Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hot News: Chen-ou Liu's Featured Haiku and Award-Winning Tanka and Haibun

My Dear Friends:

 I'm happy to share with you this belated good news:

The following haiku (and Croatian translations) are featured in the first issue of Iris, which was published in September, 2015. Now, I get a PDF copy of it.

I hope you'll enjoy the read.

Many thanks for your ongoing support of my writing.


the door slams shut ...                        zalupljena vrata ...
my world                                             moj svijet
between light and dark                       izmedu svjetla i tame

the hills aglow                                     brežuljci obasjani
with spring sunlight                             proljetnim suncem
her scent lingers                                 njen miris još traje

niece-and-nephew photos                  fotografije necakinje i necaka
cluster on the mantle                          skupina na ogrtacu
alone with my books                           samas mojim knjigama

the market in twilight                           tržnica u suton
fish scales and a bruised apple          ljuske ribe i natucena jabuka
on the ground                                     na tlu

winter solstice                                    zimski solsticij
the snarl and rumble                          režanje i štropot
of traffic                                              prometa

ghost bike                                           bicikl kraj puta
locked to the lamppost...                     lzakljucan za stup lampe...
a beagle at dusk                                 bigl u sumrak

(Note: A ghost bike is a bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist was killed)

And I received two pieces of exciting news last week: I won Tanka First Place in  the 2015 San Francisco International Competition, Haiku, Senryu and Tanka and Honorable Mention in the 2015 United Haiku and Tanka Society Samurai Haibun Contest, whose results were published in Cattails, January 2016:

the pieces
of his jigsaw puzzle
litter the floor . . .
winter moonlight slipping
through the hospice window

Tanka First Place, 2015 San Francisco International Competition, Haiku, Senryu and Tanka

Judge's Comment by Margaret Chula: A poignant scene, beautifully rendered without overstatement or sentimentality. Beginning with the first line (“the pieces”), this tanka is about separation. A jigsaw puzzle serves as the perfect metaphor for how we organize things in our minds to have them make sense. But, for this man, deterioration has set in, both physical and mental. Things don’t fit together anymore. The verb “litter” is an excellent choice to illustrate how pieces are scattered like trash with no organization or purpose. Both the puzzle and the man have come apart. The brilliance of this tanka is that the reader does not know that it takes place in a hospice until the final line. In the first three lines, we can easily imagine a child scattering puzzle pieces on the floor—eliciting an entirely different emotional response. Strong verbs with multiple meanings add an emotional resonance. “Slipping” can be interpreted as “slipping away,” which is what happens in hospice. And yet there is hope here, too, with the moonlight suggesting a moment of lucidity.

A Home Away from Home

where the sky
meets the winter desert ...
refugee tents

Arzu walks out of the tent to meet her friends, waiting in line with hundreds of others for water distribution. A wisp of cloud drifts by. It reminds her of the camp teacher's departing words, "Those puffy, sheep-like clouds you're looking at come from Syria. You will all return home one day, I promise."

Honorable Mention, 2015 United Haiku and Tanka Society Samurai Haibun Contest

The judge's comment by Sonam Chhoki: Amidst unceasing news of overwhelming number of people fleeing the conflict-torn regions in the Middle East, Chen-ou Liu’s Honorable Mention haibun is both timely and compassionate in his presentation of a young girl’s plight. The poet’s imagery of a ‘wisp of cloud’ is laden with significance. It evokes poignantly the fragility of Arzu’s hope for a safe return to her native land and also works as a ‘beacon’ of light in the otherwise drab and desperate tents-filled camp. What I find particularly powerful is how Chen-ou turns on its head, the largely negative media representations of how refugees threaten the civilizations of the host countries in which they seek asylum. There is quiet dignity in both Arzu and her teacher who holds out the promise of a return to their homeland.


  1. Dear Jan:

    Thanks for your warm congratulations.


  2. Congratulations Chen-ou,
    You write so beautifully.

    1. Dear Karen:

      Thanks for your hearty congratulations.

      Have a great weekend.


  3. Congratulations on all your successes, Chen-ou! I hope many more honors are ahead for you.