2022 Haiku Society of America Garry Gay Rengay Award

First published in Frogpond 45:3, Autumn 2022, pages 180–187. Also available on the Haiku Society of America website. Comments originally written in June and July of 2022.

Our congratulations to everyone who participated in the 2022 Haiku Society of America rengay contest, because writing itself is its own reward. We received 43 entries and admired each rengay’s exploration of various themes—having a theme is, after all, rengay’s cornerstone. We looked for themes that were clear to readers (not just targets for writers, which can sometimes remain unclear to readers), fine individual haiku, a pleasing development of verses, and strong titles. All but one of our selections happened to be two-person rengay, but we encourage more three-person rengay as well. We hope you enjoy reading these selections and our commentary and feel inspired to write many rengay (or more rengay) in the months ahead.

—Kristen Lindquist and Michael Dylan Welch, judges



First Place


An Extra Leaf


by Bryan Rickert and Terri L. French



there’ll be no grandkids

winter deepens Bryan


another autumn

too old for a puppy Terri


always leftovers

we fatten up

the strays Bryan


an extra leaf

in the closet

family dinner Terri


spare rooms

just spare rooms Bryan


samara seeds

a blue ribbon tied

to the neighbor’s mailbox Terri


This winning rengay captures in a quiet, understated way an older person or couple’s thwarted desire for a grandchild, for a new generation to carry on the family line as one ages. There’s much more going on here then is apparent at first glance. This sense of endings is linked imagistically to year’s end in the first two verses, as well as to the “extra leaf” of the title and the fourth verse, which evokes both autumn foliage and the family tree. An interesting thread about unneeded excess also runs through these verses: there’s always extra food for strays, the table leaf isn’t needed even for “family dinner,” and spare rooms remain uninhabited. It’s as if every aspect of the domestic scene is a reminder of the absent child(ren). And there’s clearly much that could be shared, making the lack that much more difficult to reconcile. The culminating verse, with its “blue ribbon,” which we took to indicate the birth of a son into the neighbor’s family, a “win” for them, rounds out the emotional journey with a complex sense of wistful envy tinged with loneliness. —Kristen Lindquist


This domestic rengay begins with the premise of lacking grandchildren—and presumably desiring them. We go from a deepening winter ahead nearly a full year to “another autumn” where the people in the poem realize that even a puppy isn’t possible. The rengay shifts to feeding stray animals, a sort of surrogate not just for puppies but for grandchildren. From there the loss of potential family members manifests itself in the dining room table’s unused extra leaf and the spare room left unvisited. The final verse becomes a sort of consolation and yet not. The blue ribbon suggests winning a prize, but it’s the neighbor’s prize. And the blue color is also a gender-reveal for a baby boy. Samara seeds suggest new life, and they have sprouted for the neighbor but not for the poets writing this rengay. The neighbor’s public announcement contrasts with the poets’ private loss. We are left to wonder if they are happy for their neighbors or perhaps envious. —Michael Dylan Welch


Second Place




by Billie Dee and Neena Singh


rose-laced dawn

a young girl sweeping petals

from the courtyard Billie


old narrow bed

      our parents sleep entwined Neena


Ganga ghat

the barefoot cobbler

with crossed legs Billie


a rickshaw puller

    wipes his sweat

    city din Neena


festival tuk-tuk

my driver’s betel-stained teeth Billie


Vedic chants

    weaving prayers in one thread

    a garland of marigolds Neena


A rich cultural context weaves itself into this rengay, adding an exotic flavor for North American readers. The first two verses might at first seem to be possible anywhere, focusing on entwinings. But from the third verse on, readers know we are in India, which makes us reconsider the location of the first two verses. We experience temples, transportation devices, and religious chants, each one further developing the theme of things woven together. The dawn is laced with color, parents wrap themselves together in bed, legs are crossed, the city’s din envelops a sweating worker, teeth are stained, and prayers weave themselves into a garland of flowers. This rengay weaves us into its world. —Michael Dylan Welch



Third Place


In the Expanse


by Kristen Lang and Lorraine Haig


faint echoes

from the stones

a ravens call Kristen


guinea fowl pick over

the empty waterhole Lorraine


scratched onto blue

the black

of an eagles wings Kristen


emus . . .


