
Last edited:

Darren White

co-owner and admin
Staff member
Co-Owner
What it means is that there is no hidden meaning. What you see is what you get.
The reader can interpret and adhere their own meaning, that is fine.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Carole, the depth is what you give it. Does a photograph have roots? Does it have a soul? The message isn’t in the poem, it’s in the experience of reading the poem. The message is a reflection of the reader.
 
Last edited:

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Carole, the depth is what you give it. Does a photograph have roots? Does it have a soul? The message isn’t in the poem, it’s in the experience of reading the poem. The message is a reflection of the reader.

Yes, I understand but like a picture or photo does a senryu need to connect with the reader in some way? For example an abstract picture needs some spark of connection
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Well, Carole, that is your subjective POV, and you are entitled to it. My wife is a professional, abstract painter and her biggest frustration (and the reason that it is so hard to sell an abstract painting) is that most people cannot relate to a piece of art if it doesn't have something in it that is representational. In other words, they want to recognize something in the painting, and if they can't, they see no value in the painting. She could make paintings of flowers and mountains all day long that would walk off the shelf but she has no interest in doing that. It doesn't serve her creative curiosity. Abstract painting is much more sophisticated than that. It breaks the picture down into elements of form: colour, depth, balance, perspective and tone. It's more like a symphony than a children's story. It isn't about representation, it's about form, and the essence of creativity itself. So it goes beneath conscious communication and deals with the underlying assumptions that we rely on for perception.

So, to answer your question, "does a poem need to connect with a reader in some way?" I guess it depends on what you mean by "connect." A poem that connects with every reader hasn't been written yet. And just because a painting doesn't connect with every viewer, doesn't mean it isn't a great, fucking painting. People thought Jackson Pollock was nuts, but if you stand in front of one of his paintings for an hour it will transport you to another universe and you will realize that he was a genius.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Strangely enough I do have a couple of abstract paintings on my wall and it was the colour and texture that appealed to me. I have tried abstract painting and it is difficult.... especially when husband asked what is it was meant to be. My reply: whatever you want it to be. So, yes, while a poet may have written a poem a reader will probably translate according to their life's frame of reference.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
That's right, and the less the poem tells ​the reader where to go, the more the reader participates in the creative experience. It's like anything else, you have to learn how to read a poem. It isn't like reading a cookie recipe.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PiP

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Here is another way of discussing your question about "connecting". I have done enough performance poetry to know what connects with, say, a young-adult audience
Humour, repetition, exaggerated rhythm, a few risque refererances but nothing too gratuitous, and a fairly simple story-line. So I know how to write a poem that "entertains" in that way. And if I was paid good money to do that I might keep doing it. If I am reading to a more intimate, older audience, I will read more serious and metaphorical poems. But those poems don't go over as well with younger crowds who want to be entertained. And I am under no illusions that one kind of poem will sell better or be more publishable than the other. And I don't feel that I have an obligation to entertain. What interests me is how language connects with thought and how memory interacts with experience and how the conscious mind can access the unconscious mind. So these are some of the things that drive my curiosity and if I just laid everything out there in an attempt to be "accessible" then I would be prostituting myself to some kind of desperate notion about what other people want to read. And frankly, given the choice, most people would choose to read something nostalgic that allows them to bask in memory rather than explore the possibilities of what is just on the edge of perception. But it's perception that interests me.
 
Top