Senryu

Entertainment / Literature / Senryu: The senryu is a satirical form of the haiku. The form originates in Edo with the poet Karai Senryu (1718-1790). While the haiku attempt to avoid excessive 'cleverness,' vulgarity, humor, or explicit moralizing on the poet's part, the senryu embraces these elements. The genre allows a greater liberty of diction. Its tone is less lofty than the Zen-like tone found in many haiku, and it often focuses on the distortions and failings of human nature rather than the beauty of nature. Conventional topics include mothers-in-law, shrewish wives, women of disrepute, the antics of bachelors, and misbehavior among the clergy. Here is an example of a senryu: When she wails At the top of her voice, The husband gives in. As Joan Giroux suggests in The Haiku Form, the humor and implicit lesson in such senryu are very appealing to European and American writers. It is a genre much more accessible to the Western poet, accustomed as we are to logic rather than Zen. She writes: Would-be writers of English haiku are often dismayed to have their Japanese friends remark, 'Your poem is more like senryu. It is too philosophical.' It is not surprising, therefore, that senryu appeals strongly to Western readers. The Western tradition of logic rather than intuition makes senryu in some respects easier [for Western poets] to write than haiku. (22-23)

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