Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2005, vol 3 no 3

SENRYU

Alexis Rotella , Featured Poet

Interfaith Minister, hypnotherapist, spiritual healer, licensed acupuncturist, certified nutritional consultant and poet. Alexis Rotella first became interested in Japanese literature while working on her undergraduate thesis in Zen Buddhism while at Drew University in New Jersey, where she graduated with honors. She was president of the Haiku Society of America (Japan House) in l984 and is a widely published poet who has won many awards and has authored dozens of books on haiku, senryu, tanka and renga.
Rotella is a master of senryu. Her book Looking for a Prince, stands as a classic of original English language senryu.

Makoto Ueda, Professor of Japanese and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University writes:

"I have often wondered why senryu has not become as popular as haiku in America. Wit and humor have always been an essential part of American literature; the Americans in general have a more independent, critical mind than the Japanese. Alexis Rotella has been one of the few Americans who has experimented with this traditional Japanese verse form, publishing a good number of them in various magazines. Collected herein, these mini-poems explore the poetic potential of senryu in English to the full, inviting others to smile, grin or laugh with her 3⁄4and perhaps, to reflect on their own lives and to write a senryu or two."

Rotella’s other interests include digital photography, learning about quantum physics, collage, and creating altered books. She also enjoys keeping a beautiful house in Arnold, Maryland and spending time with her patent attorney husband.

 

Senryu

 

Lying —
I tell him I’m not looking
for a prince.

 

During our quarrel
he corrects
my grammar.

 

Trying to forget him
stabbing
the potatoes.

 

With all her might
the spurned woman
throws the wedding rice.

 

"How's business,"
I ask
the undertaker.

 

Gourmet Club dinner -
sautéing kidneys,
the urologist.

 

She’s running for office —
for the first time
my neighbor waves.

After heart surgery,
someone sends the patient
a shaker of salt.

 

Old man
first he asks to die,
then for a ham sandwich.

 

Before visiting the cemetery,
Grandma irons
a handkerchief.

 

Quickly I powder my nose
my mother
staring back.

 

The priest comes to bless
the house and pees
all over the toilet seat.

 

After the atheist’s sneeze
I bite
my tongue.

 

 

Credits:

"Trying to forget him" from On A White Bud, Merging Media, copyright © 1983 by Alexis Rotella.

"Lying", "During our quarrel", "With all her might", "Quickly I powder my nose", "She’s running for office", "Old man", "Before visiting the cemetery", "The priest comes to bless" and "After the atheists sneeze" from Looking for a Prince, White Peony Press, copyright © 1991 by Alexis Rotella; by permission of the author.



Copyright 2005: Simply Haiku