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•  an'ya

•  Ferris Gilli

•  Popular Poets

Editor's Choice

• Emily Romano

The Heron's Nest

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Volume III, Valentine Awards: February, 2001.

Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved by the respective authors.  

Overview  •  Readers' Choice  •  Most Popular Poets  •  Editor's Choice

Favorite Haiku  •  Popular Poets

Editor's Choice

Grand Prize: Emily Romano

            croquet . . .
              a butterfly flits
              through a wicket

Deciding upon my favorite of the twelve Heron's Nest Award winners from last year was a decidedly difficult task. I admire each of those haiku for a variety of reasons and wrestled with my feelings about them for weeks. At last, late one night, I just gave up and fell asleep. I'm not sure which woke me, the sun rising, or Emily Romano's haiku, but it was then I knew beyond a doubt that her poem was my choice.

It is impossible for any one haiku to satisfy the many aesthetic and philosophic tenets associated with the various, often conflicting schools of thought. What makes Emily's poem amazing to me is that it features so many hallmarks of the finest haiku. If there's a weakness to be found it might only be that croquet isn't a game known commonly enough. I'd guess that it is, however. And even if it wasn't, there'd still be an upside: a gift of haiku is that they often provide us with opportunities to expand our knowledge. So, some of us may learn a new game!

Outwardly, this poem is a veritable symphony of sounds. It has a classic haiku rhythm, with perfectly natural diction, and a clear caesura. “Croquet . . .” This one word is exemplary onomatopoeia–the hard “c” and “q” are the very sounds those hard wooden balls make when struck. There's assonance too: the short “i” sound in “flits” is repeated in “wicket.” Also consonance: the quick doubling of “f”s in “butterfly flits,” and the “t” sounds in those same words, as well as in “wicket.” The last “t” serving to bring this haiku to crisp conclusion as well. Next, there's an ideal juxtaposition of images, primarily facilitated by the caesura, but also associating the last two lines. Not only does the butterfly flit through a wicket, but between lines one and three. Now add concision–no words are used for padding, and none are needed for clarification. All these sounds, images, and actions in just eleven syllables–one tightly woven poem! Yet utterly simple, and easy to enter into.

All the above is admirable, but what's truly alluring about this poem is that it's perfectly balanced, not just in form but in mood. It has what Basho referred to as “karumi,” (lightness) but is equally a sobering observation. A lawn game is being played with heavy wooden balls and mallets. The players compete, each trying to disrupt the others' efforts. The butterfly isn't playing, but becomes a participant anyway. Effortlessly it navigates that which the players strive to whack their balls through. No matter what odd diversions we humans invent to distract ourselves, the rest of nature carries on, guileless. Such great resonance in this tiny symphony offered to us by Emily Romano!

– Christopher Herold

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