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Julie Warther — Touchstone Individual Poem Award 2020

Julie Warther is the recipient of a Touchstone Individual Poem Award for 2020 for her poem

rain-soaked earth
a robin tugs one end
of the universe
(Frogpond 43:3)

Commentary from the Panel:

“Existential volta. Do you empathize more with the redbreast than the earthworm? Look up! That shadow growing around it belongs to a taloned, red-tailed hawk, around which grows an even darker shadow larger than life.”


“Ah, spring! Once the robins are out in the early morning we can stop holding our collective breath. We know the light is on its way back to protect us, to nurture us, to give us warmth.”


“Very happy to honor a haiku that elevates a worm to the level of the leading edge of the universe! A poem of spring, of the deep mysteries of water, of life, and the unity of All-That-Is.”


“A perfect nature observation turns into a mind expanding poem with an unexpected third line. Playfulness, yūgen, elegance and depth. What more can you ask from a haiku?”


See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Is it implied that the universe has two ends? (like a magic carpet, perhaps, or a wooden plank) Is the universe shaped like a ribbon, a length of string or a worm?
    .
    Is the technique used here a kind of literary pentimento, with the word “universe” being ‘painted over’ a partially erased, earlier word, “worm”?
    .
    (I don’t have any answers, only questions. )
    .
    “What more can you ask from a haiku?” (judges’ comment #4)
    .
    I can ask to understand it. If I can’t understand it, I can ask someone more perceptive than I am to show me how to understand it, to demonstrate how it works. The judges’ comments haven’t done that.

  2. Such a lovely poem! It conveys subtle visual comedy to me, as well as an original take on how everything is connected.

    BTW it is currently missing the line breaks; it should read:

    rain-soaked earth
    a robin tugs one end
    of the universe

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