Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mandy's Pages Tanka Contest, 2020 - Climate Change: The Burning Issue

Honoured to receive the following awards in this tanka contest, which was organized as a fundraiser for the Wildlife and Koala Rescue efforts in New South Wales, Australia. Thank you to Amanda Dcosta and Christine Villa for administering this contest, and to David Terelinck who blind-judged the entries!

a fleet
of trumpeter swans
at anchor
on the smoke-veiled lake
every bird, a beacon

Highly Commended

Judge David Terelinck's comments:

A visually rich tanka that contrasts the snow-white plumage of the trumpeter swan against the darkness of a smoke-filled landscape. A majestic bird, and the largest swan in the world. It is vulnerable to illegal shooting and collision with power lines, and they can succumb to lead poisoning by ingesting lead shot and fishing sinkers during feeding. In the early 1900s it was almost hunted to extinction for its skin, feathers, meat, and eggs.

This is an appealing poem in its sustained use of boating terminology: fleet, anchor and beacon. And the closing line is powerfully layered. It is times like now that humans need a beacon, because in many instances we have lost our way in terms of living harmoniously with nature. Perhaps it is time we looked to nature to be our guide in these troubled times?

The traditional s/l/s/l/l/ structure supports this tanka very well, and it has a highly effective pivot anchored in line 3.

as if I were
this ash-filled burl,
black veins
of decay winding through
my body like a river


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

An extremely lyrical tanka of loss and grief that speaks of the aftermath of bushfire. The narrator is very in tune with their new landscape. They associate with a fire-blackened outlook that may well mirror their own prospects. There is something hypnotically alluring in the choice "ash-filled burl, / black veins / of decay winding".

my easel stands
neglected in the corner
still flecked
with bright colours of a world
I no longer recognize


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

The easel in this poem could easily be the life of anyone on the planet today. Coronavirus has curtailed our view of the world. Because of limited movements, both internationally and locally, our palette is limited. Our life has been put on hold; yet it is still sparked with colours and people we have not forgotten. The world, and how we relate to it, will likely be very different after the pandemic is over. But right now, we don't recognize it for what it meant to us before all of this unfolded. The beauty in this tanka is that you can also apply this easel to any natural disaster that strips the vibrancy from our lives and relegates us to pastel shades until we learn to paint in brightness again.

low temperatures
in Florida
iguanas fall from trees
like otherworldly rain


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

Two key words in this tanka add to its strength. So much of what has happened to everyone of late is "unexpected", be it extreme natural weather events or a virus of global proportions. One day our life is trundling along without incident, the next we are facing life and death situations and decisions. The low temperatures are weather-related, but could be seen as a metaphor for almost anything that rocks our complacency; indeed any "otherworldly" event. One could read the iguanas as a metaphor for man as he falls foul of his own constructs. Again, a tanka with an effective L3 pivot.

Sable Books - 2019 International Women's Haiku Book Contest

Overall Winner - Debbie Strange
The Language of Loss: Haiku & Tanka Conversations

I offer my gratitude to Roberta Beary, judge of the 2019 Sable Books Haiku Book Contest for Women, for her sensitive and insightful reading of The Language of Loss: Haiku & Tanka Conversations, and for her generous commentary. It is an honour beyond measure to receive the first place award from an esteemed writer I so admire.

My appreciation is also extended to accomplished writers Kala Ramesh and Christina Sng, for their support during the pre-reading process.

Thank you to John Barlow, editor of Snapshot Press, for his encouraging note regarding an earlier version of the tanka portion of this manuscript.

I am indebted to the Sable books team for administering this contest, and for their dedication to the promotion of diverse voices.

Judge Roberta Beary's commentary:

"These exquisite poems illuminate the skill of the author in pairing haiku and tanka in conversation, one page at a time. On one page, the long ago past talks to the recent past. On another, the sorrow of the natural world is juxtaposed with that of the human world.

The Language of Loss contains tanka and haiku of exceptional quality. But it is the remarkable way in which the poet links tanka and haiku that elevated The Language of Loss into the winner's circle. The poems on each page come together in a conversation of many layers. That these conversations will deepen and change for each reader is due to the author's expertise. I am delighted to congratulate Debbie Strange on her winning collection."

The Haiku Foundation: HaikuLife Film Festival 2020

This haiga video is comprised of previously published poems to celebrate International Haiku Poetry Day, an initiative of the Haiku Foundation, held on April 17, 2020.

