I’ll begin by restating what I’ve said in previous years,
that there are three prime purposes for our annual Valentine Awards.
The first is to honor poets who have gifted Heron’s Nest
readers with exceptionally powerful work. The images, moods, and emotions
in their haiku continue to resonate long after reading them. The second
purpose is to provide an opportunity to help shape the evolution of
haiku beyond individual publishing efforts. Poems voted to be favorites
serve as guiding lights for poets and editors alike. Haiku included
in the Valentine Awards issue exemplify qualities that are generally
held by our readers to be the most desirable. The third purpose goes
along with the second. A careful review of a given volume of The
Heron’s Nest (with the intention of selecting favorite
haiku) produces valuable insights to the craft.
All year long we receive poems from around the world. We probably
read close to 13,000 poems during 2003, but seriously considered
only about one in twenty. Of those 3,000 or so true contenders,
we accepted about one in five. Of the 636 poems in Volume V, 54%
received at least one vote. These figures are presented in order
to illustrate a point. We feel that all poems that have been accepted
into The Heron’s Nest are praiseworthy.
The editors chose 36 poems (three per month) to be Editors’
Choices. That’s only one quarter of one percent of the approximately
13,000 poems submitted to us. Of those 36, the twelve Heron’s
Nest Award poems constitute one tenth of one percent of all
poems submitted. Amazing odds! Again this year, the results of Valentine
Award voting clearly affirm that readers and editors agree in feeling
that certain poems stand out from the rest! We are happy to tell
you that, of the twelve Heron’s Nest Award winners,
eleven were voted into the top twelve places.
The Heron’s Nest continues to consist of a healthy
balance between poets from North America and those from other parts
of the world. Volume V includes work from poets who live in 28 countries
and in 33 of the states within the United States. We are also pleased
with the balance of new voices to those of long-time contributors.
Of the 166 poets represented in 2003, 30% of them were new to The
Heron’s Nest. It is also a great pleasure to share for
the first time the voices of ten poets who have been writing for
many years and whose names are familiar to many of us.
Far more voters turned out for the fifth annual Valentine Awards than
ever before. We thank all of you who took the time to select your
favorite poems. Choosing only ten from 636 is a difficult challenge.
Fortunately it appears to have been a richly rewarding process as well.
Along with poems selected, many of you sent comments about your voting
experiences. We very much appreciate such responses and have decided,
with permission, to share some of them. You’ll find “Notes from Voters”
We value the contributions of everyone who has appeared in The Heron’s
Nest and thoroughly enjoy corresponding with you, encouraging you, and
learning from you. You have shared with us a wealth of deeply resonant
moments, expressed with great skill. Thank you for giving us the
opportunity to share your haiku with the world. Those of you who appear
in the Valentine Awards issue have achieved something extra special. It
is a great pleasure to honor you.
— Christopher Herold