Posts Tagged ‘Writing Satire’

Limerick Ode To Elmore Leonard

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Written with fond apologies to the late, lamented Elmore Leonard, after re-reading his New York Times piece, WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle. (His article cautions against the abuse of prologues, adverbs and other description, exclamation points, weather references, regional dialect, the word “suddenly,” etc.)

On a hot, sunny day, an attractive young man sat in a tiny, darkened room, compulsively reading Elmore Leonard’s essay on writing. Carefully noting his ten writing no-nos, he bellowed loudly, “Fuggedaboutit! I can violate all of Leonard’s rules in a single limerick!”

“It’s raining!” he loudly cried out.
Then suddenly felt like a lout.
“A mensch I shall be…”
From this you can see
Leonard’s rules are what writing’s about.

Haiku Or Senryu, That Is The Question (A Limerick Explanation)

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Every so often I get missives from poetry purists. Their message? Most of my haiku are by strict definition senryu.

Now I hate to admit it, but these sticklers are technically correct. For while haiku and senryu take the same form — three line, seventeen syllable poems (five-seven-five) — historically their subject matter and attitude differ.

If you’re waxing poetic about the physical world, chances are what you’ve written is a classic haiku. Throw in a seasonal reference, and it’s a haiku slam dunk.

But if your topic is human nature and human foibles, it’s probably best to label your verse a senryu, especially if you’re being satirical.

Confused? Don’t worry — most people find all this perplexing. In fact, there are lots of articles discussing this very question, and they don’t all agree with one another. Which is probably why so many people (like me) tend to take the easy way out and label all of our seventeen syllable masterpieces haiku.

But please don’t throw up your hands in unpoetic bewilderment. My explanation in the form of a three-verse limerick just might help or, at least, amuse you:

Haiku Or Senryu, That Is The Question
By Madeleine Begun Kane

So how do you write a haiku?
And when’s a haiku senryu?
Both are five-seven-five,
But heavens alive—
All their diff’rences cause much ado.

The distinction’s confounding to some.
Don’t confuse them — you might be called “Bum!”
If your verse has unfurled
On the natural world,
Then you’ve followed haiku’s rule of thumb.

But if seventeen syllables speak,
Not of nature, but human critique,
With satirical pearls
Mocking people — guys, girls —
You’ve embarked on a senryu streak.

Versifying About Satire & Law On My Other Blog

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

I’ve written a couple of posts & poems on my political humor blog that readers of this blog might find interesting.

The first is about New Yorker Magazine’s Barack Obama cover controversy.  My poem about the challenges of creating satire begins:

A Humorist’s Lament
Madeleine Begun Kane

A humorist like me sure knows
How tough it is to write, compose,
And sketch satiric toons and prose
And poems.  It’s not without its woes.

For instance, Barry Blitt’s lampoon,
New Yorker’s well-intentioned toon, …

The other is about a federal judge who lambasted plaintiff’s lawyer via judicial limerick.