“Senryu” is poetry that is structurally similar to haiku, but primarily concerned with human nature; it is often humorous or satiric. Senryu can be particularly enjoyable for lawyers and other city folk — who are frequently far more attuned to human foibles than to nature’s essence. See the senryu webpages compiled by Ray Rasmussen for several definitions and explanations, plus examples and relevant links.
Author/poet Jane Reichhold of Aha Poetry has noted: “Because haiku and senryu are written much alike, often on the same subjects and usually by the same authors, great controversies have ensued over which is what.” Anita Virgil has artfully stated the difference in her book “one potato, two potato” (Peaks Press, 1991): “… if it is man within the world, it is haiku. If it is the world within the man, it is senryu.”
Some distinguished haiku publications continue to differentiate between haiku and senryu; others no longer do. Also, check out “Haiku or Senryu? How to Tell the Difference,” by Elizabeth St. Jacques.
“. . . It portrays the characteristics of human beings and psychology of the human mind. Even when senryu depict living things such as animals, insects, and plant life, or when they depict inanimate objects, they are portrayed with the emphasis on their human attributes.
“The senryu can make use of poetic devices such as simile, personification, and metaphor. It can also employ puns, parody and satire. . . . Senryu are not all strictly intended to be humorous. Many senryu express the misfortunes, the hardships and woe of humanity.”update (May 2005) : See our “is it or ain’t it haiku?” to learn more about thehaiku genre and how it differs from senryu and various forms of “quasi-haiku”.
asks for another
alone at lastI wonder whereeveryone is(Brooks Books, 2000)