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HSA Bernard Lionel Einbond Memorial Renku Awards Collection

The Haiku Society of America sponsors this annual award for renku of 36, 20, or 12 stanzas. (Renku is a form of renga). See also the contest rules and the judges' commentary for the Einbond award. For more information about the goals of this contest, download a copy of the HSA Renku Contest Committee Report (pdf) published in Frogpond XIII:2 (May 1990).

Winners by Year: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

 


 

2016

Renku Judges
Deborah P. Kolodji and Linda Papanicolaou

First Place

Honing Oil
by
Ferris Gilli (coordinator), Marietta GA
Ron C. Moss, Leslie Vale, Tazmania

Honorable Mentions
(unranked)

New Year's Morning
by
David G. Lanoue, New Orleans LA
Nicholas. M. Sola, New Orleans LA

Northern Lights
by
Anna Maris (coordinator), Tomeililla, Sweden
Marcus Liljedahl, Sweden

 

 


2016 Bernard Lionel Einbond Award for Renku

First Place Award:

Honing Oil

by

Ferris Gilli (coordinator), Marietta GA
Ron C. Moss, Leslie Vale, Tazmania

honeycomb skies
kittens suckle milk
in the sunshine
Ron C. Moss
a grandpa teaching how
to blow soap bubbles
Ferris Gilli
the chrome
of an old blues harp
cool to touch
Ron C. Moss
maple keys twirl downward
to an unheard rhythm
Ferris Gilli
fireworks split
the red moon
into sparks
Ron C. Moss
the floor routine ends
with a wardrobe malfunction
Ron C. Moss
the remote control
with her toy robot
on the blink
Ferris Gilli
love train lights dim
in the sleeping carriage
Ron C. Moss
satiated at last
we awake entangled
at the cliff’s edge
Ferris Gilli
the scent of honing oil
still on Dad’s knife
Ron C. Moss

wonderful
how you carve a mermaid
from a hunk of clay

Ferris Gilli
pirate ships in the bathtub
as the plug is pulled
Ron C. Moss
a harvest moonbeam
softly blesses the room
of a DNR patient
Ferris Gilli
the darner dragonfly
hovers between worlds
Ron C. Moss
their thick book
about earth’s giants
stitched at last
Ferris Gilli
at midnight in the museum
a Tyrannosaurus rex lifts its head
Ferris Gilli 
in a secret place
there's frost on the bones
of a swallow
Ron C. Moss
this relentless cold
seeps into my very marrow
Ferris Gilli
plum blossoms
from the master's brush
gently in the breeze
Ron C. Moss
a speckled frog leaps
onto the still weathervane
Ferris Gilli

• • •

 

 


2016 Bernard Lionel Einbond Award for Renku

Honorable Mention:

New Year's Morning

Written at The Avenue Pub, New Orleans, USA
on January 1, 2016

by

David G. Lanoue, New Orleans LA
Nicholas. M. Sola, New Orleans LA

so many new
jogging suits—
New Year’s morning

David
ham hocks in the pot
with black-eyed peas
Nicholas
a yin-yang of bubbles
swirls ‘round
the rubber ducky
David
the priest praises
didactic art
Nicholas
all the headlights
on the freeway
and the bright moon
Nicholas
in chilly darkness
a stranger’s touch
David
a quickie
with the quarterback
after the loss
Nicholas
the bully discovers
the taste of grass
David
Teddy Roosevelt
dropped his glasses
on San Juan Hill
Nicholas
halfway up
the snail turns around
David

the record
will not stop
will not stop

Nicholas
our expanding universe
doesn’t give a shit
David
I ask the store clerk
for my wife’s size
of Depends
Nicholas
pet rocks and real estate
in the beloved’s will
David
under the winter moon
a cup of coffee
left in the park
Nicholas
a hyperactive squirrel
in snowy pines
David
the congressional aide
respawns again
in Call of Duty
David
an east wind travels
over the cemetery
Nicholas
shivering cherry blossoms
eagerly await
what’s next
David
the children let go
of their balloons
Nicholas

 

 

 

• • •

 

 


2016 Bernard Lionel Einbond Award for Renku

Honorable Mention:

