Senryū is a form with 3 or more lines following the short-long-short, (s-l-s) 3-5-3, 2-3-2, (5-7-5 traditional) approximately twelve syllables.

Senryu do not rhyme, nor do they contain metaphors and similes. This form does not contain a title.

Senryu is written about love, human foibles relating to a personal event, and should have an element of irony present somewhere in the form. In other words, we want to convey a sense of what it’s like to be a human.

Senryu focus on the awkward moments in life making the human, not the world around them, the focus of the poem.

Senryu poetry deals with the human condition, so focus 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. But not always… think in tone. What is the tone of your senryu? 

Please read more about haiku/senryu here: https://www.graceguts.com/essays/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-haiku-and-senryu-but-were-too-busy-writing-to-ask

One of best articles written about senryu is from the above link.

“Some people think of haiku as focusing on nature, with senryu focusing on people, but this is misleading. Many haiku by the Japanese masters also focus on people (think of Buson’s poem about stepping on his dead wife’s comb), so having human content is not a distinguishing factor. Furthermore, haiku is actually a seasonal poem, not strictly a nature poem (many of the kigo that haiku aim at are in fact not nature-related), although nature often comes along for the ride. Instead, it is usually tone that differentiates haiku and senryu.”

Graceguts: https://www.graceguts.com/essays/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-haiku-and-senryu-but-were-too-busy-writing-to-ask

The most important distinction between haiku and senryu is the tone of your poem. Think of it this way:

Haiku desires to create a feeling, while senryu wants to make a point.

Senryū Examples:

Prune Juice-Journal of English Senryu & Related Forms: Senryu & Kyoka

Writer’s Digest: Senryu: Poetic Forms

WordWool.com: Senryu (Examples and tips at the bottom of the post)

PoetsCollective.com: Senryu


I’ll update this post with links to other sources as my research continues.

17 thoughts on “Senryū or Senryu

    1. That’s a valid question. I make “connections” when I read senryu, which is different from “feelings.” Of course, this is only my opinion. Haiku is seasonal poetry written to share an observation that creates a feeling in the reader. When you look at the history of senryu, this form was written as a glimpse into the nature of man. Senryu were mostly humorous vs. haiku which were serious. Humor is a feeling, so maybe Graceguts’ comment didn’t choose the right word. The distinction between the forms is the tone of senryu will be snarky, humorous, or show the pain of the human condition. If the rules of haiku or senryu deter you, write micro-poetry, if that is more comfortable. 💛

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    1. You’re welcome. The more research I do, the more I learn as well. I didn’t know it was the “tone” of the senryu that gives it a distinction from haiku which has the cutting work and seasonal reference. Interesting stuff.

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  1. This is wonderful information Colleen.. thank you! Writing a poem has always been like a river overflowing for me but to know that structures exist that flow like a Japanese painting, it’s intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

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