Senryu, We Tried…


When I decided to participate in this years April Poem A Day Challenge, I added the secondary goal of writing senryu for the entire month. The lesser known off shoot of haiku deals with human behavior in conjunction with nature, often with a sense of humor or strong emotional element. I’d written a few in the past and I enjoy the form so I thought it might be fun to commit to a month of writing them.

About half way through the month, I realized senryu is not totally my thing. I still love the form, but it became very clear to me that I don’t enjoy writing it as much as haiku. While human behavior fascinates me, it’s not something I can easily translate into a short poetic form. At least not with the same ease I can with nature.

I don’t know if I had a hard time because I prefer the company of a tree over a group of people (naturalist introverts would agree) or if I’m simply struggling with fundamental elements of senryu. Both are strong possibilities! The element of humor was something I could never quite grasp, although I was able to convey strong emotion.

This was an interesting discovery in that it helped confirm what I enjoy writing the most. During the last week of the challenge, I punched out a couple senryu, but almost everything else I wrote was haiku. And it felt great!  It’s almost as if my muse was dying to get back into the haiku groove.

I’m glad I tried to commit to a new form because it did challenge me and it did push me to see things from a different perspective. At the same time, it felt good to return “home” to haiku after what felt like eternity away.

In many ways, this is what the April Poem A Day Challenge is all about. Not only is there challenge of writing a prompt based poem every day, but there is also the deeper exploration of your identity as a poet.


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Special Note: One of my favorite senryu poets is Alexis Rotella. Writing senryu may not be my thing, but I still love reading it. I highly recommend checking out this poet’s work.

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c.b.w. 2016