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8th Annual Poet's Choice Kukai 2010

Congratulations to Michael McClintok, winner of the Kigo category and Angéle Lux, winner of the Free Format category.


Eighth Annual Poets' Choice Kukai Results
Kigo Poems
Free Format Poems

First Place
fishing the shallows
hip-deep in
white clouds

Michael McClintock
(2,6,9) = 27 pts

A beautiful picture.


Second Place
dusk —
the geese
just darker than the sky

Tim Singleton
(2,5,8) = 24 pts

Reminds me of Basho's ducks sounding faintly white. A subtle observation conveying the mood at dusk.

Though Sylvia Plath is writing of the blue-black time just before sunrise, I recall her powerful opening of 'Ariel: Stasis in darkness'. Then the substanceless blue 'Pour of tor and distances'. In this haiku, too, a lovely just-caught blue-black.

the neighbour's
unkempt lawn . . .
all these butterflies

polona
(2,4,10) = 24 pts

I recently viewed such a scene of an open field . It was fascinating to see so many butterflies rise so quickly and so high into the sky.

The image of butterflies being "unkempt" is perfection!


Third Place
spring planting
another turn
of earth

Tom Painting
(2,4,9) = 23 pts


Below Third Place
August moon . . .
from imperfect people
perfect shadows

Warren Gossett
(2,4,8) = 22 pts

The play of imperfect/perfect is interesting here, and compelling, if we don't let ourselves get too over-involved in the intellectual game behind it.

August moon
somewhere in the dark
a blues harp

Ignatius Fay
(2,3,8) = 20 pts

Planting roses —
the young farmer hums
an old love song

Vasile Moldovan
(3,2,6) = 19 pts

It makes me wonder if the farmer's father and possibly grandfather sang the same old love song. A nice story in few words.

Somehow, I can understand that farmer's song . . . the poem puts me right under his skin.

How nice to be able to sing while working.

So many layers to this one: the farmer is young, the song old, the activity of planting roses older yet, and the emotion of love as old as humanity. I wish the first letter of the first word were lower case: it would make discerning whether this is a haiku or senryu harder.

first love
my best friend's bike
at her house

Garry Eaton
(0,6,7) = 19 pts

migrating birds —
a line of traffic lights
turns green

Israel López Balan
(0,4,11) = 19 pts

This is a welcome sight. Those traffic lights can be so trying.

faster
than grandfather's rake
falling leaves

Roberta Beary
(0,4,9) = 17 pts

A lovely tribute to much more than falling leaves. Like Shakespeare who honored well the passing of time in our lives.

falling leaves
the scent of wet dog
in the hallway

Marleen Hulst
(0,4,9) = 17 pts

Impossible not to smell both the leaves and the dog in your mind's nose.

getting to know him —
leaf by leaf
the oak bares itself

Melissa Spurr
(1,3,7) = 16 pts

Great comparison and tree choice. My oak tree doesn’t give up its leaves very readily. This might turn out to be a long courtship.

My favorite! I like the sense of revelation as nature does ever so imperceptively in a haiku moment. I'm not content with my vote but poor as I am with a only a loonie [coin]for a treasure, I must get on.

icy moon
coyote cries
crack the silence

Melissa Spurr
(0,5,6) = 16 pts

Another good nature haiku.

high up in a tree
the crow changes colour —
first sunrise

Pia So'Sua
(0,3,10) = 16 pts

Reminiscent of Basho. Keen observation, captured simply.

An exquisite image.

bare foot
stirring
the whole Milky Way

Kurt R. Westley
(0,5,5) = 15 pts

leaf fall
the crisp step
of the meter reader

Tom Painting
(0,2,11) = 15 pts

Good use of contemporary elements, the figure of the meter reader; this could not have been written in medieval Japan.

Somebody has keen hearing.

The auditory image lasts longer than the length of a haiku.

A gust of wind
drops corn between
the bones of a crow.

mechaieh
(1,2,5) = 12 pts

Reminds me of the saying: We are what we eat.

