2015 Porad Award Winners
Carolyn Hall, Judge
First Place ($100)
retelling the story animal bones
This short story—just five words—stood out from the rest on my very first reading of the hundreds of poems submitted. The animal bones (in the wild? in a shop? on someone’s coffee table?) tell the story of a critter once alive but no longer so. Cleverly the words are strung out in a single line like a string of vertebrae, making it nearly impossible not to try to envision this creature and wonder at its story. There are two possible, complementary, readings of this poem. In one, the bones tell their own story. In an alternate reading, someone is retelling the story of the bones and how they came to be in this place. In either case, we are drawn into an intimate story of life and death. It is impossible not to be intrigued. This imagery will stick with me for a long time to come.
Second Place ($50)
Unfortunately there are more than enough reasons to write haiku on the subject of cancer—our own or that of friends, family, or pets suffering from the disease. Consequently, it is difficult to write a fresh poem on the subject. This poet has succeeded in doing that. At the end of the first line, “in remission,” we breathe a sigh of relief. But wait! “acacia dust brushed from the windshield” will be gone only momentarily before it begins to accumulate again. Will the same be true of the cancer cells? The possibility creates enormous tension, and that, in turn, makes this haiku stand out in a field of so many other fine poems.
Third Place ($25)
Such an interesting turn of phrase, to “stalk what’s left of the day.” Though the heron is the putative subject of this poem, it is impossible not to imagine all of us (human and animal) seeking nourishment (physical or psychological) as we approach the end of the day—or, metaphorically, approach the end of our lives.
your shoulder blades
The onset of spring often heralds the blossoming of love. But here we have just the opposite. Clearly we are not meant to take the first two lines literally. The poet has ever so cleverly communicated that this embrace is not met with the ardor with which it is delivered.
The last two lines are charming and magical—and believable from a child’s point of view. I might have preferred letting the reader find the magic in the poem (i.e., no need for “magic” in line one), but still the poem is worthy of an honorable mention.
winter dusk this foreign duck one of us
We have an idiom for this: “He’s such a funny duck.” The poet clearly recognizes we all feel foreign and out of place from time to time, perhaps particularly as we approach old age (our “winter dusk”). The one-line format, suggesting ducks in a row, works especially well here.
This is a wonderfully visual poem, though it took me a minute to see what was being described. Life has its ups and downs. While one might consider a particularly snowy winter to be one of the downs, here the poet has found a silver lining to all that snow.
A very touching haiku. Once trees have been reduced to logs, their days of producing growth rings are over. The day’s last light marks the end of these trees’ growing seasons.