Weybridge haiku contest announces winners
WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge’s Fourth Annual Haiku Contest asked Vermonters to reflect on our challenging times. Reflect they did. Twenty-eight writers submitted 217 haikus that ranged from traditional themes — Japanese-like contemplations of nature — to contemporary concerns — COVID, stress, mud season, and Ukraine.
What the haikus shared was their ability to help us to “see, hear, touch, smell, and taste things that we might have missed before in our hurry and busyness,” commented novelist and poet Julia Alvarez, Weybridge’s co-poet laureate and founder of the competition.
Like previous competitions, there were six formal “winners” but everyone was recognized with a playful and sometimes serious “Best of… Awards.” Weybridge novelist and playwright Chris Bohjalian, one of three judges, created many of this year’s categories, among them: Most Astute Summation of Mud Season and the Natural World, The Alliteration Is Awesome Award, The Snow Falling from Beech Trees Award, The Sweet and Sour Prize, The Yin and Yang Pandemic Poetry Medal.
“I’m unfit to judge sonnets, limericks, haikus — all poetry really. But this was easy, because most haikus were delightful little treasures, precise and evocative, and often very clever,” Bohjalian commented on his inaugural judging contest.
Begun in 2018, the contest was originally limited to Weybridge residents or writers with a Weybridge connection. Nine writers submitted 70 haikus that year. The contest is now open to all Vermonters and submissions have tripled. Ten Weybridge residents submitted 81 haikus this year. Eighteen Vermonters submitted 136 haikus.
“Winning” is secondary say contest judges. The purpose is to celebrate the joys of poetry for everyone, especially during April, National Poetry Month.
“My fondness for haiku resurfaced when my 10-year-old grandson was studying poetry in school,” says judge Martha Winant, “and could write his own haiku, three lines with 17 syllables, and understand what his classmates wrote.”
“Vermont winters are the best for hunkering down to read or write a haiku. If you can choose a subject, you can write a haiku!” says Winant, a past contest winner who also selected writers for this year’s 30 Best of Awards. Narges Anzali, Weybridge’s youth poet laureate and a past contest winner, was the third judge.
First: Bettie Barnes, Montpelier — The We Had All the Feels Medal
all we have is here
from one morning to the next
this can be enough
Second: Jack Mayer, Middlebury —
The Ever So Thankful for Small Things Award
One crocus in snow
warms more than a meadow-full
of summer flowers.
Third: Lisa Blumenthal, Cornwall — The Fountain of Hope Award
We have wintered well
Are the soul of spring
First: Gwen Nagy-Benson — Most Astute Summation of Mud Season and the Natural World
Crusted winter grime
conceals the plate but the car’s
clearly from Vermont.
Second: Barbara Brosnan — The Birds Really are Descended from Dinosaurs Evolution Prize
Jurassic laughter –
Cry out from the woods
Third: George Bellerose — The Yin and Yang Pandemic Poetry Medal
restful but two-plus years
is frankly stressful.
REPRESENTATIVE BEST OF CATEGORY AWARDS
The Snow Falling from Beech Trees Award: Matthew Witten — Starksboro
Why does the beech tree
Hang onto its leaves so long?
So we hear snow fall.
The Non-Haiku Poem as Hope Prize: David Moats — Salisbury
Who would have guessed
that morning would be as calm
and clean and fresh as this?
The Writing in the Snow Award: Fran Putnam — Weybridge
Patterns on the snow
Rabbits, deer, mice, coyotes
Leave their tracks behind
The Missing Our Neighbors Award: Spence Putnam — Weybridge
No chit-chat, coffee, doughnuts
Town Meeting on zoom
The Pandemic in a Nutshell Award: Jill Dunn — Salisbury
Year One: Slow the Spread
Year Two: a Vaccination!
Year Three: Normalcy
Best Non-Haiku Use of a Meme in a Pandemic: Tricia Knoll — Williston
the hand washing meme
of Lady MacBeth
The Constellation at Night Award: Patty LeBon Herb — Middlebury
Tonight we look up
we are a constellation
hand-in-hand in love
The Best Use of Litany: Elizabeth VanBuskirk — Shelburne
On breathless nights
moths appear, foxes, bobcats, deer,
one lost unicorn.
The Best Use of Litany Non-Unicorn Version: Kathleen McKinley Harris — Cornwall
green rose females, fly among
azure blue jay band
The Stillness Equals Loveliness Poetry Prize: Ellen Bodin — North Chittenden
sitting on a bench
the North Branch River flows –
your head on my shoulder
Best Use of Birds as Gender Foils: Carol Calhoun — Weybridge
How do male cardinals
know they are handsome in snow
their wives tell them so
The Wait until Next Year Award: Contest Administration: Weybridge
Keep pens, pencils sharp.
Haiku contest returns next
spring. Geese, robins, too
For a file with the 30 Best of Awards and 217 haikus contact George Bellerose, contest administrator, at [email protected] or 802 545-2035.
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