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Judges' Commentary for
the 2009 Haiku Society of America Awards for Haiku


Judges' Commentary for 2009

2009 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest Results

Judged by Marian Olson, New Mexico & Peggy Willis Lyles, Georgia

We appreciated all 583 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest entries for 2009, poems with great diversity in style and content. As judges we know that haiku poets who are attentive, aware, and disciplined in their writing cut to essential truth or beauty, or both, using simple language to give a fresh perspective to the seemingly ordinary. To choose among so many fine poems was a challenge. That said we are pleased to honor the following five haiku.

First Place ($150) Stephen Gould, Colorado

The house finch
has a song for it,
morning after snow

The house finch’s song is radiant and light as the morning af- ter snow when everything is intensely alive and awake, fresh and beautiful. No doubt as to how the poet feels about this sparkling new day, one too beautiful for words, but not for a finch’s cheerful song.

Second Place ($100) Ron Moss, Tasmania

crescent moon
a bone carver sings
to his ancestor

Carved from light, the evocative shape of the crescent moon sets an appropriate mood for another song, this one uniquely human. The second image is exotic and the bone carver’s cultivation of a spiritual connection with his ancestor stirs intuitive contemplation of a debt to past generations and our place in the cosmos.

Third Place ($50) C.R. Manley, Washington

close enough to touch—
I let the junco lead me
away from its nest

Thrilled at being “close enough to touch,” the speaker knows juncos well, recognizing feigned injury as the ground bird’s instinctive ploy to lure predators away from the nest. Unable to communicate good intentions, the intruder gladly plays along to spare the bird further distress.

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Bruce England, California

Blowing leaves
tempt the old cat,
but not enough

This one made us laugh. In a felicitous reversal of standard haiku technique, the poet’s “telling” effectively “shows” us the cat’s behavior—a tilt of the head, a small motion in the di- rection of the leaves perhaps, but nothing more. The dramas, temptations, and passions of life no longer control this cat’s behavior. He chooses to enjoy the moment without the chase.

Michael McClintock, California

ancient mountains . . .
runners clearing hurdles
on the practice field

Against the stillness of ancient mountains, the runners’ leaps seem small, but poignantly significant, opening rich layers of contrast and connection between geologic and human time.



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