The Heron’s Nest
a haikai journal ...
Volume V, Valentine Awards:
Readers’ Choice — Favorite Poets
1st Runner-Up — paul m.A familiar voice to Heron’s Nest readers, paul m. takes First Runner-Up in the selection by his peers. The majority of votes by his name was for top-voted “migrating whales,” yet eight of his other 11 haiku this year garnered support.
When reading paul’s haiku, I often feel as if I am traveling, perhaps hiking to new places along with him. Some poems chronicle movement:
the distance between
someone else’s steps
creek crossing . . .
the uneven footing
on the other side
Action is not direct; the poet has paused to note particular things. His phrasing in each haiku is tight and even spare. These poems are set in nature and usually with a recognizable season. One or two things are observed quite closely.
a river carries sunlight
down the valley
the parish priest
straightens his collar
The paul m. touch is light on “author’s message.”
an old stone wall
pelicans and cormorants
share the rocks
Haiku, like proverbial “beauty,” is in the eye of the beholder. This writer shows us a scene, apposes focused elements, and leaves work for the reader. These poems carry emotional content. It occurs not on the surface, not easily picked up. Rather, the reverberation of his wording and its order allows the pleasure of finding so much more.
all our footprints
I sense that paul m. knows his subjects well and has perceived their little truths. He is moved. So am I.
2nd Runner-Up — Peggy Willis LylesLast year, when I invited Peggy Willis Lyles to become an editor for The Heron’s Nest, my only reservation was knowing that this would mean losing her as a contributing poet. A presence in the haiku community since the early 1970s, Peggy Lyles has long been among one of its most gifted members. Her haiku are rife with keen perceptions and brilliant insights. She composes with a deft and gentle sensitivity that I’ve come to recognize even before seeing her name on the page. Thank goodness we can still read Peggy’s work in other haiku journals.
Fortunately for Heron’s Nest readers, our new editor’s poems appeared through August, a month after she officially became a heron. In the August issue, Peggy’s haiku was a beautiful lead-in to her editorship:
a cool current
where the river deepens
As with nearly all haiku, this one can be interpreted in a number of ways. I like to imagine Peggy swimming in the river. She enters the cool current and decides to float on her back, whereupon she becomes aware of a wide expanse of clear summer sky. She may have been standing at the river’s edge, however, noticing first a change of blue where the water deepens, then the blue of the sky. Since Peggy was just then joining us in The Nest, I couldn’t help but be lavishly self-indulgent in another interpretation: “a cool current,” (The Heron’s Nest); “where the river deepens,” (a commitment to participate with us in efforts to nurture haiku and haiku poets); “summer sky,” (seemingly limitless possibility).
Eight of Peggy’s nine poems in Volume IV received vigorous nods from readers. Most favored was the subtly rich, award-winner from March:
the weight of mist
in Spanish moss
Two others for which thumbs were raised high:
swing their arms
from the practice room . . .
a bee stirs applemint
These poems exhibit perfection in the art of implication. The first reveals a connection between a natural force and an aptly named exercise. The second connects a man-made sound to a visual image implying sound. What wonderful olfactory overtones!
A personal favorite also much appreciated by readers is
slides from my shoulder . . .
I am seldom struck by such depth and sustained resonance in a brief, haikuís worth of connection. The poet feels summoned by the flowers. She responds, bending to look more closely. As if in slow motion, she sees the scarf slip from her shoulder and she herself slips into the past. More to the point perhaps, she feels her mother’s spirit surround her in the present moment — a woman who must have loved natural beauty. Like mother, like daughter.
Peggy’s life is imbued with talent, wisdom, and compassion. To work with her is to know this first hand. How clearly it shines through her haiku! When I say we are supremely grateful, I speak for all of us herons in The Nest.
3rd Runner-Up — Anna TambourIn 2001, Anna Tambour’s first work to appear in The Heron’s Nest presented unusually fresh imagery and mesmerizing aural quality:
in the billabong
Two months later, Anna won her first Heron’s Nest Award. With “faint thunder,” she uses the concrete imagery of setting and action rather than obvious direction to alert readers to a seasonal change:
a snake sloughs its skin
in the creekbed
Anna’s haiku appeared in six issues of our journal last year, winning the Heron’s Nest Award in May and again in June. Through haiku, Anna reveals her remarkable fellowship with the natural world. As does “faint thunder,” her June 2002 winner eloquently demonstrates that she is perfectly in tune with the cycles of nature and the wildlife inhabiting the vast Australian Outback. As the waters approach the flooding stage, perhaps the poet’s pulse beats faster in worried anticipation. Moving her focus to a tiny creature, she is filled with awe at her sudden feeling of kinship with it:
a treefrog’s heart beats
against the windowpane
With simple, concise language and never using words of emotion, Anna draws readers into her experience. Eager to share her world with us, she uses vibrant imagery with natural ease to evoke a sensuous response from readers. She skillfully invites us to hear the sounds that enhance the quiet of an Outback evening:
from a tree’s silhouette
the sound of dew
dropping from leaves
the sound of a cow
chewing dry leaves
Even something as mundane as a meal on the boil is revealed as unique and mystical through the poet’s perception:
the yin yang of two beef tongues
in a pot
While not all of Anna Tambour’s poems contain traditional kigo, most do evoke a sense of season. The poet reminds Heron’s Nest editors, “All life here is predicated on the opportunity to thrive, given the chance. The flora and fauna have never heard of kigo, so they celebrate life as they have the chance, and procreate with the same urgency.” Deeply concerned for the land and its wild inhabitants, she closely monitors them following droughts, fires, and floods. After devastating fires raged in the Australian forests last year, coming within ten yards of her home, Anna rejoiced when signs of new growth appeared, reporting, “The burnt ground wherever we walk is covered with trees now, the size of dandelions.” Using stark and startling contrast, she confirms the presence of animal life:
I believe that her award-winning poem of last May reveals the essence of the poet herself:
my hand fills with
The Heron’s Nest editors are grateful to Anna Tambour for sharing her extraordinary experiences and poems with us and with Heron’s Nest readers.
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