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. I’d say “the baby’s” or “my baby’s” to make it read more smoothly—probably “my” because its sound goes better with “melts.” Here’s 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 one’s 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.