Joan Torres is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2021 for her poem
below the missing dog a missing woman
— (#FemkuMag 31)
Commentary from the Panel:
This multilayered haiku evokes emotions surrounding women’s place in today’s society. These emotions are seen through the prism of humans’ attachment to their pets. There is the unstated contrast as to which is more valued by society, a missing woman or a missing dog. The emotional resonance is skillfully displayed in the seven words of the haiku and echoed in the white space that surrounds them. What is present in the white space? Perhaps the staples rusting on both posters. Perhaps both posters have torn parchment. Perhaps in a contrast between the two posters: lettering in a child’s hand vs a formal police-type print. The answers depend on what each individual reader brings to the poem. A visceral, haunting monoku.
On a poster board or, perhaps, a telephone pole with images piled one upon the other as on a totem pole, emblems of systemic sexism in our culture. Either way, a disheartening image one hopes was fabricated to make a point rather than actually stumbled on in our surreal world.
See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.