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2002 HSA Bernard Lionel Einbond Renku Awards

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).

Commentary by year: 200720062005 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

Winners by Year: 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

Judges' Commentary for 2002


 


2002


The judges for the 2002 competition were Alice Benedict and Fay Aoyagi. Out of 14 entries, they selected the renku below as the winners. To see their comments on the winning renku, click the link for 2002 on the Judges' Commentary page.

Grand Prize: The Wind Shifts

A kasen renku by Billie Wilson (bw), Peggy Willis Lyles (pwl), Carolyn Hall (ch), and Mark Brooks (mb).

the wind shifts—
garden beds emerge
from snowmelt

bw

soft laughter rises
with a yellow kite

pwl

in the toy store,
we all pinch the clerk
not wearing green

mb

does the new man
deserve a corner office?

ch

where the map
vees
a canyon full of moon

bw

three, no, four mule deer
amongst the piñons

mb

after a dream
of wild persimmons
I waken to their tang

pwl

the séance ends abruptly
with her sneeze

ch

better make
that phone call
if you want a date

pwl

back in my day
this meant a shotgun wedding

bw

the former prom queen
remembers the king
who went off to college

mb

such docile lions
guard the library steps

ch

sweat drips
as Quasimodo
greets the moon

pwl

tumbling in the waterfall
rainbows over rainbows

mb

somewhere
in the hall closet
my heirloom pearls

ch

helicopters again
above the search zone

bw

plum petals drift
from the branch she carries
to a dying friend

ch

up the front walkway,
the first ants

mb

the home team
crowds the pitcher's mound
at the opening game

bw

a hostile witness
on the stand

pwl

outside the movie
we kiss and make up
all over

mb

endlessly playing
our song

bw

golden jubilee
and, at last, that trip
to Tuscany!

ch

ravens claim
the withered field

pwl

before dawn
a neighbor empties ashes
from his hibachi

ch

aspirin downed with sake
from last night's cup

mb

unable to focus
on the face
of Dali's Christ

pwl

war protestors herd their kids
toward the memorial wall

bw

under the crescent moon
a smith beats a hammer
at the faire

mb

so soon the bright leaves
sodden in autumn rain

bw

impatient
for the paraffin to harden
on the canning jars

ch

he caps blank verse
with lines that rhyme

pwl

a note on the card said
"Fill out this check
for whatever you need."

bw

near the yield sign
an aroma of mint

pwl

hill by hill
the cherry blossoms
along the shore

mb

aglow with warm light
the eighty-eighth temple

ch

 


First Honorable Mention: Something That Sings

A nijuin renku by Leatrice Lifshitz (ll) and John Stevenson (js).

far, but not too far
there is something that sings
in my winter home

ll

the warm work
of hauling firewood

js

first raindrops
fall just so
into the river

ll

shouts
and laughter

js

moon
over the empty
schoolyard

ll

leaves are turning
on lover's lane

js

red wine
in his glass
and hers

ll

an equitable
settlement

js

cormorant
dries its wings
on a fence post

ll

starched collar, cuffs
and posture

js

the relief pitcher
throws his first one
at the batter

js

swimming hole
filled with moonlight

ll

experience
holding back
the tears

js

taking the telephone
from one room to another

ll

I'd like to be
a-l-o-n-e
with you

js

library books
that were lost

ll

Sunday stroll
among the stones
at Arlington

js

her bonnet
with long ribbons

ll

scent
of the bending
lilac

js

an open can of paint
on the ladder . . .

ll


Second Honorable Mention: a peacock wanders

A kasen renku by renku by Mark Brooks (mb) and Paul MacNeil (pm).

spring rain—
a peacock wanders
onto the path

mb

labyrinth hedges
sprout new leaves

pm

in the lobby
a doorman snoozes
past lunchtime

mb

slurping noodles
she trains for a marathon

pm

derelict caboose
a vibrant red
under the full moon

mb

yes! there is a good side
to this marked-down pumpkin

pm

fragrantly
the bull moose claims
territory

pm

they still debate the death
of Meriwether Lewis

mb

my wife asks
"do these old jeans
make me look fat?"

