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Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems 2012: Final Results

The Touchstone Awards reward excellence and innovation in the haiku genre.

560 poems were nominated for Touchstone poem awards in 2012. After several rounds of careful deliberation, the panel has chosen to recognize the following poems with Awards: (author names are in alphabetical order)



three or four fingers deep red rose

–Melissa Allen, Frogpond 35:3


commentary from the panel:

Such a civilized erotic image combining Western civilization’s symbol of Romance, the rose, with human physiology, and a playful allusion to drinking whiskey!

I like the use of the phrase “three or four fingers” which adds a nice tactile sense to the poem, as well as brings into the moment the measurement of liquor—which emphasizes the idea of intoxication, perhaps from the rose. 




mating dragonflies—

my overuse

of dashes


–Aubrie Cox, Frogpond 35:1


commentary from the panel:

This is a model of finely gauged self-appraisal, at the same both humorous and astringent. The image is put to surprising use, yet without undue cleverness.

A striking (dare I say, “dashing”) juxtaposition about writerly self-doubt.




autumn days   drifting from text to marginalia


–Mark Holloway, Bones no. 1


commentary from the panel:

A pithy response to reading as a part of the Dionysian cycle.

The season of loss gives rise to reflections on one’s own decline.

On the page the poem also tries to drift, slowly like an autumn day. Autumn . . . is a time to begin taking stock in the details. But as the drifting suggests, not quite fully in this case.




first date

the way she pronounces

van Gogh


–Bill Kenney, Modern Haiku 43.2


commentary from the panel:

Can this cultural divide be bridged? One of the charms (and strengths) of this poem is that we do not know how she pronounces Van Gogh––as an American would, or a Brit, or indeed as a Dutch person does––all three so very differently.




hesitating until I’m a hummingbird


–Eve Luckring, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 14


commentary from the panel:

Transformation is usually something one goes through, but here it’s the result of staying put. That’s a startling little paradox. At the same time, hesitation implies a mind flitting back and forth — a hummingbird’s wings. The reader has no idea what the poet is hesitating over, a literal or figurative flower (or hummingbird), but the transformation is complete and takes place in a moment. The hummingbird appears and is gone, zip zip. It’s worthy of Rilke or Ovid!




she stops me

from picking a lemon

—it’s asleep, she says


–Patricia J. Machmiller, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 14


commentary from the panel:

Acknowledging the female instinct to identify with a fruit and give it a beautiful reason for its sourness/ this is actually a goddess poem, a very sly one.





my child’s grip

starts to loosen


–John McManus, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 14, June 2012


commentary from the panel:

A rich observation of how much more compelling a discovery of the celestial or cosmic world is than the anthro-centered world that children initially cling to, and how its immensity allows humans to let a bigger world enter and expand our smaller one.

We can feel this, and from both perspectives: as the parent, and also as the child we once were. The poem has larger implications regarding independence and letting go, but this is very lightly conveyed.




winter night

reaching a page

someone has folded


–Kieran O’Connor, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 14


commentary from the panel:

A simple and elegant evocation of that sudden sense of connection one can feel with a stranger, experienced here by a reader who until this moment was alone.

There is a sense of community here, as well as a marking of time; both emotionally apt for the season. I like how the poem leads the reader. Both the poet and the prior reader have reached this spot in the book (as we all will) with the same questions.




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