Northern Lights

by

Anna Maris (coordinator), Tomeililla, Sweden
Marcus Liljedahl, Sweden

northern lights
on the snow covered lake
a melted rainbow
Anna
the line of frosted tour buses
comes to a standstill
Marcus
scribbled writing
on the back of a postcard
a new set of words
Anna
the third star twinkles
on a hotel sign
Marcus
 
autumn sky
thoughts wander to the dark side
of the moon
Anna
red leaves piling up
around the welcome mat
Marcus
short days
wrapped in firelight and silk
long nights
Anna
his nose buried deep
in the scent of her curls
Marcus
spinning
the terrestrial globe
where would you go?
Anna

telling the same old story
as the pinot kicks in

Marcus
 
sleepless again . . .
cicadas out of sync
with the neighbor’s bed
Marcus
summer heat still on my skin
sickle moon
Anna
frozen image
the buzz of computer fans
grows stronger
Marcus
a rush through their veins
fiber optics
Anna
on the nightstand
train tickets
to separate worlds
Marcus
the sky - at the same time
so big and so small
Anna
 
a barren field
framed
with gilded leaves
Marcus
oh, green shoots, green shoots!
shoot me!
Anna
first daisy . . .
a girl rips off
petal after petal
Marcus
out of the lightest of rains
a perfect arch of colors
Anna

• • •

 


Judges' Commentary for 2016:

Deborah P Kolodji Commentary

There is something magical about “Honing Oil,” which we awarded First Place. Each link draws the reader in with strong imagery, and each shift is so very satisfying in both surprise and progression. It starts off calm, with kittens suckling milk in the sunshine and a grandpa with soap bubbles and then builds to an intense sensuality before darkening into the ache of a pulled plug and DNR patient. And yet, that dinosaur lifts its head at the end of the 3rd side before the close, ending with plum blossoms and a frog leaping onto a weathervane. It is a poem I will never forget. The skill of the writers and the freshness of strong imagery brought me back to it again and again when reviewing the entries.

“New Year’s Morning” was awarded Honorable Mention for its meticulous execution of the Nijuin form. The seasonal references are clear and the links make sense, but ultimately its artistic vision makes it more difficult for the reader to engage with the poem. The mood does not seem to change much as the poem progresses, although I believe it is by design. It opens with New Year’s joggers and then progresses to love verses that feel very impersonal – a stranger’s touch in the darkness and a quickie with the quarterback. The 3rd side follows in the same vein, a man shops for Depends for his wife and there are pet rocks in wills. This uniform and detached mood truly underscores life in an uncaring, expanding universe, which is how the poem succeeds at an intellectual level.

The strong images of “Northern Lights” also stayed with me long after I read the poem. Although there were some issues with kigo and linking, the excellent writing and almost frightening beauty of this poem demanded recognition, which is why we also awarded it an Honorable Mention. I found the ending unforgettable in the skillful way the image of the girl ripping petals off a daisy is juxtaposed against the aurora borealis and a link that says “shoot me” brings to mind the daisy and atomic bomb explosion in the famous 1964 LBJ political attack ad against Barry Goldwater. For a renku, I believe these topics are too strong to be in the closing links, even though I admit that I can’t help but love the way this poem ultimately works for the reader.

Linda Papanicolaou Commentary:

Nijuin is a 20-verse renku was created by renku master Meiga Higashi in the last century. Templates by William J. Higginson and by John E. Carley may be found online at Renku Home <http://www.2hweb.net/haikai/renku/shorter_renku.html> and on the Darlington Richards website <http://darlingtonrichards.com/rr/docs/Nijuin.htm>. Both are substantially in agreement about the characteristics of the nijuin form. Though modern, it retains certain analogies to the classic 36-verse kasen: its four sides follow the jo-ha-kyu dynamic, and whatever the season in which it was begun (as expressed in the hokku/wakiku pair) the kyu (4th side) will always concludes the poem with three spring verses, the second of which is blossom. There are two moon verses, one in autumn and the other in a minor season, and love verses that are generally paired in each of the ha (2nd and 3rd sides). But nijuin's shorter length makes for important differences. With sides that are themselves each shorter than their counterparts in kasen, nijuin allocates one season to each side rather than kasen's two, and seasons don't wrap to the next side. This distinction of sides gives nijuin a structural clarity that's somewhat like the even shorter shisan. In an appraisal that follows his templates, Carley's reservations were that 4, 6, 6 and 4 verses per side were just not long enough to retain the true feel of the Basho style, while allowing that nijuin "broke the mould. It is clear and straightforward—easily assimilated—and has a certain style of its own. . . [and] is always fun to write."

"Honing Oil", our first prize winner is a powerful piece of writing that in turn breaks Master Higashi's mold. The hokku/wakiku pair opens with lovely spring imagery: kittens suckling under sunny skies, a grandfather teaching grandchildren to blow bubbles; then, following an old chrome blues harp, an "unheard rhythm" of twirling maple keys—which moves us to summer before the jo is out. The development ha (2nd side) is similarly unconventional, with an eroticism that builds from fireworks in the first moon verse, a "wardrobe malfunction" and a toy robot, to the love verses whose sexuality spills into the scent of honing oil on a father's knife. With the intensification ha (3rd side) the mood shifts towards death: a creation in clay, a pulled bathtub plug, a moonlit hospice room, a dragonfly as mediator between life and death, a large bound book, and a museum dinosaur. In its fast close, the kyu (4th side) is most surprising of all. Frost on dead bird's bones and relentless cold yield to plum blossoms. Suddenly, the breeze stills as we end with a frog.