pm

better to send roses
this anniversary

mb

a shared glance
just a pew in front
of the faded soprano

pm

there goes a billboard
for last year's jazz concert

mb

the same gazebo
but the moon of youth
smiled more

pm

and those frat brothers
will earn their beer guts

mb

before the break
foam is sucked
into a wave

pm

stone by slippery stone
the girls cross the brook

mb

sepals parted
but the wild iris
not yet open

pm

another April Fool
sniffs a squirting flower

mb

the tail shadow
chases after
the kite shadow

mb

hesitation
when I asked her phone number

pm

true love
shows up
as an old friend

mb

Hamlet bids goodbye
to the fair Ophelia

pm

bitterly cold,
nothing stirred
that night

mb

sparkling
snowfield crust

pm

glitter and glue
on his pre-school artwork
and his cheeks

mb

postage stamps from Trinidad
fill an album page

pm

through the spotting scope
dozens of floats
line up for the parade

mb

I carry the chart toward
my barium enema

pm

he climbs
the outer fence
by moonlight

mb

shepherds move the flock
to the lower pasture

pm

storm windows
installed in place
of dirty screens

pm

from new hearing aids
a natural cacophony

mb

our pilot drawls
something
about cleared to land

pm

bees return to the hive
as the sky darkens

mb

a sunrise breeze
spreads through the apple tree
and blossoms

pm

she washes the sand
off of a conch shell

mb

 


2001


The judges for the 2001 competition were Shinku Fukuda, Eiko Yachimoto, and Fay Aoyagi. Out of six entries, they selected the renku below as the winners. To see their comments on the winning renku, click the link for 2001 on the Judges' Commentary page.

Grand Prize: Winter Stars

A kasen renku by Mark Brooks (mb) and Christopher Herold (ch).

winter stars
the telescope eyepiece
slightly warm

mb

eggnog and rumballs ready
our wives call from the kitchen

ch

a muezzin
ducks back inside
the minaret

mb

you stand in line
for lotto tickets

ch

stuck on the turnpike
I watch the moon rise
over an open field

mb

motionless silhouette
of a stag

ch

still uncertain
the palsied Floridian
dimples a ballot

ch

pressure ridges surround
the base of the volcano

mb

then she unzips my fly
and slips in
a downy feather

ch

on their second date
he proposes

mb

major mergers
spawn a trading frenzy
at the closing bell

ch

larger fish chase down
baby orange platys

mb

Los Angeles smog
eclipsing the eclipsing
June moon

ch

home run ball lost
in sprinkler mist

mb

a whole platoon
of plastic soldiers
raked from the sandbox

ch

Night of the Living Dead
on the late, late, late show

mb

one limb only
of the withered cherry tree
rife with blossoms

ch

near some cliff dwellings
an old pilgrim yawns

mb

safe and dry
we pull down our kite
out of the rain

mb

in a shift of wind
someone practicing tuba

ch

the new guy
cleans out
the elephants' cage

mb

barnacles seal
the dingy trunk

ch

a layer of frost
settles
into the woodpile

mb

manuscript accepted
by the flames

ch

now adorned
with a St. Jude medallion
he rhymes again

mb

the kids' smooch attempt
becomes a fit of giggles

ch

boat stuck
in the tunnel
of love

mb

muffled scraping
from the next cell

ch

harvest moon and yet
green pecans still tumble
down the roof

mb

dusk so early, swallows
no longer skim the pond

ch

in the garden
dragonflies
are becoming attached

ch

party streamers
tied to a gate

mb

with a flourish
I brush on
the ragged cloud

ch

snowmelt ripples
the driveway oil slick

mb

petals drift
through the long arcs
of a swing

ch

what's a fit reward
for the best jumping frog?

mb


Second Prize: Snowball Snow

A kasen renku by Paul W. MacNeil (pm), Ferris Gilli (fg), and Peggy Willis Lyles (pwl).

first light
the sidewalk to work
passes snowball snow

pm

shouts of laughter
from the hillside sledders

fg

she adds
a dash of hot sauce
to the bubbling soup

pwl

helicopter rotors
rev for takeoff

pm

sudden swirl
of fallen leaves
in full moonlight

fg

chrysanthemums
beside your door

pwl

the butler
frightens tricky monsters
with a real tarantula

fg

Kahlil Gibran glares
from the book's cover

pm

how many times
have those dark eyes
spoken my name

pwl

a different tattoo
for every man who seduced her

fg

smoke
rings
the sated lovers

pm

another schnauzer
clearing the hoop

pwl

moonrise
lengthens melon
after melon

pm

as the Dow drops
the smell of sweat

pwl

a bar of soap
thuds
on the shower-stall floor

fg

barely a hiss
the sommelier pulls a cork

pm

bouquets
of cherry blossoms
for Madame Butterfly

pwl

every mirror shows
the tomboy's spring formal

fg

on their nest
a heron pair
touches and bows

pm

proposing with a new house
and a prenuptial contract

fg

he lived
without me
after all

pwl

why did that masked stranger
leave a silver bullet?

