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Norma Bradley — Touchstone Award for Individual Poems Winner 2023

Norma Bradley is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2023 for the poem:


while(the clouds turn into rain)the lily blooms

     —Norma Bradley, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 7; while the lily blooms, Yavanika Press (2023)

Commentary from the Panel: 


Most haiku unfold in a linear manner, first this (the fragment) and then that (the phrase). Here, the images and action occur simultaneously. The purposeful structure and word choices of the poet, opening with the word “while” and bracketing the clouds turning into rain, skilfully sets the stage so we visualize the poem in its wholeness, rather than its singular parts. The monoku form supports and suits this effort, and we slide easily across the single line of poem. The rain brings a tactile element to the poem and with the lily blooming, the interplay of sky and earth, the interdependency of the cycle of nature. A delicate and beautifully-drawn poem, and an innovative reimagining of the nature haiku.


This winning monoku stands out for its freshness, unusual use of parenthesis, and imagistic subtleties. The poet’s choice of words links the reader to a place of solace, contemplation, or compassion, depending on their point of view. It is up to the reader to complete the haiku by intuiting what other internal/external forces occur or change while(the clouds turn into rain). This aesthetically appealing, layered one-liner presents a challenging yet welcome addition to the haiku genre.


The unusual way this monoku begins captures the attention of the reader. Almost like a simultaneous equation, we are invited to witness both the cycle of life as ‘the clouds turn into rain’ and enjoy the lily blooming. By melding the strict distinction between fragment and phrase, the clever and novel use of parentheses shows the poet’s attention to craft and technique. The punctuation is not only visually pleasing but also recalls poems by e e cummings as well as meditations on ma in haiku. There is ample room for the reader to insert themselves into this evocative scene and engage with their senses. This winning haiku is exemplary for its direct, unornamented use of concrete imagery in a unique and explorative 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 8 Comments

  1. There are some things I would love to say, but this may not be the place.

    I do applaud the judges for being open to haiku that are outside the “normative” box.

  2. I don’t remember seeing brackets being used in that way before, without spaces, and it has the effect of separating ‘lily blooms’ from the rest of the poem. Lily is a woman’s name. An open and innovative haiku.

      1. @Keith Evetts

        Thanks for this. I just looked up “while loop.” This adds an enormous amount of additional meaning to the poem. I appreciate you broadening my perspective.

        1. Joshua: delighted! The languages of coding can have their own beauty and concision.

    1. I’ve just seen the first publication of this poem where there are spaces around the brackets, so maybe I’m reading too much into the formatting. I do like the use of ‘while’, a way to juxtapose two processes rather than static images.

        1. My mistake – it appears to be with the spaces in the Yavanika Press collection, the second publication.

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