2013 Porad Award Winners

Ce Rosenow, Judge

Nancy Dahlberg, Contest Coordinator

Sponsored by Haiku Northwest and the Washington Poets Association

First Place ($100)

it could be nothing

it could be something

winter darkness

Peggy Heinrich

Santa Cruz, California

In this poem, the poet deftly conveys a moment of uncertainty specific to the poet yet accessible to the reader. Something new and disconcerting has occurred, but the poet doesn’t yet know if it is significant. The pronoun “it” doesn’t lock the reader into whatever it is that holds the writer’s attention (a significant other’s unusual behavior possibly signaling infidelity, a physical symptom perhaps signaling a serious medical condition, the list goes on). Instead, the reader can enter into the poem through whatever it is that holds, or has held, the poet’s attention in this same way. The seasonal reference to winter darkness situates this haiku moment in a season with less light. The moment takes place either at night or in daytime with reduced light due to the time of year. The poem contains a strong internal comparison between not knowing if “it” is “something” or “nothing” and the literal and metaphorical difficulty of not seeing well in the winter darkness. Finally, the experience of not being able to discern whether the “it” is significant or not is emphasized by the parallel phrasing of the first two lines.

Second Place ($50)

Father’s Day . . .

the weight of his hammer

that never fit my hand

Michael L. Evans

Shelton, Washington

The poem successfully shares a moment in which the poet keenly feels a lack of connection between child and parent. The seasonal reference to Father’s Day emphasizes a holiday that encourages the celebration of one’s parent. The second line presents the image of the poet holding the father’s hammer and feeling its weight. The surprise in the final line makes the reader aware that this is not a celebratory holiday moment. Instead, the hammer not fitting the poet’s hand parallels the metaphorical bad fit between the poet and the poet’s father. The word “weight” now takes on additional importance as the poet feels the weight of the hammer and, possibly because of the holiday, more keenly feels the weight of the relationship with the father. Finally, the ellipsis in the first line suggests a longer passage of time than other forms of punctuation. Father’s Day occurs year after year, and the relationship between poet and father and the weight felt by the poet have also gone on for years.

Third Place ($25)

ground fog

I am certain

of nothing

Scott Mason

Chappaqua, New York

This poem also addresses a moment of uncertainty. The moment is conveyed primarily through the internal comparison between the ground fog, which obstructs the ability to see, and the poet’s conclusion about certainty. What exactly this conclusion is adds to the complexity and humor in the poem. The poem is a good example of haiku as a “playful phrase” because of the play on words in the second and third lines. The certainty expressed in line two either becomes a lack of certainty in line three (the poet isn’t certain of anything at all) or becomes a confirmation of the certainty of nothing (the poet is certain that there is nothing to be certain of).

Honorable Mentions


sinking moon

the weight of all

my unspoken words

Seren Fargo

Bellingham, Washington

holly trees surround

the garden—

when will I learn to forgive?

Terry Ann Carter

Victoria, British Columbia

dog days

through every window

the night train’s whistle

Barbara Snow

Eugene, Oregon

Sponsors’ Thanks

Our thanks to Ce Rosenow, former president of the Haiku Society of America, for judging this year's contest and for commenting on each winning poem. Thanks also to Nancy Dahlberg for serving as contest coordinator. Congratulations to each winner, and thank you to all the poets who entered 350 poems for consideration. We hope that you will enter the 2014 Porad Award for haiku. We also welcome haiku poets in the Seattle area to join Haiku Northwest at its monthly meetings, and to join us for our annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway retreat each October. Please visit our website for more information.

Tanya McDonald

Haiku Northwest Coordinator

Michael Dylan Welch

Washington Poets Association Board Member