2006 Porad Award Winners

Ruth Yarrow, Judge

Unknown, Contest Coordinator

Sponsored by the Washington Poets Association

Judge’s Comments

Of the more than 200 haiku submitted to this contest, only about a fifth really worked for me as effective haiku. Over a third of the submissions seemed simply descriptive, often with one image, losing the depth that the reverberation between two images can produce. Almost half of the submissions were very wordy, crowding many adjectives and poetic devices into a form that is at its best when the words are as spare as possible. Those of us who love this form have a challenge to counter all the poor haiku examples on the Internet and to help poets new to the form understand what makes a haiku effective. It is terrific that so many are willing to try writing haiku and I hope you continue! The website for the Haiku Society of America (www.hsa-haiku.org) could be a springboard for definitions and resources.

First Prize ($100)

                 mountain pass

            headlights on the edge

                 of a thunderhead

                        Ernest J. Berry

                        Picton, New Zealand

This haiku is strong because of the many reverberations between its images. As you read the first two lines, the poet takes you to the steep drop-off of a twisting mountain road. But suddenly it’s even more dramatic—the beams from an oncoming car are at the edge of an evening thundercloud that may flash like lightning. Or perhaps the beams of the poet’s car are projecting into space toward the thunderstorm. The towering thunderhead and the mountain resonate with their size and shape and the threat of rumbling thunder or rock falls. In just these few words, the poet has let us step into his or her shoes and feel the excitement and imminent danger.

Second Prize ($75)

            the faint pulse

            of out-of-tune strings—

            winter light

                        John Barlow

                        Liverpool, United Kingdom

This delicately crafted poem skillfully contrasts light and sound to give the reader a powerfully nostalgic feeling. We feel the faint pulse of someone who used to play those out-of-tune strings, and the lonely feeling of the poet who is left in the waning light. By repeating the light sound of the letter t, the poet augments the delicate touch and faint sound that results.

Third Prize ($50)

            baton raised . . .

                 a moth spirals

                      into the silence

                        Christopher Herold

                        Port Townsend, Washington

This is a moment very keenly perceived. In the expectant hush before the music, perhaps a huge orchestra, we don’t hear a sound but instead the personification of the silence in that moth caught in the stage lights. The spiral of the moth hints at the action into which the raised baton is about to plunge.

Honorable Mentions


            jar of tadpoles—

            two shadows swim off

            the candle-lit table

                        Sara Mills

                        Somerville, Massachusetts

The poet has captured a moment so we clearly see the tadpole shadows, probably enlarged by the curved glass of the jar, sliding off the table into nothingness. The fate of the shadows hints at the fate of the captured tadpoles.

            summer wind . . .

            sailing the length

            of the moon’s reflection

                        Marie Summers

                        Excelsior Springs, Missouri

The lovely image of sailing down the moonlit water is enhanced by the way the middle line could also work with the first line. The length of the moon’s reflection is really only limited by the time the poet spends on the lighted path of water, so, as the ellipsis indicates, both the sailing and the wind could go on endlessly.