Billie Wilson, Judge
Angela Terry, Contest Coordinator
Sponsored by Haiku Northwest
a pinyon pine
the shape of the wind
An instant favorite. The words are nearly musical in the way they move together in the mind and are even more beautiful when spoken. We feel a sense of prehistory; just the word “Navajo” is filled with mystery and wonder. I’m fortunate to have visited some of these breathtaking canyons and have loved those wind-shaped pines. It is easy to imagine they have been there as long as the canyons. I especially enjoy the sound of “canyon” and “pinyon” together, as well as the three “p” sounds. But putting into words the profound inner response I felt at first reading—and continue to feel—is beyond my skill set.
a jar of marbles
Terri L. French
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
All of summer captured in one haiku. The summer solstice, when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, offers the most sunlight that could possibly be collected. How fitting that the sun finds a jar of marbles. What better day to begin the summer-long quest to double the number of marbles in that treasured collection. I have special memories of times with my little brother, winning/losing/winning our favorite steelies, aggies, and clearies—enhanced with the summery discussions that accompanied these skirmishes.
seedless watermelon summer’s end
Lesley Anne Swanson
“Watermelon” is a splendid summer season word—perhaps the perfect one. I smile every time I read this—as if the missing seeds might portend that this is the final summer of all time. It certainly raises the question: “How can we get more watermelons without seeds?” While the Internet answers the question, I prefer the mystery.
braiding her hair
P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, British Columbia
I especially appreciate that we are not told the relationship between the people implied here. Although it could be one person braiding her own hair, I prefer imagining a parent and child or two lovers. Either way, that loving relationship is woven into the braid with the birdsong on this very spring day.
the old man dropping lines
from his boat
Kelowna, British Columbia
I live in a fishing community, so this rings very true. When the “spring Kings” begin their run, it is as certain a sign of spring as cherry blossoms. And every “old man” surely feels young again as he drops his lines into the sea.
of a vet bill
Yesterday at lunch, our server’s T-shirt proclaimed, “Dogs are my favorite people,” which warmed my heart in the same way as this haiku. A lengthy vet bill makes it obvious this was a traumatic time. That wagging tail had to be such a welcome sight after the scare. It doesn’t matter what the bottom line on that bill might be, just to see that tail.
It has been an extraordinarily fulfilling experience to spend a few weeks with the haiku submitted in this contest honoring Francine Porad. My fear of flying keeps me in self-imposed isolation from the many haiku gatherings available elsewhere. So, when I suddenly had 118 haiku poets in my living room, I was going to enjoy that as long as I could. I took my time, wanting to find the heart of each haiku before moving to the next. I marked ones that spoke most deeply to me, reluctant to dismiss any too quickly. As my lists of possibles grew shorter, leaving many fine haiku on the table, it became a tremendous challenge to finally choose the ones I hope Francine would have enjoyed as much as I do.
A big thank you to Billie Wilson for agreeing to judge the 2023 Porad Award and for her insightful and detailed commentary on the winning haiku. Thank you also to all the participants in this year’s contest. We received 573 poems from 118 poets from 27 states and the District of Columbia, four Canadian provinces, and ten additional countries around the world. We look forward to your participation in next year’s contest and invite you to join Haiku Northwest at our monthly meetings, as well as at our annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway.
Porad Award Coordinator