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The Touchstone Award for Individual Poems Committee Announces its Shortlist for 2016

The Touchstone Individual Poems Award recognize excellence and innovation in English-language haiku and senryu published in juried public venues during each calendar year. The committee received overwhelming response to its call for submission for poems published in 2016, with 660 nominations. To those many editors and individual haiku poets who answered the call this year, a sincere thank you.

After much deliberation, the panel has selected a shortlist of poems that will move on to the final round. Many thanks to the distinguished panelists, Gary Hotham, Ron Moss, Renee Owen, Michele Root-Bernstein, Dietmar Tauchner and Diane Wakoski, who have been so generous with their time and effort over the past few months.

Award-recipients will be selected from the following list. Final results are scheduled to be announced in mid April. Author names are in alphabetical order:

new home
we unpack
our old habits
     — Debbi Antebi, Failed Haiku 1.6

off to on I disappear into the visible
     — Francine Banwarth, Frogpond 39:3

winter sun
a crow gives in
to the wind
     — Brad Bennett, Presence 55


where the river ran
this bed of stones
     — Susan Constable, Acorn 36

the world winnowed down

to wheat
     — Alan S. Bridges, The Heron’s Nest 18:2

midnight call
his car
a pumpkin
     — Helen Buckingham, Mayfly 60

night sky
I release the minnows
all at once
     — Glenn Coats, Acorn 36

late winter
I hit the bottom
of my fantasy world
     — Robert Epstein, Mariposa 34

slip one knit one the pattern of winter bones
     — Lorin Ford, Living Haiku Anthology contest

the length of the night when it matters why
     — Samar Ghose, Sonic Boom 5

     — LeRoy Gorman, is/let 1

drunk on snow melt
from your clavicles
wolf moon
     — Anita Guenin, Living Haiku Anthology contest

death what kind of plan is that
     — Carolyn Hall, Mariposa 34

the squeak of tulips
into a vase . . .
hospice reception
     — Michele L. Harvey, Frameless Sky 4

campfire light
the color returns
to dead leaves
     — Alexander B. Joy, The Heron’s Nest 18:1

whale vertebrae
drifting from one god
to another
     — Nicholas Klacsanzky, A Hundred Gourds 5:3

all day rain
the weight of trees
in my bones
     — Ben Moeller-Gaa, Modern Haiku 47.3

the groundhog’s shadow
white where there shouldn’t be
on her mammogram
     — Elliot Nicely, Modern Haiku 47.2

November wind
the hollow places
that form a song
     — Peter Newton, The Heron’s Nest 18:1

slow thunder

a lizard’s ribs
 against concrete
     — Polona Oblak, The Heron’s Nest 18:2

death anniversary . . .
his fading odor
in treasured shirt
     — Aparna Pathak, Wild Plum 2:2

wheeling her chair
through leaf fall . . .
we sure knew how to dance
     — Bill Pauly, The Heron’s Nest 18:4

darkness . . .
her name slips
into it
     — Dave Read, Acorn 37

restringing fence wire —
meadowlark’s song one post
ahead of the wind
     — Chad Lee Robinson, Mariposa 35

thin harvest —
I salt the bitterness
out of the gourd
     — Carl Seguiban, The Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award contest

last day of summer
the taste of the wooden stick
inside the ice cream
     — Katrina Shepherd, The Heron’s Nest 18:4

house clearance
room by room by room
my mother disappears
     — Alan Summers, Blithe Spirit 26.1

winter night —
the last tram carrying
only the light
     — Eduard Tara, 2016 Concorso Internazionale Haiku in Lingua Italiana

length of the night

on her knitting needles
     — Maria Tomczak, The Heron’s Nest 18:3

Bruce Feingold
Chair, Touchstone Awards

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Hello Peter and others who may be interested. I do agree with you. I have learned a lot from THF and am sorry, as I think I’ve said before, that there is not more discussion. I seem to have missed the more active years in that regard. // My remarks may seem mean-spirited or simply negative to some. Mostly, I am disappointed, and I do feel that it would be rare for a panel of judges to agree on a haiku with real edge. The tendency, it seems, is to choose some kind of “average”. This is true of the Red Moon Anthologies as well, which includes (don’t want to sound mean, but just say what I see) the “best of the average”. // You know, when I first started reading haiku, including haiku from the RM Anthologies, I was very excited. I thought I’d stumbled on something new and fresh. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but at some point I felt that the poems I was seeing were not quite as good as they once were. Then I realized that was not really it. It was more that what I was now reading wasn’t worse than before, it was just . . . the *same*, just variations on what I’d seen, repeated again and again. It no longer seemed new and fresh. My own fault? Maybe. // Some very good poets somehow manage to do “the same” but to keep it fresh. Gary Hotham for one. That’s rare. And it’s not like I think poems in Bones, for example, are always examples of what is new and fresh. Different, for sure, but even there, only a few poems stand out for me as really good. Most are exercises in willed surrealism.// Anyway, I do kind of wish there could be some more discussion of this kind of stuff– and yes, THF seems about the only place for it to happen: it just doesn’t happen anymore.


    By the way, I don’t even know if you’ll find my post at this point. I had to search through the Facebook page for THF to find this edition of Troutswirl. It doesn’t seem to be available in the archives here.

    1. Hi Meg,

      Such thoughtful stuff. I do appreciate the conversation. And I tend to agree with you on your point of “sameness.” I refer you to Peter Yovu and John Levy in recent Otata issue as examples I try to keep in mind. Hotham and Melissa Allen as well! Several others I could go on about.

      Just come to Haiku Circle ( in June so we can hash this out in person–in a good, constructive way I mean. If not, it’s a long ways from anywhere I know– then maybe there’s a thread to be created here on THF site to explore the threat of sameness in haiku in english or in search of the edge in haiku. Just thinking out loud.

      Thanks for the reply,

  2. Some nice haiku. But . . .

    Obviously a lot is determined by who chooses to nominate. Nothing here from
    Otata, Bones, Noon, or publications like that. With only a couple of exceptions, the haiku here are pretty standard in approach and subject matter. Seems like when a group of judges come together to choose a poem for an award like this, edges get smoothed.

    Nice haiku. That’s kind of concerning.


    1. Meg,

      In my opinion, it’s not the publication as much as the poem. You may have noticed that there are a good half dozen or more poets here who publish regularly in the more contemporary journals you cite like Otata, Bones and Noon — all great outlets I think. Unless there are blind submissions, contests are subjective. Even then, there’s always a judge’s or panelist’s personal taste. I love an edge to any poem. It’s kind of a necessity. But I support, as I suspect you do, the effort and enthusiasm The Haiku Foundation offers the greater community of haiku poets.


  3. A very well chosen and deserved short-list. Wonderful poems. I recognise some of the writers. A very enjoyable read. Good luck to all.

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