I love the image-within-an-image with the same theme in this poem. It appears to be autumn; the kernel is left behind after the harvest. It is the dying time of the year. That crows live and eat in corn fields intensifies the theme. But the kernel of corn also suggests the potential rebirth in the spring. I wish the first letter of the first word were lower case and that there were no period: this poem risks seeming too much like a sentence even without those two issues.

struggling
through the tall grass — a boy
again

maxianne
(1,2,5) = 12 pts

A great surprise. I love that this haiku makes me feel both young and so very old.

the hawk also waiting
for shadows —
Groundhog Day

David Grayson
(1,1,7) = 12 pts

August moon —
this heat
between our sheets

Michael Dylan Welch
(1,2,4) = 11 pts

The moon seems responsible for so many things but heat is a new one for me.

I always like it when there's more than one meaning.

mid-winter thaw
even the snowman
has a runny nose

Elinor Pihl Huggett
(1,2,4) = 11 pts

stifling heat —
his mother finally sees
the tattoo

Diane Mayr
(0,3,4) = 10 pts

autumn morning —
a street dog
also sneezes

Israel López Balan
(0,3,4) = 10 pts

first day back
the religion teacher
pregnant again

Terry O'Connor
(0,1,8) = 10 pts

Yep, another senryu in the mix, as in the Free format group. Just so, it's memorable and makes its observation in a classic manner.

life drawing
the pear shaped curve
of a breast

Beth Powell
(1,1,4) = 9 pts

This also suggests the lovely color and softness of a pear.

fishing
a rainbow
out of the blue

Ben Gieske
(1,0,5) = 8 pts

first sun —
beside the front door
an old coin

Israel López Balan
(0,1,6) = 8 pts

Tough to put into words why this one sticks with me, but "stick" it does; its meaning and resonance, for me, are somewhere deep in the psyche, in the part of the mind and consciousness that processes, and holds on to, the symbolic.

bluestem
a flash of quail
in all directions

Tom Painting
(1,0,4) = 7 pts

A wonderful picture.

leaning papyrus —
the weight of a green
chameleon

Parkeenka Ntato
(0,2,3) = 7 pts

Refreshing to find a haiku only about nature.

August moon
the enormous belly
of the garden Buddha

Michael McClintock
(0,1,5) = 7 pts

Groundhog Day
the trickle of water
under ice

Tom Painting
(0,1,5) = 7 pts

fishing alone
I cast a thought
on the stream

Bill Kenney
(0,1,4) = 6 pts

planting rice —
my fathers peer
from my reflection

Earl R. Keener
(0,2,1) = 5 pts

last leaf
on the dogwood
chrysalis

Barbara Snow
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

cold —
the aspen leaves
shake with me

Maria Tomczak
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

I absolutely can feel this.

cherry blossom —
in my kitchen
the first ants

Gryta Wansdronk
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

night watch
opening the window
to spring peepers

Michele L. Harvey
(0,0,5) = 5 pts

groundhog day
the shadows of road crews
patching chuck holes

Cindy Tebo
(0,1,0) = 2 pts

I love the cross-over references to shadowand chuck, as well as the implied contrast of one exiting a hole and others filling holes. Lovely.

wind takes the seeds
I return the hat
to the scarecrow

Boris Nazansky
(0,0,2) = 2 pts

strip dancing
the last rose petal
off the stem

Chuck Welt

I wonder how long this took?


General Comments for the Kigo Section:
Wonderful series this past year.

It was a great pleasure to read these poems anew.

I had an interesting struggle when choosing how many points I'd assign each poem. I gave 2 points each to the poems that were complex, rather than being snapshots, even when the complex ones had technical problems and the snapshot poems were technically perfect. While I think it's appropriate to value the message over technical matters, I am not entirely comfortable giving fewer points to poems that are just snapshots. Buson was a master of painterly poems, and is one of my top two of the fab four Japanese poets. I wish I had a couple extra points for the latter two, or that I could eliminate one of them. Thank you for this pleasant challenge.

This was hard-- there were so many great haiku to choose from!

I remember all of these haiku. It was so hard to narrow the list to just six!

