2013 Haiku Tanka Senryu contest results (with Judges' comments)

2013

 

HAIKU    (Judge: Michael Dylan Welch)

 

First Place ($100)

 

rental truck
filling our house
with echoes

     Roland Packer

Somehow, this feels like an autumn poem. It is filled not just with echoes, but with discoveries, many of which are opposites. The rental truck may imply that the house is not rented but owned—or was. The house is being emptied of belongings, yet filled with echoes. And these echoes are not just sounds, but memories. Those memories are surely long. And obviously shared because it is “our” house—yet it is no longer a home but just a house. And there’s one more opposite—it’s not really “our” house any longer. All of these details feel sad or nostalgic, which puts us in the mind of autumn. We do not know why a move is necessary, or chosen, but for the moment, despite the nostalgia, the house starts to become foreign because of unfamiliar echoes. Much reverberation in all of this poem’s echoes.

  
Second Place ($50)

 

spring sea
the fishing boats
go out in pairs
  
     Michael McClintock

This poem exhibits, for me, a sense of karumi (lightness) because of its simplicity and immediacy. I imagine commercial fishing boats in this poem. They go out in pairs for safety reason, when the sea can still be dangerous after a long winter. Going out in pairs also suggests a sort of love or sharing matches the season of love. That’s a metaphorical interpretation of “pairs,” and a similar metaphor could be extended to the boats. Imagine the boats being like people, going out in pairs. In spring, what could they be fishing for but love? Even without this fanciful view of the poem, we see the images clearly and recognize our own inherent need for companionship and security. 


Third Place ($25)


eviction - 
I pack the pieces
of my favorite bowl

     Seren Fargo

As sad as it is to have broken a favorite bowl, here we feel mixes of emotions, showing that even a broken bowl is still loved. The broken pieces of that bowl may represent all that is left to hold on to from the home one is evicted from. Another layer of meaning may be to wonder how the bowl came to be broken. A regretted act of anger, perhaps? Or an accident brought on by having to move and pack the bowl in the first place? In any event, keeping the pieces of that broken bowl suggests a hope to one day put the pieces of one’s life back together again too.


Honorable Mentions   (not ranked)


summer sky
I stare into the blue
of my baby’s eyes

    Tracy Davidson

Although my own children are now 10 and 8, I still feel like a new father, staring into the limitless blue of my child’s eyes. I feel the wonder in their eyes every day, and find that same wonder and possibility in this poem—indeed, perhaps in all haiku. For this baby’s life, the sky, indeed, is the limit.


springtime
dust comes
to light

 

    John Stevenson


I can see dust motes shining here in a shaft of sun. The light changes in spring, and so we are seeing the light differently, not just the dust. The wordplay in this poem provides a sense of joy, despite the dust. That dust arises because of spring cleaning or perhaps we are motivated to clean because of the dust. Concise and precise.


from God’s lips
to my ears
spring breeze

       Gregory Longenecker

If one is religious, it’s easy to imagine, as this poem does, that the breeze comes from God’s very lips. This is a benevolent god, who brings a gentle breeze to match the gentleness of spring youthfulness. This breeze is not just heard by the person’s ears, but felt physically as well.




TANKA    (Judge:Garry Gay)

 

First Place ($100)

 

I watch
a Beluga swim
behind aquarium glass
white as the moon path
she once followed with her calf
  
      Linda Jeannette Ward


Second Place


once I was the wind
whistling down valleys
singing through trees…
now just a pebble in the creek
where music runs off my back
 
     Susan Constable

Third Place


in your voice
whippoorwill,
there’s that love
for a field of reeds
where you were born

     Michael McClintock



Honorable Mentions (not ranked)


melting
snowwoman
will my end too
leave a night pool
that holds the moon
  
     Linda Jeannette Ward

out of control
I break
my favorite bowl,
cutting myself
on my reflection

     Seren Fargo


SENRYU    (Judge  Stanford F. Forrester)

 

I expect that most judges before me have stated in their reports what they believe to be or not to be a senryu.  This definition is then followed by listing the number of contest entries, the process in which the “winners” were chosen, and finally some sort of disclaimer.  I will not repeat this practice here in order to not reinvent the proverbial wheel.  Instead, I direct you to these past judges’ reports and you can choose what you like and don’t like from their literary theories and/or thoughts on senryu.  In this particular case, please note with all the things you are in agreement,  I am too.  The things in which you are not in agreement, I also am in accord with you.  So I’m happy to say that we are now on the same page and in the position move forward. 

First Place ($100)


V
VII
V
  
      John Stevenson

The poet who entered this poem was quite daring. The poem sparingly displays what many believe a senryu or haiku really boils down to.  It is an x-ray or skeleton poem of sorts leaving the reader to place their own words on its poetic framework.  But more importantly there is a play here on how it addresses the general public’s belief that the essence of a senryu or haiku draws from being 5-7-5 and pretty much, nothing else. So it is here that the author gives the formalists just that, 5-7-5 in three lines.

This poem does tell us about one aspect of human nature.  He or she gets hooked on the first idea in which they are indoctrinated, and will carry it throughout their life even though there later emerges ideas that suggest the opposite.  

I love this poem for two other reasons: one, there is an ah-ha moment when the reader translates the Roman numerals into Arabic ones and that Roman numerals are also used as letters so it can’t be argued that we are just looking at three separate numbers listed on a page.

There is so much that can be written about this poem, but there is a space limitation to respect here. I do know that this poem will stick with me till death and I will quote it at workshops and use is in Socratic literary arguments.  I’m at least confident that no one will ever accuse the poem of being wordy.


Second Place


       wildebeests leaping
from flat screen to flat screen
       Black Friday sale

      Scott Mason

A little longer that the first place winner, this senryu captures the feeling of the day.  The consumer chaos exemplified on this post Thanks Giving day, has itself become sort of a primordial ritual of hunting, in this case for the best bargain. Here the “wildebeests” are fleeing the hunt.   There is also another layer of tension between man’s “needs” (technology) and nature.

Third Place


old album
all my thoughts
barefooted

     Ernest J. Berry

This senryu also brings to mind the relationship between man (technology) and nature, but it has a different tone in what it want’s to convey.


Honorable Mentions (not ranked)


one last comment on simplicity

     John Stevenson
 

older
her empty jars
on cupboard shelves


     Gregory Longenecker

 


 
another birthday I blow out the pyre

      Scott Mason
 





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