RW: Most of the senryu you write is of a humorous nature, oftentimes
a play on words. It has been said that people who deal with the humorous
aspect of life in their writing have had an unhappy childhood. Is
that true with you?
I had a happy childhood, though, being a "dreamer",
my problems came a bit later in life. And, I remember, during my teens,
that I often used
one-liners and played with words, in various situations, as a sort of excuse
or "weapon", if you like, to handle situations. Not that many understood
my, sometimes, strange humour. This applies to both now and yesterday. For
instance, I get bored easily, and this "affliction" can be kind of
difficult for myself and my friends, as I'm full of wit and wisdom (hmmm) initially,
this usually fades rapidly. Being a "late bloomer" might have something
to do with it, plus, I was born a worried soul. Without my enthusiasm, I could
never have survived, running a business for almost 25 years.
RW: What is it about senryu that attracts you to this genre more
so than haiku, and why?
a long time I´ve been fascinated with one-liners, especially
those attributed to Groucho Marx, W.C. Fields, Oscar Wilde, and Mark
Twain. So, when
I stumbled across a Swedish haiku site, in April 2001, I immediately was
drawn to the format, as it suited my way of approaching life. My first
writing haiku, were very unorthodox; a strange mix of haiku and senryu.
until early 2003, when I, after a brief break, happened to log on to an
International haiku/senryu site, and began writing in English. And,
I haven´t looked
back since. As for haiku vs. senryu, I have a leaning towards the humorous
and grim aspects of life, as these poems come to me more naturally,
compared to haiku.
"A rich man is nothing
but a poor man with money."
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with."
"Ice Water? Get some Onions - that'll make your eyes water!"
"Time Flies like an arrow. Fruit Flies like a banana."
"Training is everything; the peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower
is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
"The best way to make children is to make them happy."
RW: Define the word, Senryu.
JJ: A close relative to haiku, dealing with the humorous aspects
and calamities of life.
RW: Do your senryu come to you in a moment of illumination or are
they the result of a gestation period?
JJ: For sure, a flash of the moment procedure.
I rarely make notes on the subjects I´m about to "dissect" on my iMac.
Being a "late bloomer" has
filled my stockroom with ideas. So, it´s only for me to plunge right
in, head first! I have no idea how other haiku/senryu poets work,
but I guess it´s
very individual, though I have a feeling that my method is in minority.
I wrote my first ever
poem in October 2000; and, in hindsight, I've been wondering why
it happened so suddenly, out of the blue,
case. During this
period, I was going through some harsh times, which I don´t
wanna go into further here, but this "pain" must have triggered something inside me, as I began to write like crazy,
producing approximately fourteen pamphlets
of poems, in the Swedish language, between November 2000 and
February 2001. This period of brainstorming was an incredible
experience, as so much "wreckage" came
out in the open. My friends reacted in a dazed and confused manner,
receiving all these pamphlets in such a short time.
My first poem:
The naked trees.
The leaves on the ground longing
for the summer that was.
Hear how they moan.
And from the same period:
Remember, this was written before I had any knowledge about haiku.
Going back to this period in my life, based on the poems I wrote,
this was a dark and brutal time, but soon my writing became
but still, with a sarcastic touch.
with wide open eyes
straight into the sun.
The warmth reaches
of my body
the sudden amnesia
became an excuse
to live on
Also written prior to discovering haiku.
And I published a pamphlet of one-liners in early 2001, in
Swedish: Tankebloss—i.e., Thought Sparkles,
RW: Who has had the greatest influence on you as
a writer of senryu poetry and why?
JJ: I would say myself, ha! Seriously, I'd say, Issa,
Alan Pizzarelli, and George Swede are, perhaps, the
me the most. Issa,
timeless wit and wisdom, Al Pizzarelli, for his superior
humour; creating senryu from everyday life situations.
As for George
Swede, see Al Pizzarelli!
The winter fly
i caught and finally freed
the cat quickly ate
old married couple
the husband threatens suicide
the wife tastes the soup
at the height
of the argument the old couple
pour each other tea
When writing senryu, I have a tendency to "bolt away",
to overdo my writing; so, by studying the senryu
of Issa, Pizzarelli, and Swede, I have learned
not complicate things, to stay away from
Non-haiku writers who have
influenced me, one way or the other, are Flann O´Brien,
James Thurber, Gurdjieff, Marcus Aurelius,
and Ambrose Bierce. Here´s some
examples from Bierce's 1911 classic, The
SAINT, A dead sinner revised and edited.
EGOIST, A person of low taste, more interested in himself
than in me.
YEAR, A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
FRIENDSHIP, A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather,
but only one in foul.
RW: You also write haiku and won
in The 9th
Competition in Kumamoto, Japan. Tell us about your winning
the firefly's signature
on the night sky
JJ: I was on a
walk one hot summer evening, when this haiku came to me. Fireflies
linked to my childhood, visiting
haunts. Groucho Marx was called Rufus T. Firefly, in
my favourite Marx Brothers
movie, Duck Soup.
I´m also writing surreal haiku, which I find refreshing, as
it allows me to fall headlong into another world. Been published twice
with a display in Ban´ya
Natsuishi´s Ginyu Magazine.
the blood donor back from
of empty phrases attacking
the soft palate
do you think about on-line poetry forums? Has participation in
them helped you
as a poet?
JJ: It´s been rewarding teaming up with such wonderful fellow
also learned a lot by reading their haiku and senryu.
Feedback from others is very important, as they
help you to become a
better poet, and, on a personal
note, I've found many new friends. Sometimes I
wonder where I would be today without my daily encounter
with the on-line
forums, as it has become a very nice
routine, call it obsession....So, thank God for