Haiku Presence Award 2008

1st Prize (£100)

above the flood plain
a double rainbow ...
promises     promises
Ronald Rubin (England, UK)

2nd Prizes (£25)

      noonday heat
the pony holds a mouthful
    of mountain stream
Pamela Brown (Wales, UK)

moonlight jaunt
silver water sliding down
an otter’s whiskers
Sheila K.Barksdale (USA)

      this wide sky
       in the grass
a thrush’s broken egg
Nola Borrell (New Zealand)


afterglow —
a taste of vine
in the tomato
Kathy Lippard Cobb (USA)

coal miner’s cortège
above his valley
the slow storm clouds
Malcolm Williams (England, UK)

thin winds ...
in the empty barn
a well-honed scythe
Pamela Brown (Wales, UK)

how still the morning
watching a cormorant
watching the water
both — Claire Knight (England, UK)

out of bleakness in their hundreds the pink-footed geese
John Barlow (England, UK)

Judge's Report

I have greatly enjoyed judging this competition, although there is a little pain involved! Having sorted out the top third of the 316 entries it felt like reading a good anthology, but it is painful to have to ‘reject’ most of these in terms of a competition where few are finally chosen. The final choices are of course the most painful. When the mind settles and the decisions have finally been made, however, the pleasure returns.

Winner                  above the flood plain
In simple words the haiku sets the reader in a wide landscape with a double rainbow; a pleasing picture with few implications so far, but what a difference the last two words make. The reader suddenly becomes aware of many possible readings. These may include humour, biblical reference, social problems, political comment, pots of gold and maybe others. In very few words nature and man are brought together on many possible levels. Choose your own best-fit haiku or hold various meanings in your head at once.

2nd Equal             moonlight jaunt
The scene and the observer’s attitude are set in the first line and the descriptive flow of the next two lines is perfect. Apart from the water, the observed moment may be absolutely still - but the reader cannot help bring in all his/her knowledge of how an otter moves. That word ‘jaunt’ is still working!

2nd Equal            noonday heat
Another moment of stillness. Somehow the word ‘holds’ manages to suspend time; the noonday heat can be experienced together with the coolness of the whole stream for an instant.

2nd Equal            this wide sky
With great simplicity the reader’s attention is taken from a vast scale to the local and then to a particular detail. This could be enough — ‘the world as it is’ and us in it. The shell may simply have fallen from a nest, discarded after hatching. Alternatively it could have been raided by a predator. Having focused on the small tragedy for a moment, the reader sees it in the context of the all encompassing ‘wide sky‘ Again, this is the world as it is. The words ‘this wide’ hold a power of meaning difficult to analyse, but somehow all’ well with the world.

David Steele

David Steele has been a member of the British Haiku Society and contributor to Blithe Spirit since 1994, and was a founding editor of Presence.

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