Don Wentworth, Haiku Judge
HAIKU FIRST PLACE
leaf color of an old song turning
- John Stevenson
often missing in haiku (many would say, in fact, that’s as it should be), when
done properly evokes exactly the quality at the core of true haiku through its
‘rule breaking.’ The synthesia effect here is quite lovely (to say nothing of
the interplaying images), not for that lyricism alone, but for that essence
with which it resounds. Beautiful.
HAIKU SECOND PLACE
for another garden
- Michele Root-Bernstein
In this poem, a common practice is
elevated to a ritual that celebrates the one truism at the base of all things.
The cycle continues; the reader can feel the living movement in her own
twitching roots. Poignant.
HAIKU THIRD PLACE
the stone Buddha
- John Soules
The haiku poet risks all in
repetition and, when done correctly, gains it back and more. Here the same
word, repeated side by side, elicits its dual definitions plus a certain
additional meaning as a two-word phrase.
Humor, truth, and beauty, all in 7 words – this is admirably executed.
after such a long time
- Gregory Longenecker
If the reader slows down, she can
feel time pass in this poem – the pause after each line, the first, the second,
and, yes, the third, is deep and immeasurable – in fact, the pause between each
word. The second line serves both the
first and third equally, creating the equation and fulfilling it. Perfect.
which way out¾
the exterminator points
with his spray tip
- Scott Mason
This poem gets honorable mention
for 1) its sheer audacity in updating Issa’s poem of the turnip picker, and, 2)
the success of that updating/modernization. Issa’s turnip picker points the way
with a turnip. Here, the way out is
pointed with a poison spray tip. What the poem loses in its modernization is,
in fact, what we have lost, from Issa’s time to now, the Way becoming the way.
A perfect snapshot of our time. Outstanding.
Adelaide Shaw, Tanka Judge
over the entries was a revealing experience. I found that those tanka which did
not appeal to me immediately were more appealing in a second, third and fourth
reading. It proved what many editors
have said, that tanka, and haiku as well, require careful reading, a slowing of
the mind to understand the nuances present. Of those not chosen, some entries
shared common problems: the use of titles
(there are no titles for tanka); lines which read like lists, exaggerated words
or too many adjectives.
choices I’ve made for this contest are based upon my knowledge of the form and
the emotions each invoked in me. Another
judge would, perhaps, rate these differently.
However, if I were an editor and were choosing tanka for a journal,
there were many additional tanka I would have selected.
what to look for in a tanka? Tanka can tell a story, create a mood, express the
poet’s inner feelings, or be an observation of nature. It can be lyrical and
use simile, metaphor and symbolism. Modern English tanka can be in the
traditional 5/7/5/7/7 syllable form or just follow a short/long/short/long/long
pattern. It can have as many as 31
syllables or as few as 14 and have each line a different length. One element
that a tanka has is that of emotion. The poet need not say explicitly that he
is sad, happy, lonesome, etc., but the feeling should come through. In the
tanka chosen below the emotions of the poets are clearly evident.
for a swim
take a long walk
the cliffs and back
- Michael McClintock
scene is at the ocean–clean air, a fresh breeze, a majestic view as seen from a
cliff. There is the calming motion of waves, the seemingly endless expanse of
water meeting the sky at the horizon.
The poet, perhaps, chose this spot because it is one which refreshes the
spirit. He or she is feeling sad or despair. What can be done? The poet is
aware that these feelings won’t go away, won’t disappear with some pleasurable
activity like sailing or swimming. We
don’t need to know the why or the what of these feelings, just that they are
present and that the poet has found a renewed spirit in an immersion in
nature’s beauty. A long walk to the
cliffs and back is sufficient to achieve acceptance of what is.
TANKA SECOND PLACE
my gift of bad news
We don’t know if the bad news is about the
poet or about a loved one or a friend.
Whatever the news is, the poet has taken something to induce sleep or,
perhaps, to reduce pain. Groggy in the morning, he or she needs a stimulant.
Strong coffee would be one choice, but the poet has chosen pepper on the
morning egg. Maybe lots of black pepper
or even cayenne pepper. That would wake
anyone up. Line 1 sets the tone of this tanka with peppering, pepper being a
condiment that is sharp and biting. Line 5 completes the tanka with the poet’s
cynical acceptance of the bad news as a gift. I sense that there is a fighting
spirit behind this cynicism, and the poet will get through this difficult time.
you learn to steer
- LesleyAnne Swanson
1 and 2 are of the present; lines 3, 4, and 5 are a remembrance of the
past. We all have the sensation of time
flying. Sometimes that realization is sudden, and it hits us especially hard.
