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Laurie Greer — Touchstone Award for Individual Poems Winner 2023

Laurie Greer is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2023 for the poem:


cathedral vaulting

the centuries

of whale fall

     —Laurie Greer, Kingfisher #7

Commentary from the Panel:

This is a beautiful poem that begins in a strong voice in line one, then shifts to a softer tone in lines two and three. Whale fall occurs when a whale dies and its body drifts to the sea floor. There it becomes sustenance for organisms large and small; an underwater oasis that lasts decades or longer. Line 1 sets the tone of a soaring medieval church. The lighter accents of 2 and 3 follow up to provide a deeper feeling in this haiku, like a prayer. The overall effect is of profound respect for this last, sacred, act of the whale, giving itself back to the world from which it came.


This nourishing whale carcass is striking when juxtaposed against the centuries of prayers drifting up to a vaulted cathedral ceiling, so reminiscent of a whale rib cage itself. The poem speaks to how religion can sustain humans spiritually just as this whale’s death can sustain so much life from its passing. This haiku has a beautiful holy quality that marries nature and human nature in a refreshing way.


Touchstone winners receive a crystal award to commemorate their selection. See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Congratulations Laurie!! I interpreted the haiku as being about the blue whale suspended from the ceiling at the American Museum of Natural History and thought it was lovely. Wonderful winning haiku!

  2. Laurie — I have been expecting you to receive this award, only wondering which one of your work will be chosen. I often sift for your name and am inevitably delighted by the many offerings you make. I so appreciate that THF provides a way for me to enjoy and to learn from writers like you. Congratulations on your Touchstone! Clysta

  3. I never knew about whale fall until I read this poem, Laurie. Thank you so much for creating something so meaningful!

  4. How wonder-full to think of these two awesome images and combine them thus, Laurie. Superb. Another poem to put in my book of ‘specials’.
    As always, appreciating the commentary from the panel. Thank you!

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