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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
Readers' Choice

       summer morning
       the old dog seems to know
       the length of his leash

                         Jerry Ball     Volume I: Issue 1

In presenting a poem chosen by readers I think it appropriate (and preferable) to quote readers when possible. I do so here with the voter's permission. “I sense that there is an old dog at each end of the leash and, although they are different species, they seem to be joined in an instinctive knowledge that it's going to be a hot one and there's no point in getting all worked up first thing. If you get to be an “old dog” you usually do learn the length of your leash. I found the suggestion of mutual learning between pet and master very attractive.”

In addition to the well chosen words of this poet, I'd like to add that Jerry Ball's haiku is simple, informal and down-to-earth. No complicated terms; simply what is. This is not a poem about resignation, it's one of willing acceptance. I think both master and dog are “old souls.” Each loves life and wants to get outside into the vastness of it, but their enthusiasm has evolved over the years into a shared state of grace. The leash is a pivotal image. We are all on a leash of one kind or another. How we handle this fact is what determines our character, how freely we live within our bodily constraints.

This haiku begins with an acknowledgment of the day's potential (“summer morning”), a sense of promise. The rhythm of alliteration in the final line (“the length of his leash”) moderates this potential, and suggests having come to grips with present conditions. What a wonderfully balanced haiku this is. Jerry Ball well deserves our applause.

  Christopher Herold
February, 2000

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