Great to review these annual prizewinners again -- always an extra pleasure.

My sincere congratulations to the winners!! These three haiku: bare foot/ stirring/ the whole Milky Way, August moon . . ./from imperfect people/perfect shadows, andfishing/a rainbow/out of the blue, are among my favorites and I’m glad see that they are in the top.

Sorry, I don't have time to make any specific comments, but these are all wonderful poems! Although I find it difficult to compare the serious with the humorous, it's lovely to read the variety of approaches in dealing with the selected subjects.

What struck me about the poems is that more and more nature is human nature. The Kigo poems seem to be more inclined to incorporate human nature into nature than the Free Verse poem.


First Place
window moon —
the quiet sound between
tick and tock

Angéle Lux
(4,6,10) = 34 pts

You sent me back to T.S. Eliot's The Four Quartets. Time past, time present. Lovely evocation.

I can still hear the tick and tock. Beautiful poem!


Second Place
along the shore
each wave
waits its turn

Ben Gieske
(2,7,12) = 32 pts

A reminder that everything has its order.


Third Place
homeless shelter –
her wrinkled brochure
of Disneyworld

Catherine J.S. Lee
(3,3,6) = 21 pts

So sad and yet full of hope. Some dreams never die.

in the garden
that was her life . . .
birdsong

Carol Raisfeld
(1,3,12) = 21 pts

A powerful, simple memorial, expressed beautifully -- the third line "birdsong" is brilliant here.

Gardens and birdsong.....who needs more, except memory.

Beautifully poignant.

night sky —
my thumb
eclipsing the moon

Cara Holman
(0,5,11) = 21 pts

I can still see the eye, the thumb and the moon. Beautiful poem!


Below Third Place
a year later
still leaving the porch
light on

Terra Martin
(1,3,11) = 20 pts

Always living in the moment of return. Beautiful suspension in this haiku.

A great example of letting the reader participate in the haiku by filling in the blanks.

empty beach
the faint sound
of a church bell

og_a
(2,1,11) = 19 pts

I can still hear the church bell. Beautiful poem!

railroad crossing
their goodnight kiss
one hundred boxcars long

Edward
(0,2,12) = 16 pts

snow fills
the pumpkin’s grin
November

Ann K. Schwader
(1,2,8) = 15 pts

Captures perfectly the transition between Halloween and winter.

still no word . . .
a piece of sky
left by the clouds

Rob Scott
(0,4,7) = 15 pts

winter night
she stirs the embers
before bed

Tom Painting
(1,3,5) = 14 pts

Exquisitely simple slice-of-life; this is real haiku.

This so economically and so completely evokes a ritual from my youth. For years, the last thing my father did before going to bed, when visiting the cottage in winter, was to stir the embers and fill the stove with wood. You can feel the warmth radiating from this poem.

enough,
just one orchid in
the bamboo vase

Narayanan Raghunathan
(0,4,6) = 14 pts

Simple and beautiful. I think a colon might work better than a comma, here.

the parking ticket machine
tells me
change is possible

Andrew Shimield
(0,2,9) = 13 pts

Is it haiku? There ARE examples of this kind of poem from the Japanese masters; its subject and style puts it on the outer margins of the haiku genre. That being said, it is a fine example of the pithy truths of that end of the genre, surprises us with its wisdom in a memorable way.

home alone
my finger circles
the cookie tin

Tom Painting
(1,3,3) = 12 pts

one silk thread . . .
in the rubble a spider
starts a new web

Janice Hornburg
(1,2,5) = 12 pts

To my mind, the outstanding haiku of this annual collection. All round wonderful!

Persistence. Renewal. Hope. Lovely.

quiet breakfast —
faint height marks
on the wall

James Dobson
(0,2,8) = 12 pts

A moment when parents are adjusting to their child having grown up and moved on.

