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HAIKU (Judge: Paul MacNeil)

First Place ($100)

between sun and shadow
the grass and the hopper
become one


Michelle Schaefer


A scene straight from nature, this haiku becomes more complex as it sinks in.  The writer skillfully invites synthesis.  The plant and insect are different, but the grasshopper has evolved a camouflage keeping many of its kind safe from predators as it feeds.  Two things are compared and contrasted in each of the first and second lines.  We observers have to look more closely to identify the the shape and color of the bug.  Subtly as we move back, the sun and shadow, light and dark, also become one thing: a meadow, field, or lawn with dappled light.  All of this haiku yields the unity of things.


Paul MacNeil, judge


Second Place ($50)

        stepping in
the brook has a sound
        for my feet


Gary Hotham


Third Place ($25)

summer evening
a breeze finds your kiss
on my neck


Brad Bennett

Honorable Mentions (unranked)

blood moon
her rage spattered
on a white canvas


Carol Judkins


night jasmine
two prostitutes share
a laugh


Frank Hooven


crocuses in October
they say it’s
a routine procedure

Scott Mason


dusk descending geese


Alan S. Bridges


desert rain . . .
the stream settles
into its bed


Julie Warther


SENRYU (Judge:  Paul David Mena) 


First Place ($100)


the surgeon

almost ready

to pray


John Stevenson


This senryu unfolds masterfully, revealing a profound shift in only six words. Even the most skilled surgeon would be remiss not to prepare, and yet very often our own limitations as humans render our study and experience meaningless, and at the mercy of forces beyond our own control. This surgeon has come to that crossroad, and we as readers are right there as well.


Paul David Mena, judge


Second Place ($50)


no longer the athlete I never was


John Stevenson


Third Place ($25)


late for the Zen lecture

   most of the time

      I am missing nothing


John Stevenson


Honorable Mentions


the whole bath long

worrying if I can

get out


Carolyn Hall


morning commute

bumper to bumper

for lattes


Rob Grotke


  on line all night

researching causes/treatments

                           of insomnia


Michael Dudley


TANKA (Judge: David Rice)

After reading the entries for the HPNC's annual tanka contest for the purpose of choosing winners, and initially sorting them into two groups—ones I would not pick and ones I might pick—I tried to define what made some poems touch me. While what makes a tanka soar is ultimately undefinable, and while an individual reader's aesthetic is a factor, there are certain technical skills in tanka writing that the poets whose poems I liked used much better than the poets in the other group. Word choice and metaphor: as has been said before, fresh images are much more likely to reach the reader and metaphors expand the power of words and add overtones to the poem. Structure: when a tanka has a shift, it makes it more likely the reader will be drawn into the poem. Topic: a poem about cooking beans, like the one I just wrote, may be well-crafted, but poems about emotionally-charged situations, are more likely to reach the reader. 



First Place ($100)

this child, autistic
kicks a hole
cratering the door
I pull another  
splinter from my dream


Lesley Anne Swanson


The poet who wrote “this child, autistic” uses unusual imagery (“kicks a hold/cratering the door”) and then extends the metaphor in the shift in the last two lines (“splinter from my dream”) that broadens the micro-action of the first three lines to the macro-level of her whole life. “Dream” is a common word in the tanka I read that do not move me, because “dream” is a word used so frequently it has lost much of its ability to reach the reader in a particular way. In this poem, though, “dream” has a specific meaning that fits perfectly with the rest of the poem. Word choice, structure, topic, and the ineffable “splinter from my dream.” I bow in silence.

Second Place

ocean sunset . . .
the wind machineguns the sand
against my face,
and it all comes flooding back—
the screams, the smells


James Chessing


“machineguns” in the second line of “ocean sunset . . .”, as a verb, grabbed me. The shift in the last two lines knocked me down. The poet's re-experienced trauma kept me down. I've seen ocean sunsets and had wind smack my face. If a prize-winning tanka needs to pull the reader into the emotional-physical place where the poem was born, this tanka succeeds. The next time I am at the beach, I will think of this poem and hope the poet is able to deal with the post-traumatic stress.

Third Place

wind-bent willow
netting the moon on the pond
show me how to free
the me who surrendered
to the woman I've become


Linda Jeannette Ward


“wind-bent willow” has images frequently used in tanka (“willow,” “moon”).  The strength of the poem is in the shift and meaning of the last two lines. The willow, after “netting the moon in the pond,” doesn't really set it “free.” It is the moon that moves and, by doing so, frees itself from the willow's net.   Likewise, only “the me who surrendered” can free herself from “the woman I've become.” There is a lot of dreaming room in this tanka, because the poet used familiar tanka images in unexpected ways.

