Friday, August 07, 2015

Poetry Seven Write Classified Ad-Haiku

Last month I believed that writing in the style of e.e. cummings was our hardest challenge. I take it back. THIS was the hardest challenge. Sometimes I find shorter forms more difficult than longer ones, and we've written to some challenging forms this year, including villanelles, sestins, raccontinos, and pantoums. So really, you'd think haiku would be a piece of cake.

But honestly, I think haiku are really hard to write. Seems ridiculous, doesn't it? But if you follow the rules (and there are lots of them), writing haiku in the spirit intended requires patience, a keen eye, and skill. Here is the formal definition of haiku and some notes about the form provided by the Haiku Society of America.
haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. 
Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest, though today's poets use a variety of line lengths and arrangements. In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen "sounds" (on) arranged five, seven, and five. (Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about twelve syllables in English approximates the duration of seventeen Japanese on.) Traditional Japanese haiku include a "season word" (kigo), a word or phrase that helps identify the season of the experience recorded in the poem, and a "cutting word" (kireji), a sort of spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem. In English, season words are sometimes omitted, but the original focus on experience captured in clear images continues. The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas (Japanese rensô). Punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break may substitute for a cutting word. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. (Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently. 
See, that's a lot to keep in mind for such a short poem. Perhaps that's why great haiku pack such a punch.

Never a group to do things the easy way, we added to the challenge of writing haiku by requiring that we use the form to write classified ads. And what a challenge it was! I wrote numerous pieces, most of which fell into the category of senryu.

Senryu is a Japanese poetic form similar in structure to haiku. Instead of focusing on nature and the essence of a particular moment as haiku do, senryu are concerned with human nature, political issues, and satire. While one is usually quite serious, the other is more playful. 

Here is how the Haiku Society of America defines senryu.
A senryu is a poem, structurally similar to haiku, that highlights the foibles of human nature, usually in a humorous or satiric way.
The 13th Floor Paradigm has this nice bit of history and other information on senryu.
The Senryu came into existence as an independent genre in the Edo Period (1718-1790). It is often satirical, ironical, irreverent, mundane, cynical and is about human nature, therefore about human foibles including the erotic.  It has the same form of the Haiku, but doesn’t use a seasonal word (kigo) and it doesn’t have a cutting word (keiriji)  (in reality, in English we have no direct equivalents to the keiriji, so we use what’s called a cutting phrase.) 
It would be wrong to think that Senryu is always humorous.  In fact, a Senryu could talk about divorce, sex, murder, war, jealousy, cruelty…in a word every day-to-day events in human society.
Alright, it's time to set this rambling introduction aside. I'm generally on the ball with these challenges, but this time around I wrote just over 20 poems in one day -- YESTERDAY! Here are my 3 favorite drafts.

Seasonal workers
needed - Wear boots, bring shovels
Buffalo in May


Seeking teen to teach
hip old guy to surf, tweet, blog …
once the damn thing's on


Kicka$$ girl seeks boy
for whirlwind romance, mating—
head loss optional

Okay, I've added one more, this written last night. I really wanted a poem that started with "Desperately seeking." Here's what I scribbled in the wee hours in the notebook I keep by my bed.

Desperately seeking
susans - my favorite daisy
sunshine on a stem

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends! 


  1. Thank you for the poems and resources this week!

  2. It's not schadenfreude, I promise, but it makes me smile to think of you going to bat myriad times on this one, too. WHY is it that the ones we think will be a cakewalk are the ones we trip on, and end up covered in frosting??? (That's what you get for walking on cake, I guess.)

    Your mantis poem made me laugh out loud. Head loss is NEVER optional, with a really GOOD romance...

    1. I thought about ending with "join me for dinner," "followed by dinner," and a few others, but none of them rang true for me. So nerd that I am did some quick research on mantids, and apparently they don't always eat their man after. Though a number of scientists said the males to leave pretty quickly!

      And yes, this was no cakewalk. Is it wrong to say I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggled?

  3. Oh, these are wonderful! I like them all for different reasons. The first one made me chuckle. The second reminded me of my dad--oh, lord! And the third made me snort my tea. And then that last lovely and calming. I love the turn of mood from first line to third.

    1. I was thinking of my mother-in-law when I wrote the technology poem. I'll admit that at times I feel a bit inept and I'm pretty good with a computer. My son's skills have already surpassed mine.

      I may complain a good bit about the difficulty of these monthly prompts, but I am enjoying them.

  4. I snorted at your tech poem---so true. Once, I watched a poor senior citizen get harangued on a plane for not turning off her iPad, and I was pretty sure it was because she didn't know HOW. Your last one is lovely, lovely, lovely. Late night poetry is the best!

    1. As soon as you suggested classifieds, I couldn't get the movie Desperately Seeking Susan out of my head. And I really wanted to use those words in a poem.

      I'm constantly amazed that while we share form and sometimes theme, we all move in such different directions. It's really quite lovely. Every time we post I'm overjoyed again and so happy we are doing this.

  5. "once the damn thing's on" HA! perfect voice and image. I love that one best. 'Buffalo in May' gives me shivers too. It's cool that you were still writing them last night. They get to you, don't they?

  6. And, thanks for your writing about the form. Great background! I linked to it, being lazy myself. ;)

  7. Some of us "senior citizens" are pretty hip with with technology--sorta!

    Writing classified ad haiku was a great idea. I'm going to have to attempt writing a few myself.

  8. The "hip old guy" and "susans" both were home runs in my eyes, Tricia.

  9. 20 in one day is pretty impressive, Tricia. Haiku are like jelly beans. Small bites in all different flavors that are addicting once you start. Well done!

    1. John, 20 isn't very impressive when most of them are junk! At least I had a few drafts I felt good about sharing.

  10. "head loss optional" LOLOL!

    Loved these. And I agree that these weren't easy!

  11. How about these (like eating snacks, can't stop!)

    Want Ads for Writers

    Want: An Emily,
    Poetry and cakes a must.
    White dress optional.

    Need: One Hemingway,
    Gruff, bearded, Cuban retreat.
    Have the bull ready.

    Need an island man.
    Already have tolling bell.
    Looking for a John.

    1. I love these, Jane. I think the last one might be my favorite. I tried mightily to write ads related to children's books, but none of them worked.


    2. Tricia--will thee do?

      Wanted: a good ship
      That can sail in/out of weeks,
      Looking for monsters.

      Need a rabbit watch,
      And a rabbit hole to match.
      No McGregors, please.

      Need replacement house,
      Mine damaged in a witch fall.
      Lost my black dog, too.

      ©2015 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

    3. Yes! That was exactly what I was thinking. May I have your brain please? (Just for a few days. I promise to give it back.)

  12. The first one made me snort with laughter, but I think you really nailed the one you wrote when half-awake -- LOVE the daisies!!

    1. Only the northerners have appreciated that first poem! Thanks for the love for the black-eyed susan poem. I like it too!

    Seeking vegan wife:
    Godless, passionate, loyal –
    Cooking skills … a plus.

    Desperately seeking
    Blue skies, no cloudy outlooks,
    Send references, please.

    (c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

    1. Nice, Charles! So glad you played along.