The Scorpion Prize for Best Haiku/Senryu of ISSUE VII:3
As Philip Rowland pointed out in his talk at HNA this past summer (to be published in a forthcoming issue of Modern Haiku), we need to beware of the haiku of “watery pebbles.” It seems that, in keeping with its name, the Scorpion Prize ought to be awarded to a poem with a little sting. A poem that focuses the mind in the way an encounter with a scorpion would. Such poems are unfortunately uncommon, combining a keenness of perception with a sharpness of expression along with a turn that, like the flick of a tail, makes us flinch. The poem in this issue that comes closest to this ideal is
to the void
Ann K. Schwader
This haiku wrenches us out of our complacency and propels us into the void, a physical void of color and then on into a metaphysical one. From the perspective of craftsmanship, the poet artfully uses sound to tie the beginning and the end of the poem together through the use of the raz/rav and ed/en sounds. The use of the past participle effectively permits a vibration between the active (of the raven) and passive (of the poet). I wish I had written it.
the space between our spines—
An interesting, unique perception. “Falling” seems particularly fortuitous here. The moon gets under our skin in a way the mere moonlight couldn’t.
we wake beneath
next season's stars
Where I live, I hear this choir quite often and a change in the sound signals the arrival of winter in a way nothing else does. The poem gives me a chill, yet the warmth created by “we” reduces the creepiness, shifting the focus from the ominous coyotes to the shared experience of the cosmos.
deep in the raindrop a blade of grass
A very appealing reversal of perception. We expect the blade of grass to be outside the droplet, but here we have a miniature paperweight or jewel-like amber with its surprising inclusion.