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Haiku and T-Shirt Contest Winners and Honorable Mentions

Seward Park Torii T-shirt design contest

Winning design "New Seward Park Torii" by David Berger.

Click image to enlarge.



Winning Kid's contest design (to go on kids T-shirts)

(name of winner withheld pending permission)


Seward Park Torii Haiku Contest (Japanese)

Judged by Rainier Haiku Ginsha

Winner – Atsumi Yamashiro

のどかさやパークの湖畔波の音
(nodokasaya pa-kuno kohan no oto)
pastoral view of the park
the sound of waves
lapping the shoreline

Honorable Mentions

湖晴れてセワードパークの花見かな
(mizuharete sewa-doen no hanamikana)
beautiful day on the lake                             
ideal time to view at Seward Park
cherry blossoms in full bloom
  Shoshi Takamura

湖を背にパークの鳥居八重桜  
(mizuwo seni kouentorii yaezakura)
lake in the background
the park torii surrounded
by multi-petal cherry blossoms
Saeko Aoyama

ワシントン湖再び曽比湯鳥居の朱
(washintonko futatabisobiyu toriinoshu)
once again the mighty red torii
soars above
Lake Washington
Yuriko McMahan

Seward Park Torii Haiku Contest (English)

Judged by Michael Dylan Welch, vice president of the Haiku Society of America

Adult Winner – David Berger

sunny afternoon-
some walk Seward Park clockwise
some the other way

The best haiku often exhibit a disarming simplicity, and we certainly see that here. We also feel summerness in this poem, which deftly captures an experience that every park visitor can relate to. This poem also reminds me of a classic haiku by the Japanese master, Issa: “in this world / even among insects, / some sing well, some don’t.” We each have our way of being, or our way of travelling, and ultimately this winning poem is about making Seward Park our own.

Honorable Mentions
(listed in order of merit)

snowberries and rosehips
remain—
rain of maple flowers
Erica Howard

This poem presents strong images, something that’s vital for effective haiku. But listen, too, to this poem’s sounds: snow and rose, and remain and rain, plus the consonance of each “r” in the poem, plus a few “s” sounds. We get a robust sense of the season in this mellifluous poem.

sheltering forest—
the great horned owl’s
deep whoo whodoo
Angela Terry

It’s fun to play with sounds in some haiku. And here’s a haiku about sound. We get to experience the owl for ourselves through this poem, with the added environmentalist reminder that the forest is needed to shelter this majestic bird.

blooming cherry blossoms
line the road—
an eagle returns home
Te Wayne Tsuki Kaneko-Hall

Key techniques for writing haiku are to have two juxtaposed parts, clear and primarily objective images, plus a seasonal reference. We see all three techniques in use here. Haiku do not need to be 5-7-5 syllables in English—they don’t even count syllables in Japanese, but sounds, and a poem of 17 syllables in English is actually much longer than a traditional haiku in Japanese. What matters more are the other techniques I’ve mentioned, which help to create experiential immediacy, as we see in this poem.

nothing to see
through the bright fog
but the black cormorant
Erica Howard

Direct immediacy of a notable image experienced through one of the five senses. Perhaps we see the fog more clearly because of that black cormorant.

the smell of rain
on the tops of the mountains
colors of autumn
Tatjana Debeljački

For a brief moment the experience of this poem is the smell of rain, suggesting that it isn’t raining yet, but soon will be. Before the clouds arrive, we can see off into the mountains where fall colors tinge just their tops. We know autumn is coming, and with it the autumn rains.

on every bench
kids in T-shirts eat cookies
mallards raft offshore
David Berger

A summer moment. The mallards, it seems, are hoping for handouts. Even if not, the birds are enjoying each other’s company just as the kids are. It’s easy to picture this scene in Seward Park.

Thank you to each of the poets who entered the Seward Park Torii Haiku Contest for adults, and for each of their moments of imagistic seasonal celebration.


Youth Winners - Emily Goodman and Ryanne L  Jones

no matter what season
the sun glistens sometime
the sun is always there

This is a Seattle poem, a city where it’s often cloudy, even if it’s not raining. The clouds make us appreciate the sun even more, in every season of the year. When we’re outdoors, at a place like Seward Park, we long for the sun even on rainy days, and can know that it’s still there behind the clouds, all the more appreciated when it does begin to glisten on the water that surrounds the park.

Honorable Mentions
(in no particular order)

the lily pads grow
the sun shines through the water
everything is calm
Shannan Leitner

A clear, immediate, and serene image—a moment of stillness, with an intimate view of sunlight through water by lily pads. You can easily imagine a frog jumping in!

the leaves are falling
crumbling as people stomp them
rainy, cold and wet
Shannan Leitner

lots of umbrellas
rain beating down like a drum
slipping on wet leaves
Shannan Leitner

The previous two poems capture the feeling of our Pacific Northwest rain.

everything is warm
this is a great time to swim
I can go outside
Christopher Wiehle

Pure and direct in its simple appreciation of summer pleasures, to the point of feeling disarming.

cold breeze on my nose
children playing in the snow
silent falling snow
Laila Pickett

A strong sense of winter is emphasized by the “o” sounds of cold, nose, and snow. It may be cold, but not too cold for children to enjoy the snow.

swimming in the lake
at the very crack of dawn
the sand already hot
Laila Pickett

Yes, it gets hot in Seattle too, and this poem presents the tactile experience of hot summer sand, and the joys of taking an early morning lake swim.

the park gets full
people at the beach
lifeguards come back
Emily Goodman

This poem remembers the lifeguards of the previous year, and celebrates the moment when they return to the beaches. Maybe this is when summer officially begins.

Seward Park—you can go
spring, fall, summer and winter—
lots of things to do
Benjamin Krownbell and Simon Kiner

While most haiku focus on just one here-and-now experience, this poem reminds us that the park has much to offer all year round.

swimming in the pond
dad is at the BBQ
grillin’ cheese hot dogs
Ryanne Jones

Can you get more summery than this?

orange red glowing orb
setting over placid water
falling yellow leaves
Emily Goodman and Ryanne Jones

The color of the sun echoes the color of the falling leaves in this harmonious image of autumn.

splashing in water
sunny days finally here
fragrant barbecue
Ryanne Jones and Emily Goodman
Who could resist splashing in the water on such a sunny summer day? And with a barbecue awaiting you, too!

Thank you to each of the children and youth who entered the Seward Park Torii Haiku Contest for those age 14 and under. It’s a pleasure to read your moments of seasonal experience, whether set in Seward Park or in places like it. Try writing more haiku as a way to record keen moments of awareness of the world around you and its unfolding seasons.

Michael Dylan Welch
Sammamish, Washington
www.graceguts.com / www.nahaiwrimo.com