Haiku For Spring 2020

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Spring arrived early
splashing against my window
dreams interrupted

by Lynn McDonald (Ogden 2004)

Spring officially arrived this past week. So did COVID-19. And with it, a new normal has taken over everywhere with schools and businesses closing, social distancing, working remotely while sequestered to our homes in self-quarantine. A troubling disruption, with its own uncertainties, to say the least.

Spring snow–heavy, wet
downing tree limbs, power lines,
darkening our hearts

by Robert Stone (Baldwinsville 2015)

At this point, it might be hard to imagine how reading or writing haiku might make a difference to what’s going on. Reading poetry, prose, or even a good book, offers an escape from our daily worries as well as a chance to see new perspectives outside ourselves. Besides making us feel better, writing–whether you’re writing poetry, prose or journaling–can give us a sense of control and purpose and can help us make sense of difficult times. Writing also offers us an opportunity to reflect on all the things we love. It’s a place where we can freely express our thoughts and feelings, observations and experiences.

Red brick, gray concrete
plant pushes up through the gap
life blooms overnight

by Peter Allen (Syracuse 2016)

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2018 Series. A wonderful reflection of Spring, Sean Conrey (Syracuse 2015) crafted his noteworthy haiku while observing: “We’re always waiting for that moment for spring to begin; a leaf coming out, one little bud, it’s going to happen at some point.” Beautifully illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Jake Penman, who chose this haiku “…. because I feel like it speaks to the kind of person I am, or at least the kind of tonality that I like to illustrate in my work. I really enjoy drawing trees, life, and images of nature. A lot of the work I do is in pen and ink, and a lot of natural structures—branches, roots, and trunks—do very well in pen and ink. I feel like the complexity of the roots is visually similar to cardiac vessels or streams running through hills. It’s just the way the line moves between, like if you’re following a river downstream, or if you’re following a tree branch from a trunk’s base—it’s very similar. Whatever is causing that similarity is what I try to get at, not just visually, but emotionally.”

A spring breeze still cold / All nerves beneath the black oak / A new leaf unfurls

We hope these few reflections on the arrival of Spring have cheered you and given you some food for thought. Unlike the unsettling throes of a pandemic, Spring is certainly one constant we can depend on year in and year out. The interesting thing is, what kind of Spring will it be?

March into April,
Shed the outer cloak, breathe and
Take the umbrella….

by Michelle M. Miles (Israel 2016)

Wishing you well — stay safe!

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Our 2020 Series Selected

In case you missed it, we recently announced the poet / artist selections for our 2020 Syracuse Poster Project Series! To help create our Annual Series of illustrated haiku posters, we reached out once again to our faithful haiku contributors and independent artists from throughout the community.

In addition, we also commissioned a special poster on the theme of “Healthy Living”. The poster has been illustrated by Meaghan Arbital of Bella Figura, a Syracuse Letterpress and Wedding Design Company; Meaghan selected a “Healthy Living” haiku written by frequent contributor and manager of our Blog, Rosalyn M. Carroll, Manlius NY.

As always, to be selected for a Series poster, poets and artists had to beat challenging odds. For the first round of submitted haiku screening, we turned to our Development Intern, Chris Barnes, a Doctoral Student in English at Syracuse University. Chris reviewed 1,300 haiku–that’s 191 fresh haiku as well as hundreds of “active” haiku from our archives. He selected and passed along 250 haiku for artists to consider. Each of 28 artists then selected a single haiku to illustrate.

From these, our guest panel of four judges presided over the blind selection of 13 posters and the subsequent awarding of first-, second-, and third-place posters. Our panelists this year were: Bethany Holbrook, Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse; Alice Maggiore, Director of Communications for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse; Kimberly McCoy, Community Engagement Organizer at ArtRage Gallery; and Cjala Surratt, Promotions Coordinator at Light Work.

Our Board then added two “Board Picks.” This, plus our specially themed poster, brought the total count to 16 haiku posters for our 2020 Series!

