2004 Raku Teapot Award

The following selections were made for a haiku contest run by the Raku Teapot online haiku group, a private, invitation-only discussion group that started in 2001. I’ve lost track of where these results appeared, but they were probably posted to the mailing list through Yahoo Groups. As judges, we finished the following selections on 6 September 2004, and the commentary on 8 November 2004. For selections of my poems published in a book and compact disc the group produced in 2003, please see “Raku Teapot Haiku.”

Hortensia Anderson and Michael Dylan Welch, Judges

Award Winner

        July 4th

        the quiet fireworks

        of another town

                Elbert Pruitt

Americans so readily associate July 4th with the loud booms of fireworks that this poem comes as a subtle surprise. We are simultaneously made more aware of both the loud fireworks we have just heard in our own town (or are about to hear), and the silence of the distant fireworks that we cannot hear. We empathize with the observer in appreciating the quiet, which is perhaps just temporary, yet also empathize with people in the neighbouring town who do hear the sound of their own fireworks, and perhaps see our fireworks but cannot hear them. Thus this poem develops a common bond amid the celebration of patriotism. This haiku is also superbly crafted, exhibits a strong season word, presents a simple but effective caesura (equivalent to the kireji in traditional Japanese haiku), and makes fine use of natural and immediate sensory language. Congratulations to Elbert Pruitt for his excellent haiku.

Honourable Mentions

The following are poems we would like to recognize as honourable mentions, in order:

        late-summer chill

        the “Deer Crossing” sign

        riddled with bullets

                Paul David Mena

        tasting room—

        Ellington ripples

        the pianist’s wine

                Elbert Pruitt


        darker blue

        in the hoofprints

                Mike Farley

        her flute . . .

        dandelion seeds

        lift into the wind

                Garry Gay

        moonlit field . . .

        the darkness inside

        the cabbages

                Dhugal Lindsay

        summer’s end

        the sandcastle washes out

        with the tide


        tidal surge—

        the dead stingray’s wings

        fold and unfold . . .

                Carole MacRury

Selection Process

A note about our selection process, for those who might be interested. We both received all the poems posted to the Raku Teapot each week, reading and compiling favourites. At the end of the eligibility period, we each assembled our own lists of primary and secondary favourites from the entire set of poems. We compared our lists and came up with a combined short list, based on the commonalities of our primary lists. We then went through this short list and gave each poem a score from 1 to 4 (with 4 being highest). Elbert Pruitt’s poem scored best using this method, with both of us scoring it as a “4.” We are happy to give the 2004 Raku Teapot award to Elbert for his fine poem.

        In addition to acknowledging Elbert’s poem, we also recognize a number of runners-up. These poems scored almost as many points as Elbert’s poem, plus we included one poem each that we felt very strongly about but that the other judge did not include on his or her primary list (but was on the secondary lists). Thus our selection of winners includes the top vote-getters that we both agreed upon, plus one poem from each of us that one or the other of us felt strongly about.

        In addition to the winning poem, our primary and secondary lists included poems by Mark Brooks, Juanito Escareal, Michael Evans, Mike Farley, Garry Gay, Dhugal Lindsay, Carole MacRury (she had the most poems on each of our lists), Paul David Mena, Sue Mill, Marlene Mountain, Linda Paulson, Elbert Pruitt, Bruce Ross, Adelaide Shaw, Soji, Sprite, Lynne Steele, Maria Steyn, and Jim Swift.

        Thank you for the honour of considering each of your poems. It has been a pleasure to read and enjoy so much fine work from Raku Teapot members from around the world.

—Hortensia Anderson and Michael Dylan Welch