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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 — Favorite Poets

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
winter sunlight

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 . . .
colors blend
on a garden pinwheel

summer garden
the full stretch
of the hose

Sometimes nature encounters humanity directly, often with delightful results:

grains of sand fill
her smile lines

As I revisit Connie’s haiku from Volume V, my smile lines deepen as well.

— 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
             of a firefly

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:

storm clouds
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 experience.

a gull slips
on the polished handrail
rolling thunder

the rasp as my clam rake
uncovers tin cans

evening rain
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



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