Lorraine A Padden is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2022 for the poem:
once more around the dance floor IV pole
— Blōō Outlier Journal, Senryu Special, New Year’s Eve/Winter 2022
Commentary from the Panel:
The form a poet chooses to present their haiku is central to its effectiveness. The one-line (or monoku/monostich) structure works beautifully for this poem — the haiku flows and twirls effortlessly in its own kind of poetic ballroom dance. There are no disruptions of line breaks, and the poem sweeps the reader along with it.
There is also a lovely and unexpected “joie de vivre” (we are, after all, reading about a person who is ill and attached to an IV pole, probably hospitalized). And just as unexpected, the haiku exudes a sense of humour. The full effect of the juxtaposition is left until the very end of the poem, and elicits the “aha!” moment. The dance partner is an IV pole, and the haiku takes on a whole new meaning. The poet has made strong poetic choices. Put the “IV pole” at the start of the poem, and we lose that surprise. Write the haiku as a three-line poem, and we lose the momentum and dance rhythm. A wonderful and original poem!
This monostich stands out for its vivid imagery. Digging deeper, the haiku evokes its own kind of dance, which invites the reader to participate. The first six words offer an original take on the reader’s invitation. Other aspects of the haiku speak to its originality: the echo of a dance movement, either a glide or a stumble, and the use of humor, along with a touch of irony. Is the reader partnering with the poet across an antiseptic, shiny hospital floor or the confines of at-home care?
Digging still deeper, I see the ‘dance partner’, an inanimate but essential piece of medical equipment, taking the place of a human companion. Perhaps a family member or close friend, acquaintance, or even dance instructor. Who doesn’t matter, it is the how and why that connect the haiku and reader. This eight-word haiku casts a wide net that captures the universal theme of how to adjust when one’s reality shifts.
I kept returning to this haiku, and each reading drew me in deeper and deeper. Until I too was dancing.
The monoku expresses symbolic gratitude to the inanimate object. The IV pole, an intravenous pole, is a medical device for drips administered to a patient. It appears that the patient got cured after an extended stay in the hospital and all the relatives and friends celebrate the moment of joy. The haiku extends aesthetic intimacy, emotional attachment, and reverence toward the things around us. Through creative endeavor, the poet tries to enliven the sense of appreciation, not only for friends and near and dear ones but also for material objects. A man reminisces even non-living things as a symbol of emotional consciousness and faithfulness. The poem unveils the sublimity of indebtedness through blissful dance holding the intravenous pole.
The monoku is characterized by the consonant sound ‘r’. This enhances the poet’s skillful articulation of phonetic structure. Interestingly, the poet objectifies ‘IV pole’ as one of the close friends and everyone strikes a chord of intimacy with it. The words ‘once more’ probably infer an offering of one’s gratefulness before leaving the hospital after recovery from the prolonged ailment. The monoku symbolizes the aesthetic attachment towards the non-living object with ecstasy and reverence.
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.