Episode 45: Brent Hagen – Jimi Halloween and Spooky Senryu

The Japanese tradition of Jimi Halloween sees participants celebrate the mundane moments in life from taking a sip of coffee while wearing your face mask to mistaking a plastic bag for a cat or hesitating to board an elevator. You can find more examples here.

For today’s guest, Brent Hagen, this celebrating of the mundane is in the same spirit as senryu. Senryu is a Japanese form similar to haiku but which focuses on human foibles, often in a humorous way. A couple of famous examples are:

Bury me when I die
Beneath a wine barrel In a tavern.
With any luck
The cask will leak.
Morikya Sen-an (d. 1838)

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house casually
Kobayashi Issa

And some by Brent:

hummingbirds
aren’t nearly as anxious
as they seem

having to wear glasses
isn’t depressing
anytime I want
i’ve got impressionism

thanks, sequoia
for rescuing
the color orange


Exercise: Write a spooky senryu

If you try to observe and pay attention to the world around you, you will start to notice the small moments that are celebrated in senryu and Jimi Halloween costumes. Things you hear in conversation and read in the paper can also spark ideas. For Halloween try writing something with a spooky twist, but which is also frightfully mundane. Here’s an example from Brent:

Do you hear that?
That sound?
It’s the
Drip
Drip
Drip
of drip
coffee

We’d love to read your senryu so please share them here for possible inclusion on the blog or on future podcasts.

Brent Hagen is a poet who enjoys teaching English in Tokyo. He has a particular fondness for puns, which he views as haiku on vacation.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

NaPoWriMo Day 11: Brent Hagen – Poems with a twist

Welcome to another day of NaPoWriMo. Today, Brent Hagen invites you to reinvent a well known character or super hero from film or literature and write a poem with a twist:

As you know, one of the key features of postmodern literature is the way writers have challenged and reimagined not only the ways we write but also how we think about traditional narratives. There are many examples of a poet turning a fairy tale, icon, or superhero on its head to reveal deeper truths about the human experience. This kind of poetry has a special place in my heart because it was Billy Collins’s poem Flames, a poem in which he imagines a disgruntled Smokey the Bear, that first sparked my interest in writing poetry. Other favorites of mine are Anne Sexton’s revisionist feminist take on Cinderella and Ronald Koertge’s poems about Hansel and Gretel, Dracula, and Superman.

It’s really a lot of fun, and I highly recommend giving it a try. Think of different fairy tales, icons, and super heroes. Choose one and brainstorm everything you know about that story, then explore how you might like to change the narrative. Feel free to make it as silly or witty or serious as you like.

Finally

After years of racing from the abandoned mine
to the house and back, barking like a German train conductor,
Lassie cashes in her stock and retires to upstate Minnesota.
She has a glossy red water bowl, a daily filet mignon,
even a marble fountain with a bone sculpture
the size of courage.

She meets a pit bull named Gritty Tim.
He has watery eyes and sturdy lips. He never needs
saving and has haunches like carbon.

Peter Parker

woke up exhausted and tingling.
He rubbed the webs out of his eyes
and looked in the mirror.

“Ahhh!” he screamed. “A spider!”
He flipped backwards into the shower.

Oh no, I have to get away from myself!

He ran and jumped out the window
and swung and swung as fast as he could,
avoiding his reflection in buildings and the lake in the park.

When someone pointed and shouted “He’s like a spider, man!”
he screamed “A spider! Where!?” and swung away.

After therapy with the entomologist Ant Man recommended, Spiderman got into the swing of things
and began foiling robberies and saving lives
but every once in a while, he looked in the mirror and—

Brent Hagen

Brent Hagen is a poet who enjoys teaching English in Tokyo. He has a particular fondness for puns, which he views as haiku on vacation.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.