2019 Porad Award Winners

Tom Painting, Judge

Ron Swanson, Contest Coordinator

Sponsored by Haiku Northwest

First Place ($100)

wet leaves

the way loss mellows

the path home

Michele Root-Bernstein

East Lansing, Michigan

Robert Frost wrote: “To yield with a grace to reason, and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?” Indeed, this haiku references the very essence of such a journey. Fallen leaves remind us of autumn—the season of decline. Wet leaves are on the cusp of decomposition. The process is subtle but certain. The path is that of our own traumas, regrets, and missed opportunities. Perhaps too, it speaks to the awareness of our mortality and the grace with which we let go.

Second Place ($50)

the giddy spin

of late-night lies

apogee moon

Marietta McGregor

Canberra, Australia

I’m immediately attracted to the first line of this haiku. It is lighthearted, somewhat like an amusement park ride or a fantasy, only to be followed by the rather sobering mention of a lie. Alas, there are two sides to everything, including the moon and a lie. Late-night lies are often of wishful or wistful thinking and easy to buy into, whether we are telling them to another or to ourselves. Eventually though, the truth comes to dawn. The word “apogee” is fitting. The moon at its farthest point. The truth stretched to its limit.

Third Place ($25)

owl pellet

not enough bones

for a name

Lon Risley

Joshua Tree, California

All remnants or remains suggest a story of life once lived in completeness or of purpose. Swallowed whole or reduced over time, civilizations, people, or prey have a brief window through which to be recognized for what they were. Beyond that it is an educated guess or speculation. We find ourselves talking about the process. The reduction from something to nothing is compelling. We are reminded too, that everything, including ourselves, is woven into the fabric of life.

Honorable Mentions


shimmering heat . . .

the silent fish hawker

stands under a shade

Kanchan Chatterjee

Jamshedpur, India

Rich imagery, alliteration, and a person with purpose draw me into this scene. I’m intrigued by the silence of the fish hawker and wonder, given words, what the person might say. But alas, the fish speak for themselves.

Key West sunset

every bartender

curing humanity

Raquel D. Bailey

Arlington, Virginia

Time of day and small talk with purpose draw me into the scene. It is getting late both literally and metaphorically. Nothing that a good ear, a few well-placed words, and a stiff drink won’t cure.


keeping the future

in a dark little purse

Kath Abela Wilson

Pasadena, California

Only when the contents of those things we have locked up inside are revealed can the future become manifest. Plants have a way of knowing when the conditions are right. All of the potential is tucked away until bursting and then carried on the wind. In today’s world, this haiku may speak for people displaced and on the move.

Judge’s Thanks

My first encounter with English-language haiku occurred in 1992 when a friend gave me a subscription to a lovely journal, Brussels Sprout. Much to my delight, I became enamored with this short poetic form. Better still, I struck up a correspondence with the editor, Francine Porad. While I never met Francine in person, her kindhearted and encouraging critique of my early efforts in haiku made all the difference. Francine taught me the importance of simple, unadorned expression that captures the haiku moment. Whether these be from memory, imagination, or the here and now, a successful haiku draws in the reader in such a way as to provide immediate insight and thereafter, contemplation. The haiku I have selected not only provide the element of surprise, but I find myself thinking about them well after the fact.

Tom Painting

Atlanta, Georgia

Sponsor’s Thanks

Our thanks to Tom Painting for judging this year’s contest and for commenting on the winning poems. Thanks also to Ron Swanson for serving as our contest coordinator. Congratulations to each winner, and thank you to the 85 poets who entered 566 poems for consideration. Of these poets, Ron reports that 21 were from outside the United States: Canada, 7; New Zealand, 4; Australia, 2; India, 2; United Kingdom, 2; and one each from Poland, Japan, Montenegro, and Romania. We hope that you will enter next year’s contest, and join Haiku Northwest at its monthly meetings as well as the annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway retreat held in October.

Tanya McDonald

Haiku Northwest President