Genjuan ’16 Winning Haibun

Grand Prix

A Small Act

by Diana Webb (UK)

For days and days, persistent low grey cloud, torrential showers and in between brief spells of brightness as the sun breaks through.
I sit in my usual place beside the window, staring out across the damp slate roofs, searching for inspiration in a heavy sky until one morning unexpectedly:
‘ My heart leaps up as I behold…’ *
I sense what Wordsworth felt! How can I sustain this multi-stranded sweep of light?
It lingers, lingers, fades.
I contemplate my pack of colours bought to spark the artist in a child. One or two are worn down at the points. I find a sharpener.

pencil shavings
the scent of
new-carved rainbows

*from : ‘Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood’ William Wordsworth, 1807



An (Cottage) Prize

What’s in a Name?

by Ignatius Fay (Canada)

Registration desk. We introduce ourselves, both new PhD candidates. This is our first professional paleontological conference: immersed in new research and sharp minds for the weekend. First morning. We attend all the same presentations; evidently we have similar interests. Coffee together during the break, then to lunch to discuss what we’ve seen and heard so far. The afternoon, repeat same.

Mid-afternoon. I am embarrassed to find I do not recall her name. Much of the afternoon is spent surreptitiously trying to read her name tag. The tags are handwritten, making things tough enough, but audience lighting is pretty dim, as well. Finally, near the end of the last lecture, I lean toward her.

‘I am so sorry, but I have forgotten your name. I’ve been trying to read her name tag all afternoon.’

She begins to laugh.

‘What’s funny?’ I ask, puzzled.

‘Just relieved. All this time, I thought you were looking at my breasts!’

field tent at dusk
sharing pumpernickel
with snapping turtles



An (Cottage) Prize

The Great South Gate*

by Matthew Caretti (S. Korea/U.S.A.)

I walk out into some dreamscape, the dark before dawn. But Seoul like its Broadway cousin is awash in light. A city never asleep. I watch TV jumbo over the city’s old south gate, a bit of news—politics—and an ad for some memory game.

the illusion of one last time pixelates

These barriers restored after the 2008 arson, first built by King Taejo in 1398. Bells then marked an opening, closing. Like the subway chimes of today warning the overcrowded company men (women now, too) of a swift departure.

body parts pressing into mannequins

Nearby old tenements cower in the glassy shadows of overstretched highrises. Between them alleys twist reason and sense of direction, spill into the market where each stall clones the last. On a half-peninsula of brands, none here to be found.

morning star lost there among city lights

The latest K-pop hit muffled, speakers buried under bargain heaps of bras and panties, some bearing the orange-black stripes of the land’s mythic totem. Drunks curse into, out of the dark, scolded by porters loading heavy their dollies.

jet lagging behind the space in this time

Oildrum fires illumine a warped version of my past life. But a nod from a cardboard hoarder shows me the passage back. No new city to step into twice. Just this. So I press through some universal gateway into a new day. All imbued with memory and hope.

moving away from the horizon of last night

*From the Korean 남대문 (Namdaemun).



An (Cottage) Prize

Arm in Arm with Iza

by Maria Tirenescu (Romania)

It’s snowing big flakes. I’m sitting by the stove, reading in a poetry book. I startle when I hear on the radio the song: “How many flowers are there on Iza upstream /  I have planted them all with my beloved… ”

I close my eyes. Iza is the river flowing behind my grandparents’ house in Săcel, a village in Maramureş, in Northern Romania. I like how the name “Iza” sounds. It’s a girl’s name. Perhaps older peoples knew a legend on it, but I cannot recall that someone has ever told it to me. I know many things about Iza River… as if reading from a book: “Iza springs from Mount Bătrâna (Old Woman), gathering tributaries from steep slopes. Downstream the river has dug a cave underneath Mount Măgura. She springs again out as Iza’s Blue Spring. ”

I was there many years ago. I picked flowers and strawberries in the clearing.

Raining on Şetref –
Iza’s waters reflect
the blue sky

It is sunny in a glade named Preluca Izei. One can hear the birds chirping.

Cuckoo on a beech –
numerous waterfalls
through the gorge

My imaginations carries me downstream the Iza river. I arrive at the watermill. From there only few steps are left to my grandparents’ house.

Grandmother’s spinning –
the house of thick beams
is next to a walnut

Dozens of creeks flow into Iza, which crosses the village Săcel from east to west.

On the banks of Iza, the hemp is in retteries. Peasants have brought the hay in and gathered it into haystacks by their houses. Winter lasts here five months, and they will thus have enough food for their livestock. The woods are already turning rusty.

I can hear again the song on the radio. I leave the book of poems on the table. I open a photo album. From it my grandparents, my parents are smiling at me…

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