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It’s the FIFTH week of the month! Are you ready to work on a specific form?
Japanese poetry forms follow special rules. Just because you have seventeen syllables to play with doesn’t mean you should just write whatever you want. Take the time to learn the forms and understand why haiku is nature related and why senryu is written about the human condition.
HAIKU IN ENGLISH: Traditional Haiku in English is written in three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the last line: 5/7/5, for a total of seventeen syllables written in the present tense.
SENRYU IN ENGLISH: Traditional 5/7/5, Current 3/5/3, and Current 2/3/2 syllable structure. A Senryu is written about love, humor, a personal event, and should have irony present.
What makes a good haiku? It must have juxtaposition present. Let’s take one of my poems from last week to illustrate:
nymphs tied to tree homes... souls married, inter-wreathed as one— love blossoms in spring
The way I check for juxtaposition is to see if I’ve compared and/or contrasted the elements of my poem. I talk about the nymphs tied to their trees, their souls married and inter-wreathed as one being. That is because the tree and the spirit are connected-one in the same within the tree. My pivot is the last line where I share that love blossoms in spring. (And yes, love is something you would talk about more in a senryu) Good catch!
First, I take the first line and second line and combine them:
nymphs tied to tree homes, souls married, inter-wreathed as one
Next, I take the second line and the third line and combine them:
souls married, inter-wreathed as one, love blossoms in spring
Now the meaning has changed with a more human approach to marriage and how love often blooms in spring. This technique helps the poet see if the paired entities are similar or different. The two parts of the haiku resonate with one another to produce a new meaning. The last line or pivot should make your poem memorable.
This combining of lines works with the 5-7-5 form, but not always with the shorter forms. I’ve been able to use this technique most of the time with the shorter forms. Experiment!
I’ve compared the symbiotic relationship between the dryad and the tree to love blooming in spring. But I’ve also compared souls married and inter-wreathed as one to love blooming in spring.
Did you ever wonder when to use ellipses (…)? Use ellipses when you are moving toward a point.
How about an em dash (—)? Use an em dash when you are moving away from the common point.
We use the above punctuation to create our cutting word, or kireji, which is a concept in Japanese Haiku, but not in English Haiku. Instead we use gaps, line breaks and basic punctuation to do the ‘cutting’ work. That’s why we use ellipses and the em dash.
The New Zealand Poetry Society shares the Power of Juxtaposition. #Recommended READ
One of my favorite senryu poets (he calls them “Screw You Haiku”) is Michael, from the Afterwards Blog. He understands this form so well. Check out this senryu poem HERE. He writes some pretty funny limericks, too!
Here is a senryu I wrote a few weeks ago:
still waters warming— I turn, craving your caress your snores wake the dead
You can combine the lines in this senryu the same as we did in the haiku above.
still waters warming—I turn, craving your caress
I turn, craving your caress, your snores wake the dead
This poem is filled with sexual innuendo and humor. The irony is apparent: one spouse wants to have sex while the other is snoring and still asleep. It figures… right? See how “human” this moment is?
Have fun with these forms. I can’t wait to see what you create.
This site even has a link so you can install the extension on Google Chrome.
For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.
Find out how many syllables each word has. I use this site to compose my poems. Click on the “Workshop” tab, then cut and paste your poetry into the box. Click the Count Syllables button on the button. This site does the hard work for you.
Follow the monthly schedule listed below:
On April 1st, we kick off National Poetry Month. One of my goals for this year is to write a haiku poem a day on colleenchesebro.com. I hope you will join me. Look for my April 1st post.
Category: Tanka Tuesday Poetry ChallengesTags: Afterwords Blog, cutting word, ellipses, em dash, haiku, Haiku in English, Haiku vs. Senryu, humor, implied metaphor, irony, kigo, kireji, Senryu, Senryu in English, Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenges
“What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come together, you’re a poet.”
Click: What is a Rhyme Scheme?
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Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, shadorma, Badger’s hexastich, Abhanga, and diatelle poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems,” and in various other online publications. She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly 99-word flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com, an online writing community. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen has published a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020” published by Plaisted Publishing House. Colleen Chesebro’s poetry blog is called Word Craft – Prose & Poetry at https://wordcraftpoetry.com/ Her author blog is found at https://colleenchesebro.com where you will find her poetry and short stories.