Welcome to Haiku Newton

Newton Community Pride, which sponsors Haiku Newton, announced the winners of this year's contest a few weeks ago.

Congratulations to:

Sarah Berkland, Mark Bernstein, Sebastian Chrobak, Ralph Culver, Julia and Hugh Dun Rappaport, Ravi Kiran, Vandana Parashar, Nancy Gagnon, Margaret Geller, Ellie Goldberg, Linda Goldman, Melinda Gordon, Ayan Gupta, Rachel Hershfang, Warren Kaplan, Rowan Koppenheffer, Jim Krosschell, Kerry Loughman, Chris O’Carroll, Rick Reibstein, Anna Tackie, and Anonymous.

A complete set of the winning poems was displayed on signs in front of the Newton Free Library throughout the month of May. A partial set was installed at the John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club of Newton, and a few signs were displayed at Trio and at the Austin Street Plaza in Newtonville.

For the month of June, signs from the library have been moved to the First Baptist Church, at 88 Beacon Street (first and second photos). Signs from the Boys and Girls Club are now on display at Little Luke's Cafe, 1225 Chestnut Street in Newton Upper Falls (third photo). Signs remain at Trio, 845 Washington Street, and at the Austin Street Plaza in Newtonville.

If you can't view the signs in person, you can enjoy many of the poems below, along with writer bios. More poems will be added in the coming days.

Later in June, we will share an online anthology that includes all the poems we received from a variety of writers including students, Newton neighbors, established writers, and poets who live halfway around the world.

We hope this project helps people experience the delight and beauty of poetry in unexpected ways. We're pleased that several passersby have already told us how inspired and uplifted they felt after seeing the colorful signs and reading the vibrant poems.

Check back soon for more photos and updates.

BY WARREN KAPLAN

BY WARREN KAPLAN

Warren Kaplan is a professor at the BU School of Public Health, teaching and doing research in pharmaceutical policy and “access to medicines." He is also a "recovering patent attorney” who last worked as an attorney at Biogen. Before that, he earned a PhD in ecology, also from BU, but at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, Mass. “Patent lawyers have to be science geeks from a prior life...,” he says. “I worked in Brazil studying production and consumption of greenhouse gases in the rain forest, among other places. I've written poems and haiku before but I've never won anything.”

BY MARK BERNSTEIN

BY MARK BERNSTEIN

Mark Bernstein is a grandfather, cook, cyclist, architect, and technical writer who has lived in Newton Centre for 40 years. On a beautiful spring day he noticed Poetry Newton’s call for Haiku. “I was sipping my morning coffee on the front porch,” he explains, “immersed in the quiet I love so much. No irritating machine noise to sour my day!"

BY RALPH CULVER

BY RALPH CULVER

Ralph Culver's haiku and senryu have been widely published, along with his poetry in longer forms. His latest collection of poems is “A Passable Man” (2021), and he has a new book, “This to This,” forthcoming in 2024. He divides his time between Vermont and central Pennsylvania.

BY MELINDA GORDON

BY MELINDA GORDON

Melinda Gordon loves learning about other cultures and has long been interested in Japanese haiku, tea ceremonies, Asian-inspired art and landscaping. “My grandfather was an immigrant from a shtetl near Kiev,” she says. “He avoided fighting for the Tzar and instead fought for the US in WWI, stationed in France. Returning home, he started a family and a business of a Five and Dime store. But he always wrote philosophical poetry.” Young Melinda would happily spend hours with him, correcting his spelling and copying his poems, which now reside in a small book and in her mind and heart. As an adult, she has taught art, photography, and video. “However, when a poem pops into my head, I feel like I am channeling my grandfather,” she says.

BY JULIA AND HUGH DUN RAPPAPORT

BY JULIA AND HUGH DUN RAPPAPORT

Julia Dun Rappaport began writing poems shortly after the pandemic hit. Since then, her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including The Formula, The Weight, and The Telling Room. She won the Longfellow Prize, which honors the best poem by a high school student in Massachusetts. In addition, her visual art has won several local and national competitions. Hugh Dun Rappaport is Julia’s dad. Many years ago, he won a couple of small poetry contests, wrote a Shakespearian sonnet to propose to Julia's mom, published an op-ed in the Hartford Courant, and contributed an article about conjuring to an international trade magazine. Aside from the Haiku Newton contest, his recent writing has consisted of appellate briefs he has submitted to federal judges in his role as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

BY AYAN GUPTA

BY AYAN GUPTA

Ayan Gupta is in first grade at Cabot Elementary in Newton. He likes to play tag and soccer. His favorite type of poem is haiku. “I thought of this poem because there is a cherry tree in our backyard and I like watching the birds fly in and out of view while I eat breakfast,” he said, via an email from his mom.

