2016 Porad Award Winners
Charles Trumbull, Judge
First Place ($100)
Such a simple haiku, yet such a profound image and deep resonance. My mind’s eye sees a totally gray scene with a gray, weather-beaten rowboat just barely visible in the center. The boat is apparently adrift on the unseen water. Our angle of view is such that we can see that it is empty if not derelict. The feeling of wabi and sabi that I get from this haiku is overwhelming. A classic in all senses.
Second Place ($50)
Perhaps this haiku struck me because I have recently had the pleasure of looking into our clear skies through a high-power telescope. I can’t imagine anyone who does that not being awed by the distances and elapsed times that are measured in hundreds of thousands of light-years. In this haiku the observer sees the distant celestial past via the dim starlight. Yet perhaps the faint glow of that starlight prompts a focus on the poet’s own past. Forgive me, please, but this is a stellar haiku!
Third Place ($25)
leaf pile raker
I’m a great fan of allusion in haiku, and this one is a real winner, a semi-paraphrase of Shiki’s famous “I go, you stay—two autumns.” The understated humor is perfect for haiku. I envision Dad out raking leaves (when he’d rather be watching the football game), and Junior and the family dog following behind, romping through the pile, and scattering the leaves to the autumn wind.
Not all swans migrate, but I think these swans did, just now, earlier today. To give something to remember them by, they left behind just a few feathers that were picked up by the wind and blown onto the far bank. I am especially pleased with the perfection of the word choice and the grace and precision of placement in this winning haiku.
What is it about the changes of autumn that makes us feel more kindly toward one another? The very warmth of the colors, perhaps—golds and reds and browns. Or maybe it is the seasonal hint that the end of life is approaching. We perceive a certain urgency to convey that warmth in our personal relationships as well.
in broken English
For me this heartwarming haiku instantly brought to mind a fellow I once knew, a Bosnian war immigrant who had been a successful lawyer in Sarajevo. He could not pass the bar and practice in the United States, so he got a job as a stall-keeper in the farmers market. He was barely able to make ends meet, but he loved this job that kept him outside and among people. Even with his broken English, Nebojša could describe his sky—the expanse of his visions and dreams—much better than I will ever be able to do.
This beautiful haiku is full of suggestion. Who is “she”? How does she know I need hot soup? The answers are given by the kigo “winter rain,” the most dismal of season words, a frigid rain maybe turning to sleet or snow and lacking any aspect of comfort or pleasure. “She” must be a loving mother or wife who instinctively knows the misery—literal or figurative—that I have endured out in the icy rain.
floating lanterns . . .
The tōrō nagashi ceremony is part of the Bon Festival in Japan during which paper lanterns with small candles are floated down a river to illuminate for the deceased the path to the spirit world. This year a memorial light for the chair’s customary occupant is part of the procession of lanterns, a particularly poignant moment.