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Volume IV, Valentine Awards: February 2002.
Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Overview • Readers' Choice • Most Popular Poet • Editors' Choice
Favorite Haiku • Popular Poets • Editors' Runners-up • Special Mention

Readers' Choice
Connie Donleycott
Most Popular Poet
Peggy Lyles
Editors' Choice
John W. Wisdom
Favorite Haiku
John Crook
John W. Wisdom
Yu Chang
Paul David Mena
Popular Poets
Connie Donleycott
John W. Wisdom
Yu Chang
paul m.
Editors' Runners-up
Lenard D. Moore
John Crook
Special Mention


John Crook
1st Runner-up (90 points) and Editors' 2nd Runner-up

      winter sunrise
      the cockerel finds his voice

“Winter sunrise” could be a metaphor for John Crook’s journey into haiku and his growth as a poet. He may have found his haiku voice a bit timidly at first, but inspired by his reverence for nature and insight into the human condition, John dedicated himself to the form, and in a very short while became one of our most beloved poets.

“Winter sunrise” won The Heron’s Nest Award; Vol. III:3, March 2001. Christopher Herold, in a beautiful and moving commentary, points out the adverb “slowly” that is the entire second line, actually a pivot, wherein lies the heart of the poem. I cannot do better than Christopher’s insightful study of this poem, which he concludes, “He feels the bird’s winter as his own.”

Reading many of John’s published haiku again and again, I realize that “winter sunrise” is exemplary of the author’s remarkably clear vision and the pithiness of his work. I am grateful that, although John passed away last spring, his voice will never be silent.

Ferris Gilli

John W. Wisdom
2nd Runner-up (86 points) and Editors' Grand Prize

      the slow turn
      of a barber’s pole–
      afternoon heat

See Editors' Grand Prize Commentary

Yu Chang
3rd Runner-up (81 points)

      back at camp
      the mountain peak
      still in my legs

A day spent in the pleasurable pastime of mountain climbing. The author remembers the day and, indeed, the effort of the climb. A hiker, especially a climber, may have stiffness in many muscles not ordinarily used. That night, Yu’s legs reminded him of his exertion. The next morning too!

This haiku is a clear outline of experience. The key word, for me, is “peak.” The poem would survive without it­an essence of climbing would remain. “Peak,” however, serves the dual role of showing he made it to the top and gives us the sharpness felt in his muscles. In this haiku I find myself reminiscing: the pleasure of climbing, wild forests, cliffs and rocky outcrops, panoramic views, and the fellowship of climbing partners. Much of this may occur to any reader but I must confess that I was there with Yu during and after this climb. Sharing the day but not the summit, already feeling stiffness in my own back and legs, I stopped partway while Yu went up the last thousand feet. I share the high opinion of this haiku shown by our readers.

Paul MacNeil

Paul David Mena
4th Runner-up (57 points)

      snow mixes with rain
      my mother keeps calling me
      by my brother’s name

Although the topic is difficult at best, this haiku by Paul David Mena is one of the most powerful I’ve read. It was the winner of The Heron’s Nest Award in April. The commentary in that issue, by Paul MacNeil, is also excellent. It’s well-worth rereading as you linger in the poignancy of this experience.

Anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, or some other form of senility, is painfully aware of the difficulties involved in being around, or caring for such an individual. In her last few years, my late mother was in a similar state and so I can empathize profoundly. It is not just the debilitated person who suffers, but those who are close to him or her. Great reserves of patience and compassion must necessarily be tapped. The poet’s mother has become senile and the disease causes her to confuse even the names of her own children. One can easily imagine the pain he feels from this experience. Afterwards, as he walks outside, he actually finds solace in the harsh weather. It appears to him to be in a state of confusion also, somewhere between snow and rain but not quite either, just as the poet’s mother is balanced between two worlds, neither here nor there. When both the emotional weather and the weather outside are in turmoil, the whole world can seem blurred and surreal.

It is my sense that the writing of this haiku was cathartic. I admire Paul David Mena for summoning the courage to find words for his experience, and am grateful to him for sharing them with us.

Christopher Herold


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