This year’s theme: Haiku are to be written in the spirit of the following "Speculation" (Robert Spiess, A Year's Speculations on Haiku, Modern Haiku Press, 1995):
The value of juxtaposition of entities in haiku, when appropriately accomplished, is that the often rather divergent qualities or characteristics of the phenomena act like the striking together of flint and steel: a spark flashes forth that is analogous to an illuminative experience or intuition.
There were over 500 entries for this year’s Spiess Awards. Thankfully my experience as a selector since 2014 for the Red Moon Anthology series didn’t make the number a fearful prospect. Reading them one at a time at various sittings takes some of the demand out of the process. And it is a pleasant experience to have some very good haiku appear in the process. It is a wonderful world of adventure when new collections of haiku show up—either in an anthology or a magazine or a in book by an individual. I might add reading thru old copies of anthologies and journals and collections by individuals can bring joy as one remembers the pleasure one had many months or years ago with some of the haiku contained. The great thing about re-reading haiku or types of poems is that they don’t fail in quite the same way that much of the prose we have read in the past does. For example, Supreme Court rulings— whether one agrees with them or not—can cause the molars in one’s mouth to ache just reading the first paragraph. All that brilliance of mind and scrupulous care in writing them and we would rather not again. OK, I am not against the written work of lawyers and judges I’m just saying there can be a problem with how it is said. God gave us poetry to add some sparkling energy to our language, to make us sit up and take notice. And that is probably why much of the Old Testament is poetry.
Advice for some of the newcomers to the English-language haiku. Many of the more experienced haiku poets already know this. It is easy to put too many words in a haiku. The new writer wants to get all the moment or state of being into the haiku. The problem is all those words create many more moments. The haiku becomes a busy highway. Haiku need a tight focus. Drain the swamp so that the reader doesn’t sink below the surface. As Lorine Niedecker pointed out in her thoughtful poem, "Poet’s Work," learn to condense. Others want to make sure the reader knows how to feel or experience the moment when all that is needed are the words to let the readers feel or experience that moment for them- selves. Not so easy to do which is why writing a haiku is not as simple as the form might suggest.
OK, you are probably thinking I went on and on what will his comments do to the selected haiku. Well, I am not going to exegesis the life out of each haiku. I am looking for fresh imagery and in the case of the Spiess speculation a juxtaposition that adds to the sparkle of the haiku. So just a few words about each.