2011 Seattle Center Foundation Next Fifty Haiku Contest

This contest celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle and the Seattle Center in 2012, also looking ahead to the “next fifty” years of Seattle’s future. The Space Needle was built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair. The contest was held in advance of the anniversary, with submissions due 31 December 2010. This commentary was written in late January 2011, with results announced in February 2011. The grand prize was $100. Second prize was a set of World’s Fair Anniversary zombie glasses valued at $50. And third prize was a Next Fifty commemorative t-shirt valued at $20.

Congratulations to the winners of the Seattle Center Foundation’s Next Fifty haiku contest on the theme of sustainability. The first-place poem reminds us of nature in the context of technology, combining a careful two-part juxtaposition (known as kireji in Japanese), necessary for traditional haiku, together with a seasonal reference (or kigo—in this case, fireflies). The second- and third-place poems both choose to be in the 5-7-5 pattern (although this is not necessary in English), but the author has done so effortlessly, without padding, and we hardly notice the pattern. Again, these two poems both employ the two-part structure, and show us ways to conserve energy while also capturing contemplative and humorous moments. Our honorable mention selections provide similar slices of everyday experience that evoke emotions through sensory experience.

For more information about the Haiku Society of America, which cosponsored this contest, please visit www.hsa-haiku.org. The Seattle-area haiku group, Haiku Northwest, also welcomes your involvement. For details, please visit www.haikunorthwest.org. Seattle Center will also host the Haiku North America conference from August 3-7, 2011. For more information, please visit www.haikunorthamerica.com.

—Tanya McDonald, Ce Rosenow, and Michael Dylan Welch, judges

First Place

scheduled blackout . . .

the lake glittering

with fireflies

—Kathy Lippard Cobb

Second Place

double pane windows—

the candle’s flame reflected

many times over

—Ruth Yarrow

Third Place

her hot suggestion—

save energy by taking

showers together

—Ruth Yarrow

Honorable Mentions (not ranked)

climate change

the pot

boils over

—Dick Whyte


a wind turbine in the center

of the rising sun

—Damien Gabriels

old farm’s roof—

a butterfly lands

on the solar panel

—Damien Gabriels

pine shade

the quiet sound

of a stream

—Thomas Martin

school project—

stealing soda cans from

my neighbor’s recycling bin

—Seren Fargo