The poet has successfully coupled a parent’s pride at a daughter growing up and
a sadness at the memory of a childhood moment. How we remember the little
things, like a wobble when a child is learning to ride a bike. The daughter
probably doesn’t remember the incident as well as her parents who are surely
more aware of time passing. This loving memory could have become sentimental,
but the poet has rendered it in a matter of fact tone, allowing the reader to
provide his or her own sentiment. In that movement from the present to a memory
of the past I sense what the poet is feeling.
MENTION (in no ranked order)
search for the right word
- Garry Gay
poet wants to impress the one he or she loves, to find just the right word to
open feelings which have been kept folded like the morning glory bud which
needs the warm sun to open. The poet goes searching in a dictionary, not just
any dictionary found on the internet but a paper dictionary. This tells me the
poet is not relying on technology to make an impression but wants to use old
fashioned words of love and devotion. This is a romantic tanka, a love poem in
keeping with the ancient Japanese tradition.
felt the glory
in the wind
about the second mile
does it feel to leave home, to leave the familiar, to be on one’s own? Are we
anxious, fearful, sad, elated? Perhaps
we go through all these emotions, one by one until we finally feel the freedom
of being on our own. This is a song of freedom, whether it is about a young
person going out on his own, or a person learning to live alone after a long
relationship or even leaving a comfortable job and beginning again. The poet
did not feel this freedom immediately, but when it came…how glorious it was.
Although I think this tanka would be greatly improved if lines 1 and 4 were
reversed it still deserves an honorable mention.
from our childhood tree
sound in her chest
a winter gust
- Chen-Ou Liu
is a somber tanka. There is a rope, but
not just any rope which could have hung a tire swing, but a black rope with its connotations of death and the implication of
a tragic event. The choice of winter gust adds to the chilling effect
of the poem. Of the chosen tanka this is the only one in which the poet writes
about someone else. The poet is an observer. our childhood tree tells me that the poet knows the story of the
rope, knows the woman, and also knows the sound
that is lonelier than a winter gust. Perhaps,
the poet feels the same when looking at this tree.
Dee Evetts, Senryu Judge
senryu contest implicitly poses the question: what is it that distinguishes
senryu from haiku? The qualities of humor or irony probably come to mind for
most of us, and reasonably so. Yet it is not difficult to find examples of
haiku that make us smile. And conversely, there are certainly senryu that have
a serious aspect––that is to say, they show the kind of depth generally
associated with superior haiku. The boundary thus eludes definition, and I for
one am content with that.
What became very clear to me whilst
reading the 150-odd entries in this contest, is that a pun––be it verbal or
visual––is not sufficient to make a good senryu. Something more nuanced is
required, some aspect more fundamentally rooted in human nature.
last year's senryu judge Scott Mason has put it, in an essay recently published
in Frogpond: "An effective haiku is one that positively engages its reader
or listener on an emotional basis." I believe his axiom is equally valid
when applied to senryu, and consider that all five of my final choices below
meet that criterion, in an interesting variety of ways.
we say good morning the electoral map
- Bruce H. Feingold
is a poem that speaks particularly to our time and its
of political allegiance. We glimpse the suspension or delay of normal exchanges
in a close relationship, due to shared preoccupation with the outcome of a
presidential election. The compression into a single line is an astute choice,
enhancing as it does the tension and irony contained in it.
that the fence has blown down
- Rich Krivcher
not generally enamored of concrete devices in haiku or senryu––text that meanders
cummings-style down the page, and the like. But in this poem we find form
suited to content in a most original way, and at the same time a sense of happy
elicit a wink
Ernest J. Berry
senryu would seem to be written in a spirit of pure fun, and it succeeds
delightfully on that level. What gives an extra dimension is the voice:
unbridled male fantasy tempered by rueful self-satire.
my brother's walker
- Garry Gay
is an unusual blend of humor and pathos. The exact circumstances of the poem
can only be guessed at, yet the inevitable cycles of human existence are
to find the moon
- John Stevenson
guest could fail to be charmed by a host who has not only given thought to
sheets and towels, but at the same time paid attention to the position of the
moon in the sky?
Contest chair: Carolyne