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 

Endless possibilities 

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 –

Pileated woodpeckers

Cry out from the woods

Third: George Bellerose — The Yin and Yang Pandemic Poetry Medal

Hibernation is

restful but two-plus years

is frankly stressful.


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 photographer

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

a sign 

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

Scarlet cardinals,

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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