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Volume VI, Valentine Awards: February, 2004.
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Overview •  Reader’s Choice - Poet of the Year •  Favorite Poets •  Reader’s Choice - Poem of the Year •  Favorite Poems •  Editor’s Choice - Poem of the Year •  Favorite Poems •  Special Mentions •  Notes from Voters

Readers’ Choice —
Poet of the Year

John Stevenson
Readers’ Choice —
Favorite Poets

Connie Donleycott
vincent tripi
Allen McGill
Readers’ Choice —
Poem of the Year

Connie Donleycott
Readers’ Choice —
Favorite Poems

vincent tripi
Allen McGill
John Stevenson
Editors’ Choice —
Poem of the Year

Carolyn Hall
Editors’ Choice —
Favorite Poems

Timothy Hawkes
Connie Donleycott
Special Mentions
Notes from Voters

Readers’ Choice – Poet of the Year

John Stevenson

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your verdict and your service. John Stevenson is a habitual writer of fine haiku. Evidence is abundant: John sends poems to his Heron’s Nest editor every month (hasn’t missed for years); he habitually carries small dime-store notebooks; he is seen to sketch or write haiku daily; and he will probably admit to even thinking in haiku. After a ginko with John, in the form of a mountain climb, Yu Chang wrote this haiku for a group of friends [quoted with permission]:

lichened pine
my poet friend asks
for a pencil

However, mere frequency or volume of composition is no guarantee of haiku success. Stevenson possesses both a wordsmith’s skill and a poet’s eye for the natural world. He knows the alga and fungus of lichen as indeed he knows the pine. Even if some of John’s poems might look irregular, reading them aloud reveals purposeful emphasis of a word or a line break. His chosen words are the right ones and they appear in the right places.

John is able to see himself in the larger world and appears in the first person without pointing an egoistic finger at himself. There’s an awareness of the poet’s place; it is not a central place.

autumn wind
the leaves are going
where I’m going

moths on the door
I close
and lock

snowy night
sometimes you can’t be
quiet enough

Much of his work shows awareness of season and utilizes an intuitive juxtaposition.

a few leaves
left on the tree
we have our talk

without knowing what for
autumn colors

trial separation
ice distends
the rain gutters

walking home from church
sun on the other side
of my face

Mother’s Day
that first breath of air
outside the door

Not to forget another hallmark of John’s poetic voice, here are examples of a certain bemused twinkle of irony:

signs of spring
the expiration date
on fat-free milk

May sun
I’m the one
the puppy comes to

For the second year in a row, John Stevenson was judged “Poet of the Year” by his peers, the readers and poets of The Heron’s Nest. There is obvious agreement among the Editors and with these Nesters. This past year, we published 17 of his haiku, and 15 were supported by the voters. Bravo to John! He is successful by both measures. It is my special pleasure to congratulate such an excellent haiku poet as John Stevenson.

— Paul MacNeil



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