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Michael Dylan Welch's Comments about the Kilbride Awards & The Contest Winners
The art of haibun is alive and well, thanks not only to the formative influence of the late Jerry Kilbride, who was one of the finest haibun pioneers writing in English, but because of haibun contests such as this that the Central Valley Haiku Club has named after Jerry. It has been our particular pleasure to judge this contest, because Jerry was our friend. We reviewed each of the 23 entries as we imagined Jerry would—with careful consideration and openness, entering into each experience and the mind and heart of each poet through his or her prose and poetry. We are delighted to offer our selections of the winning haibun, together with brief comments after each haibun, and regret that we couldn’t select more.
A theme with our selections turned out to be a strong sense of place. We see board-and-batten siding in North Carolina, the high corn of Kansas, the crabs and oysters of Chesapeake Bay, and an airplane view of Australia’s Southern Alps. We weren’t looking for a sense of place, but noticed it in the haibun once we’d made our selections. Conveying “place” need not be the only or primary motive in a haibun, but we think these selections do it well.
Each of these haibun is a first-person narrative, and again, haibun need not be limited to this, but these examples may serve as a model for how narratives work best when they focus on the experience, not the experiencer. We are engaged by the prose, shifted by the poems, and come to the end of each haibun a little changed—sometimes a little informed, and at least a little moved. We hope these haibun will move you also. Thank you to each poet who entered, and congratulations to each of the winners.