2015 Porad Award Winners

Carolyn Hall, Judge

Richard and Kathleen Tice, Contest Coordinators

Sponsored by Haiku Northwest

First Place ($100)

retelling the story animal bones

Alan S. Bridges

Littleton, Massachusetts

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)

in remission

acacia dust brushed

from the windshield

Sharon Pretti

San Francisco, California

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)

sinking sun—

the heron stalks what’s left

of the day

Carole MacRury

Point Roberts, Washington

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.

Honorable Mentions


your shoulder blades

cut my hands—

first lilacs

Anita Guenin

San Diego, California

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.

summer magic

my father finds a whistle

in a blade of grass

Susan Constable

Parksville, British Columbia

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

Ernest J. Berry

Blenheim, New Zealand

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.

snowy winter

less down

to the see saw

Brad A. Bennett

Arlington, Massachusetts

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.

growth rings

on a truckful of pine logs

the day’s last light

paul m. (Paul Miller)

Bristol, Rhode Island

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.

Judge’s Thanks

I thank the organizers of the 2015 Porad Awards for the privilege of judging this year’s contest. It was more difficult than I anticipated, but ultimately very fulfilling. Of all the poems submitted, there were so many fine ones. Time spent with them was well spent. In the end, I selected five poems for honorable mention—each of them well deserved. And each of the three top award winners were outstanding. I congratulate all the winners and eagerly await notification of who you are!

Carolyn Hall

San Francisco, California

Sponsor’s Thanks

Our gratitude to Carolyn Hall for judging this year’s contest and for commenting on the winning poems. Thanks also to Richard and Kathleen Tice for serving as contest coordinators. Congratulations to each winner, and thank you to all the poets who entered 610 poems for consideration. We hope that you will enter next year’s contest, and join Haiku Northwest at its monthly meetings and annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway retreat each autumn.

Angela Terry

Haiku Northwest President