Robin Anna Smith is the recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems published in 2019 for her poem
carving the snow ulu moon
recipient of Third Place in the Seventh Annual Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Awards.
Commentary from the Panel:
An ulu is an all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit, Yupik, and Aleut women. It is utilized in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child's hair, cutting food, as a weapon and, if necessary, trimming blocks of snow and ice used to build an igloo. — Wikipedia.
We cherish haiku, often because they perfectly express an experience we’ve all shared, but sometimes because we had no preconceptions whatsoever and are transported to a new, and — in this case, ancient — time and place. Original, spare yet expansive in scope, this haiku — once I understood the significance of “ulu moon” — transported me to the first time I saw The Sleeping Gypsy by Rousseau. Perhaps “carving” is more like a Cubist painting, with its endless planes of moonlit snow; still, its surreal, mystical qualities immediately channeled my childhood sense of mystery. Elusive mystery given shape, given shapes by the carving of the ulu moon.”
“The more I sit with this remarkable haiku the more I fall in love with it. I can only imagine the connection to the natural world that indigenous people experience, expressed here in three lines, 5 words (!), especially with the unique phrase “ulu moon”. Of course the shape of the tool mirrors the moon, but beyond that I feel here an intimacy with the elements and with the moon itself that extends into deep communion. And the undercurrent feminine energy with this one (with the ulu being a woman’s tool) I find empowering.”
See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.