BY JIM KROSSCHELL

BY JIM KROSSCHELL

Jim Krosschell’s poems and essays have appeared in some 70 journals, and he has published two essay collections: “One Man's Maine,” which won a Maine Literary Award, and “Owls Head Revisited.” He lives in Northport, Maine, and Newton, Mass., and is Board President of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

BY MARGARET GELLER

BY MARGARET GELLER

Margaret Geller grew up in Nova Scotia, England, and New England with parents who instilled in her a love of language, music, and travel. "I'm retired now, after careers in education and information technology — and some amazing trips,” she notes. “Twice married and twice widowed, I live in Newton with my elderly cat, Walter, and process life in 17-syllable chunks.

BY RAVI KIRAN

BY RAVI KIRAN

Ravi Kiran is an electronics engineer and a working professional. Ravi’s haiku have won international contests and are featured in journals like The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, and Frogpond. Ravi is a web-editor with the leading journal, haikuKATHA, and is an editor with Leaf – the journal of The Daily Haiku. He lives in Hyderabad, India.

BY KERRY LOUGHMAN

BY KERRY LOUGHMAN

Kerry Loughman is a retired educator and photographer living in the Boston area. She writes about memory, art, family, and nature in the city, looking for small transient moments of beauty ... or discord. Her work has appeared in Mass Poetry's "The Hard Work of Hope" and "Poem of the Moment," Nixes' Mate, What Rough Beast, The Main Street Rag and Lily Poetry Review.

BY CHRIS O'CARROLL

BY CHRIS O'CARROLL

Chris O’Carroll is the author of two books of poems, “The Joke’s on Me” and “Abracadabratude.” He has been a Light magazine featured poet as well as a contributor to The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology and multiple volumes of the Potcake Chapbooks series. His work appears in New York City Haiku, Extreme Sonnets, and Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, among other collections.

BY ELLIE GOLDBERG

BY ELLIE GOLDBERG

Ellie Goldberg is an advocate for healthy children, safe schools, and sustainable communities. She is inspired by Rachel Carson, especially Carson's message that our health is intimately connected to the quality of our environment. In 2013, Ellie produced the video “Big Buildings, Big Machines, Big Stories” about the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, to show the government's role in safeguarding public health and enriching the quality of our communities. In each of Ellie’s personal, professional and volunteer roles with organizations such as Mothers Out Front, Green Newton, and Clean Water Action, she has been an outspoken advocate for citizen engagement, government integrity, and corporate accountability on behalf of children and their healthy development.

BY SEBASTIAN CHROBAK

BY SEBASTIAN CHROBAK

Sebastian Chrobak was born in 1988 in Bielsko-Biała, a beautiful city in southern Poland. His greatest passion is cinema. He appreciates films from all over the world, in particular from Asia (and especially from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan). He is also interested in football (soccer) and since childhood he has been a loyal supporter of FC Barcelona. He began writing haiku in 2020.

BY LINDA GOLDMAN

BY LINDA GOLDMAN

Linda Goldman, originally from New Jersey, has lived in Newton with her husband and daughters since 2008 and works at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Linda has written a few songs for guitar; this is her first poem. While caring for her elderly father, Linda became interested in the similarities of people experiencing the bookends of life, including the easy-to-fasten shoes that inspired this poem.

BY NANCY GAGNON

BY NANCY GAGNON

Nancy Gagnon, a lifelong resident of Newton, began her haiku adventure two years ago, when she saw Haiku Newton signs in various locations around the city. “I hadn’t read any Haiku since I was in the Newton School system more years ago than I care to remember,” she says. She began jotting down ideas and poems in her spare moments and, with the encouragement of others, she entered the 2023 contest. To her delight, was selected as one of the winners. “I so enjoyed informing my 14 grandchildren that I am now an award-winning published Haiku poet, even if it’s just on a yard sign,” she explains. “This year I have bragging rights again with the grandchildren.”

