2010 TLP Competition Favorite Poems

Picture of pines To honor the fine work of poets who submitted entries to the 2010 Turtle Light Press Haiku Chapbook Competition, which was won by Catherine J.S. Lee, author of All That Remains, we have selected a handful of the poems that we have most enjoyed. We hope that you will enjoy this cross-section of haiku from around the world.

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Elizabeth Bodien
Kempton, Pennsylvania
When I was a student in Japan many years ago, I heard the rustle of haiku in a bamboo grove, tasted a hint of it in tea ceremony, and practiced the expression of it as I studied shodo. Haiku makes me pay attention to what is around me and what I am thinking and feeling. It appeals to me as a temple bell does with its simplicity, its clarity, and its reverberations. Haiku reminds me of the value of humility.

starlit old hands
on the train station clock
still moving

winter chill
they wait in long lines
to buy oranges

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Margaret Chula
Portland, Oregon
I began writing haiku when I moved to Kyoto in 1980. Living in a traditional Japanese house, observing the seasonal changes in the rice fields behind our home, discovering mountain temples, attending local festivals – I was living a haiku life. I discovered R.H. Blyth’s translations of Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki in the library of Kyoto Seika University where I was teaching and diligently copied my favorites by hand into a notebook. I continue to write haiku as a practice in order to slow down and observe the beauty around me.

dusk settles
into the rice stubble
a sickle moon

Winner of the Itoen Tea Company International Haiku Award in Tokyo, 2009

white sand, perfectly raked
one persimmon
one dent

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Tom Clausen
Ithaca, New York
I arrived at haiku after a long journey and many detours yet all along I was searching for the magic and wonder of the here and now. On a hospital form that asked for my religion, I put: haiku. By nature, I tend toward reiteration and being overly wordy, so haiku is a great antidote. It was my good fortune to read an article in a free paper in 1988 profiling Ruth Yarrow and it was a satori like moment. I saw that haiku was essential and a wonderful way to appreciate the natural world in all its nuances.

after our visit
in quiet, the things
I forgot to say…

Simply Haiku, September 2003

by the ocean
again filled
with emptiness

Raw Nervz, 2001

the cat’s eyes
so wide . . .
for a gnat

Haiku North America Members Anthology, 2001
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Glenn G. Coats
Prospect, Virginia
An article by William J. Higginson sparked my interest in haiku and led me to The Haiku Handbook. I began to use his ideas in workshops designed for fifth grade students as well as their teachers. Anthologies like Haiku Moment as well as editions of The Haiku Anthology inspired me to write haiku. I am attracted to poems that link nature to human events and emotions. Now, I write haiku because it is my way of responding to print, conversations, radio broadcasts, back roads, nights of insomnia, and the natural world. My way of answering back is through haiku. I can no longer help myself.

summer pasture
I lose my grandson’s voice
in tall grass

dogwood  blossoms –
on the blackboard shelf
pink dust

early winter
the coal cars
laden with clouds

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Temple Cone
Annapolis, Maryland
I’ve been reading haiku for years, ever since I found a copy of Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North at summer camp when I was thirteen (I still have it, along with my guilt about its theft). But I didn’t begin writing them seriously until a few years ago. I was drawn to haiku not as a form into which experience could be squeezed, but as a stance towards the world, an attentiveness that shaped experience. I find haiku a bit like zazen, the Zen sitting meditation in which attention to form is, in a sense, the spiritual content of the practice.

spring night –
one peeper’s song
spawns thousands

the carpenter
sketches a new house
on a 2 x 4

The Broken Meadow, Old Seventy Creek Press, 2010

fat rain drop
on a leaf of grass
almost

The Broken Meadow
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Cherie Hunter Day
Cupertino, California
I began writing haiku as an English class journal assignment during my senior year of high school.  Rather than writing a page of prose, I opted to write six or seven haiku. I was drawn to the brevity and power of those three lines set in a sea of white space on the printed page. Many years later, I still write haiku along with other forms of poetry including tanka, haibun, haiga, prose poems, and also micro fiction. A full-length collection of my haiku, A Horse with One Blue Eye, was published by Snapshot Press in 2006.

small talk
the pile of apple peels
growing

The Heron’s Nest IX: 1, March 2007

the cloth doll
my mother hand-stitching
a new face

Modern Haiku XXXII: 2, 2001

deep in the Gospel
the words printed in red –
amaryllis

Appeared in a different version, Haijinx III:1, 2010

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Bruce England
Santa Clara, California
I discovered Japanese haiku in the early 1960s, but didn’t write haiku seriously until 1984. A chapbook, Shorelines, was published with Tony Mariano in 1998. In 2008, I began to submit my work a lot more for publication. Other interests include haiku theory and practice.

Fourth of July –
do you see the fireworks
or the darkness?

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Mary-Jane Grandinetti
Passaic, New Jersey
In the early 1980s, I started writing haiku when I came upon the haiku journals Frogpond, HighCoo and Modern Haiku. What attracted me to the form was how there could be the simplicity of a moment combined with a profound complexity of meaning. I had the pleasure of meeting some haiku poets from the New Jersey area during that time and enjoyed attending events such as the haiku readings at the Sakura Matsuri Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I only recently started to write haiku again after many years of a poetic void in my life. What continues to attract me to reading a great haiku is not what I would call the “aha” moment, but the moment that takes my breath away.

at the cemetery
she scoops a patch of snow
for the flowers

watching the sunset
his wheelchair
crushes the marigolds

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David Grayson
Alameda, California
I became interested in haiku through poetry, particularly my interest in short forms. I started experimenting with haiku in 1998 and joined Haiku Poets of Northern California in 2002. I continue to read and write haiku because I value the form’s simplicity of boiling things to their essence and the practice of suggestion.

