Wow, I wasn’t sure if anyone would respond–guess I was wrong. But this is great. Okay, now remember this is a practice run, and any comment I make is not to be taken as criticism, but as commentary for your next composition. If you would like to submit a poem, feel free, but submit poems to YESTERDAY’s post. This is just for fun, and even though I may make remarks, it is JUST FOR FUN. Submissions will not affect your final grade. Haha! In the order received:
My heart leaps for joy,
When I hear the words ring out,
“It’s time for dinner”
Comments: Syllable count ok. A slice of everyday life is also good, especially for a first attempt with very little explanation. Everyone–ok, maybe moslty guys–leaps for joy when its time to eat. However, to mention this straightout is, in Japanese poetry, a bit too obvious. Next time try to convey the joy through an image that suggests joy to the regular reader. And not just a smiling face; that too would be obvious…
I type rapidly
expressing a thousand thoughts
for Xangans to read
Comments: Syllable count ok. And I know everyone here understands your sentiment–wanting to say so many thought (1000 of them) but ironically with little thought (type rapidly) is funny and rings true for us! But the typing is perhaps too long a moment. Capturing a moment–or instant–in time in images is often the key to an interesting senryu. Perhaps the moment you lose a long entry to cyberspace by pushing the wrong button–or more likely when Xanga experiences PMS.
My boss talks too much
My boss is extremely short
Comments: Syllable count ok. Very funny, I think–I could imagine a boss who is talkative and short, and such an image would convey a Napoleon! Avoid repetitions. My boss, My boss. there is so much more you could include without it. Also, the word short is redundant if you use the image of Napoleon. Indeed, you could have provided even more info with the middle sentence. How about, “tip-toes at the urinal”? Haha. J/k. But I think you get what I mean.
i tried to escape
but millions of germ droplets
were sneezed onto me
Comments: Syllable count ok. And the image is very good–catching a moment in time that everyone experiences. As in the others above, perhaps an image that suggests an attempt to escape, instead of the word itself, would have been more appropriate. Also, the last line sounds awkward. One gets the sense of a Japanese passive sentence translated into awkward English. But the overall kokoro (essence) is very good.
Fall from peaceful perch,
Virgin white cherry blossom,
Warriors accept death.
Comment: The last line “warriors accept death” has, strictly speaking, 6 syllables, but “warriors” is one of those words where pronunciation can be fudged. There is a term ji-amari that means a few too many characters, but it is acceptable at times if the flow of the word/line doesn’t sound excessive. The content is interesting–cherry blossoms are often used as symbols of a short life since they scatter after a few days after blooming. But this is often used and has become a fixed metaphor where I come from (field of Jap. Lit.). The term “peaceful perch” is a bit unusual. Is a cherry tree a peaceful place? It’s hard to make the association. The interesting aspect of this verse–and it truly is interesting–is the juxtaposition of “peaceful” and “warriors”, two seemingly contradicting images. This element of unexpectedness is often a strong point in senryu. Still, this poem, with its cherry image, smacks of haiku. Next time, try to reflect your own everyday life, and capture the moment.
woke up this morning
feeling dizzy from last night
too much tequila
Comment: Word count ok. The spirit of the poem is something most of us can appreciate; as you stated, “an ode to college students across the nation.” But if you can capture a moment in time that exemplifies the feelings you want to express, particualrly in images. Is there an image that you can conjure that would convey to the reader that you are dizzy? What do you see, or how do you see things when you are dizzy? What do others do that tell you that they might be dizzy?
turns head coughs, again
cold hands, shivers, cheeks red, tears
Comments: Syllable count ok, but the goro–the fluidity of sound, rhythm–is missing because of the structure. No subject, tenseless verb, list of nouns. Without your title, “A trip to the doctor”, the poem could mean anything, which is tantamount to meaning nothing–whose cold hands? Doctors? Who shivers? You? Doctor? Cheeks red? Whose ass? Haha! I think you can see what I mean. But the kokoro (essence) is fine, gong to a cold sterile doctor’s office is certainly uncomfortable. You just need to focus the poem.
Slamming the slot closed
I leave Blockbuster behind
at twelve-ten PM
Comment: Certainly not a masterpiece, but a bit better than the one yesterday. It tries to capture the moment when one feels the frustration of having to pay for an extra day when returning a rented video late by only a few minutes. But still need work.
FYI: I teach Jap. Lit. and my specialty is poetry, so I have analyzed a lot of poems in my day–albeit late classical/early medieval court poetry. Also, my dad (on the right around 30 years old; ca. 1942) has been a senryu judge for most of his life, and I have had to help him set up and clean up his poetry salons–he would never let me judge; I wasn’t good enough. You know how Asian dad’s are. Anyway, I have been doing this or have been around people doing this for over forty years. As in most J-poetry, the ability to make images speak for other things is key. Not simply as metaphors, but in intertextual ways–that is, in ways that ellicit connections / associations to other texts / contexts that are obvious but not necessarily fixed, as in metaphors. Senryu is no different. But perhaps the most important aspect of a senryu is to catch a moment in life. As my dad told me a million times, imagine it as a brilliant photo that seems to catch the perfect moment. Nothing posed, nothing random, but a moment when the people, their expressions, the milieu, the color (or b/w) convey a sense of place, of emotion, of being. It may not be a surprise, but my dad did senryu poetry as a hobby, his profession was photography.