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1999 Winners

Jerry Ball
Burnell Lippy
Cherie Hunter Day
June Moreau

The Heron's Nest
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Valentine Awards 2000.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

First Annual Valentine Awards
Favorite Haiku of 1999


Commentary – Overview
Editor's Choice • Readers' Choice • Readers' Runners Up

Valentine Awards 2000 Overview

“It is as much an art to read haiku as it is to write them.” So said Reginald Blyth, and I believe it is one of the more important insights he offered us. The haiku poet's craft involves becoming transparent so that the experience will be unobstructed when read. There should be no distracting residue of the poet's ego. The circumstances are provided by the poet, who trusts that (and again I quote Blyth) “The reader can do again what the poet has done.”

As I re-read and re-lived the poems for which you, the readers of The Heron's Nest, cast votes, I was deeply impressed by your sensitivity and by your estimations of what most closely approaches the essence of haiku. Along with your votes, some of you expressed the reasons for your decisions. A few of the qualities you offered as important to your decision making were: “quiet; unassuming; a subtle connection of nature with humankind; the evocation of a deep emotional response; a clear message; carefully chosen images; clear and concise wording; rhythm; thoughtful arrangement of lines; selflessness; combining human activity with nature in such a way that both are revealed in a new light; how connected we are to the whole of creation when we ourselves are creating; satisfying to the senses; the one I seem to get lost in for the longest amount of time; the word structure pulls the image slowly through the mind . . .”

In particular I'd like to quote (with his permission) what John Stevenson wrote to me when casting his vote. His sister-in-law, he noted, said: “The editor's choice commentary seems to value different things in the various poems commented on.” John went on to say: “It seems to me that there is a very active kind of reading required of anyone who appreciates haiku, and that a good haiku may support many different readings, but no one reading makes it work, nor even one kind of reading.” John also pointed out that “individual poems tend to match some [criteria] more than others [of The Heron's Nest list of criteria], and that this varies from one poem to another.” These observations are astute, and well stated. I share them with you because they are corroborated by the wide variety of poems voted for by you the readers.

I was amazed that, of the one hundred sixty-two haiku presented in the four issues of Volume I, twenty-nine different haiku received votes. That's one out of every five or six! Twenty-five poets received votes and a few of them received votes for more than one of their haiku. Something for which I am personally gratified is that each of the four Heron's Nest Award winners in Volume I received votes, as did three of the eight runners-up. It seems that we (the editor and the readers) are pretty much in accord. So now I'm delighted to present the First Annual Valentine Award winners! The readers' voting resulted in a grand prize winner and a tie for runner-up.

  Christopher Herold
February, 2000

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