Roboryu – A New Classification of Poetry

There is an ancient form of Japanese poetry, similar to haiku called Senryu which typically consists of 17 (as opposed to haiku’s 15) sounds or syllables.  The Senryu poems often describe things that humans do rather than the natural subjects addressed by haiku.  When I joined twitter I stumbled across one Demi Newell who had been writing a special form of haiku and senryu which she called punku.  In the punku she incorporated puns into the poems, providing an amusing ironic twist.  I liked the style immediately and took a whack at it myself with a few punku.  As I am intrigued by robots and the growing integration of robotics into society, I wrote a punku that could reasonably be concluded to be about a machine or a human.  I liked the idea of writing poems about futuristic robot life and problems, and I liked the added dimension of being ambiguous about whether the subject(s) of the poem are automatons or humans.  Thus, these became the features which define a given poem as my new classification, roboryu (row bow rye you).  Here are a few examples which I’ve posted on Twitter:

Awaking from dreams,
The programmer goes to work,
Packet by packet.

Fast like a machine,
The figure picks and places.
Building successors.

The robot butler,
Though always polite, disliked
Oiling his master.

The robot writer,
Wrote a character so great,
He chose to build it.

Update: 2-1-2016

My use of the #roboryu tag has evolved since its creation.  It began as above, but It morphed into a continuous epic poem.  The characters and groups remain at least somewhat ambiguous as to what they are:  human, robot, creature, or any combination of the three.  The epic begins at some point in the future with a conflict between a separatist group and the more entrenched groups of the world.  Then after the resolution of that conflict it fast forwards to a time long after that when the lines between human/robot/creature have become far more difficult to discern.

The structure of the poems has begun to change recently as well.  When before it was limited by a basic syllabic structure consisting of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables, I’ve now started to force the repetition of the syllabic structure of the first line of the poem onto the last line, as demonstrated below:

They hesitated,
And the merc paused then sneered at
Them derisively.

The dead were many
But there was no evidence.
The blame was assigned.

Without a savior,
Death took the lost with their hearts
Beating in battle.


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