KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
“Flash isn’t a fad, it’s an art; and while I hope people can have fun with it, its pursuit should still be taken seriously.”
— Tara L. Masih, editor of Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
Update: Fall 2015
Nonfiction: 1147 words

Announcing the Selections for the KYSO Flash Anthology of Haibun and Tanka Forms 2015

by Clare MacQueen,

15 November 2015

We’re elated to share the results of our first “Best of Haibun and Tanka Forms” contest, as judged by Roberta Beary, award-winning poet and haibun editor of Modern Haiku. Thanks so much, Roberta!

She is the author of Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007), and her poems have been honored in North America, Europe, and Asia for their innovative style.

She has also judged numerous haiku and haibun contests, among them The Third Annual Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Awards (2015) and Haiku Society of America Best Unpublished Haibun Award Collection (2012).

The 53 works that were under consideration for our “Best Of” contest were drawn from those published for the first time in KYSO Flash online during calendar year 2015. Winners, Honorable Mentions, and others selected from the group of finalists will appear in the KYSO Flash Anthology of Haibun and Tanka Forms 2015, which is scheduled for release in soft cover early in December. All authors whose works are published in the book will receive a complimentary copy.

Prizes were awarded as follows* (and all decisions made by the judge are final):

• Kika Dorsey:

The Strindberg Tree

  First Place: $100
(Haibun Story, Issue 3)
• Harriot West:

In Another Country

  Second Place: $75
(Tanka Prose, Issue 4)
• Charles Hansmann:


  Third Place: $50
(Haibun, Issue 3)
• Charles D. Tarlton:

Native American Flora

  First Honorable Mention: $25
(Tanka Prose, Issue 4)
• David Cobb:


With photos by Alison Cobb

  Second Honorable Mention: $25
(Haibun + Two Photographs, Issue 3)
• Stella Pierides:


  Third Honorable Mention: $25
(Haibun, Issue 3)

* In addition to payments for rights to publish these works initially

Judge’s Commentary, by Roberta Beary

A word of thanks to Publisher Clare MacQueen for inviting me to judge the KYSO Flash “Best Of” Competition for Issues 2, 3, and 4. All entries were variations of the haibun form, from tanka tale to haibun story. Winners and Honorable Mentions surpassed this main criterion: Each part of the story, title, prose, and haiku or tanka, stands both on its own and enhances the overall excellence of the piece.

In choosing the winning entries, I first selected works which met the guidelines above, then set aside those which effected a change, either in the protagonist or in me as a reader. Next I looked for works with a resonant storyline. As I read my final selections, I considered the quality of the writing, title, prose, and haiku or tanka. Lastly, in deciding the prize winners and honorable mentions, I looked for works which stretched the boundaries of the haibun form.

First Place: The Strindberg Tree by Kika Dorsey

The evocative prose, simple six-word haiku, and unusual title propelled this entry to first place. The prose section is dreamlike, yet makes effective use of dialogue. We want what the protagonist is yearning for: blooming white flowers to grow in her “square of yard.” The final line of prose evokes both the personal, “petals as white as the skin of my breasts,” and the universal, “dying star.” The haiku speaks of hope and despair in the same breath. The title’s reference to playwright Strindberg recalls his dream plays. All three parts of the haibun coalesce to form a perfect whole.

Second Place: In Another Country by Harriot West

Harriot West’s second-place tanka prose illustrates the form at its most effective. Here the narrator looks back at herself; the distance is so vast that her younger self appears to be “In Another Country,” the title of the work. The first of two paragraphs shows the narrator in the distant past, the second in the present looking back at her younger self: a subtle time shift. The tanka’s allusion to bindweed, known for its attractive blooms and ability to run over its neighbors, successfully illustrates the narrator’s quandary. This is a work of simplicity and depth by a skilled practitioner of the craft.

Third Place: Camouflage by Charles Hansmann

The human comedy is perfectly displayed in Charles Hansmann’s third-place haibun of encoded messages, a noisy cockatiel left to a neighbor’s care, and a mysterious bus trip. The title “Camouflage” encompasses many layers, including a reference in the last paragraph, posed as the answer to a stranger’s question, circling back to the title. The haibun’s prose is well-crafted, peppered with sharply drawn kaleidoscopic images and bits of dialogue. Three strong haiku are seamlessly woven into the prose. “Camouflage” is a superior haibun that shows how far one can travel while remaining at home.

First Honorable Mention: Native American Flora by Charles D. Tarlton

On its surface, this entry’s tanka prose is a narrative of an outing on a reservation. Looking closer one sees that the double meaning of the title introduces a dual point of view, objective bystander and involved participant, which sets the tone for the rest of the work. The keenly observed scenes and taut prose draw the reader in. Tanka appears both in standard and innovative forms. At the tale’s beginning and end, a paragraph divides the first two lines of the tanka from the last three, linking both tanka and prose. Charles D. Tarlton’s entry demonstrates the rewards of risk-taking in one’s writing.

Second Honorable Mention: Fearing by David Cobb, with photographs by Alison Cobb

David Cobb is well known to readers of haibun, so this entry’s skillful blend of choice prose, resonant haiku, and eye-catching title comes as no surprise. The surprise is his use of photos (by Alison Cobb) in his haibun repertoire. The photo “White Cone” in this haibun links to both the prose of the first paragraph and the final haiku. The photo “Camel in Clay” deepens the final prose. But this haibun does more than join photographs to the written word. It also illustrates the power of collaborative, high-quality work.

Third Honorable Mention: Time by Stella Pierides

Stella Pierides’ haibun shows how time, which is also the title, turned the narrator’s expectations of her life’s autumn upside-down. The haiku at the haibun’s end effectively juxtaposes the images and original word choice in lines 1 and 2, lulling the reader along until the surprise of line 3. At first glance the haiku does not seem relevant to the prose. A deeper reading shows that the haiku echoes and expands the feelings of surprise and mortality elicited by the prose, which is exactly what is supposed to happen in haibun.

Our deepest gratitude to these artists for allowing us the opportunity to publish their works in KYSO Flash, and to Roberta Beary for kindly accepting our invitation to judge our first “Best Of” contest. We also appreciate her endorsement:

“I am glad to see the innovative work that KYSO Flash publishes. The forms of haibun are evolving and your publication certainly is due credit for playing a part in the process.”

We hope that you will share the news of this contest far and wide. A wonderful way to help us spread the word is by directly “liking” the KYSO Flash Facebook page—and then please ask your literature-and-art-loving friends, family, and colleagues to do the same. Please help us reach 500 “page-likes” by the end of this year. A thousand thanks for your support!

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