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Susan Burch — Touchstone Award for Individual Poems Winner 2018

Susan Burch is a recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2018 for her poem

blood moon
he doesn’t take no
for an answer

It received 2nd Place in the 2018 Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest sponsored by Femkumag.

Commentary from the Panel:

“The imagery in this small poem is fierce. Violent. A product of the #MeToo movement. The aggression results in serious (perhaps bloody?) conflict. I find the poem deeply disturbing, but all the more resonant for “going there”. It is a poem that speaks to our contemporary lives.”

“This senyru is erotic in nature. There are few modern haiku that explore erotic themes. Some decades ago, Rod Wilmot, a Canadian haiku pioneer, published an anthology of erotic haiku and senryu. In “blood moon”, this poet’s lover “doesn’t take no / for an answer”. Their passion transcends physicality and even the nature of the menstrual cycle. The senryu is reminiscent of the tanka of the Japanese bluestocking feminist, Yasano Akiko, whose poems were made renown through the translations into English by Kenneth Rexroth. “blood moon” exhibits the raw passion of human nature — and love — in depicting a dark intimacy, which when brought out
into the light of its aesthetic accomplishment, deepens the human experience for the reader and expands that experience in its presentation of what is significant about how Eros affects our lives and stirs our hearts.”

“This senryu’s first line gives us clues to understanding the poet’s possible meaning. The blood moon occurs during a full moon and a total lunar eclipse, when light waves appearing red from the earth’s sunrises and sunsets, intensified by cloud cover and pollution, reflect off the moon’s surface. Ancient people feared the blood moon, not understanding it and considering it an omen of disaster. Even today, an association persists with both the full moon and the blood moon as times of increased danger. In the context of this senryu, the blood moon image conjures up violence, as the “he” in the poem refuses to “take no/for an answer”. The #MeToo movement has succeeded in making the unconscious conscious, and in bringing to light behavior that has inflicted silent suffering and trauma on so many. Whether on a date, or in a committed relationship or marriage, when a person says no they mean no, and not accepting that boundary is an act of aggression called rape. This tiny poem speaks volumes.”

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

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. I would say this poem is a haiku, not a senryu, and a very powerful one at that. Having human content isn’t what makes a poem a senryu — or what were the panelists thinking with their comments? This poem has all the earmarks of a haiku — seasonal reference (moon), two-part structure, and a serious tone that definitely leans towards haiku rather than senryu. Let the debate begin, or note the difference of opinion and move along. 🙂

  2. I’m not surprised that Susan Burch won an award!
    .
    blood moon
    he doesn’t take no
    for an answer
    .
    Susan Burch
    .
    It received 2nd Place in the 2018 Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest sponsored by Femkumag.
    .
    And it’s great to see an important and new magazine get recognition, so kudos both to Susan Burch (author) and Lori A Minor (editor).
    .
    To pack such a punch in a haiku without shifting the poem away from that genre is not an easy feat, but Susan regularly achieves this with both haiku, and tanka.
    .
    Congratulations!

  3. Susan Burch has an amazing talent for writing haiku/senryu and tanka that can leave a reader unsettled but also dazzled by her message and skill. This poem is a perfect example of that–so small, so succinct yet you feel as if it hit you right in the gut. Congratulations, Susan!!

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