red apples glow on the branch
ravens feast - no blood
Night sea, dark water
On night's surface sea
Haiku and senryu have the same form - a syllable count of 5-7-5. So what makes something a senryu instead of a haiku? The strict view of haiku is that they must:
use direct language literally describing something seen--no similes, no metaphors, no other 'figures of speech'
contain (usually in the first line) an indication of the season or time, an actor, and an action
no personifications - animals thinking human thoughts or talking, that sort of thing
make the reader suck in his breath because something about the "sight" is so beautiful or so poignant or so profound that it clutches his heart. (This is certainly the hardest bit - the "leap to God" - and often missed! )
A senryu, as far as I understand, means that it doesn't follow those rules but is still the 5-7-5 form. Senryu may also be funny or sarcastic, rather than making that "leap to God." There may be more to them, but this is what I remember! I'd have liked to have put a senryu or two here, but I seem to have mislaid all mine and not be able to think of any just now. Doubtless, I shall be back with some another day.
The most I can tell you about tanka is that they have, like haiku and senryu, a 5-7-5 syllable count - and then they have an additional two lines of 7 syllables each. Doubtless there are other rules as well, but I don't know what they are, and I haven't been able to find anyone to tell me. So I just make up my own, which basically is not to have any. This seems like cheating, and probably is.
The mirror is large -
Be still. Breathe on it. It clouds.
Among falling leaves,
He dodges what cannot hurt,
In the summer sky,
Conflagrations will begin
Copyright © 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.