Readers’ Choice — Favorite
1st Runner-Up — Connie Donleycott
Connie Donleycott has a way with words. Her haiku, while instantly
understood by the reader, nonetheless illuminate their subjects in fresh
and often pleasantly surprising ways:
finding a way
through the forest
The first two lines of this haiku might suggest a lost hiker or an
adventurer. The final line completes the poem in an unexpected way,
revealing that it is the sunlight — and not a person — that has navigated
the forest. The result is not just a description from nature but rather
the celebration of a completed journey.
Connie frequently begins with a scene from nature. Then, like a camera,
her words focus in on an object with a human connection, allowing the
reader to share her discovery.
blowing rain . . .
on a garden pinwheel
the full stretch
of the hose
Sometimes nature encounters humanity directly, often with delightful
grains of sand fill
her smile lines
As I revisit Connie’s haiku from Volume V, my smile lines deepen as
— Paul David Mena
2nd Runner-Up — vincent tripi
vincent tripi breathes new life into the haiku genre. He often does this
by presenting common subjects from uncommon perspectives. Sometimes this is startling:
her only nipple
begins to harden
a new year
Deathbed . . .
my old friend’s imitation
The connections between people, or between people and nature, are
often central to tripi’s haiku. He is a master of “show
don’t tell,” ever nudging us toward a deeper, more universal
understanding of the experience described. A good example is “small
town — / the smell of / everyone’s wood.”
On the surface, the olfactory image is plain enough, and easily
accessible. Without digging far, however, one uncovers an intriguing
paradox: we are at once independent and interdependent. With a casual
sniff, the scent of woodsmoke may seem homogeneous, but tripi is
sensitive, a haiku poet. He detects at least one particular variety
of wood and intuits a multitude of fires. The smoke from each rises
and mingles with smoke from the others. One more step returns him
to the recognition of a unified whole. The small size of the town
is meaningful here. Most of the inhabitants know and interact with
one another, just as the various odors of smoke rise and mingle.
tripi’s haiku are not without humor. In this poem he pokes
fun, subtly, at another side of the same fact: in small towns everyone
knows what everyone else is doing. Sometimes his humor is right
up front, as in one of my favorites:
a foot of snow —
the cat out loving and
where is the garden Buddha?
Superficially, this is hilarious — the thought of a cat’s kinky romancing
of a stone Buddha. Even so, as with most of tripi’s work, there are
profound levels. The garden Buddha (just a representation of the
historical figure) is transcended, literally and figuratively, by snow.
A great leveler of playing fields, the snow covers everything, leading
us to realize that there is “nowhere to spit and not hit Buddha!”
vince tripi’s work is exciting, provocative, and rewarding. I’m
delighted that readers have voted accordingly.
— Christopher Herold
3rd Runner-Up — Allen McGill
Allen McGill lives in Mexico. The Heron’s Nest first published his work
in December 2002, and he has contributed regularly to our journal ever
since. It has been my great pleasure to serve as his editor.
This year Allen’s fellow readers and writers awarded him the fourth
highest number of votes overall. He won The Heron’s Nest Award in July
2003, with a poem whose beauty and level of insight continue to garner
praise from readers. Of his ten poems that appeared in Volume V, “storm
clouds” received the most points:
the valley darkens
farm by farm
Allen’s haiku demonstrate his respect for the natural world and his
affinity for its creatures. Many feature animals, usually combined with
some aspect of humanity. Skillfully balancing humankind and nature,
Allen juxtaposes vivid images to create memorable, multilayered haiku.
His work is rich with sensory appeal that draws readers into the
a gull slips
on the polished handrail
the rasp as my clam rake
uncovers tin cans
the deaf dog sleeps
with a paw on my foot
Allen’s haiku come from the real world, from life. When he includes
himself, he is careful not to get in the way of the poem.
— Ferris Gilli