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Forms (Senyru)

For March 2010 Tom McDaniel of our Poetry Society of Tennessee (PST) sponsored a monthlycontest  (PST members only) with the form senyru (Human nature and its problems, 5-7-5).

The members of the newly formed northeastern branch of this chapter (in the Tri-Cities of TN and surrounding area) searched the internet and poetry forms books to determine advice on writing the senyru. They found varying interpretations and samples – some of which contradicted each other.

Thinking that there may be a clue in the sponsor’s available poetry, I found a November 2008 PST newsletter (Tennessee Voices Bulletin) which listed Thomas McDaniel as the Poet of the Month for December 2008. In citing his accomplishments, it also stated “Tom is very knowledgeable about Oriental verse forms, and he has spoken to the Society on several occasions about haiku and other such poetry forms. Halloween was upon us when he submitted his material; hence, he elected to send this senryu in honor of the season.  (Titled: Masquerade).”

Since I do not have permission from Tom, I did not reprint his poem here.

Some members pointed out that generally oriental forms are untitled and they didn’t see the human nature and its problems in this sample. I thought perhaps the human element was a reference to a werewolf.I also stated that the newsletter publication was in 2008 and the poet’s experiences and training may have changed since that time.  

Unfortunately, the contest deadline loomed and there was not enough time to consult the sponsor/judge. I expect Tom would have provided us more guidance, if time was not a factor.

So all this begs the questions: Is it a hard and fast rule that oriental forms are not titled? Is there one source which could be used when deciding how to write a specific form? Is there a recommended website or book on forms in general and specific to the senyru form? Should the judge provide the title of the poetry form book or Internet site which is used for his/her judging criteria?

What do you think?

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