The Other Side of Silence

(with recitation)





The Haiku Foundation: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration, April 2020

Theme: Year of the Nurse

last breath . . .
a nurse turns mother
toward the light

empty womb . . .
a nightingale comforts me
through the night

the beak she wears
on her mask

Note: during the 17th century plague, doctors wore a beak-like mask which was filled with lavender or other strongly scented substances, which acted somewhat like a respirator.

The Haiku Foundation: The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems, 2019

There were over 800 nominations, and I'm honoured that three of my haiku were included in the shortlist of 30 poems. My thanks to the editors and individuals who nominated my work, and to the judges for taking the time to read!

I skip a pebble across
the universe

Seashores 2

ghost apple
this emptiness

Shamrock Haiku Journal 42

weathered oars
we fold our worries
into the river

Acorn 42

The Cherita, February 2020

Issue: "dream journal"

stark bones

of winter trees
offer no shelter

but I will
always be here,
arms open

a raku bowl

collects sunlight
on my table

how our fire
changes colour
with the seasons

we are facing pages

in this dog-eared
storybook life

the best passages
with love

Winnipeg Free Press: The World of Poetry - Writes of Spring, 2020

National Poetry Month Feature curated by Ariel Gordon and Kerry Ryan:

Untitled Tanka

I have always
been a scatterling
in this world
of curiosities, there is
never enough time

Wales Haiku Journal, Spring 2020

ferry crossing
the splash of an orca
we didn't see

Under the Basho, 2020

Haiga Gallery

Stardust Haiku, Issue 40, April 2020

you point me
in the right direction . . .
sun dial

Presence, Number 66, March 2020

a splotch of rust
on the bluebird's breast . . .
tumbledown farm

prairie highway
we aim for the man
in the moon

I planted
your chair in my garden
sharp edges
soft now with the mist
of morning glories

Our Best Haiga: Black & White Haiga/Haisha, April 2020

Curated by Lavana Kray

April 1, 2020

Note: this tanka previously appeared in Kokako 28, April 2018

April 11, 2020

Note: this haiku previously appeared in Frameless Sky 11, December 2019

April 17, 2020

Note: this haiku previously appeared in Haiku Canada Review 12.1, February 2018

April 22, 2020

Note: this haiku previously appeared in Inner Voices - International Women's Haiku Festival, March 2018

April 28, 2020

Note: this tanka art previously appeared in Skylark 7.2, Summer 2019

Cattails, April 2020

the patina
of an old moon . . .
steeple bell

memory fog
where does it go
when it's gone

daily vice
I'd give up migraines
if I could

a stand of bracken
we discover
the blue sky inside
each tiny bell

our school bus
waxing and waning
over frosted hills . . .
we huddle together
in a herd of laughter

Haigaonline, Vol. 21, Issue 1, Spring 2020

The Time and Space Challenge - Rice Planting Songs Issue

GUSTS, Number 31, Spring/Summer 2020

the rungs
of a spider's ladder
frosted silver
I climb out of myself
into wonderment

my sisters make
angels in pollen dust . . .
spring arrives
in a haze of sneezing
and hilarity

rime ice
on every crimson leaf
this morning
a radiance of cardinals
prepares to take flight

Monday, April 20, 2020

Soka Matsubara International Haiku Competition, 2020

Translated into Japanese

pine forest . . .
the advice I'd give
my younger self

Honourable Mention

Snapshot Press, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2020

Award Runner-up, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2020 (for December)

Publication - The Haiku Calendar 2021 (Snapshot Press 2020)

northern lights
the blur of scarves
as skaters pass

Zatsuei Haiku of Merit
The R.H. Blyth Award 2019, World Haiku Review, March 2019

Shamrock Haiku Journal, Readers' Choice Awards, 2019

city sirens
the wolves that used to
sing us home

Runner-up Senryu

(published in issue 42, September 2019)

Poetry Pea, April 2020

The Haiku Pea Podcast:

Series 3, Episode 8 - "Afternoon Break", April 20, 2020

flocks of cranes
in snow-dusted fields . . .
our idle chatter

prairie thunder
I braid my sister's hair
with corn silk

Highly Commended
2019 New Zealand Poetry Society Competition

Santoka: Haiku Poetry Lovers Association - 3rd International Haiku and Haiga Contest, 2020

Honoured to have this work translated into Serbian!