street corner memorial –
my four-year-old
asks for the balloon

1st place, Gerald Brady Contest , 2008

roadside cross
a blur –
winter evening

Acorn 23, Fall 2009

two cigarettes
left on the windowsill –
winter stars

A New Resonance 6, Red Moon Press, 2009
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Graham High
London, UK
A painter and sculptor, I came to haiku quite late having written mainstream poetry since the 1970s. I only began to write haiku in 1999. As a poet, I am quite immediate and use ‘imagist’ strategies, so haiku fits fairly well with my other writing practices. Even so, I find it necessary to blank out much of my haiku thinking when I am intent on producing a poem. I have published six haiku collections, been editor of the British haiku journal, Blithe Spirit, and operate a small publishing outfit called RAM which specializes in encouraging haiku writers.

leisurely wind
but still the cloud’s shadow
outruns us

Blithe Spirit 14/2, 2004

under the rim
of our umbrella
the lake’s horizon

Time Haiku, 2008

your back-lit form
against the barley field
smudged in sunlight

Presence, 2007
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Kate MacQueen
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Haiku came into my life by way of a good friend and has since introduced me to many other fine friends. I have always written poetry but the poems grew fewer and farther between as other professional responsibilities expanded and deepened. As a short form, haiku is easier to squeeze into a busy life yet it challenges my writing, reading, and observational skills. More recently, haiku has served as a gate back into longer forms of writing. It’s a deceptively small package like an acorn.

sunlit marsh
a heron folds
into shadow

blown cattails
in the silt-filled lake
so many things forgotten

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Diane Mayr
Salem, New Hampshire
I started writing haiku, as taught in schools, 5-7-5, until about 12 years ago when I discovered the old Haiku Society of America definition of “the essence of a moment keenly perceived.” That really resonated with me. It continues to resonate with me and writing haiku is as challenging now as it was a dozen years ago.

january thaw
a snowman slowly lowers
his arms

february 15
I buy myself flowers
half off

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Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts
A lot of my haiku happen during my commute from the house to my 1883 barn studio out back, where I work as a stained glass artist. Minimalism has always been attractive to me – must be why I love art galleries and sparse sculpture gardens. I like it when art stands out. A painting, a giant mobile or a handful of words dropped onto the page like seeds. With haiku, I learned to look at a fallen autumn leaf, for example, as a piece of sculpture. I pay attention more because of haiku; I appreciate more and have ever since I started studying haiku, beginning with issues of Modern Haiku in the early 1990s. I read, wrote, submitted, got rejected and after three years Bob Spiess finally took one. What a humbling and enriching experience. Bob Spiess was a great help to me early on. I think poetry in general has always attracted with its inherent gratitude for life.

peering out
from the telephone pole
the missing girl

milkweed pod . . .
all that’s left
unwished for

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Joyce Orenstein
Highland Park, New Jersey
While I often am moved by reading haiku, I first attempted to write them when I took a course in haiku writing at the center for lifelong learning of Rutgers University. I found that haiku set up limits within which you may be able to capture a unique moment, a snapshot of an event or a memory. It is a challenge for me to try to elicit the most important aspects of an event, to write a haiku that will transmit my experience to others.

over the still pond
the heron’s reflection
floats on slow wings

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Kathleen O’Toole
Takoma Park, Maryland
Honorable Mention
I first tried writing haiku at the encouragement of my friend and American haiku master, Nick Virgilio, but it was only after his death – studying his work and meeting other haiku poets through the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association – that the spirit and practice of haiku became important to me. I’ve had only a few haiku published over the years in Frogpond, Brussels Sprout, Modern Haiku and Simply Haiku. I am currently a member of Towpath Haiku Poets in the D.C. Metro area, and a Benedictine Oblate, so you could say haiku is an extension of my spiritual practice.

late sunrise
tadpoles skimming
the clouds

first daffodils
on the hospital tray

mute swan
at the base of its neck
a tracking device

on the iris blossom –
last night’s rain

cardinal
on a snowy limb
sunrise

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Ellen Pratte
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
A social worker for the mentally handicapped by profession, I have written poetry since my youth and began writing haiku several years ago. I appreciate the ability of haiku to compress thought into an effective, and often beautiful, message. It can be a harsh taskmaster, but it also offers a lot of rewards.

heavy August winds
queen anne’s lace
blows to dust

my sister’s boy –
he longs to see her face
in mine

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Natalia L. Rudychev
Chicago, Illinois
Sometimes, I am lucky to receive a gift in the form of a miraculous encounter with an object or an event. Often this gift is too big to keep inside just for myself so I share it in a haiku so that others can have their own experience of the miracle that touched my soul.

end of the road
suddenly
butterflies

silence between us
a sandcastle
goes with the wind

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Katherine B. Steimann
Bloomington, Illinois
I began writing haiku while in college at Millikin University, taking classes and studying with Randy Brooks, a haiku poet and owner of Brooks Books.  I fell in love with the complex simplicity of the art form. Through haiku I found a way to step outside of my hectic life and discover the joy of the purest moments we experience. Haiku continues to be a centering escape for me. I find it to be the most truthful art form for expressing the beauty we are surrounded by every day.

as I rake closer
the leaf pile
giggles

midnight swim
floating to see the spaces
between the stars

head on my pillow
you sing me to sleep
from miles away

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2012 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition WInner — Graham High’s The Window That Closes

2010 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition Winner — Catherine J.S. Lee’s All That Remains

2008 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition Winner — Michael McClintock’s Sketches from the San Joaquin


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