Haiku and Senryu

Haiku (俳句) is a brief genre of poetry that typically presents a moment of perception, often with a seasonal reference (kigo, or season word: 季語) and a two-part juxtapositional structure (equivalent to using a kireji, or cutting word: 切れ字) that conveys or implies an emotion through primarily objective sensory imagery. Haiku’s kissing cousin is senryu (川柳), more accurately presented in English as senryū, with a macron—although I agree with Makoto Ueda in Light Verse from the Floating World who omits the macron because he expects the word to be “completely anglicized in the near future.” Senryu is similar to haiku except that it tends to be more satirical or ironic in tone, and does not need to include a season word or two-part structure (although some senryu may still include these elements yet still be considered as senryu). Some people think of haiku as focusing on nature, with senryu focusing on people, but this is misleading. The fact is that many haiku by the Japanese masters also focus on people, 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. Haiku tend to celebrate their subjects (even if dark), whereas senryu tend to have a “victim,” and may or may not be humourous. Haiku typically treat their subjects reverently, whereas senryu do so irreverently. Where haiku might be said to inflate their subjects, senryu tend to deflate them. Stephen Addiss has said that senryu is an equalizer, while haiku is a harmonizer. Indeed, haiku try to make a feeling, and senryu try to make a point. In other words, if haiku is in your heart, senryu is sometimes in your face. And if haiku is a finger pointing to the moon, senryu is often a finger poking you in the ribs.

        More than 4,000 of my haiku and senryu have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, and have been translated into at least twenty-two languages (most recently Turkish, Swahili, and Punjabi). This page presents selections of these poems. For additional poems, click the links on the Books and Trifolds pages, and see also Sequences and Collaborations. See also “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Haiku and Senryu But Were Too Busy Writing to Ask” and “Notes on Japanese Forms.” Enjoy!


If you have any comments or questions, please contact Michael Dylan Welch.

★ = most recommended (start with these selections)

Recent Additions (with dates added)

Poems in Anthologies

    From Carpe Diem (Ottawa: Les Éditions David / Nepean, Ontario: Borealis Press, 2008) (four poems)

    From Countless Leaves (three tanka)

    From Faces and Places (Burbank, California: The Little Buddha Press, 2019) (10 poems)

From Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go (Foster City, California: Press Here, 1993) (31 poems)

    From The Gifts of Bashō (Gifu, Japan: Haiku Pacific Rim, 2004) (three poems)

    From The Gulf Within (San Francisco: Two Autumns Press, 1991) (four war poems)

    From Global Haiku (Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press, 2000) (10 poems)

From The Haiku Anthology (New York: Norton, 1999) (20 poems)

    From The Haiku Anthology, in Russian (New York: Norton, 1999) (three poems, with Russian translations)

    From Haiku Friends, Volume 2 (Osaka, Japan: Umeda Printing Factory, 2007)

    From Haiku Friends, Volume 3 (Osaka, Japan: Umeda Print 819, 2007)

From Haiku in English (New York: Norton, 2013) (six poems)

    From Haiku Meridians (Ploieşti, Români: Editura Premier, 2010) (five poems, with Romanian translations)

    From Haiku Moment (Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle, 1993) (six poems, with Russian translations)

    From Haïku Sans Frontières (Orléans, Ontario: Les Éditions David, 1998) (ten poems, with French translations)

    From Haiku World (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1996) (three poems)

    From HNA Conference Anthologies (1991–2019) (15 poems)

    From How to Haiku / Writing Haiku (2002, 2022) (three poems)

Jacar Press Anthology of Best Living English-Language Haiku Writers (Durham, North Carolina: Jacar Press, 2013) (15 poems)

    From Jumble Box (Sammamish, Washington: Press Here, 2017) (14 poems)

    From Last Train Home (Vancouver, British Columbia: Pondhawk Press, 2021) (seven individual poems and one rengay)

    From Midwest Haiku Anthology (Decatur, Illinois: High/Coo Press, 1992) (four poems and a prose statement)

    From Montage (Winchester, Virginia: The Haiku Foundation, 2010) (seven poems)

    My Poems in Haiku Society of America Anthologies (30 poems, ongoing)

    From Naad Anunaad (India: Vishwakarma Publications, 2016) (five poems)

    From The New Haiku (Liverpool, U.K.: Snapshot Press, 2002) (six poems)

From Off the Beaten Track: A Year in Haiku (London, U.K.: Boatwhistle Books) (30 poems, with commentary)

    From Playing a Lullaby: Drevniok Award Winners (Ottawa, Ontario: Editions de petits nuages, 2012) (seven poems)

    From Raku Teapot Haiku (Alton Bay, New Hampshire: Raku Teapot Press, 2003) (six poems)

    From The Road: World Haiku (Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarian Haiku Club, 2004) (five poems, with Bulgarian translations)

    From The San Francisco Haiku Anthology (seven poems)

    From Senryu Therapy (Bucureşti, Români: Editura Societăţii Scriitorilor Români, 2012) (ten poems, with Romanian translations)

