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Kat Lehmann — Touchstone Individual Poem Award 2020

Kat Lehmann is the recipient of a Touchstone Individual Poem Award for 2020 for her poem

what remains
after the river is gone
this empty bed
(Mayfly 68)

Commentary from the Panel:

“A haiku that simply and effectively presents natural imagery with a strong, human undercurrent. The ambiguity implied in the third line creates two versions of the poem, a disjunction (of a kind) that inspires one to read the poem over and over, each time marveling at its power. We know this lover. Alone, now, contemplating the emptiness stretching out ahead.”


“This poem is set to be a haiku classic. A concrete nature poem that carries all of the sorrow of a broken down relationship, but it could also be the grief over a real river bed, in the throws of climate change. As with all excellent haiku, the possibilities for interpretation are endless.”


“This haiku so vividly illustrates the emptiness we feel when something strong, something powerful is removed from our field of vision, leaving us nothing to grasp onto for support.”


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

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. The judges have said it perfectly–this one is destined to be a classic. Kat, this haiku of yours is beautiful, haunting and unforgettable. Congratulations!

  2. Grateful thanks to the Touchstone Award judges for their time, selection, and thoughtful comments! I cannot imagine the effort that go into judging a contest of this scope and scale. I am humbled by this special honor for my little empty riverbed! Thanks also to The Haiku Foundation and to Mayfly, which was the journal of first publication.

  3. what remains
    after the river is gone
    this empty bed

    Kat Lehmann

    That opening line, which reminds me of Basho’s summer grasses battlefield full of long dead warriors and their dreams or rather the dreams of their bosses. Here nature is boss, but so false progress, and loss, and a loss of so many kinds.

    Each line is haunting.

    Thank you,
    Alan
    Call of the Page

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