Melancholy perfection!

rain . . .
the floor awash
with toys

Rob Scott
(2,1,3) = 11 pts

whistling across fields
the boy
your father was

carol pearce-worthington
(1,0,8) = 11 pts

A mother talks to her son? Precious capture.

thick fog —
four brightly colored pills
beside her oatmeal

Susan Constable
(0,3,5) = 11 pts

So vivid, yet so speculative. Is she ill (how badly)? Is she dieting? Does the fog imply the pills are for a mental disorder - or, perhaps, recreational use that has gotten out of hand? So many questions.

moving day —
in the empty room
my mother's smell

Israel López Balan
(0,2,7) = 11 pts

I know this experience deep in my heart. I have saved my mother's fur jacket, and every so often, I go to a special closet and bury my nose deep in her smell.

autumn love
letting him feel
my scar

Melissa Spurr
(0,1,9) = 11 pts

vapors
rising from the lake . . .
morning coffee

Janice Hornburg
(0,3,4) = 10 pts

Wonderful analogy - both lake and coffee, being warmer than their morning surroundings, emitting vapors. In contrast, one images chills, while the other warms.

we sleep
curved into each other . . .
old spoons

Jo McInerney
(0,2,5) = 9 pts

I find this enormously comforting.

sunlit beach
I twirl the umbrella
in my drink

Collin Barber
(0,2,5) = 9 pts

change of address . . .
the constant shift
of stars

Melissa Spurr
(0,1,7) = 9 pts

moving day -
a drift of dandelion seeds
leads the way

aom (tim)
(0,2,4) = 8 pts

One of those images/juxta-positionings that conveys whole stories with simple grace and natural imagery.

changing weather
my son renames
his chameleon

Francine Banwarth
(0,2,4) = 8 pts

Three changes in three lines in one moment.

my grandparents
stand at the end of the dock
casting one shadow

Edward
(0,1,6) = 8 pts

summer picnic —
the last of the cookie crumbs
walk by

C.P.Harrison
(0,1,6) = 8 pts

Normally I don't go for anthropomorphism, even in senryu. But I had to break my rule on this one.

I love this image--even though I am not fond of ants.

tea steam
the east window
brightens

Ann K. Schwader
(0,1,6) = 8 pts

carousel
she tells the unicorn
to giddyap

Ellen Compton
(0,1,4) = 6 pts

mid January
he tries a different set
of bathroom scales

Paul Hodder
(0,1,4) = 6 pts

accessories —
she dyes tennis balls
to match her outfits

ARW
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

I enjoyed the humor and humanity of this; strictly speaking, this is senryu, but the poem still scores high for me.

ah! the midnight moon
sprinkling sequins again
on the old pond

Anne Zooey Lind
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

Take the time to really visualize this one from the words given -- a classically beautiful image.

after
the aftershock
one star

Francine Banwarth
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

hoarfrost
her embroidery needle
in and out

Terra Martin
(0,1,3) = 5 pts

morning bake shop
the last cookies sold
for a smile

Michele Harvey
(0,0,5) = 5 pts

Christmas brunch
a place at the table
for her new doll

Catherine J.S. Lee
(0,0,4) = 4 pts

night time harmony
my wife and my dog
snoring off key

Mr. PC
(0,0,4) = 4 pts

evening walk —
leaving the house
to come home again

Marylouise Knight
(0,0,4) = 4 pts

winter romance —
crumbs at the bottom
of a cookie jar

polona


General Comments for the Free Format Section:
It's all worth repeating....Wonderful series this past year!

A wonderful chance to revisit these and to see them as standalone poems. Thanks to all that participated throughout the year. You have been inspiring!

This was the first time I've ever had more points than I needed. I gave one point each to two poems I wasn't super-enthusiastic about because I didn't want to give any of the others more points than I already had.

I was surprised at just how little nature figures in these poems. I was also surprise by just how little mystery is incorporated in the writing. So many of these almost feel like Senryu to me. Wonderful depictions of the human condition. Yet, I miss the mind-opening quality of a good haiku.

Another hard call! What wonderful haiku were written this past year. I can't wait to see what comes next!

This was a very unforgettable year filled with many wonderful haiku. Very inspirational and very observant. I hope to continue to learn as I compete with these wonderful poets!

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