Honorable Mention

another Sunday,
a fresh bouquet
for your grave . . .
my helpless waiting
for gravity to let go


James Chessing


Often, people bring flowers to a grave so they can be with the person who died. The last two lines take the wish to be with the deceased literally and this surprise shift made me feel the “helpless waiting.” Gravity, an unusual word in a tanka as a scientific term, is a force that pulls objects towards each other. Here, metaphorically, the poet is asking the earth “to let go” so the poet can join the deceased, and the fresh imagery also let me feel the “helpless waiting.” 

hoping the wind dies down
so the fires don't spread
wish granted
toxic smoke
sits in the valley


M. Franklyn Teaford


We want our wishes to come true but, sometimes, we what we wish for isn't enough. This tanka let me feel how helpless we can be even after a fire, because we then have to respond to what the fire did—and there are many kinds of fires.

Rengay (Judge: Billie Wilson)

First Place    


Even Starlight Crackles


Gary Evans, Stanwood, WA

Seren Fargo, Bellingham, WA


frozen night

even the starlight

crackles                                       Gary


ice storm

cedars pierce the moon               Seren


too cold to snow

the sound

of popping trees                          Gary


arctic wind

birds huddled

on the lowest branch                   Seren


moonlit cobwebs

outlined with hoar frost              Gary


frigid evening

the last of the snowberries

preserved in ice                           Seren


“Stunning!” I said that aloud after my first reading, and that word continues to echo at each new reading. Everything works together to create a winter as amazing as that in the film Dr. Zhivago. Each verse could easily be published on its own and links beautifully with the others. Superb word choices throughout beg to be read aloud so that the perfectly chosen sounds and resulting musicality can be savored. An A+ and 10 gold stars.  Did I mention I love it?

Second Place    


Hidden Ice


Marilyn Ashbaugh, Edwardsburg, MI

Jeanne Cook, South Bend, IN


the silent howl

of a broken dream

wolf moon                                           Marilyn


the hidden ice

of becalmed wind chimes                    Jeanne


incense altar

I listen to

plum blossoms                                     Marilyn


holding hands/

the tune stuck

in her head                                           Jeanne


snowdrops under a drift

sound of spring                                    Marilyn


unwound clock

the flowered print

of her worn-out dress                          Jeanne


This edgy rengay skids me like black ice right out of my comfort zone and then welcomes me into a refreshing new dimension. This response is similar to the first time I was captured by Tomita’s album Snowflakes are Dancing in the 1970s. And that music would be a perfect accompaniment to these verses.

Third Place




Biillie Dee, Las Cruces, NM

Deborah P Kolodji, Temple City, CA


billowing clouds

a flock of sheep blocks the road

to the graveyard                               Billie


mushrooms growing

next to her name                              Deborah


           Memorial Day

           her purse the smell of lilac

           and Lucky Strikes                 Billie


            folded flag

            the bugle

            a bit sharp                            Deborah


hankie pinned to my blouse

with a golden claddagh                   Billie


yesterday’s roses

a handful of dirt

from Wisconsin                               Deborah



The beautiful and intricate blending of a present-day visit to a loved one’s grave with vividly-described memories brings a nostalgic sense of longing. It opens itself to each reader’s memories. I had to look up “claddagh” (but am sure not every reader would). That it is a piece of traditional Irish jewelry representing love, loyalty, and friendship adds another rich layer. 

1st HM


Two Rivers  (A Honkadori Rengay*)


Julie Warther, Dover, OH

Dan Schewerin, Waukesha, WI


from the coat

of one cat…

a hundred fleas                             Julie


washing the robe

then the priest                               Dan


I lead

you follow

two rivers                                      Julie


both sandals

having the summer

that is in them                               Dan


all that remains

of our walks on the beach             Julie


a new tide

the coolness

of coming clean                            Dan


*In Japanese poetry, honkadori is an allusion within a poem to an older poem which would be generally recognized by its potential readers.   These links retain echoes of Chiyo-ni, Issa, Shiki, Buson, Basho and Santoka


What fun to be introduced to honkadori this way. Kudos to the poets who so carefully crafted this approach and, in the process, created a rengay that really works. With the bonus of a hidden game, it is to be hoped that, with the clues in the footnote, readers will be prompted to dig through the classics to find the inspiration for each verse.

2nd HM


Julie Warther, Dover, OH

Angela Terry, Lake Forest Park, WA


Valentine snow

the paper thin curls

of birch bark                                     Julie


weightless in the moment

wild plum                                         Angela


a tiny curve

fits itself to the nest

of thistle down                                  Julie


moss growing

in the morning mist

the silence                                        Angela


whisper of a snake

slipping out of its skin                     Julie




a lover’s kiss                                    Angela


3rd HM


Tanya McDonald, Woodinville, WA

Michelle Schaefer, Bothell, WA

Mimi Gorman, Indianola, WA


rainy, rainy day

an unopened box

of watercolors                                  Tanya


             pond koi surface

             in my thoughts                    Michelle


cream swirling

into my coffee

the lines blur                                     Mimi


             a drop of wine

             tints the bubble bath            Tanya


scented candle

wax pools

around the wick                               Michelle


             waterfall sounds

             stream from the radio         Mimi

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