Jump to content
Poetry Magnum Opus
  • Announcements

    • tonyv

      Registration -- to join PMO ***UPDATED INSTRUCTIONS***   03/14/2017

      Automatic registration has been disabled. If you would like to join the Poetry Magnum Opus online community, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page and follow these instructions: 1. Check your email (including your spam folder) in a timely fashion for a reply. 2. After you receive a reply, use the "Sign Up" link at the top right corner of the page to create your account. Do this fast. I've lost my patience with people who use the "Contact Us" link to express interest in joining and then don't bother to check their email for a reply and don't bother to join after registration has been enabled. The queue fills up fast with spammers, and I have to spend my time sifting through the rubbish to delete them. The window of opportunity for joining will be short. I will not have my time wasted. If you don't check your email and you don't bother registering promptly, you will find that registration has been disabled and your future requests to join may go ignored. /s/ Tony ___________________ [Registration will only be enabled for a short while from the time your message is received, so please check your email for a reply and register within 12 hours of using the "Contact Us" link. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don't see a reply to your message.)]
    • tonyv

      IMPORTANT: re Logging In to PMO ***Attention Members***   03/15/2017

      For security purposes, please use your email address when logging in to the site. This will prevent your account from being locked when malicious users try to log in to your account using your publicly visible display name. If you are unable to log in, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page.
    • tonyv

      Blogs   05/01/2017

      Blogs are now accessible to Guests. Guests may read and reply to blog entries. We'll see how this works out. If Guest participation becomes troublesome, I'll disable Guest access. Members are encouraged to make use of the PMO Members' Promotional Blog to promote their published works. Simply add your latest entry to the blog. Include relevant information (your name or screen name, poem title, periodical name, hyperlink to the site where published, etc). If you have a lot of them and feel you need your own blog, let me know, and I will try to accommodate you. Members are encouraged to continue also posting their promotional topics in the Promotions forum on the board itself which is better suited for archiving promotions.
Sign in to follow this  

Senryu and Zappai

Recommended Posts

Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Japanese Verse

Senryu is a Japanese syllabic verse that deals primarily with human nature and is often expressed through humor. It developed in the 18th century and is named after Karai Hachiemon, pen name Karai Senryu, who was a haijin (writer of haiku) and judge of comic verse contests. Senryu were originally poems of the merchant class and often made fun of corrupt officials and professionals.

The official's child---
How well he learns to open
and close his fist!

The focus of the modern Senryu can be just about anything as long as it has a human or humorous slant. Senryus are lively, often humorous and sometimes even vulgar.

The main characteristics of the Senryu are energy or liveliness in the focus and choice of words, humor as revealed in human nature and use of subjects such as relationships, family, professions, children and pets. It is written in the same frame as the haiku, 17 syllables or less, 2 units of imagary and 1 unit of enlightenment.

So if you are wondering if a 3 line, 17 syllable poem is Haiku or Senryu, you can pretty much place the serious poem in the Haiku column and the more human, humorous poems as the Senryu. (but there are humorous Haiku and serious Senryu, go figure..)

The elements of the Senryu are:

  1. a poem in 3 lines or less.
  2. syllabic, 17 syllables or less.
  3. commonly written in 3 lines but can be written in 2 lines and can be written with fewer syllables, never more.
    • L1 5 syllables describes image.
    • L2 7 syllables, adds conflicting image or expands first image
    • L3 5 syllables provides insight (the ah ha! moment)through a juxtaposed image.
  4. written as a natural human experience in language that is simple, humorous, sometimes bawdy or vulgar.
  5. presented with an energy or liveliness in the focus and choice of words
  6. often humorous
  7. written in the moment.
  8. an imagist poem (draws the humor from the image)
  9. untitled but can be #ed.

Some of my own senryu: ---Judi Van Gorder

small child ignores call,
parent warns and begins count,                              
"Daddy, don't say fwee."


some roads meander
others flat out ask for speed                         
don't forget your map


fire ignites within,
flame mushrooms to the surface
autumn days


pelican's head bobs
beak bulging with trigger fish,
shore's stand-up comic


dial swings to eighty
and road ahead zips behind ---
siren sounds


militant peace march
anti-war protestors brawl
an oxymoron



Zappai is a silly senryu. I read this in a newletter at Writing.com. It didn't give a source and I've yet to research further but I wanted this included here. Basically, this form is written just to have fun. Other than adhering to the small frame of 17 syllables or less, no other rules apply. Instead of an Ah-ha moment it should have a Ha-ha moment.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.