HAIKU (Judge: Scott Mason)



First Place



in the tide pool

a child’s gaze


Gregory Longenecker

Pasadena CA


Quiet meditation with an element of surprise, this haiku poignantly weds the observed to the observer—and, in the process, ephemeral nature to enduring wonder.



Second Place


autumn wind all the colors of the freight train


Frank Hooven 

Morrisville PA


Not a train of thought but sensation, this one-liner delightfully conflates two worlds which in truth are one.



Third Place


owls call in the winter darkness around us


Joseph Robello

Novato CA



Through masterly staging and sound play, this monoku becomes a mystic band (or Möbius strip) of cause and effect.



Honorable Mentions


morning apologies…

frost lingers

on the shaded grass


Frank Hooven 

Morrisville PA


into the recycling origami cranes


Carolyn Hall 

San Francsico CA


summer moon

  a white lie

  with wings


Lee Gurga

White Heath IL



SENRYU (Judge: Michael Ketchek)



First Place



used bookstore

memoir bleeds

into mystery

Peter Newton

Winchendon MA



This senryu embodies what Blyth says a senryu should do. Senryu according to Blyth, “is an understanding of all things by laughing or smiling at them.” He goes on to say, “and this means forgiving all things, ourselves and God included.” This senryu certainly gave me a smile when I read it and each time I reread it. It reveals how faulty memory is and how this is relevant to the great mystery of human life and human history. For memoir is history. Placing this sentiment on the shelves of a used bookstore gives it just the right humorous touch that allows us to forgive our own faulty memory and forgive God for not making us more perfect.



Second Place


nine eleven

we all know someone

who knew someone


Alan Bridges

Littleton MA



This senryu shows the interconnectedness of everyone in the whole world. How everyone is touched by the tragedy of nine eleven or any other tragedy for that matter. The phrase “we all know someone who knew someone” adds a subtle twist because usually when someone knows someone it is brought up in a boastful not tragic sense. Such as when at a party someone tells you something like, “My uncle once shared a taxi with Ringo Starr.” This is a powerful poem, but it is not overstated which makes it so effective.



Third Place


lucky day

a penny on the floor

by the urinal

Frank Hooven

Morrisville PA


What is luck? Finding a penny is usually considered lucky, but in this case no one is going to pick up a penny from the urine stained floor by the urinal. So, luck is turned upside down and this lets one reflect on the shifting notion of luck itself.



Honorable mention


all-day hike

he asks me to explain



J. Zimmerman

Santa Cruz CA




nothing lasts dear her clear plastic cup

Scott Mason

Chappaqua NY



Father’s Day —

I call

my sons


Lee Gurga, White Heath IL




TANKA (Judge: Michael Dylan Welch)



First Place


our long conversation

about divorcing

we part company


in falling snow

Pamela Babusci

Rochester NY


This conversation in falling snow provides a sense of acceptance, despite the cold—a coldness that seems figurative as well as literal. The word “soundlessly” makes this poem click into place, connecting the nature of the relationship with the natural elements. What is possibly beautiful in nature is perhaps not so beautiful in the relationship. More importantly, we can see that the relationship has gone cold, and we get the feeling that this parting of company is not just at that moment but permanently. The poem offers a bittersweet sadness with the fitting image of falling snow. The soundlessness cements that acceptance, too, which provides a hint of positiveness.



Second Place


in my dream

Mother is still alive—

I fall back to sleep

to finish our stroll

in the summer garden

Margaret Chula

Portland OR


An unspoken grief and a feeling of loss serves as an undercurrent to this buoyant poem. The poet is remembering Mother in happier times, and the dream enables the poet to linger with those memories. I find it fitting, too, that this is a summer garden, when nature is at its prime, and the dream is surely of a time when the mother was in her prime as well, perhaps also being a gardener herself. The poem’s conversation and companionship, and ultimately the love that binds these two people together, makes this an inviting poem, but not without a mix of sadder feelings also.



Third Place


some scars lie deeper

than can ever be seen . . .

the other mourners

mistake my tears for grief

instead of joy

Tracy Davidson

Warwickshire UK


Tanka tends to be more overtly introspective than haiku, and we see an honest introspection here. We can readily agree that some scars, especially emotional scars, lie deep. And at this memorial, the poet’s tears are not as simple as they may seem to others. It is difficult to think of a “mourner” being joyful at someone’s passing, except perhaps guardedly when death ends prolonged suffering. But here there’s a sort of relief to the joy admitted to in this poem, stemming from some prior incident, or many incidents, of betrayal, abuse, or other wrongdoing. These scars are barely hinted at, and although they are obviously very deep, still the poet attends this memorial service, maybe out of obligation but at least with a small feeling of victory.



Honorable Mentions (ranked)


a cumulus cloud

dissipating . . .

would anyone


if I disappeared


Susan Burch

Hagerstown MD

A minimalist introspection that ties the fading of a cloud to the fading of one’s self. Doubt is on candid display here. Yes, is the unspoken answer. Yes, other people would notice that cloud, especially when it’s a possibly stormy cumulus cloud—possibly stormy. And yes, others would notice the poet’s disappearance just as much as the poet noticed that cloud’s dissipation.



the coiled tips

of fiddlehead ferns

remind me

that every forest knows

how to make music


Debbie Strange

Winnipeg Manitoba

These coiled fern tips remind me of what’s called the “scroll” at the top end of a violin, which is surely why these ferns are named for fiddles. These tips will uncoil, as if to release their music. All aspects of the forest—the high canopies of swaying trees, the forest duff below, and everything in between—all contribute to the music of the forest. The poet notices and is filled with appreciation for the harmony of nature.



sewing a button

onto his shirt—

at least this

I know how

to fix

Susan Burch

Hagerstown MD


A minimalist yet weighty presentation. Here a feeling is tied to a practical and everyday task. The middle line suggests that while the shirt can be fixed, other things can’t, or at least that the poet doesn’t know how, or at least not yet. And so the poet does what can be done, with the hope that more complicated issues might be fixed in due course.


I am grateful for the opportunity to select these poems, chosen from 77 tanka entries. This contest struck me as having a much higher percentage of strong poems compared with other contests I’ve judged, which demonstrates how devoted to tanka most of the people who entered must be. My first pass through all the poems made me think that I had too many good poems to choose from, which was a refreshing pleasure, but of course not an easy challenge. I had many close selections that could easily have been among the top selections. My congratulations to the winners and to everyone who entered for continuing to explore the nuances of tanka poetry.


Michael Dylan Welch

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