Haiku Contest Winners

What we've learned from announcing the Blue Avocado Haiku Contest in the last issue:

  • We nonprofit folk like writing haiku: more than 155 entries came in!
  • Many people contrasted the gloom of the economy with the beauty of the season
  • Once you start writing haiku, you can't really stop.

Thanks to our two judges as well: Ruth Dickey, who has an MFA in poetry (!) and also serves as executive director of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in Cincinnati. And Nelson Layag, Project Director at CompassPoint (one of Blue Avocado's core sponsors) and a Blue Avocado Steering Committee member. Nelson Layag describes himself as "a haiku ninja." :)

After much debate over the 155 entries, we do have a winner:

Needs skyrocketing
While donations spiral down.
Inhale. Exhale. Ask.

Judge Ruth says this haiku provides a "mantra that I could imagine repeating daily. More than any other poem, this one stayed with me." Judge Nelson adds that "the cynic in me adds, 'but don't hold your breath.'"

Congratulations to winner Sarah Martinez-Helfman of Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) -- the charitable wing of the Philadelphia Eagles (seen here with Paris in the Eagles' locker room). EYP serves over 50,000 low-income children in Greater Philadelphia every year with health and education programming, including the Eagles Book Mobile.

A case of avocados is on its way to Sarah and EYP.


From Dorothy Weiss at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, DC:

Advocates spin webs
Out of urgent email threads
As Congress dickers.

We love "webs of urgent email threads." And Judge Ruth adds: "Bravo to capturing our complex political environment so succinctly!"

We're pleased to put the poetry of Ellen Bob (of Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto, California) into print for the first time since her high school literary magazine:

Counting syllables
Instead of checking email

Has David Karoff, an independent consultant from Providence, written what we've all just dreamed about:

Fund development?
Buy a Powerball ticket.
Hope springs eternal.

Rosemary Feal of the Modern Language Association in New York addresses the impact of a most modern form of communications:

Social media
Creating conversations
Taking all my time

Cindy Bahn of Mental Health America of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, PA, made Ruth forget this was even a haiku:

End of fiscal year
Operations director
Slowly goes crazy

And one more from our winner, Sarah Martinez-Helfman:

Why must I explain
That the children will not wait
They rely on us.

Nelson said this one almost made him cry. Her poignant message makes us smile.

Haikus That Love Blue Avocado

We're not sure if they were just sucking up in an effort to win, but we confess to enjoying these haiku:

Blue Avocado
Let's huddle in joy and tears
A place to gather

-- Dean Abrams, OpenWorld Learning, Denver

Blue Avocado
The best nonprofit e-mail
You brighten my day

-- Andrea Iatridis Hutchinson, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc., Tulsa

Perfect in my hand
Avocado feels heavy.
Think I'll eat it now.

-- Karen Aitchison, 25-year veteran of Los Angeles and San Francisco nonprofits, San Francisco

Congratulations to all the runners-up! You're a published poet!

And we couldn't resist including this poem, which isn't a haiku after all, but a limerick:

A haiku that I wrote and expressed
Would only have been second best
It was true all along
That the meter felt wrong
I hope you have a limerick contest!

-- Beverly Cherner, NatureBridge, San Francisco

Maybe someday?

Susan Sanow is Project Manager for Blue Avocado, and lives in Washington, D.C.

Comments (2)

  • Levity in form
    Simplicity in outcome
    Lessons in haiku

    Blue Avocado is one of the only e-letters that I digest top to bottom. You have a wonderful way of cutting through noise and clutter to deliver content that is relevant and meaningful. So I am especially delighted to be featured as your poet of the moment. As an aside, I purchased 15 copies of Best of the Board Café a few years ago to distribute to all of our board members.  Thank you for making such a valuable contribution to our field.

    Apr 24, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Sarah!
    I didn't win, but I had fun writing haikus, and I love reading all the winners ( I especially relate to Ellen Bob's poem!) Maybe we will borrow this idea to generate some enthusiasm from our own constituents! Hmmm...

    Apr 26, 2011

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