2016 Porad Award Winners

Charles Trumbull, Judge

Richard and Kathleen Tice, Contest Coordinators

Sponsored by Haiku Northwest

First Place ($100)

suspended

in the fog—

an empty boat

Shirley A. Plummer

Yachats, Oregon

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)

starlight

seeing the past

so clearly

kjmunro

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

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

leaf pile kicker

two autumns

Scott Mason

Chappaqua, New York

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.

Honorable Mentions

(unranked)

swan feathers

on the leeward shore

last light of day

Brad Bennett

Arlington, Massachusetts

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.

autumn color

something more

in our greeting

John Stevenson

Nassau, New York

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

his sky wider

than mine

Alan S. Bridges

Littleton, Massachusetts

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.

without asking

she ladles me some soup

winter rain

paul m.

Bristol, Rhode Island

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 . . .

at the river’s edge

her empty chair

Carol Judkins

Carlsbad, California

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.

Judge’s Thanks

Thank you to Richard and Kathleen Tice and the other organizers of the 2016 Porad Award for the opportunity to judge the competition and for their confidence in me to do so. On my first two readings of the 482 submissions I found it most efficient to concentrate on the negatives: I culled those haiku whose content I felt was too obvious, unbelievable, unobservable, or unknowable. Also, verses with fractured English grammar or syntax were promptly eliminated. Double or conflicting season words tended to sink a haiku for me. Several entries used terms that I didn’t know, couldn’t guess, and didn’t yield to a web search. Some poets’ subjects were too specific (such as “Belcher’s gull,” where simply “sea gull” or “gull” would suffice), others not specific enough. Quite a few submissions were simply prolix or included words that were obvious from the context of the haiku. Having eliminated haiku with these faults—even minor ones—I was left with a shortlist of about 60 entries of merit. In several more readings, I concentrated on the positives: haiku that showed particular originality, meaning, and resonance in their content as well as efficiency of expression. Winnowing these high-quality haiku down to fewer than a dozen was challenging and fun. I was acutely aware of how subjective were my final choices and the rankings I had to assign. On another day, my ordering might be the inverse of today’s!

Charles Trumbull

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sponsor’s Thanks

Haiku Northwest’s annual haiku contest is named in honor of the group’s founder, Francine Porad. Our gratitude to Charles Trumbull 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 the 79 poets (27 from outside the United States) who entered 482 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