Thank you to everyone who participated in our first Readers’ Choice Awards! Almost a third the issue (22 poems) received at least one vote. Of those, 11 poems were horizontal one-line poems, and the other 11 were vertical and/or concrete poems. This 1:1 ratio is representative of the issue, which was half of the poems were horizontal and half were “everything else!” The winning poem received 12% of the vote.
We received some outstanding commentaries, which we are only able to share for the placing poems due to space, otherwise we’d be republishing a third of the issue! Please join us in congratulating the winner, runners-up, and second runners-up, and we hope you will participate again in our next Readers’ Choice Awards!
a garden chair rocking the sound of summer rain
- Bernadette O’Reilly, Ireland
These few words are filled with “the senses.” With my first reading I heard the rain and the sound of the chair rocking. Next, I saw the chair rocking in the rain. Then, I felt both the rain and the rocking - as if I were sitting in the chair. Last, I could smell the rain. - Margaret Walker
There is a clever play on words in the poem. While the image is common, the poem can be read different ways which makes it enjoyable and sweet. -Bonnie J Scherer
Runners-Up (tied), listed alphabetically:
a misunderstanding the length of the kitchen table
- Donna Kaplan, USA
I felt the long sweep of the word “misunderstanding” as it became the kitchen table, a place where family gathers and where these failures can hurt the most. I love the simplicity of how the poem creates distance with that core word itself and then moves into the feel of what it means to be at the far ends of that table. - Cynthia Hendel
Being a hardcore housewife or housewoman, I liked the way the poet has utilised this homely aspect of kitchen as the prime object in crafting this haiku. ‘a misunderstanding’ - has been so easily stated but I can visualise the scene with the provocation in the next following word... ‘the length of’. Yes, imagine the family members sitting apart, pushing their plates and laddle, literally showing the anger. What more scenes than on the kitchen table when that is the only place where we sit together to have a meaningful gupshop or cutting or placing the crockery, etc. I really understood the ‘misunderstanding’ and when that is revealed through the size of the table is the soul of this whole story. Thanks Donna!! - Lakshmi Iyer
winter crows the sky gone hollow
-Ann K. Schwader, USA
The beauty of this poem is the economy of words. The o’s in it increase the hollowness and sadness of it. The poem is bare like winter. My heart sinks with it. - Anonymous
before the morning after she knew
- Margaret Walker, USA
The poem is a mind twister to read but actually quite logical. - Bonnie J Scherer
Often haiku are successful with the magical six words, just as Hemingway’s haiku-like piece “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” We personally don’t know the “before and after” of whatever incident occurred with Margaret’s haiku. Unless we’re influenced by “the morning after” which may or may not be an allusion to the famous Emergency contraception pill. The haiku is fascinating as well as disturbing, is it about hindsight, is it a night of drunken mistakes followed by a morning of dread and realisation that time cannot be turned back.
Set aside “the morning” for a moment:
Both these interpretations are hinged or unhinged by “the morning”.
Six words, so many mistakes in life, if only the morning could happen before each night instead.
A haunting what if poem that the majority of us have experienced at least once, probably more. - Alan Summers
Second Runners-Up (tied), listed alphabetically:
soon just a speck in the blue balloon
- Christopher Peys, USA
I love not only the concrete imagery and the profound messages in this ku, but also how the poem begins by emphasizing the word “soon.” First, we are grounded in the now. While the poet is immersed in the image of the balloon becoming a speck and finally merging with the vast blue sky, it's as if each moment is becoming a balloon flying away into the sky. It is a realization that each moment is free of me. But am I working to be free of each moment?
Also, the balloon symbol has been skillfully used by the poet to highlight so many meanings, like how we can try to rise above the conflicts of daily existence. A balloon is a container for air that can burst suddenly, implying our confrontation with grief and reality and the consequent maturing of the spirit and mind. As I write this commentary, I realise my words are leading me towards a new-found freedom. - Richa Sharma
- Chad Lee Robinson, USA
A very clever use of the inverse format. As my eyes follow the words up the page my spirits are lifted ‘beyond birdsong’. Delightful! - Nick T
I like the challenge of figuring out how to read this poem. While it makes some sense reading from top to bottom with words inverted, most likely the poet meant for it to be read from the bottom up. - Bonnie J Scherer