Saturday, November 28, 2015

Frogpond, Vol. 38:3, Autumn 2015

stone cairns
a faded cap drifts

1st Place
2015 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest

Comments from Judges George Dorsty and Tom Painting:

Take our first-place winner "stone cairns" for example: In ancient times piled rocks were called "stone men." So cairns can also be seen as human effigies. In our time, cairns are mostly used to mark trails for hikers. But what of the faded cap drifting down the river? On a symbolic level, the hat is to the cairn's permanence what the river is to transience. As the philosopher Heraclitus said, "You can't step in the same river twice." So the human-made trail markers are contrasted to the meanderings of the river, which is part of the natural world.

The success of the haiku "stone cairns" lies in the contrast between the permanent and the transient. The hat reminds us that human beings, while we may appear permanent, like the "stone men," are really transient and always changing like the river. This comes close to interpretation of the poem, but we must remember that for the poet the connection was "felt" rather than reasoned. Her/his task was to place the three—cairns, river, and faded cap—in juxtaposition so that we as readers might be able to make the same felt connection. And, maybe that's enough. The rest, as Shakespeare said in another context, is "dross."

Note: 657 poems were submitted to the contest

No comments:

Post a Comment