The Mukai Farm & Garden offered its first annual Haiku Festival and Contest in early April to inspire people of Vashon Island with the beauty of haiku, an ancient form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems are three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. In lieu of the usual meetings and celebrations at the Mukai Farm, the haiku contest offered a socially distanced, meditative way to connect and share. A community of poets responded with an avalanche of creative haiku that spanned all age groups and several nations.
As of the April 30 deadline, contestants submitted 280 haiku in seven categories, including People’s Choice and the newly created Pre-K/Toddler category. Most entries are from Vashon Island residents, but also Zagreb, Croatia; Jalisco, Mexico; Brooklyn, New York; and Santa Barbara, California. The contest winners range in age from three to 99 years old. People’s Choice votes were accepted through May 9, giving readers time to savor the haiku variety.
The winners are:
Heritage: Jennifer Gogarten, Vashon, First Place; Brit Myers, Vashon, Honorable Mention.
Nature: Yvonne Belshaw, Seattle, First Place; Ann Spiers, Vashon, Honorable Mention.
Emotion: Mel Goldberg, Jalisco, Mexico First Place; Melissa Urushidani, Port Orchard and Shirley Ferris, Vashon, Honorable Mentions.
Funny Bone: Ronald Simons, Vashon, First Place; Pat Minier, Vashon and Chris Bollweg, Vashon, Honorable Mentions.
COVID-19: John Okamoto, Seattle, First Place; Debbie Butler, Vashon, Honorable Mention.
Youth: First Place winners are Pre-K Wilfred Gogarten, Vashon (in the new Toddler category); K-6 Ella Odegard; 7-12 Jolyon Gogarten, Vashon; and Regina May Obnial, Vashon, Honorable Mention.
People’s Choice: Ariel Koering, Tacoma, K-6 First Place; Sadie R, Vashon, K-6 Honorable Mention.
The panel of jurists included social activist and poet Dr. Lawrence Matsuda, poet and philosopher Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma, writer/editor Michael Feinstein, a member of Vashon’s Mondays at Three Haiku Collective, and Mukai Board President Rita Brogan.
“We were all blown away by the beauty and brilliance of so many of the entries,” said Michael Feinstein, writer and member of Vashon’s Mondays at Three Haiku Collective.
All haiku entries are at www.mukaifarmandgarden.org and are on outdoor display on the Mukai Farm & Garden grounds. Visitors may stroll the grounds at a social distance from other haiku fans and enjoy spring foliage, the last of the cherry blossoms and beautiful poetry.
From First Place Awardees:
Scouts carry our flag
Winter comes. Under
A soft blanket of clouds the
Mountain sleeps til noon
— Yvonne Belshaw
The funeral home
She bends to straighten his tie
For the final time
Battles virus at clinic
Battles hate on street
Daylight savings ends
The clock that hadn’t been changed
Garbage trucks have hands
They have forks and one arm yeah
That’s how much they have
The simple beauties
Make my heart sing with the joy
Of this blue green world
A lonely bird sits
In a tree made of sorrow
Waiting for its mate