2011 Porad Award Winners
Susan Constable, Judge
First Place ($100)
The winning haiku drew me in, time and time again, and I discovered more about it—and myself—with each successive reading. I believe that “dampened” is the key word to its success. The sound is muffled by fog, but it also feels as though the cries are physically dampened—an idea that I love. There is something very haunting about it: the image, the sounds, and the sensation of fog on my skin . . . and there’s a marvellous sense of wonder. Although I may lose my way because of limited visibility—both physically and metaphorically during this time of my life—the geese fly on!
Second Place ($50)
The second-place haiku piqued my curiosity about termites. My appreciation for the poem intensified when I discovered that they shed their wings, and reproduce when heavy rains follow a drought. The first line begins with a powerful adjective and I feel immersed in that long, hot summer. My attention is then focused on a single termite anticipating the signal to reproduce. As though unable to wait for nature to take its course, it tears off its wings. The contrast between the wide and narrow views in the first and second lines is mirrored by the lengths of those lines, and the repetition of the T sounds seems to intensify the frantic actions of the termite.
Third Place ($25)
This year’s third-place haiku speaks to me on a very emotional level. Despite the word “snow,” no definite season is stated or implied. And although it’s written in past tense, with very little imagery, I find it extremely effective and poignant. The poet does not tell us how to feel; there’s no hint of sentimentality. In fact, it’s what isn’t said that feels so important. There’s a stark contrast between the devastating fallout and the purity of snow, and an implication of the huge difference between what it felt like at the time, and how things might feel in the future.
The opening line draws me immediately into the haiku with a strong visual and a distinct sense of something intriguing. Finding out about myself is like picking at the hard, layered scales of this cone . . . interesting, yet difficult to dissect. Unlike the bristlecone pine, however, my life is short . . . too short, perhaps, to find out all there is beneath my protective layers.
at least the crow
I keep returning to this haiku for the smile it brings. I love the playfulness of the phrase, which implies that it’s easier to understand crows than to figure out what thoughts are really lurking behind what people say. Crow caws may be repetitious, but there’s no fancy vocabulary or convoluted phrases. No mist, drizzle, or showers. Just rain!
acacia seeds rattle
Haiku that include sounds are often very appealing, and this one’s no exception. I can almost hear these seeds and can’t help but imagine the poet rattling around in his or her own life, which now seems so empty. Autumn brings the cycle of life to our attention, with images of death and signs of rebirth through the sowing of seeds. This poem may refer to a permanent loss or, perhaps, simply to a long absence. Either way, life is not the same when one we love is gone.
snowed in every inch of her
With just six words, we are told a story . . . or two. Has the snow simply confined a woman to her house? Or are there sexual overtones to consider, which lead us to an entirely different possibility? Perhaps the heavy snowfall has brought this couple together both physically and emotionally. Or maybe not. In either case, the one-line format permits multiple readings that so often strengthen the resonance of a haiku.
Michael Dylan Welch