Senryu Tsubame 川柳つばめ吟社: June

Nice poems…


an, there were many good poems as before and it was very hard to choose the best ones, but I tried anyway. For a group with with little or no experience in senryu, you continue to impress me, indeed. A reminder of the rankings: the best eight poems are chosen and given a rank. The rankings in Japanese are: 天 ten (heaven), 地 chi (earth), 人 jin (man) and 五客 gokyaku (five guests–honorable mentions). However, since there were so few submissions, I will limit the honorable mentions to three 三客. The following are this month’s ranking. The other poems are listed in order of receipt.

June’s topic was graduation and many of you focused on what graduation meant for you. In poetic terms, one could not ask for more, as there is nothing more personal as poetry. But there are certain rules to senryu, and as I have mentioned before, you should try to paint a picture of the moment, much like Normal Rockwell did with his Saturday Evening Post illustrations. Another point is to focus on the topic at hand. That doesn’t mean to use a word or two to reflect the topic. The essence of the poem must represent an aspect of the topic that can be understood by the typical reader.

Four years of my life
Handed to me by someone
I don’t even know.

by XanthochromeSum

First impression: Smooth Technical foul: None Poet’s Remark: Cut me some slack, I’m a mere freshman! Comments: Okay, freshman, for a first try this was very good. There were a few other poems that reflected your sentiment, and it is a good one–four years of you life, four years of hard (?) work represented on a piece of paper. But you also pointed out the irony of the moment: Being congratulated for all this hard work by the unknown person handing out the diploma. Not your teacher but perhaps a dean or some other school official who you probably have never met. But the most outstanding feature of you poem–that which separates you from the rest–is its utter fluidity, its natural rhythm–in the Japanese term, goro. The diction the line breaks are totally artless and easy to read. Well done, freshman.

Diploma in hand,
Under the gaze of parents,
Tears fall from their eyes.

by SammyStorm

First impression: Touching. Technical foul: None. Comments: A nice view from the otherside of the stage–although I suspect that Sammy is really too young to have first hand knowledge. Still, a nice moment in time when parents shed tears when they see their baby graduating. Of course, the tears could be shed for a number of reasons: joy at seeing success, sadness at seeing the child take another step toward independence, or relief that they will finally be able to afford that second honeymoon to Tahiti.

Tassle on the right
Good little Asian boy walks
Tassle on the left

by pallyatheart

First impression: That’s me! Technical foul: None. Comments: Oh, the GLOB–or in this case, GLAB–on stage, representing the image of many in mainstream society. The Good Little Oriental Boy, fulfilling expections by going to school and graduating. And the punctualilty of this model obedience is well portrayed by the oh so mundane act of flipping the tassle for the right side to the left. How absolutely boring, how completely inane, and how perfectly representing the image of the Good Little Oriental Boy.

Years of work condensed
On a single page diploma,
Don’t drop it.

by whonose

First impression: Nice focus. Technical foul: Jiamari (one too many syllables) in second line. Comments: Despite the techincal foul, the poem conveys the essence of the diploma: the representation of years of work. And the last line–Don’t drop it–underscores this. Not only does it describe the preciousness of this single sheet of paper, it also suggests the heaviness it represents: reams of paper for homework, research papers, and book reviews. This would have been in the top three if not for the jiamari.

Proud parents smiling,
Robed grads stride up, joyously:
School’s reign completed!

by SleepingCutie

First impression: Oh, joy! Technical foul: None. Poet’s remark: Blah. So hard to write within limitations. =) I like free verse better. hehe. Comments: Despite the limitations–and this is a good exercise in diction and the economy of words–you did a good job of capturing the moment of joy of graduation. Who hasn’t graduated and felt that special elation of having completed school successfully when striding up in robes. I know I did…

pomp and circumstance.
a new chapter will begin;
four years on paper.

by SweetLilV

First impression: Anticipation Technical foul: None Comments: This is a special look at graduation, and a bit contemplative, it would seem to me. Despite all the pomp and cricumstance of graduation, the student seems to be reflecting–perhaps in anticipation, maybe trepidation–on her future as she stares at the sheet of paper that represents the years she spent in college.

New degrees in hand,
We thought we would change the world…
How naive we were.

by SunJun

First impression: Retrospective. Technical foul: None Comments: As my first impression indicates, it seems alike a retrospective. The say how “naive” we were suggests the poet is looking back at his graduation. As with all senryu, the poem should reflect the essence of the topic by capturing a moment that reflets it, but I think this might be to far removed. Still a nice sentiment that many of us feel.

new chapter in life
world is our playground
future awaits you

by tim00

First impression: Abstract. Technical foul: Only five syllables in seconds line. Comments: Like SweetLilV’s poem, this suggests hope for the future. Unfortunately, I cannot see the “moment” that would relate this sentiment to graduation. This could easily be a poem of the birth of a new child, could it not? Stay focused on the topic and make sure there is a direct link to it in the poem.

waiting in a line
to receive a diploma
somebody farted.

by Grom

First impression: Dahahhaah! Technical foul: None. Comments: Certainly, a funny moment in time, particularly at such an important milestone in one’s life. But the poem, while hilarious does not reflect an essential aspect of the topic except for the word diploma. I could be picking up my diploma at the registrars office and experience the same thing. If only there was a way to relate it to the pomp and splendor of a graduation? An almost great poem….

