2014 Haiku Contest Winners—RædLeafPoetry India

The following are my selections and commentary for the 2014 RaedleafPoetry India haiku contest, judged in late 2014, with commentary written in January 2015. My judging assignment was to choose sets of poems rather than individual poems, and to offer brief commentary. Thanks to Linda Ashok for the opportunity to judge this contest. Click to enlarge the newspaper clipping, which is from the New Indian Express in Hyderabad, published 27 January 2015. My congratulations to each of the winners.


First Place: Carl Seguiban, Canada

                summer stars—
                she asks which one’s
                her mother

This is a melancholy invocation of death, with the “she” seeming to be a young girl. The poem is immediate and provides clear seasonal and experiential imagery.

                a kite soars
                the length of its string
                —morphine drip

The kite string is compared visually to the morphine tube—both of which can symbolize hope. I imagine someone undergoing treatment in a hospital seeing the kite outside the window, and feeling lifted in a similar way.

                passing clouds—
                the shapes we leave
                on a grass patch

Mere shadows become symbols for the entire universe. We leave indents not only on the grass where we might have been lying down to watch the clouds, but we leave impressions on life itself by the “shadows” we cast as well.

                moonlight trickles
                down her bosom’s wetness
                summer solstice

Does the balance of the solstice suggest a rightness to the mystery of the bosom’s wetness?

                paper boat
                drifting with the tide
                my numbered days

The insignificance of a paper boat is equated to one’s own seemingly insignificant life. The poem seems to project futility, but somehow balances this thought with contentment.

Second Place: Tracy Davidson, United Kingdom

                spring melody
                my son playing the strings
                of his kite

The metaphor of the melody finds its expression in the kite strings. It’s rare for overt metaphor to work well in haiku, but I feel it works successfully here because the poem can be read in a non-metaphorical way, too, where the kite string is not being played “musically.”

                among the pines
                I answer the call
                of crickets

A pleasing and simple interaction with nature.

                a newborn lamb bleats
                his mother
                nuzzles the silent one

A scene of pathos that is easily applicable to human situations as well.

                moonlit street
                I am no longer alone
                with my shadow

Is this a poem of fear or safety? The ambiguity gives us something to ponder.

Third Place: Andrea Cecon, Italy

                first date—
                our ice-creams
                slowly melt

Inhibitions and masquerades are surely melting also.

                smooth pebbles
                the smell of rain
                slips away

Highly sensory (touch and smell). Not only is the smell disappearing, but surely the pebbles are drying off also.

                sunny beach
                and not a stick to throw
                for my dog

One can feel the dog’s energy, and the owner’s disappointment at not being able to play.

Fourth Place: Julie Warther, United States

                rain
                      on moss-covered stone
                             his gentle words

The internal comparison between gentle words (about what?) finds resonance with the moss softening the rain on the stones.

                tuning its song
                to the sound of stars . . .
                spring peeper

The small and large find connection in song.

Fifth Place: Marion Clarke, United Kingdom

                early shift—
                construction workers stop
                to watch the sunrise

It must be quite the sunrise! Or perhaps it’s just ordinary, but the workers still appreciate it, and so can we on reading this poem.

                summer job . . .
                in a French lavender field
                everyone humming

I can also hear the humming of bees, but what matters is the contentment of good work in a pleasing location.

Sixth Place: Patrick Druart, France

                New Year’s day
                helping my drunk shadow
                to find its key

One can imagine the moonlight on the drunk’s door after a night of New Year revelry.

                drizzle on the beach—
                in the painter’s beard
                a bit of blue sky

The drizzle of rain finds an echo in the fleck of paint in the painter’s beard. Perhaps the rain is keeping the painter from his work—not as a fine-art painter, but as painter of walls or houses.

Seventh Place: Sandra Simpson, New Zealand

                first rain—
                each beach pebble
                with its own lightning

The drama of lightning is made tiny and particular by its effect on beach pebbles. Freshly seen.

                my mother’s pallbearers
                all tall men—
                rain just when we need it

The rain seems to appear when a funeral is at its saddest. We are left to wonder what this has to do with tall men.

Honourable Mentions

Archana Kapoor Nagpal, India

                faded portrait—
                from one window to another
                a raincloud

Melancholy loneliness pervades this poem. Surely the person in the portrait has died, leaving a loved one behind.

Salil Chaturvedi, India

                sweeping leaves outside the hut
                the mother leaves some
                for her little daughter

The things parents do to engage their children!

Judit Hollos, Hungary

                a sparrow’s footprints
                in spilled cherry juice—
                failed stitchwork

The stitchwork has failed because of the distracting sparrow. Something else also caused the spilled juice—what caused that failure?