Saturday, May 08, 2004

Senryu salon 川柳つばめ吟社

Inspired by the recent posts of iiSoNySoUnDii, I thought I'd have another senryu meeting.

If you recall, senryu is poetry for the commoners. If you're interested to see how I might evaluate poems read the comments I made of previous submissions. In a real senryu salon situation, there is usually a topic. Everyone submits one poem, and the judge--me--will evaluate and rank them. Since it is the beginning of summer--and for many of us, summer vacation--lets make the topic... Baseball. Here's mine:

He takes off his cap,
as he peers through the knothole:
Star Spangled Banner

I wrote this one yesterday, inspired by a Kobayashi Issa haiku posted by iiSoNySoUnDii. The difference between haiku and senryu is that haiku attempts to capture the essense of man's life in nature--hence the requirement of a seasonal word. In senryu, the focus is on external observation, to compose on man and his activities and how it strikes us--nostalgic, humorous, angry, happy, tired, stressful, judgmental--anything that might elicit a response that is at once mundane and poignant, everyday yet insightful. The poem above tries to represent the essence of the topic, baseball, by capturing a moment in time--like a snapshot--that is familiar to all of us in the US. A kid tries to sneak a peak of a baseball game by looking through a knothole in the outfield fence. He is, obviously, far from the action, perhaps a reflection of the distance between professional athlete and the common man. And yet, there is still a connection. He needs to see the game, even if it is through a hole in a fence--framing the action of a group of privileged humans, suggesting the attention and scrutinization it receives from even a little kid--but when the Star Spangled Banner plays, he, too, feels like a part of the action on the otherside, betraying this attitude by taking off his hat when the national anthem is played.

Okay, maybe its kinda corny, but it reminded me of the Norman Rockwell cover from the Post above. (Click for a larger image.)

Okay guys, now it's your turn. Write a senryu on the topic "baseball". Even if you're unfamiliar with baseball, that shouldn't detract you from trying, as it is all about conveying your image of it. Indeed, the image of one perplexed by the game can be as insightful and poignant as anyone else... Remember, the syllable count is 5-7-5. An extra syllable is sometimes overlooked if it doesn't impede on the rhythm--and only in one of the three lines--but should generally be avoided. Also, reference to the topic is pretty crucial. I single word--umpire, outfielder, strikeout--is usually sufficient. In my poem, the image of looking through the knothole and the national anthem should be enough to suggest baseball, but I must admit, you'd have to be a bit older and American... If you're unsure about what a "moment in time" is, click on the links above, and also think "Rockwell." His illustrations are a perfect example of a snapshot of a moment in time that tells a story.

Of course, you can just give me your thoughts of the above poem... But if you do participate--which I hope you will--remember that I may not be able to comment on all submissions--I will focus on current subcribers as well as those who have bookmarked me at RBJ-- those who have done both will probably get more attention than they might want. All comments will be honest, fair, and when applicable sarcastic. Hahahahahahha!

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