Highly Commended

Poetry Pea, March 2020

You Tube - Pea TV: "A Walk by the Aegerisee" - March 9, 2020

glassy lake
flocks of snow geese
pull up the moon

1st Place, 2017 Autumn Moon Haiku Contest

Poetry Pea, March 2020

The Haiku Pea Podcast:

Series 3, Episode 6 - "Recipes", March 12, 2020

grandma's bread . . .
the love she forgot
to add

Poetry Pea, February 2020

The Haiku Pea Podcast:

Series 3, Episode 4 - "Loving the Haiku and Senryu", February 18, 2020

Valentine's Day
our Dalmatian pup's
new red leash

San Francisco International Rengay Competition, 2019

Rengay written with Jennifer Hambrick (in normal type) and Debbie Strange (in italics):

In the Key of Grey

hydro lines
the sixteenth notes
of grackles

in the key of grey

the lullaby
of wind through grain
empty silo

high lonesome
a crush of midnight

barbed wire
the descant of coyotes

into the distance
a train's lament

Third Place (tied)

Excerpted from the judge's comments:

...It was one of very few rengay with a double theme. And the music references are skillfully incorporated into each verse, all of which relate very nicely to one another. I found this rengay to be very aesthetically pleasing.

—Seren Fargo

The British Haiku Society Awards, 2019

Thrilled to receive the following four awards:

between the spokes
of your spinning wheel
a dusty web . . .
I never thought our lives
would so quickly unwind


Judge's comments:

For the overall winner, I've chosen this tanka by Debbie Strange from Canada. It has a fantastic visual juxtaposition of a spinning wheel with a web between its spokes. I can see this sitting in someone's attics for a long time gathering dust. The final word "unwind" allows readers to literally unwind from the tanka itself. All the words that have a "w" sound are a plus, "between", "wheel", "web", "would", and "unwind". Not to count syllables but, this is a fine example of writing a crescendo into the tanka. Debbie's two shortest lines being the same count, the first long line (2) is one beat longer, the second long line (4) is two beats longer, and so forth until the final and longest line by three beats which created its fine crescendo.


watching you
prepare a star fruit
just so
the small galaxies
of grace in your hands

Runner-up (chosen by an'ya)
Honourable Mention (chosen by Gregory Longenecker)

Judges' comments:

For runner-up, surprising but not surprisingly by the same talented author, Debbie Strange. The rhythm is there, it makes a nature reference via fruit, plus the human element. It's succinct, and yet this tanka is complete. The reference to "star fruit" and "small galaxies" is a striking comparison. The final line is memorable and adds "grace" to the whole tanka as well.


This is a deceptively simple tanka. The poet observes someone working with star fruit and enters a meditation. They notice the small things being done, "just so." There is a kind of magic or "grace." "The small galaxies" refers to the fruit and/or the work performed by the preparer.

—Gregory Longenecker

a black river
of ants surges across
the pavement
they know their destination
long before I know mine

2nd Honourable Mention

Judge's comments:

Again, another well written and poignant tanka by Debbie Strange from Canada. The mention of ants as a black river surging across the pavement is a super visual, and there's a solid human element of compassion in this one too.


Call of the Page: Haiku at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 2020

Masters of Japanese Prints: Nature and Seasons

Beyond honoured to have the following tanka paired with "The Hollow of the Deep Sea Wave off Kanagawa", 1830-31, by Katsushika Hokusai:

the ocean
was in a rage last night
but today,
these peace offerings
of blue musssels and kelp

1st Place, 2018 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest

Australian Haiku Society, April 2020

International Haiku Poetry Day Haiku String - April 17, 2020

aloneness . . .
one star pokes a hole
in the night

Thursday, April 16, 2020

World Haiku, Number 16, 2020

Translated into Japanese

a cobweb where
my window was

traffic jam
a different song
in each lane

the pause between folding
and unfolding

Note: these haiku previously appeared in Akitsu Quarterly

Tofino Poet Laureate - National Poetry Month Initiative, April 2020

Tofino Poet Laureate, Joanna Streetly, featured the following tanka on her blog for National Poetry Month Day 7 (April 7, 2020):

between the spokes
of your spinning wheel
a dusty web . . .
I never thought our lives
would so quickly unwind

1st Place
2019 British Haiku Society Awards, Tanka Section

The Heron's Nest, Volume 21, 2019

heirloom hollyhocks
I still see father kneeling
in a patch of light

summer solstice the length of a beaver's incisors

deserted farm
the random acts
of hollyhocks

The Cherita, January 2020

Issue: "a home for the wind"


