Haiku Society of America Haiku Award for 2009 - Judges' Commentary

Haiku Society of America Haiku Award
in Memorial of Harold G. Henderson

Judges' Commentary for 2009

Judges: Marian Olson & Peggy Willis Lyles

Judges’ general comments:

We appreciated all 583 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest entries for 2009, poems with great diversity in style and content. As judges we know that haiku poets who are attentive, aware, and disciplined in their writing cut to essential truth or beauty, or both, using simple language to give a fresh perspective to the seemingly ordinary. To choose among so many fine poems was a challenge. That said we are pleased to honor the following five haiku.


First Place

The house finch
has a song for it,
morning after snow

Stephen Gould (Denver, CO)

The house finch’s song is radiant and light as the morning af- ter snow when everything is intensely alive and awake, fresh and beautiful. No doubt as to how the poet feels about this sparkling new day, one too beautiful for words, but not for a finch’s cheerful song.


Second Place

crescent moon
a bone carver sings
to his ancestor

Ron Moss (Tasmania, Australia)

Carved from light, the evocative shape of the crescent moon sets an appropriate mood for another song, this one uniquely human. The second image is exotic and the bone carver’s cultivation of a spiritual connection with his ancestor stirs intuitive contemplation of a debt to past generations and our place in the cosmos.


Third Place

close enough to touch—
I let the junco lead me
away from its nest

C. R. Manley (Bellevue, WA)

Thrilled at being “close enough to touch,” the speaker knows juncos well, recognizing feigned injury as the ground bird’s instinctive ploy to lure predators away from the nest. Unable to communicate good intentions, the intruder gladly plays along to spare the bird further distress.


Honorable Mention

Blowing leaves
tempt the old cat,
but not enough

Bruce England (Santa Clara, CA)

This one made us laugh. In a felicitous reversal of standard haiku technique, the poet’s “telling” effectively “shows” us the cat’s behavior—a tilt of the head, a small motion in the di- rection of the leaves perhaps, but nothing more. The dramas, temptations, and passions of life no longer control this cat’s behavior. He chooses to enjoy the moment without the chase.


Honorable Mention

ancient mountains . . .
runners clearing hurdles
on the practice field

Michael McClintock (Fresno, CA)

Against the stillness of ancient mountains, the runners’ leaps seem small, but poignantly significant, opening rich layers of contrast and connection between geologic and human time.





These awards for unpublished haiku were originally made possible by Mrs. Harold G. Henderson in memory of Harold G. Henderson, who helped found The Haiku Society of America.

Download a PDF file sampler of Henderson Awards.

Winners by Year:

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See the complete collection of award-winning haiku from all previous Henderson Haiku Award competitions

See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Haiku Award.