In short, it's a poem that follows its own logic, swapping the clarity of sides for forward momentum in which each image is recast into to the next through the space of the link. I do have reservations about such a departure from what the templates indicate was Master Higashi's intensions for the form he created. Openness to experiment signals vitality as an art form, but is there a point—beyond the mere number of verses—at which a poem becomes a 20-verse something else rather than a nijuin? Is a major contest the venue to unveil the experiment? As English language renku takes on momentum, this kind of question will come up again, as it has for haiku. Meanwhile, in the case of "Honing Oil," let me simply say that as I went through the pile of submissions then put them aside to think and do other things, this was the entry that stayed on my mind. I do love nijuin that follow Master Highashi’s original concept and I miss that in this one; still, “Honing Oil” is a compelling poem that sustains engagement. I’m reminded of what John Carley has written about Basho-style scent linking, that he [Basho] “proposed that a stanza might be regarded as an entelechy, a complete world, into which reader or renkujin might enter, and so find linkage purely through empathy.”“A Brief Introduction to Renku Composition, World Haiku Review vol. 2, issue 1, March 2002, online at <https://sites.google.com/site/worldhaikureview2/whr-archives/renku>.

“New Year’s Morning” and “Northern Lights” share Honorable mention. Both follow the classic Higashi form, though with quite different stylistic results—and various shortcomings. “New Year’s Morning” is a well-crafted renku with many wonderful images though the linking often eschews the deepening of mood in favor of wit or ironic detachment: a didactic priest, quickie sex, a hyperactive squirrel, a universe that “doesn’t give a shit.” It’s not a world that easily lets us in except on its own terms.

“Northern Lights,” by contrast, draws us immediately into a frozen landscape of tour busses gathered to view the aurora borealis. I do feel there are weaknesses in the season references, beginning with the hokku’s analogy of the aurora as a “melting rainbow,” a blending of two spring kigo, while the wakiku’s season reference “frost” treads too closely to the hokku’s “snow covered lake”. In the 2nd side “red leaves piling up” may signal autumn for us, but red leaves and fallen leaves are winter kigo in the saijiki, so this is a season image that should be used with care. Similarly, the next verse has double kigo: “short days”, a winter kigo, and “long nights,” which is autumn. At times it seemed as if the writers were deliberately toying with season confusion, and the verses became puzzles to be worked out before the renku could continue. Two final points in the 4th side: 1) The penultimate verse is a flower verse rather than blossom. Blossoming fruit trees—cherry, plum, peach, apple etc., bear much more resonance than flowers and while many published nijuin have flowers, all of Higginson’s and Carley’s templates code for blossom and I assume that Master Higashi’s intent was traditional. 2) The ageku closes back to the hokku with a rainbow. I really wish they hadn’t done that, though I still think the poetry of the writing deserve honors in this year’s Einbond contest.

 

About the Judges

Linda Papanicolaou

A middle school art teacher and art historian, Linda Papanicolaou became interested in haiku and haiga in the late 1990s. Her art and poetry have appeared in Amaze, Autumn Leaves, Cattails, Contemporary Haibun Online, Daily Haiga, Fire Pearls, Frogpond, GEPPO, Haigaonline, The Heron’s Nest, Ink Sweat & Tears, Journal of Renga & Renku, Lynx, Mariposa, Modern English Tanka, Moonbathing, Moonset, Nisqually Delta Review, Notes from the Gean, Ribbons, Santa Fe Broadside, Simply Haiku, Sketchbook, Soundings, Temps Libres, Haiku Poets of Northern California’s Two Autumns readings, the World Kigo Project and World Haiku Review. She is a member of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, Haiku Poets of Northern California, and the Haiku Society of America. For the past ten years she has edited Haigaonline and has been involved with World Haiku Review and Modern Haiga. In 2013 she served as co-judge with Norman Darlington for HSA's 2013 Lionel Einbond Renku Contest, and in 2015 led a triparshva at The Haiku Foundation.

Deborah P Kolodji

Deborah P Kolodji is the California Regional Coordinator for the Haiku Society of America and moderates the Southern California Haiku Study Group. A former president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, she is also a member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California, Haiku San Diego, the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and Haiku Canada. She had published over 900 haiku both on and off the web, as well as tanka, haibun, cinquains, and free verse. She has a haiku in the 2015 Nebula Awards Showcase published by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and has won a Dwarf Stars Award. She discovered renku in 2001 during the World Haiku Club Tournament and has led renku sessions at recent Asilomar Haiku Retreats.

 

 

 


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