Saturday, May 30, 2009

Poetry Redux

On a recent morning, I was listening to NPR, a piece from Planet Money on Recession Haiku.

My nine-year-old says to me, after listening to the poems, "Those aren't haikus. Those are sen-ree-yus." (Spelling: senryu.)
"What?" I say.
"Haikus are about nature. Senryus are like haikus, only not about nature."
(OK, it is slightly more complicated that that, but just slightly.)
"Do you think I should let NPR know?" I say.

I'm not telling you this to boast about my smart child (although of course I think that all my children are above average:). I'm praising the smart teaching that taught him this. And did I mention that that poetry unit was taught by a parent who loves poetry?

1 comment:

  1. You have a cool kid, end of story! But his or her idea that haiku have to deal with Nature capital N, and literally, is a bit outdated. In English language haiku, by about 100 years, and, in Japanese, by some 350 years. Matsuo Basho himself wrote haiku about the economy; Richard Wright wrote haiku about insects, beauty, house pets, economic activity, nearly everything. Haiku, most people figure, doesn't and shouldn't discriminate by subject matter.

    As for the "senryu" point, that's right on the money: a successful senryu turns on its use of irony and/or sarcasm, and many of the NPR recession haiku seem to fit that description.