Twilight Zone era
Piece of paper as a means
to race with the rats

by bane_vixen

First impression: Too complex. Technical foul: None. Poet’s remarks: Let me explain before you start ripping it apart in your ignorance (hehe). it’s just really whack (hence, Twilight Zone era) that we slave for four years for a piece of paper that basically legitimizes the rat race (for money) disguised as distinguished occupations. feh. what a nuisance. Comments: Yes, I know I’m ignorant, but still the Twilight Zone reference seems out of place. Is spending four years in college truly “whack”? I felt my college years were well spent in that it iproved me immensely and bettered my life by providing insights I might never have gained in my small little JA community. And yet, our point is well taken: It seems odd that a piece of paper “qualifies” you as one who can contribute to society–your rat race. Have you read anything by Bourdieu? His concept of “cultural capital” was actually a small part of my dissertation, the part that suggested that capital based on cultural values–such as a college degree–led the the development of “schools” of poetry. But then, I guess that would make me a hypocrite, for while I recognize the absurdity of representing one’s knowledge through a piece of paper, I myself use it to confirm my place in my small world of academia… Damn, I hate it when you make me think!

Leaving me behind
Read the books and get the grades
And I’ll move on too

by imahima

First impression: Hmmmm… Technical foul: None. Comments: This may reflect my ignorance–as the Vixen pointed out–but I had to think too hard to relate this poem to graduation, which defeats the point of senryu. It should be easy to understand. The poem takes the view from the person who hasn’t graduated, I think? Being left behind, but still determined to study and continue on as her predecessors. A nice sentiment, but if only it was a bit more straight forward. I think what made it more difficult was the lack of an actual image on a moment in time…

College is easy
Eight hour days in the office
New life? no, prison

by ikerton

First impression: Current dilemma. Technical foul: None. Poet’s remark: haha, j/k. you know, it’s tough to count the syllables in ‘hour.’ Comments: This to is a retrospective that looks back at life. Unfortunately, it makes reference to college life and not graduation per se. Further, the focus seems to be more on current life of working instead of on the topic. Still, nice try. I mean, who hasn’t thought of work as prison?

hear thy name called out
walk towards the lights and cheers
shake hands, bow and smile

by detachable

First impression: Straight-forward. Technical foul: None… well maybe “thy”. Poet’s remark: ugh. i never did graduate, but this is what i imagined it to be. Comments: As I pointed out as a technical foul, the word “thy” may seem a bit too antiquated. Senryu should be contemporary, a reflection of our lives, not Shakespear’s. But still a nice attempt at capturing the moment on stage when a diploma recipient revjoices at graduating.

forty-two degrees
thick gowns, wrong name on program
crap graduation

by silvermyst_ashke

First impression: Almost. Technical foul: None. Poet’s remarks: (celcius, my graduation was in summer) sorry I must have given you the wrong idea, I’m not buying a gown. and if you can make ANYTHING out in the pic, I’m the one in red. Comments: Actually, this was a pretty good poem that reflects the frustrations of some when things go wrong at a graduation. Was this Silvermyst’s personal experience? Maybe. The images are pure and very vivid which make for a good senryu normally. But perhaps you could have said something like “graduation in the sun”. Since most graduations are in the summer, readers would know that it’s hot. And avoid words like “crap”, not that it’s wrong to use words like that, but an expression of your feelings through images, like “head hung low”, would be more effective.

Walk across the stage.
Applause, caps fly in the air.
Proud families hug.

by wildkat03

First impression: Broad view. Technical foul: None. Poet’s remarks: Yeah, no so hot but I tried. Wish I could have worked “hangover” in there somewhere…I know that’s what my graduation involved! Comments: Actually, this is a nice representaiton of graduation. Unfortuanately, it is a collage of the entire graduation ceremony: walking across the stage, then the applause, then the caps in the air at the end of the ceremony, and families hugging after. The goal of senryu is to portray a single moment that captures the essence of the graduation. But good first try nonetheless.

You’re an art major.
Paint yourself a bright future.
Here’s your brown tassle.

by ddsb2000

First impression: Abstract art. Technical foul: None Poet’s remarks: It’s kind of in response to graduating from FSU and how I feel like the brown tassles they give art majors sorta represents the patronizing nature of the FSU art program. hehe go easy on petey Comments: Brown tassles? okay, the FSU art program may be patronizing, but unfortunately, no one would know this unless you gave your explanation. And the goal of senryu is to provide a verse that can be understood by most. But now that I do know what you meant to say, I like your juxtaposition of the boring brown tassle with the concept of an “art” major. Perhaps you should propse a different motorboard, maybe a beret? Or would that be even more facetious? Hehehehehe.

gracious acceptance
as they mispronounce my name.
proud flower lei hugs.

by msbLiSs

First impression: Almost! Technical foul: None. Comments: If only the last line were different. Did you get the flower lei as you recieved your diploma? If so, then that would be fine but that is not clear to me or to most readers, I would suspect. But the graciousness of the moment, despite the mispronounced name, is a wonderful image. Perhaps a simple “diploma in hand” or something like that would have been better. Still nice poem.


Despite my comments, I think everyone did a fine job in their own way of describing what graduation meant for them. Senryu is a great way of painting a picture of our current lives and society.

As judge, I too am required to make a submission. You guys want another senryu meeting?

A requirement
to graduate? List’ning to
Long-winded speeches

by onigiriman