About Haiku & Senryu

About Haiku:

A haiku poem is plain, simple, subtle and surprising. It includes three lines of images coming together to create an emotion around a contrast, without telling the reader which emotion to feel. Very traditional Japanese haiku include seasonal references and are usually about nature. Haiku makes the everyday seem extraordinary, and the obvious sound remarkable.

Note: To most readers, calling my tiny contemporary poems “haiku” will do. For some, more explanation is in order. Traditional Japanese haiku lines have 5-7-5 sounds (17 altogether). However, English syllables are longer than Japanese sounds, so haikus in English may not need to follow the 5-7-5 syllable format if they are to be closer to the length of true haikus. Some of mine are 5-7-5 and some are shorter. In addition, some of mine would be considered more in the poetic genre of senryu, not haiku.

For more detail, you may want to read this essay by A.C. Missias, “Contemporary Haiku: Origins and New Directions.”

About Senryu:

A senryu poem is also generally three short lines, but it’s based on a witty observation rather than a contrast or reference to nature. Senryu and I are friends who go way back before I knew my short witty poetic observations had a name.

14 thoughts on “About Haiku & Senryu

  1. Great to find another fan of the Haiku! I remembered doing the 5-7-5 at school, and have recently returned to it. I enjoy the disciplin to be succinct, while hinting at deeper subtexts. It’s become a Thing for me, so I’ve been reading up on the methods. And yes, of course it’s more complex than I realised. I’m intrigued by Senryu – I haven’t come across this.

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  2. In Danish most writers use the 5-7-5 syllables. I have released an e-book, “Haiku fra min gรฅrd – Haiku from my farm” with 100 haiku-verses in Danish and translated/recreated into English by myself. It was my experience that it is easier to use 5-7-5 in Danish than in English and I am happy to see how well a shorter form in English can express an event.
    In Danish titles are not used (normally). When I started writing Haiku-verses, I used titles, but was told that the verse in it self should show the experience.

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    • Ejnar, thank you for your comment. I dabble in shorter English haiku, as I feel a condensed thought is more true to the original haiku form. Regarding titles, I don’t actually title my haiku anywhere else but on this blog. Once I started it title-less, it was hard to tell which ones were getting the love. (“Anders liked number 132.” “Agnes commented on number 24.”) So I added “blog post labels” to easily differentiate them for myself. When I share the haiku elsewhere, the haiku stand alone! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • I wouldn’t call your effort “dabbling”. I like your haiku-verses short or not very much.
        I understand the way you use title. I had the same problem, when dropped the titles, so in my e-book I have numbered in succession.
        I have read the essay from A.C. Missias. Its a very fine description of the criteria of good haiku writing stressing why it both apparently easy and at the same time difficult to write a haiku poem.

        Liked by 1 person

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