By the way, our guest panel of judges awarded first place to the poster created by Peter Allen and Melquea Smith; second place to Anna Morley and Lucie Wellner; and third place to Garrett Heater and Rebecca Miller. Visit our web page or our Facebook Photo Album for photos of this year’s panel at work. In addition to perusing the selected haiku and list of poet/artists below, visit our Facebook Photo Album for photos from our October meet-and-greet social gathering of the poet-artist pairs.

Please join us in congratulating these 16 poet-artist pairs (see list below) and consider being our guest at the 2020 Series event Celebration tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 23rd.

Many thanks again to all our talented haiku contributors and artists. Your skill, creativity, and insight into local culture convey the special character of Central New York. Thank you also to our devoted Board members and panel judges, our generous sponsors and supporters—we couldn’t do this without you!

Listed below are the 2020 poet-artist pairs, ordered by poet’s name first. Former, contributing poets or artists are underlined; by clicking on their name, a link will take you to their previous work with us.

Bright sunlight switches
to soaking rain – we all run
as saxophone plays.

Peter Allen, Poet
—Melquea Smith, Artist

Salt city sunrise
Reflecting off cool water
Morning fog dissolves

Deb Bateman, Poet
—Susan Murphy, Artist

Coffee in hand I
Watch the sun dance through the trees.
I drink in birdsong.

Rosalyn M. Carroll, Poet
Meaghan Arbital, Artist

I went to the fair
For a glass of milk and ah,
The butter sculpture.

—Gerard Crinnin, Poet
Kathleen O’Dell, Artist

cool air hangs quiet
sleepy morning reflections
Onondaga Lake

—Bobbi Dean, Poet
—Sally Stormon, Artist

Languid lavender
dances slowly in the breeze―
Honeybees rejoice

Joan Dear-Houseman, Poet
—Ryan Wood, Artist

Gleaming silver skates,
Swish of the quick, black puck:
Goal wins cheers… or jeers.

—Wendy Everard, Poet
—Joyce Backus, Artist

Snow spins through streetlights,
delicate silver threads of
downtown’s winter cloak.

Laura Ferrel, Poet
Alexandra Grant, Artist

Adirondack chairs
positioned dutifully
worship mother sun

—Christina Finn, Poet
William Padgett, Artist

Lingering summer
Light fades-fireflies check in
For the evening shift

Sheila Forsyth, Poet
—Amy Cunningham-Waltz, Artist

Strathmore’s park for all
Where a reservoir once reigned
Gazebo stands tall

—Tim Gorman, Poet
—Julie Gratien, Artist

The ghosts of yester
Sequestered in their oak grove
Welcome each new dawn.

Garrett Heater, Poet
—Rebecca Miller, Artist

Winter’s white blindfold
blankets fields of dormant grass.
Blue jays bloom in trees.

—Gloria Heffernan, Poet
Alyssa Dearborn, Artist

Bubbling fountains
Ripples glide across water
Light dances on each

—John Landers, Poet
Tyler Hill, Artist

Walk the Green Lake path…
Lush and open, Earth to sky.
Whispers: “You and I”.

—Ana Morley, Poet
—Lucie Wellner, Artist

yellow rounds of hay
cast shadows in stubbled field
sun slips behind hills

—Philip Nast, Poet
—Tammra Cook, Artist

Our 2019 Haiku Poster Series – An Update!


Selecting the 2019 Series

In case you missed it, we recently announced the poet – artist selections for our 2019 Poster Series!  As you may recall, for this year’s event, we reached out to independent artists from throughout the community to help create our haiku posters.  A record 34 artists responded!

Responding artists selected haiku from hundreds of poems submitted by new and former contributors.  A total of 15 posters were finally decided upon by a panel of five judges. This blind selection included awarding a first-, second-, and third-place poster–also new this year!  And, because we received such a wealth of good work, our Board selected two additional haiku posters–“board picks”–bumping the 2019 Series to 18 posters, up from our usual 16!

You may not be aware of this, but in addition to each year’s call for haiku and securing the artists to illustrate these wonderful poems, we also engage a local advertising and marketing firm to help us.  This year, we are very pleased to announce that the Syracuse office of Mower has joined us with their support, including a one-of-a-kind contribution by one of its Creative Supervisors, Steven Peters.

