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By David Lehman

June 21, 2016


 

 

In a traditional haiku, the season is an implicit subject and is sometimes deliberately mentioned in the title or text. So this week we wrote a haiku to bless the season of bounty and warmth that officially began yesterday. The only stated requirements: “Seventeen syllables divided into three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables each. The season should be named.”

First prize goes to Angela Ball for “Summer”:

Thanks sparrow for nest-
Ing in my cycle helmet.
Vacant now, it sings.

I like the intimacy of address—it reminds me a little of an Emily Dickinson dialogue between a bee and a fly. The image of the sparrow in a cycle helmet is a magnificent juxtaposition of natural and manmade life, and both halves of the image are seasonally right.

I so loved the back and forth between Violet Frasier

but then it must be
somewhere outside the poem
how summer reaches

and Paul Michelsen

Summer. Haiku snobs
will really hate this haiku.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

They share second place, with honorable mention going to Charise Hoge

only a screen door
between our house and the yard
summer springs open

and Patricia Smith

ruby stained fingers
mashed berries oozing juices
sweet strawberry jam


 

For next week, how about a contest for the best title of a yet-to-be-written poem? Some poets end their poems with a title; some begin with a title and go on from there. Let’s try the second approach. I speak as one who likes compiling lists of possible titles. Give it your best shot!

Deadline: Sunday, June 26, 2016, at midnight in any time zone.


David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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