to the horizon Lorraine


crested bellbird—courting notes

buried in the dunes Kristen


a puddle

filled with sky

pink cockatoos Lorraine


The birds throughout this piece provided one lovely thread of thematic consistency, with their activities creating movement from land to air and back again through each verse. We also enjoyed how the title helped evoke another layer: the sense throughout of a spare landscape serving as backdrop to the energetic birds, from the echoing stones of the first verse to an empty waterhole to, ultimately, a reflection that captures in one image both the water and sky of previous verses. There’s also a fun progression here from black or dark birds to the ebullience of pink cockatoos in the final verse. —Kristen Lindquist


Honorable Mentions (in order)




by Yvette Nicole Kolodji and Deborah P Kolodji


sneaking back in

past curfew

a prick of the rose bush Yvette


snapped twig

the motion sensor light Deborah


my mother

sits on my bed

not another talk Yvette


waning moon

my daughters

monosyllable answers Deborah


two weeks grounded

my light turns off Yvette


bathroom trash can

I worry about

her period Deborah


This unique rengay expresses anxiety from two different points of view. The first three verses seem to present the daughter’s viewpoint, sneaking in late after curfew, triggering a motion-sensor light, and finding her mother waiting for her on her bed. The last three verses seem to show the mother’s point of view, starting with noticing the daughter’s reluctant monosyllables. In the fifth verse, the mother has grounded her daughter and can now turn off own her light with reduced stress, knowing her daughter is home. And in the final verse, the mother frets about the daughter’s growing up, perhaps even worrying that she might be pregnant. We don’t know why the daughter missed curfew, but we do know the mother punished the daughter, and yet the mother remains concerned and empathetic. —Michael Dylan Welch


Postscript: On learning who the winners are for this rengay, I now see that it’s possible for all of Yvette’s verses to come from her point of view, and all of Deborah’s to come from hers. I first took the two-liners as being first from the daughter’s and then the mother’s point of view, respectively, and they are both sufficiently ambiguous in this regard, and I now prefer taking each verse as being from the point of view of each writer (daughter and mother in real life).



Drifting Out of the Frame


by Michele Root-Bernstein, Laszlo Slomovits, and Jennifer Burd


turning to dust

what’s pinned in

the shadowbox Michele


her love letters

in faded ink Laszlo


becoming more

mother’s face

or less mine Jennifer


wings worn down

to gossamer Michele


lavender sachet

her memories no longer come

when called Laszlo


dandelion seeds drifting

out of the frame Jennifer


From the title on down, this delicate rengay is tonally consistent with its focus on ephemerality and the passing of time: dust, faded ink, an aging face, worn feathers, and, more profoundly, the loss of memory, which links beautifully to the final image of dandelion seeds floating away—the perfect imagistic shift away from the poem itself. —Kristen Lindquist



Off You Go!


by Alan S. Bridges and Jacquie Pearce


corn stubble

the camouflage

of a killdeer’s egg Alan


dots under a dock leaf

left by a butterfly Jacquie


on a pond

the sound of nothing . . .

frogspawn Alan



filling the blossoms

with bees Jacquie


milkweed fluff

off you go! Alan


the last crack

opens the world

hummingbird Jacquie


This rengay celebrates small things, starting and ending with eggs. We also see butterfly eggs in the second verse, frog eggs in the third verse, and bees and milkweed seeds in the fourth and fifth verses. Then we end with another bird egg in the last verse, this time one as small as a hummingbird’s yet still opening to something as grand as the entire world when that delicate hummingbird egg cracks open. The potential of beginnings brings all these verses together, with the bees transferring pollen and the milkweed seeds suggesting new life, in addition to the eggs in all the other verses. Even the title inspires and energizes us: off you go! —Michael Dylan Welch



Desert Highway


by Billie Dee and Naia


the feather trapped

in a Chevy grill

dust devil horizon Billie


riding an updraft

       turkey vultures Naia


rock doves

preen in the heat

ATV exhaust Billie


windswept dunes

       distant echoes

       from campfires Naia


old coyote

scavenging scraps Billie


star-filled night

       a kangaroo rat

       noses the tent flap Naia


Just as a highway introduces a human-made element to the spare desert landscape, almost every verse in this rengay depicts wild desert creatures interacting or juxtaposed with human artifacts, culminating in a perfect, whimsical way with a kangaroo rat about to enter a tent. The desert becomes a shared landscape. Several verses link in interesting ways, too, through images of rising air: dust devil, updraft, exhaust, implied smoke. —Kristen Lindquist