I let
myself go

a red kite's wings
measure the width
of this loneliness

A Cherita Lighthouse Award

hordes of crows

settle among treetops
outside my window

their wings whisper
an omen that someone
is about to die

at the waterfall

elephants perish while trying
to rescue each other

there is a lesson here
that humanity seems
to have forgotten

you seek me out

in my sun-dusted
writing room

but I have
already left my body

windows rolled down

my fingers
splayed against the wind

a rooster tail
of prairie dust is all
I ever leave behind

Tempslibres - Free Times: Bilingual Project, 2017 - 2020

Translated into French by Serge Tomé with commentary including deep analysis of the structure of these haiku at:

March 1, 2020

bus window fog
the heart someone
left behind

Stardust Haiku 38, March 2020

February 2, 2019

rusted gate
old lilacs blooming
for no one

Selected Haiku, 2015 Yamadera Basho Haiku Contest

January 2, 2017

fly fishing
a rainbow arcs across

Creatrix 33, June 2016
(Nominated by the editors for a Touchstone Individual Award 2016)

Tanka Origins, Issue 3, April 2020

My thanks to the editor, an'ya, for her lovely commentary!

the autumn wind
whispers a lament
of longing
I wonder again
why you let me go

"Ah, another excellent tanka by a well liked popular poetess, Debbie Strange in Canada. Again an example of how to start with nature and end with a human element. This one is also an example of a "question tanka" which leaves the reader wondering. The words "longing" and "lament" make this tanka flow smoothly as well. Fine work as usual Debbie!"

Stardust Haiku, Issue 39, March 2020

I sink further
into myself . . .
desert rose

Sonic Boom, Issue 17, April 2020

Seashores - An International Journal to Share the Spirit of Haiku, Vol. 4, April 2020

tree shadows
the stories you tell me
grow longer

sunless day
the sparks of mica
under our boots

Our Best Haiga: Black & White Haiga/Haisha, March 2020

Curated by Lavana Kray

March 8, 2020

Note: this tanka art originally appeared in Ribbons 13.2, Spring/Summer 2017

March 22, 2020

Note: this monostich originally appeared in #FemkuMag 19, December 2019

March 22, 2020

Note: this haiga received 1st Honourable Mention in the Mixed Media Category of the 2017 Jane Reichhold Haiga Competition

March 26, 2020

Note: this tanka art originally appeared in Skylark 6.2, Winter 2018

March 29, 2020

Note: this haiga originally appeared in Ephemerae 1A, April 2018

Human/Kind Journal, Issue 2.1, March 2020

#FemkuMag: An E-zine of Womxn's Haiku - Issue 22, March 2020

a halo around
the long night moon . . .
I find
another strand
of mother's light

Winner, 10th Annual Moonbathing Tanka Contest, 2018

Coming Undone

She always wore the same sweater. I've kept it all these years, and I wear it whenever my memories of her start to fade. Today, the last button came off, and I put it in the sweater's frayed pocket for safekeeping. When it slipped through a hole, and dropped between the floorboards, I finally realized that she was never coming home.

heirloom quilt
sparrow prints embossed
on new snow

2nd Publisher's Choice Award
KYSO Flash Haibun and Tanka Prose Contest, 2016

Failed Haiku - A Journal of English Senryu, Vol.5, Issue 52, April 2020

Thank you to guest editors, Terri and Raymond French!

Daily Haiku, Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog, March 2020

rosy dawn
our paddles stippled
with petals

Highly Commended
New Zealand Poetry Society International Competition, 2019

Daily Haiga: An Edited Journal of Traditional and Contemporary Haiga, March 2020

Featured Artist: March 27, 2020

Note: this haiku was first published in Creatrix Number 44, March 2019

Creatrix Poetry and Haiku Journal, Number 48, March 2020

the glint of sunlight
on railway tracks

the dust we leave

beach cabana
the stripes that never
make me look thin

snow slush
the hems of our jeans
change colour

Blithe Spirit, Vol. 30, Number 1, February 2020

stubble fields
the antelope's horns
bracketing night

submerged log
the descending size
of painted turtles

I invite you
to share my inglenook
this winter's eve
your black canvas coat
stippled with melting stars

Akitsu Quarterly, Spring 2020

road repairs
every pothole filled
with pollen