Deborah P Kolodji, Judge
Nancy Dahlberg, Contest Coordinator
Sponsored by Haiku Northwest and the Washington Poets Association
sketching the sapling
I will never see grown—
the quiet woods
The sense of quiet acceptance in the winning haiku appeals to me on a deep level. Each time I re-read it, I discover a different meaning. There are hints of a possible death of a child, a miscarriage, or the author’s own impending passing. Yet, the poem is devoid of the sentimentality that often accompanies such themes. The lines are perfectly ordered, the poem wouldn’t have the same impact if the third line were the first line, and there is music in the rhythms of the words. The quietness of the woods also slightly echoes Frost, from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
Here the only sound is the sweep of the poet’s pencil on paper, sketching the sapling. The haiku doesn’t mention snow, but a sense of impending winter remains.
Perseids . . .
oh, the weight
of all those wishes
Point Roberts, Washington
We all want Disney endings in our lives, but “when you wish upon a star . . . ,” there’s an emotional weight behind it. Sometimes it is merely a desire, a new toy under the Christmas tree. Sometimes it’s more a desperation, such as betting your last dollar on that “lucky” horse. Like wishes, meteoroids, or falling stars, also vary in weight. Most are bits of dust and rock that disintegrate when they enter the earth’s atmosphere. But others survive, and are reclassified as meteorites when they strike the earth. Some of these are also quite small, but others are extraordinarily heavy, such as the Willamette meteorite that weighs nearly 16 tons. In a meteor shower, such as the Perseids, there can be as many as 60 meteors per hour. I can only imagine the weight of all those wishes! This haiku makes me think of all this and more in fewer than ten words. The ellipsis in the first line is reminiscent of meteors. I wish I had written it.
this one tiny worm
The image of a tiny worm coiling and uncoiling is a wonderful juxtaposition to the equinox. Although the haiku doesn’t indicate whether it is the spring or autumnal equinox, and earthworms actually hint of summer, the fact that the worm is tiny first led me to believe it is the spring equinox. Yet, the worm is coiling before uncoiling, which hints to shorter before longer, and autumn. I love the ambiguity of this poem because it hints at the cycle of the seasons. As the worm coils and uncoils, the days become shorter, then longer, and everything cycles around and starts all over again.
(in order of merit)
deep crack in the acorn morning thunder
Keyser, West Virginia
This one-liner is wonderfully crafted with sounds, using literary devices not often associated with haiku. I love the onomatopoeia of “crack” and the internal rhyme of “acorn morning.” Something about the juxtaposition of thunder with the deep crack appeals to me on many levels. The fact that it is morning thunder makes me wonder what else the day has in store. Because it is a one-liner, the meaning shifts a bit, depending upon how the reader breaks up the haiku.
not how I thought
it would happen
Again, here is a haiku that subtly hints at death without unnecessary sentimentality. The blossoms are frost-tipped, which is not what you’d expect. Death rarely comes when one expects it, so this juxtaposition is beautiful in an almost metaphoric way.
beyond our grasp
the Milky Way
Both the white lilacs and the Milky Way are beyond our reach, but not beyond our appreciation. The middle line works well as a pivot line, and I like the way the first two lines end with short “a” sounds (lilacs, grasp) and the last line ends with a long “a” sound.
each of us seeing
Bristol, Rhode Island
The author has crafted an effective double meaning in this haiku. The people in the poem could simply be two people seeing different faces in the clouds, or they could both be dating other people after ending their relationship. I appreciate the craft in the way this works, as well as the soft “s” sounds that flow all the way through the poem.
Our thanks to Deborah P Kolodji for judging and for commenting on each poem, and to Nancy Dahlberg for serving as contest coordinator. Congratulations to each winner, and thank you to all the poets who entered 435 poems for consideration. We hope that you will enter the 2013 Porad Award for haiku. We also welcome haiku poets in the Seattle area to join Haiku Northwest at its monthly meetings. Please explore our website for more information.
Haiku Northwest Coordinator
Michael Dylan Welch
Washington Poets Association Board Member