Senryu—much of it, at least—is a poetry of laughter. This kissin’ cousin to haiku points a crooked finger at lighter sides of life and hollers “Look at this!” The humour may be achieved through puns, irony, or the truth of reality freshly revealed. And while the reader’s emotional reaction may be a quick nod, a knowing smile, or an outright belly laugh, the response to successful senryu is uniformly spontaneous. The value of senryu is clear—they show us ourselves. And like fig newton cookies, they’re irresistible.
Most of the senryu here succeed through wry observation and surprise. Notice Garry Gay’s comedic pause created by an ellipsis, as if setting up a punch line. And watch for irony in vincent’s poems, satire in Laura’s verses, and the use of © and p symbols by Paul O. Williams and Christopher Herold. Some of the senryu succeed by making fun—of yuppies, technology, and other foibles. Good or bad, we see ourselves in these poems.
This book began as a collection of just my own senryu. Then, in conversation with the others in this book, it expanded to the anthology you now hold (light, I hope). The topics swing from baldness (page 4), through various occupations (pages 5 to 11), cars and trucks (pages 12 and 13), shopping (page 14), growing old (page 15), children (pages 22 to 24), relationships (pages 25 to 27), dogs (pages 28 and 29), and even senryu about haiku (page 30). In between you’ll find miscellaneous and experimental poems, and one or two about frogs of mimes or Big-Bird bandaids. For the moment, distinctions between haiku and senryu are not important; if just one poem makes you chuckle, then this book has met its goal.
While not all senryu are funny, I chose most of the poems in this collection for their humour or wit. The six poets all live in the San Francisco area, and they are among the most experienced and talented senryu writers in the region. Several of their senryu have won awards. In this book they spin a few senryu stories, let their hair down (if they have any), and generally try to have a good time. I hope this book is like a day in the park among friends, sharing a few fig newtons—and senryu, to go.