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Judges' Commentary for
the 2012 Haiku Society of America Awards for Haiku


Judges' Commentary for 2012

2012 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest Results

Judged by Mark Harris and Peter Yovu

First Prize ($150)

no escaping
this moonlight—

Scott Mason

Second Prize ($100)

river mud
the shape
of boys

Jayne Miller

Third Prize ($50)

somewhere becoming rain becoming somewhere

Jim Kacian

Honorable Mentions (unranked)

desert twilight
a map with many creases
nailed to a cross

Garry Gay

we huddle
over mother’s open grave—
lawless winter

Anita Curran Guenin

a long bus ride
the prophetic language
of the stops

Michael McClintock

In discussing the poems at hand, we agreed that the haiku we value most are layered—that they do not just direct awareness to one area of experience—pleasant or painful memories, for example, or to what is easily grasped (and discarded)—but lead us into depths, into recognitions we did not know we had until the poem drew us in. It is not so much a matter of innovation, of making something new for the sake of it, but more an understanding that there are senses and sensibilities within us that ordinary discourse does not reach.

Richard Gilbert, discussing the work of Kaneko Tohta, has this to say:

"Haiku at their best arise unbidden as new countries (planets, landscapes), deepening surface consciousness. One thinks of Huidobro's Altazar, falling through history, suspended by his parachute—a freefall  collision or collusion of graceful language with grace. Extended 'moments' occur introspectively and intimately in poems that pursue reality at an angle, possessing the power to abruptly twist or cut in layered paradoxes which enlarge consciousness, breathing us into the new."

Each of the six chosen haiku opened unexpected layers of awareness and understanding in us, ranging from physical sensation to some kind of psychological or spiritual insight.

These haiku represent writers who clearly feel that this almost impossibly short genre is capable of embodying wonders "deepening surface consciousness". Do they represent haiku at its "best"? You will be the judge of that.

Mark Harris and Peter Yovu

Mark Harris serves on The Haiku Foundation’s board, and chairs the Touchstone Awards Committee. Burl, his first book of haiku, was published by Red Moon Press in 2012. He is a specialist in the maintenance and display of art museum collections.

Peter Yovu lives with his wife and two cats in Vermont. Sunrise (Red Moon Press, 2010), his second full-length collection of poetry, is still available.



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