Zappai: Poetic Form

Been a while since I’ve covered a new form on here, so let’s examine zappai!

Zappai Poems

Zappai poems are like haiku, but not. Or maybe more appropriately, they’re like senryu, but not (or maybe they are). This poetic form definition may sound kind of wishy-washy, but zappai are poems that have a 5-7-5 syllable pattern that do not contain the seasonal reference expected of haiku.

In other words, zappai are all those haiku people write that haiku poets recognize as not being haiku. Again, senryu could fit this definition as well, but senryu also can have a looseness with the syllables, much like haiku, so that 17 syllables are not mandatory.

Zappai should still be poetic, but they’re 5-7-5 poems that don’t include the seasonal reference. Final answer. I think.

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Here’s my attempt at a Zappai Poem:

We followed the road, by Robert Lee Brewer

We followed the road
’til it led to another
dead end cul de sac.

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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58 thoughts on “Zappai: Poetic Form

  1. Nurit Israeli

    FALL TALE
    (Zappai Sequence)

    On Alzheimer’s Ward,
    the man he once used to be
    still captures her heart.

    She sings just for him:
    “Dance Me to the End of Love.”
    Love won’t end, she knows.

    Humming the lyrics,
    she hugs him like way back when.
    He does not know her.

    She walks home alone.
    Fall leaves enjoy a last dance:
    Winter is coming.

    ~ Nurit Israeli

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