2006 Mensa of Western Washington Haiku Contest

In the fall of 2006, I judged a small haiku contest for Mensa of Western Washington, for whom I have also given a couple of lectures on haiku poetry. I do not have a record of who wrote the winning poems, so if you know, please let me know. Commentary originally written in December 2006.

First Place

        Windshield wipers
        screech away a leaf
        —starlings echo


Natural line breaks (not a slave to 5-7-5), clear objective imagery, contains seasonal implication (the leaf?), effectively uses the two-part juxtapositional structure (the sound of the starlings matches the screech of the leaf).

Second Place

        falling snowflake
          melts on baby
s finger—
        tiny grin sparkles


Good two-part juxtapositional structure with a seasonal reference and clear objective imagery. Id say the babys or my babys to make it read more smoothly—probably my because its sound goes better with melts. Heres how I would probably revise the poem (sparkles seems unnecessary, and implied anyway):

        a falling snowflake
        melts on my baby
s finger—
        her tiny grin


Third Place

        As I walk slowly
        the low trees protect me
        and catch the snow


Lovely, clear, and immediate. This reads as a full sentence, however, so it lacks the juxtapositional virtues of more traditional haiku.

Honorable Mention (as a senryu)

        The older I get,
        The plainer my underwear,
        And the less I care.


Funny and true. However, this is a comment, and not in the here-and-now of experience through ones five senses. Nor does it employ the season word or the caesura to divide the poem into two more juxtaposed parts. If anything, this is closer to senryu than haiku.