‘nishi Yasuyo - "Gendai Senryû 1" : History and Significance"

‘nishi Yasuyo - "Gendai Senryû 2" : Parsing Gendai Senryû & Haiku"
Personal History

Ônishi Yasuyo (b. 1949–, Hyogo Prefecture), was fostered by her grandfather, as her father died when she was an infant. Her grandfather passed away when she was eleven years of age. From that time, she often visited EngyŰji Temple, learning goeika (Buddhist chants in 31-on waka-style verse), chanting in the temple with town elders. This was her first experience of short-form poetry. At age 26, she met the leading gendai senryŻ poet, Tokizane Shinko (1929-2007), and began writing gendai senryŻ. Her works attracted strong attention not only among senryŻ poets but also haiku poets. ‘nishi often participates in haiku and senryŻ groups, communicating and collaborating with both schools of thought. In 1987 she became the proprietress of a “snack bar,” Bunko ya [Library shop]. Several years later, she became a lecturer at Kobe Yamate College. She is presently a lecturer at Kwansei Gakuin University and the University of Hyogo, a lecturer at the NHK Kobe Culture Center, and serves as a judge of the NHK Kansai SenryŻ Program, the Asahi Newspaper Evening SenryŻ Column, the “Ecological SenryŻ Competition,” and others.


SenryŻ: Chin ji [The sudden fortunate event as a falling of camellia flowers], 1983; Seikimatsu no komachi [Komachi, fin de siŤcle],1989; Koibito ni natte kudasaimasu ka [Could you become my lover?], 1995, and others. Co-Author: Gendai Haiku New Wave [Gendai Haiku New Wave], 1993; Gen no haiku [Haiku of Gendai], 1993; Gendai haiku no panorama [Panorama of Gendai Haiku], 1994; JosryŻ haiku shŻsei [The Collected Works of Woman Haiku Poets], 1999; Gendai joryŻ senryŻ kanshŰ jiten [Gendai Womanís SenryŻ Encyclopedia for Appreciation], 2006, and others. Editor: Tanka, haiku, senryŻ, 101 nen [101 Years of Tanka, Haiku, and SenryŻ], 1993, and others.


The 1996 Nakaniida Haiku Prize

Online materials: author attribution

Richard Gilbert, “Cross-cultural Studies in Gendai Haiku: Ônishi Yasuyo” Gendai Haiku Online Archive (2008), Kumamoto University, Japan <gendai-haiku.com>.  

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Ônishi Yasuyo

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Selected senryŻ

Kakimori Museum
Hanging scroll

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Ônishi Yasuyo-sensei, is a leading contemporary figure in gendai senryŻ, winner of the acclaimed Nakaniida Haiku Prize (a prize given heretofore only to haiku poets). In the genre of senryŻ, an attitude toward the social is termed “horizontal,” while an attitude directed toward personal “inwardness” is known as “vertical.” The popular senryŻ, which uses joke, satire, humor, etc., is categorized as “horizontal” senryŻ. A different attitude altogether is found in the composition of senryŻ as pure poetry ó this method is known as “vertical” senryŻ. The approach or attitude of gendai senryŻ is “vertical:”

Ônishi Yasuyo comments, “I am far from prolific, so I cannot help but feel frustration with myself. In addition, my mind tends to take on a “vertical thinking style.” What I can do is only enter into the depths of myself ó however awkward this is. And yet, I desire to keep the 17-on verse named senryŻ burning in myself, as if keeping a small fire on a twist of paper by blowing with my own breath” (qtd. in Gendai joryŻ senryŻ kanshŰ jiten [Gendai Women's SenryŻ Encyclopedia for Appreciation], 2006 , p. 67).


Gendai SenryŻ 1: History And Significance — “During the process of my research, which has involved interviews and discussions with renowned senryŻ poets and scholars, and also quite a bit of reading ó I began to comprehend deeper aspects of (senryŻ) dimension. It is my strong sense that the literature of senryŻ is neither well known nor well understood, in comparison with haiku or tanka. As I mentioned, senryŻ is generally considered as delimited by a style of wit ó yet there is another abiding aspect of senryŻ...” (qtd. from the interivew transcript).

Gendai SenryŻ 2: Parsing Gendai SenryŻ And Haiku — “When a senryŻ poet writes a poem as senryŻ, and a haiku poet writes a poem as haiku, in terms of genre, I allow the author to inform me, according to their own creative stance. The haiku poet Hashi Kanseki (1903-1992) has said that, ‘As the two genres have the same form, they will arrive as a similar poetics as a result of the pursuits of excellent creative-poetic works on the part of poets working in both of these genres. Therefore, finding the two genres to be largely similar is an acceptable stance’; and I am in agreement with this opinion” (qtd. from the interivew transcript).