Welcome! New links added daily! Check out the NEW main menu item: Poetry Book Publishing Links to find poetry book publishing links, including links to literary journals and poetry magazines accepting submissions of poetry. If you know of a link to add to this list, let me know by email to tankatuesdaypoetry@gmail.com. ❤

It’s the FIFTH week of the month! Are you ready to work on a specific form?

Let’s talk HAIKU and SENRYU

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.

  • Haiku do not rhyme, nor do they contain metaphors and similes. The use of an implied metaphor is acceptable.
  • The current standards for creating Haiku in English suggest a form with three lines and syllables of 3/5/3 (11 syllables). Even the more abbreviated haiku version with three lines and syllables of 2/3/2 (7 syllables) is now thought of more favorably than the traditional 5/7/5 format.
  • Most haiku are written about nature, the seasons, a beautiful moment in nature, an emotional experience while in nature, or change. A haiku should share a special moment of awareness with the reader.
  • There is often a seasonal word used to explain the time of year, called a kigo, which is a seasonal description, such as: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and New Year’s. There should only be one kigo per haiku. It’s up to the poet to decide if they want to include a kigo in their poem.
  • Most haiku do not contain titles.
  • The use of punctuation is optional in the creation of the haiku.
  • Three or more haiku written together are considered a series or sequence.

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.

  • Traditional Senryu 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 do not rhyme, nor do they contain metaphors and similes.
  • The current standards for creating Senryu in English suggest a form with three lines and syllables of 3/5/3 (11 syllables). Even the more abbreviated senryu version with three lines and syllables of 2/3/2 (7 syllables) is now thought of more favorably than the traditional 5/7/5 format.
  • A senryu is written about love, human foibles relating to a personal event, and should have an element of irony present somewhere in the form.
  • Senryu focus on the awkward moments in life making the human, not the world around them, the subject of their creative endeavor. Senryu poetry deals with the human condition: focusing on sexual matters, family relations, religion, politics, and anything that touches on the pain we experience through sorrow, prejudice, oppression, anger, and frustration.
  • Humor and sarcasm are two of the most favorable elements in a senryu.
  • Use precise, simple language and be direct and explicit in your word choice.
  • Senryu are blunt and do not deal in sentimentality.
  • Three or more senryu written together are a series or sequence.

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.

For this poetry challenge, you can write a haiku and/or senryu on any subject you choose.

Here are some sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables


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.

I don't get it


  • Write a poem using a form of your choice using haiku or senryu on any subject. Follow the rules of each form.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Include a link back to the challenge in your post. (copy the Https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Copy your link into the Mr. Linky below (underlined with a hyperlink).
  • Please click the small checkbox on Mr. Linky about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.

The screenshot below shows what Mr. Linky looks like inside. Add your name, and the URL of your post. Click the box about the privacy policy (It’s blue). As everyone adds their links to Mr. Linky, you can view the other submissions by clicking on the Mr. Linky link on the challenge post. All the links will show in the order of posting.

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.

Now, have fun and write some poetry!


    1. Great! I love the Japanese forms for the discipline we use when writing them. The juxtaposition is the most important issue in haiku. For senryu it’s irony. They are so much more than seventeen syllables. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I always write in my own docs and then copy and paste so I have my own copy of posts. Another gal I knew lost all her stuff when WP did something (well another something…) that eliminated all of her posts. Not sure what Open Live Writer is. Copy and paste works (except for the stupid extra line spaces (again). I haven’t figured out how to get my ‘links’ the way I like them or even to add photos…yet.

        I wish WP would just let us have options. Not everyone has to work in the same mode. I might, when you have time – ask for detailed assistance…

        WP took away all the Dashboard options I liked. And I just don’t trust what I don’t know… like plugins.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I saw that the cost can be from (they say…) $36 to $300 per, but only for the first year and who knows what after that.

            I guess this ‘old dog’ (Me) is going to have to learn some new tricks. I appreciate all the help I can get. I was ‘sent’ a way to get to the old Dashboard, but I think that was only for ‘paid’ sites.

            I get it WP is a business and maybe the adds on the free sites just weren’t enough to keep the home fires burning. But choices would have been nice for the old farts (like me) who don’t like change.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Great. Just think of each block as a paragraph of data. Either it’s a paragraph, an image, verse (which gives it to you single spaced), or some other kind of data. Hit enter to go down a block. To add a block hit shift/command/T. I use the command , shift/control/option to delete a block. That’s about all of the commands I use. ❤

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I really should add a form on there that is just 17 syllables without it being a haiku or senryu. Many poets don’t want to write the form according to the Japanese rules. However, if they want to submit their poetry to journals, etc. they need to learn the rules. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well I seem to get these two mixed up so much of the time. I write a poem today. I tagged it as haiku, changed to senryu then back to haiku and published. Now I’m back to thinking senryu. Argh. It’s senryu, because it’s not emotion happening in nature… 🤦🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haiku is always about nature. Senryu is always about the human’s response to the world around them. I said earlier that we should have a seventeen syllable form that doesn’t follow the Japanese rules. Allan Ginsberg called it the American sentence. Seventeen syllables written in the form of a sentence… but for me it misses the point of the form.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Great post, Colleen. I always make a point of saying I’m writing “modified” haiku or writing “haiku-ish poems”. 🙂 Just because we use the 5-7-5 doesn’t make it haiku. (I didn’t know about the 3/5/3. Interesting.) I’m actually probably writing more senryu than haiku but still need to work on that pivot and juxtaposition if I want to call it real. I’ve seen your description of haiku and senryu in other posts but this is much more in-depth. Thanks for sharing. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so welcome, Sarah. The shorter syllable forms are much closer to “true” haiku and senryu. The Japanese don’t use syllables, they use sounds, so that is where the confusion came in with the 5-7-5. I know most journals will not accept haiku or senryu in 5-7-5. But I like the longer form to learn from. Many journals also ask for haiku but it’s really a mixed haiku/senryu so that gets confusing as well. Allen Ginsberg came up with a 17-syllable form he called the American Sentence. He thought we spent too much time worrying about form and not our choice of words. LOL! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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