pm

eagerly
we drop our coins
into the gypsy's palm

fg

refugees cross
a withered field

pwl

matted with ice
the Scottish cattle
stand to the storm

pm

echoes of the battering ram
on the portcullis

fg

his birth cry
cuts through
a daze of pain

pwl

behind a rusty dumpster
syringes

pm

the moon's path
leads straight to the yard
of an AA center

fg

dried-out cockleburs
on the rabbi's sock

pwl

she shakes sawdust
from the prize ribbon
at the state fair

fg

telling the phone solicitor
I'm not available

pm

ecology
is an ancient science,
true or false?

pwl

atop the plastic float
a frog joins the chorus

fg

brilliant blues
begin to climb
spires of lupine

pm

beekeepers bait a hive
with honeycomb

pwl

 


Judges' Commentary for 2002


The first thing we both noticed after eagerly opening our thick packages of renku for the 2002 Einbond Renku Contest, and beginning to read was . . . these poets are truly enjoying themselves! Almost every poem showed an under-standing of renku form and rules. But even more, the poets grasped the joy of writing together.

As judges, we concentrated on looking for a strong hokku, followed by a steady opening, a variety of topics, seamless link and shift, and excellent individual verses. No entry was perfect, and our choice of a Grand Prize winner and two renku for Honorable Mention takes nothing away from the delight we felt in reading individual verses and passages in the other renku.

After careful reading and analysis, we decided to award the Grand Prize to the kasen renku “The Wind Shifts”. The four poets who participated in this renku seemed to trust one another, comfortably tossing each verse off with a light, playful renku spirit. There were many “ooh” and “ahhs” as we read this renku. The first two verses, however, are weak when compared to other entries. A hokku should have all the qualities of a stand-alone haiku. We felt that this hokku was not well-focused in time. But the remaining verses in the opening are skillful and the linking is elegant. In the ura (the second fold) the energy among the poets flows strongly. The “dream of wild persimmons” verse starting this section is just one example of the inventiveness and sensitive link-and-shift that the poets achieved in this section. It might be said that that the love verses tend to develop a story, how-ever, “such docile lions” tightens the flow. We also debated the use of “the first ants” as a spring kigo. Time should not move backwards in a renku—for example, from Easter (late spring) to snowmelt (early spring). In this kasen, time flows onward, from “plum petals” to “the first ants” to “opening game”. We appreciated the clever use of a little word like “first”. The second set of love verses are somewhat troublesome. Avoiding cliché is important in a renku. The second moon link “... a smith beats a hammer” is unique and evocative. Finally, the last six verses move to a quick close, with a variety of focus, both on topics and on human senses—touch, hearing, aroma, and sight. We felt the cherry blossom verse was plain. But then, in the ageku, a henro (a Japanese pilgrim who visits eighty-eight temples) at the “eighty-eighth temple” was a nice surprise, ending this renku with a “warm” feeling.

“Something that Sings”, a nijuin renku is a close contender for the Grand Prize. Its beginning is stronger than “The Wind Shifts”. The hokku, in particular, is inter-esting as an example of using indefinite words to convey a precise feeling. But then, there are some lazy verses: ‘shouts/and laughter in #4, and “red wine/in his glass/and hers” in #7. Most of the verses in this renku show the evocative power of brevity. But being brief requires careful consideration of the juxtaposition of lines within a verse. In this renku, the second moon verse occurs earlier than is usual, and is a two-line, rather than a three-line verse. A nijuin has four ori or “folds” (as does the kasen), but arranged as 4-6-6-4 verses, and it includes one blossom and two moon verses. Typically, the moon appears in #1 in the second fold, the second moon in #5 in the third fold, and the blossom verse in #3 in the last fold. You can insert the moon verses earlier or later (but not the blossom verse). The linking in the third section is close in feeling, though topics are varied. We loved the impact of “I'd like to be a-l-o-n-e”. And the line break in “scent/of the bending/lilac” is very effective.

“a peacock wanders” showed the strongest start of all the renku submitted for this year's contest. The hokku concentrates the reader’s imagination, while presenting juxtaposed images that resonate gently with one another. The wakiku (second verse) closely follows the hokku, yet leaves openings for further development. And the third verse nicely shifts to a new locale and feeling. Then the flow continues from the “marathon” to the “derelict caboose”, and the “marked-down pumpkin”. The verses are varied in point of view, syntax, topics, and verse structure in a way that is especially refreshing. Unfortunately, the renku weakens after this promising strong start. Several verses have similar topics (“faded soprano” to “billboard for last year's concert” or “iris” to “squirting flower”). In addition, both blossom verses lack focus.

Writing renku is, above all, great fun. The poems we read resonated with that spirit. We hope that all the parti-cipants of this year’s contest continue to write together, and to encourage more and more poets to experience the unique thrill of collaborative verse. Thank you all for your contribution to this contest! Viva la renku!!

—Alice Benedict and Fay Aoyagi, Judges

 

 


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