a curl of birch bark
edged with sunlight
Winner, 2017 British Haiku Society Awards
Judge's Commentary: This poem is just another in the long list of prizes won by Canadian poet Chen-ou Liu. The seeming artlessness of this poem belies its impact, both immediately and upon repeated return.Wordsworth’s sonnet “The world is too much with us; Late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,” references itself upon first reading. Then, the poem emerges from the space between the two images—the drain of the daily search for work, the sometimes demeaning results, relieved by the exquisite appearance of a piece of birch. Where did the poet find it? Walking from one interview to another, stopped at an intersection, perhaps a memory of the moment while seated in a waiting room? The common language of the second part produces an uncommon image, resisting the effort to even remember it. I was surprised by the image each time I approached it. I was surprised by this poem.