Our annual unveiling event for the 2019 Series is tentatively scheduled for the evening of Thursday, April 18.  Mark your calendars and help us celebrate this wonderful union of art, haiku and community!

Thanks again to our judges, board members, contributors, sponsors and supporters!  And, Congratulations to the poets and artists of our 2019 Series!

Listed below are the 2019 poet-artist pairs, ordered by poet’s name first. Former, contributing poets or artists are bolded; by clicking on their name, a link will take you to their previous work with us. 

Peter Allen & Aaron Lee

Dianne Apter & Kathleen O’Dell

Mary Jane BeVard & Erin Nowak

Laura Braaten & Dani Pendergast

Sherry Chayat & Steven Peters

Aubry Cooper & Cayetano Valenzuela

David Harper & Eva Hunter

Shari Hemsley & Alexandra Grant

Perri Hogan & Daniel Shanahan

Kyle Johnson & Hall Groat Sr.

Diane Lansing & Jill Pierce Long

Michele Madonna & Alyssa Dearborn

Elina Park & Anne Lathrop

Elizabeth Patton & William Padgett

Carolyn Senft & Jamie Santos

Marilyn Shelton & Marianne Dalton

Erin Stepowany & Jamie Ashlaw

James & Barbara Yonai & Paul Lilly

Rosalyn M. Carroll for Syracuse Poster Project

Haiku for a Slow Start to Spring

Pink clouds dot the sky                                                                                                                                                                            Black crows fly past crescent moon                                                                                                                                                       A change of weather

                                                                                     by Peter Allen (Syracuse 2013)


Whether or not you care much about the weather, it is one of the major topics of conversation anywhere, anytime, anyhow, no matter the day or the time of year.  It pretty much affects everything around us and everything we do.  We, at Syracuse Poster Project, would rightfully guess that we receive more haiku written about weather–like the fine poem above–than about any other subject!

Changes in the weather often signal a change in the season, too.  For instance, in Central New York today, while the calendar may say Spring, the weather these past few weeks has been mostly cold, dismally grey and, well…cold.  In fact, on St. Patrick’s Day–usually a fine day to celebrate the imminent arrival of Spring–there were snowbanks here that were as high as an elephant’s eye! The tulips and daffodils that had started to peek out from the cold March ground were quickly sent packing.  

Moving from March to April isn’t always easy or fast.  Thank goodness for Haiku to put this change of season into perspective!  Take, for example, this poignantly expressive haiku from frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Jay Cox (Pompey, 2001):

Treetops’ sprawling arms                                                                                                                                                                        tremble, holding pale gray sky–                                                                                                                                                           snow patches linger.

Or, consider the perspective found in this uplifting haiku from Anton Ninno (Syracuse, 2008):

Last snow of the year                                                                                                                                                                                crashes down, heavy and wet                                                                                                                                                                 young buds shake it off

From Craig Overbeck, (Fayetteville, 2015), a stirring haiku with an artistic glimpse of what awaits us this Spring:

To the south, rain falls.                                                                                                                                                                  Gray brushstrokes sweep from dark clouds                                                                                                                                        To paint the hills green.

We think you’ll agree, this warm and delightful haiku by Rachel Guido deVries (Cazenovia, 2001) enriches any conversation about the weather or change of season.  Her words create a feeling beautifully captured in this poster from our 2015 Series by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Lise Sukhu.  To see more of Lise’s artwork, click here.

Dog sleeps safe from rain, / nestled in blankets, my feet / warm up, beneath her

2015Guido_de_Vries_Sukhu

Over the past several months we’ve highlighted many fine haiku written by our contributors about the weather and the change of seasons in Central New York.  Our accompanying featured posters beautifully underscore and accentuate the fine work we receive.  We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these poems as well as the few highlighted here today.  

And, remember, as we move from snow to rain this season, keep this cheerful haiku, written by Michelle Miles (Amman, Jordan 2016), in mind:

March into April,                                                                                                                                                                              Shed the outer cloak, breathe and                                                                                                                                                         Take the umbrella….

Until again, stay warm, stay dry! Happy Spring!