Senryu Contest: The Winners

We turned the judging of this contest over to WelchM (Michael Dylan Welch), a poet and haiku scholar who introduced us to senryu several months ago. As the entries came in, we saw that a lot of our regular game-players had taken this innocent, virtuous verse form and unleashed shameless wordplay upon it. This was undoubtedly an aberration from tradition, but it may have resulted in an altogether new poem: the "punryu."

Without further ado, we turn the proceedings over to WelchM. After having read all the poems submitted in this contest, our guest-host e-mailed the following report.

From Michael Dylan Welch:

A good senryu is not merely a knee-slapper, though it can be that. It's not just a showcase for puns or wit, although a good senryu can include cleverness or humour as part of a more resonant purpose. Rather, a senryu is a poem that wakes us up in a small way with its distilled, one-breath moment of heightened awareness focusing on human nature. It's a window into the human condition, freshly squeegeed. Senryu are, ultimately, poems of human self-awareness. They don't have to be funny, but often it is good to laugh at ourselves through senryu.

I'm pleased, then, to have read so many fine and amusing entries. While I might define a few of the entries as haiku rather than senryu, and others as aphorisms or only light wordplay, many poems had much to recommend them -- especially if they are first attempts at the form. Here are the top three selections:

***The Winners***

Night watchman's
sweatshirt proclaims
"Carpe diem"
Wedding photos late.
Oh well, someday
my prints will come.
after the show
the ventriloquist
loses his voice

Congratulations to the above winners. Meanwhile, it's hard to stop with just the preceding three, though, so here are ten Runners-Up:

therapy session --
the gambler
bets it won't help
the budget speech
he shaves carefully
Students watch the clock
as the professor lectures
on immortality.
cold spring day...
sexy blonde next door
calls me "sir"
in street clothes --
obviously not
a real cyclist
sneezing, says
"Pardon me"
The pregnant teen
watches the sex-ed film
without taking notes.
the big dent
in the "please drive carefully"
bumper sticker
Penthouse reader,
spying nursing mother,
blushes deeply
In the gated community
a welcome mat
on the porch.

And, just for fun, here are five Punners-Up:

disturbed priest
has a bad habit
of dressing like a nun
Emily Post
driving down a country road
takes the wrong fork
At the florist
I spotted a cop...
he was a plant.
Busy autumn --
open-air bakery
rakes in the dough
make good golfers --
always have a good lie.

Thanks to everyone who entered this senryu contest for having some fun (sometimes seriously), and congratulations to the preceding winners. For more information on the Haiku Society of America and other groups and publications that promote and publish haiku, senryu, and related forms, please feel free to contact Michael Dylan Welch at To subscribe to the Shiki-L online haiku (and senryu) discussion list, send the message "subscribe" to And happy senryu-writing to all.


***And Three More Senryu from Michael Dylan Welch***

daylight saving time--
clock shop owner
in to work early
Sunday lunch--
the sixth grader eats his soup
before the guests arrive
I straighten
the straight cushions