Monday, April 20, 2020

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.


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