    From Shamrock Haiku Journal 2012–2018 (Dublin, Ireland: Shamrock Haiku Journal, 2018)  (seven poems)

    From Shiki Haikusphere (Matsuyama, Japan: Prinart / Okada Printing Co., 2007) (ten poems, with Japanese translations)

    From The Sleepless Planet / 眠れない星 (Tokyo: Shichigatsu-do, 2018) (five poems, with Japanese translations)

Other Featured Haiku and Senryu

    The 4th Basho-an International English Haiku Competition (two haiku)

    12 neon buddhas (12 neon buddha poems)

    3Lights feature (28 neon buddha poems)

    An Alphabet of Haiku (56 poems)

    ant ant ant ant ant (four poems)

    August Postcard Poetry Fest (30 haiku, tanka, and other poems)

Atlantic Monthly Senryu Contest (19 of my poems, plus commentary on the winning poems I judged)

    Avonlea (17 poems)

    Bird Haiku (40 poems)

    Blips (19 short poems)

    Butterfly Dream Featured Poet (four poems, with Chinese translations)

    Carpe Diem Haiku Kai (five poems)

Cascadia Haiku (20 poems)

    Christmasku (ten poems)

    Daily Haiku featured poet (seven neon buddha poems)

    Daily Haiku (click through seven poems, starting with this first one)

    Dense Fog (one poem, with a photographic interpretation)

    Featured Poet [a short autobiographical sketch and six poems]

First Snow / 初雪 (12 of my most widely published poems, with Japanese translations)

Five Seasons (20 poems)

    f/k/a Blog (index to my haiku and senryu appearing on this blog as guest poet)

    Food Haiku (24 poems)

    forty neon buddhas (40 neon buddha poems)       +

    Haiku Bookmark (five poems)

    Haiku Forum Haiku (10+ poems)

    Haiku Foundation “Troutswirl” Blog Featured Poem (one poem, with commentary)

A Haiku Handful (18 poems)          +

    Haiku in Chinese (ten poems)

    Haiku in Punjabi (15 poems)

    Haiku in Swahili (five poems)

    Haiku Ireland Featured Guest Poet (20 poems)          +

Haiku Journey Poems (12 poems)

    Haiku News (five poems)

    Haiku on Buses 2007 (one haiku, on a bus placard)

    Haiku on Buses 2014 (one haiku, on a bus placard)

Haiku Society of America Award Winners (nine poems)

Holiday Haiku (30 poems, with a video)

    Kazooku (four previously undiscovered classics by the haiku masters)

Mann Library Daily Haiku (31 poems)

    Matrix Haiku (13 poems)

    Memorial Haiku (ongoing)

    The Mended Shōji (26 poems, about Japan)

    Moonku (23 poems)

    More Northwest Plants and Flowers (19 poems)

    Morning Haiku (12 poems)

    Music and Sound Haiku (92 poems)

    My Neighbor (12 poems)

My Poems in The Heron’s Nest (50+ poems, ongoing)

    My Poems in Wales Haiku Journal (15 poems, ongoing)

My Poems in Woodnotes (53 poems)

    NaHaiWriMo 2011—Selected Poems (14 poems)  [see also essay and interview]

    NeverEnding Story (ongoing)

    Northwest Plants and Flowers (23 poems) 

Open Window (Decatur, Illinois: Brooks Books, 2000) (39 poems, with photographs)

Parodies, Homages, Allusions (14 poems)

    Poetry That Heals (eight poems, with commentary)

    Pop Fly (12 baseball haiku)

    pwoermds (19 poems)

    Sammamish Haiku (20 poems)

    Sand Hill Review (nine poems, plus two longer poems)

    Scattered Petals (one video poem; turn on the sound by hovering over the top-left corner)

Seasoning (13 poems)

    Selected One-Liners (30 poems)

Separation (17 poems)

    A Sprig of Spring: Haiku and Tanka (39 haiku and 7 tanka)

    Tarnished Silver (one poem, with a photographic interpretation)

    Terebess Asia Online (101 poems)

    Text-ku (13 poems)

    Things with Wings (14 poems)

Thornewood Poems (Foster City, California: Press Here, 1994) (41 poems)

    Three Haiku from Chrysanthemum (three poems, with German translation)

    Tinywords (ongoing)

    Toilet Brush Poems (nine poems, with Russian translations)

    Traces of Snow (17 poems)

    Tulip Festival (one haiku presented in dozens of haiga interpretations)

    Tulip Festival Again (one haiku presented in dozens more haiga interpretations)

Twelve Weathergrams (12 haiku presented in weathergram haiga)

    [untitled] (Zen meditation; one poem)

    Upstate Dim Sum (guest poet; one poem here, more in print)

    Urban Haiku (51 poems)

    Washington Poetic Routes (5 poems; click the red dot where Sammamish is on the map)

    Wintering (seven poems)

    Yuki Teikei Haiku Society (10 poems)


    Haiku on Sticks (public installation)                                       +