BY VANDANA PARASHAR

BY VANDANA PARASHAR

Vandana Parashar is a postgraduate in Microbiology, an educator, and a haiku poet. Her haiku, senryu, and tanka have been published in many esteemed national and international journals and has won many prizes and accolades. Her haiku was also shortlisted for the prestigious Touchstone Award 2020. She is an associate editor of haikuKATHA and one of the editors of Poetry Pea and #FemkuMag. Her debut e-chapbook, “I Am,” was published by Title IX Press (now Moth Orchid Press) in 2019 and her second chapbook, “Alone, I Am Not,” was published by Velvet Dusk Publishing in April 2022.

BY ANNA TAKIE

BY ANNA TAKIE

Anna Tackie is a high school student who loves poetry and writing . Words are her favorite type of expression, especially in the form of music or song. “This helps me transition to poetry, or more specifically to haikus,” she says. “I'm also a student of abstract thinking, so I hope my poem stirs up some thoughts for you.”

The Haiku Newton project debuted in spring 2022, bringing poems on lawn-style signs to various locations in the Garden City. Passersby were surprised and delighted to encounter the haikus in parks or along busy sidewalks.

As word spread on social media about the project, people came from around Greater Boston to see the signs for themselves. Others viewed the poems via short online video tours that were created by project co-director Grey Held (pictured, first photo in carousel at right).

Grey and co-director Elizabeth Lund were thrilled to welcome Greg Fulchino as a co-director (second photo in carousel) in 2023. Poets from various states and two foreign countries submitted work that year. A panel of judges selected 24 winning poems, which were printed on display panels and attached to sign frames.

The 2023 signs were displayed in front of the Newton Free Library, at 330 Homer Street, and in front of the First Baptist Church in Newton, at 848 Beacon Street, until late May. The installations then moved to three new sites until late July: the Depot Coffee Shoppe in Newton Upper Falls (third photo in carousel), the Boys & Girls Club, located at 675 Watertown Street, Newtonville, and Grey Held's front lawn on Watertown Street.

Haiku Newton also participated in the Linda Plaut Festival of the Arts on July 22. One set of signs was on display at the festival location, the Hyde Community Center at 90 Lincoln Street, and a Haiku Hut encouraged attendees to write poems of their own.

If you weren't able to see the signs,  you can enjoy two videos that Grey created of the library installation. Each video features 12 poems, so viewers can see both sides of the signs. One tour heads toward the library's parking lot; the other heads toward Walnut Street.

We're thrilled that Newton Community Pride is now the generous sponsor for Haiku Newton. Sign up for our mailing list in the footer of this website to receive updates about the 2024 contest.

Haiku Newton received so many wonderful submissions this year that we wanted to acknowledge them all. Co-director Greg Fulchino, a Senior Library Assistant, created a special binder, which was displayed on the Circulation Desk at the Newton Free Library until late May. The binder has been moved to a permanent location on the third floor. Greg also created a pdf for those who can only visit us online.

Both formats of the Haiku Newton anthology are intended to celebrate and encourage creativity, and to spotlight the talents of everyone who shared their poems with us.

We've heard several comments from people who've read through the binder before or after they checked out a book or renewed their library card. As one woman said, "This is a wonderful poetic pause, so unexpected."

To read the poems, click here, or download the file in the section below.

Grey Held

Poet and Literary Activist

Grey Held is a recipient of a NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing, and the 2019 Future Cycle Poetry Book Prize Winner. Three books of his poetry have been published.

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Elizabeth Lund

Reviewer and Interviewer

Elizabeth Lund writes about poetry for The Christian Science Monitor, where she served as poetry editor for 10 years. She also hosts and produces Poetic Lines at NewTV.

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Greg Fulchino

Writer and Senior Library Assistant

Greg Fulchino is a writer and Senior Library Assistant who is passionate about bringing poetry to communities.

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  • Newton, MA, USA

Newton Community Pride


Founded in 1989, Newton Community Pride (NCP) is a non-profit organization building community through free arts and culture programming, public art, beautification and service projects. If you’d like to learn more about NCP, please visit newtoncommunitypride.org.