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HAIKU (Judge: vince tripi)

The famous monk Thomas Merton once remarked rather tersely to a very young & questioning aspirant: "... what is life but uncertainties & a few plausible possibilities!" The longing for certainty, stability & freedom from doubt is an ever present force to be contended with in this life of ever-increasing mobility. Time comes for many of us, to represent a series of painful beginnings coupled with never-quite satisfying ends. Of course the underlying assumption is that all-of-this somehow plants something unnamed and permanent in the human sould. Something which eventually, & on occasion all-at-once, reveals to us the true nature of our being. The futility of suffering. The delusion of permanency. The First Place poem works partially because of the strong associative nature of its "core-essential" words. . . dove, settle, call. It is not the dove that settles. The dove, like us, is caught in the nature-of its own mobility, in the turn of life turning. It is the "call" that settles, that settles us. The "call" represents peace at an even higher level of spirituality than the dove. Ultimately it is the poem's own unique expression of the "universal" which provides the foundation of its healing force. As poets we embrace all that may reveal us to ourselves. Is not that the true work of the poet?

We accept our transiency and we accept ourselves in the way that nature accepts. Nature in this case being the dove itself. No different than we. And doubtless as we hear, so shall we be. 

First Place ($100)

moving day

a dove-call settles 

in the chimney

Helen Sherry

San Diego, CA

Second Place ($50)

spring melt--

the flat-bed leaks

on the uphills

Jim Kacian

Berryville, VA

Third Place ($25)

morning twilight . . .

horse asleep in the pasture

covered with frost

Lee Gurga

Lincoln, IL

First Honorable Mention

Along the trail

trading one walking stick

for another

Garry Gay

Santa Rosa, CA

Second Honorable Mention

back country--

      in the folds of my topo map

              the rise and fall of mountains

Laurie Stoelting

Mill Valley, CA

SENRYU (Judge: D. Claire Gallagher)

Reading the senryu entries was quite a trip! The poems provided a wide range of interesting and personal revelations about human experience. In my opinion a number of the senryu entries more closely met the standards for haiku--these were enjoyed but not chosen. I sued the following arguable attributes of excellent senryu as criteria to winnow the entries: humor, a strong release into irony, wryness, or the unexpected, evocation of the quick HA! rather than the lingering AHA! or haiku; fresh, creative images; successful use of juxtaposition and line breaks; skillful and economical word choices; authenticity; primary focus on the human sector within the natural world. I congratulate and thank each of you who shared a poem evoking a grin, a groan, or a wink. This handful of well-crafted senryu provides a delicious diversity of arresting senryu moments. 

First Place ($100)


the double pleasure

of seeing you again

Marianna Monaco

San Francisco, CA

This poet pokes fun at a middle-age rite-of-passage. SKilled use of multiple-levels of meaning enable the self-deprecating writer to move beyond a possibly disconcerting circumstance to "in-sightful" joy. 

First Honorable Mention

another year

stripping down for her

                 sweet corn

Tom Clausen

Ithaca, NY

Sensually vivid images and the skillfully-used double entendre provide a breath-taking surprise. This senryu is "sweet corn!"

Second Honorable Mention

marble hallway--

the child's scream

longer than her scream

Christopher Herold

Redwood City, CA

In this cold formal setting, the child's yowl reverberates not only through distance and decorum, but through actual and subjective time.

Third Honorable Mention

he locks down

the roller coaster

toothless grin

John Stevenson

Nassau, NY

Conciseness strengthens the painstaking precision of the roller coaster operator. The powerful juxtaposition of machine and a very human operator may evoke a strangled AARRGGHH rather than an explosive HA!

Fourth Honorable Mention

flight our of Vegas--

arms crossed

six across

Lee Gurga

Lincoln, IL

This senryu evokes . . . a chuckle of irony? . . . satisfaction? . . . comic relief: . . . shared experience? . . .

TANKA (Judge: Kenneth Tanemura)

The following tanka, in my opinion, stand clearly above the other entries. With one exception, these poems have to do with the relations between men and women, which is what tanka is most suited to expressing. A good portion of the poems submitted were competent, but I do not think that technique has much to do with the impact a particular tanka has on the reader. Since tanka is usually a direct personal expression of an experience, it seems reasonable that, at least to some degree, the depth of a tanka relates to the depth of a poet's vision of life. Tanka's greatest weakness is its tendency to collapse into the trite. These winning poems struck me as being genuine, deeply felt, and expressive of some universal truth. 

The first place poem powerfully conveys a sense of loss. The insistent clarity of the image presented, how the poet latched onto the image and how the image struck a chord that unraveled an array of feelings resounds in the reader's mind. The first honorable mention is neither sentimental nor romantic, it is simply true. The second honorable mention returns to the theme of loss, but the loss here is between parent and daughter The third poem shows how the other, be it a man or woman, unlike a best friend or family member seems to be made more separate and distant with desire. 

Revealing a truth that the reader knows conceptually, but has not experienced personally, makes tanka a serious literary form in English.

First Place ($100)

prairie grasses

all the wild horses grazing

in the noon sun

the same ones you always vowed

could not drag you from me

Yvonne Hardenbrook

Columbus, OH

First Honorable Mention

you ask

what I want most

this           I say

as we nightwalk

the hills of home

Yvonne Hardenbrook

Columbus, OH

Second Honorable Mention

rose of Sharon


below her dorm window

and in the back yard

when we return without her

Connie Meester

Dubuque, IA

Third Honorable Mention

In the darkness

I see your form come to me . . .

your scent moves closer

I reach to turn on a light

your kiss keeps the room dark

Garry Gay

Santa Rosa, CA

RENGAY (Judges: Paul O. Williams, with Garry Gay)

Judging the Rengay Contest was no easy feat. All the poems were very good. In fact, one could almost say that taken together, all the entries would make a fine anthology of the form. Individual links in many poems were arresting and startling in their precision., resourcefulness, and penetration. A further anthology could be made out of truly fine links from the poems. One hates to see all this really skillful work simply laid aside. 

Dotted With Gnats was the best among equals, so to speak. Insects are so much a part of our lives that we scarcely note their presence, though of course we do. There they are, the gnat dotted spiderweb, the ladybug on the spreadsheet, the mosquito at the barbecue. The poem points this out, obliquely, with numerous quiet witticisms along the way. The poem plays games as it goes, but not to the degree of calling attention to them beyond the flow of the whole. There is always that other moth to feed. Is that first mosquito simply being there, or is it also being barbecued? Do we instinctively count the syllables in time with the fly banging the pane? The poem is full of events and is stitched well together, delicately--as though with spider web. The honorable mentions were nearly impossible to select. Many had a nice gentle sense of play. All wove the poems together skillfully, eliciting a larger comment. Judging the poems was a trial and a treat: so much good work spilled out in one contest.

First Place ($100)

Dotted With Gnats

Carol Purington, Colrain, MA

Larry Kimmel, Colrain, MA

Note: we are missing the rengay and are in the process of tracking them down. If you have these among your papers and would like to share them with HPNC, please contact one of the HPNC officers. Thank you!

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