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Analysis of Some WHR senryu: In search of greater understanding of the genre
By Ray Rasmussen

For over two years now, WHR Senryu Editor ST has selected senryu in the WHR Senryu section. In the WHR introduction to the senryu selections, ST writes the following: We started our “senryu” journey without any preconceptions or received definitions, except for two characteristics, (a) our genre are short in form, and (b) they are about humour.” … “Our expectations are that by writing an enormous amount of … “senryu” and discussing them, we may reach a new definition that will enable us to call the genre, without any hesitation, senryu. The following works are promising in this endeavour. [excerpts from Senryu Section, WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 1.

In the interest of securing a better definition of ‘senryu’ for myself, I’ve done the following analysis of some of ST’s selections which I’d like to share for discussion. Note that I’ve selected a subset of ST’s selections which had the following characteristics:
A. I thought I understood them
B. They appealed to my own sense of irony, humour, the human condition, etc.
I did not choose selections to analyze that I didn’t understand. I did not find all of ST’s selections humourous, which is to be expected, and did not select primarily on the basis on ‘humour’. I didn't classify about half of ST's selections.

I don’t mean to suggest that my analysis is correct or that these categories are mutually exclusive or that they’re exhaustive of the genre. They were what came to mind off the top. In some cases, I wanted to put one senryu into two or more categories.


1. Reflections/Observations of fickle or unusual or hypocritical or silliness of human behaviour

such a nice name
until Florida voted

Debra Woolard Bender
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 1

the famine hand-out queue
nobody asks
" traces of peanuts?"

Anna Tambour
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 1

while the booze flows,
every one loves
everyone else

Michael McClintock
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 1

doll house fair
a stall owner chases
children away

Maria Steyn
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

before the battle --
each side to its god
praying for victory

Nancy Stewart Smith
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

winter sales
buying clothes
that don't fit

Sue Mill
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

computer addict,
my husband talks all night
to the back of my head

D. W. Bender
WHR, Vol. 3, Issue

12. Word Play – using words in an unusual [and perhaps technically incorrect] way or using a circumstance in an usual way

First spring warmth;
suddenly neighbours
sprout in the gardens

Florence Vilen
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 1

Garden Society lady,
half a century ago
maybe a blushing rose

Florence Vilén
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

candles flicker--
watching him break the bread,
she spills the wine

Billie Wilson
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

Tribune building --
doves' droppings in
black and white

ito (Juanito Escareal)
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

January 2nd
all the office plants
gone limp

Linda Robeck
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 3

dinner alone
one grain of rice between me
and emptiness

Rob Scott
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 3

spring wedding
bulging bride
April fools

Nancy Stewart Smith
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 3

love letter--
she reads again the words
between the lines

Billie Wilson
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

six o'clock news
history repeats itself
at nine

Debra Woolard Bender
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

so politically correct
she hates all
the right people

Lynne A Steel
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 2

for computer viruses
he catches the flu

Deborah P. Kolodji
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 2

falling in love
winter's snowflakes
melt in seconds

Theolyn Brock
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 3

same-sex wedding--
both of my friends
wearing tuxedos

Michael Meyerhofer
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 3

3. Slapstick Humour Derived from Human Behaviour [Chaplinesque Humour] or strange situations

wishing well
a beggar falls over
reaching for quarters

Victor P. Gendrano
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

the preacher's message-

Christopher Patchel
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 3

doctors appointment
the artificial flowers
look sick

Carmel Lively
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 2

4. Uncharacteristic Behaviour of particular groups

psychiatrists' dinner
they all dance wildly with
the belly dancers

Bruce Ross
WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

this year --
the income tax man
stays for pot roast

WHR, Vol. 1, Issue 2

5. Inventive or Creative Fantasy or Clever Juxtaposition

another sake --
the cranes on the porcelain
start to fly

Hortensia Anderson
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 1

divorce papers
blue sheets dance
on the clothes line

Carmel C. Lively
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 3

6. Reflections on Nature/Animals in the Issa mode

first gnats, as if
they don't have enough company
join me on my walk

Debra Woolard Bender
WHR, Vol. 2, Issue 2

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