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Haiku Society of America Senryu Award
Judges' Commentary 2009



2008 HSA Senryu Contest judged by
w.f. owen, California & Johnny Baranski, Washington

It is always difficult judging another writer’s senryu when the judge feels he has much to learn about writing senryu himself, which is why it is good HSA policy to have two judges for its annual HSA Senryu Contest. We were able to bounce our ideas off one another and help each other discern what in our minds constituted the best Western equivalents of this Japanese genre among the 364 entries submitted to this year’s contest. From these 364 entries we found six to be worthy of final consideration, all of them reflecting the strengths or frailties of our human condition, some with humor or satire, and layered with more than one meaning.

First Place ($100) Barry George, Pennsylvania

the stylist
rinses away
the sound of her voice

The first place senryu is not just about noise but perhaps about information overload so indicative of our twenty-first century world. On the face of it we can relate to having an annoyingly chatty hair dresser or barber drowned out by the rush of the tap. In the big picture we yearn for those increasingly rare oc- casions when our modern day lives are just simply unplugged.

Second Place ($75) Marilyn Appl Walker, Georgia

their first thanksgiving
     posing together
     with the turkey

The second place senryu speaks to the newness of relationships. It connotes a young couple, without children, whose next best thing is their first turkey. We imagine them home for the holiday, without a guest to take the photo, setting a camera timer grateful for one another’s presence and the hopes and dreams each brings to the table as they begin to build a future together.

Third Place ($50) Kathe L. Palka, New Jersey

graduation day
in the gait of our son
your younger stride

The third place senryu is about a couple with a child whose academic success represents the realization of the future they have built. They see something of one another in him as he strides toward the dais to receive his diploma. Who among us would not be proud to see our legacy in whatever form it takes live beyond our too short years of this life.

Honorable Mentions (in last name alphabetical order):

Carolyn Hall, California

Kona Wind
an ocean between me
and my worries

Bill Pauly, Iowa

new bride—
the squeak of her sweet corn
being shucked

Tony Virgilio, New Jersey

old timers’ game
seventh inning stretch
the creaking of knees

We congratulate the winners for their best efforts as well as all who entered the fray (there were many senryu we liked), for it is only in entering it that we can learn a thing or two about ourselves in this sometimes harsh and dreadful but always interesting and hopeful world we live in.



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