Susan Burch is a recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2018 for her poem
he doesn’t take no
for an answer
It received 2nd Place in the 2018 Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest sponsored by Femkumag.
Commentary from the Panel:
“The imagery in this small poem is fierce. Violent. A product of the #MeToo movement. The aggression results in serious (perhaps bloody?) conflict. I find the poem deeply disturbing, but all the more resonant for “going there”. It is a poem that speaks to our contemporary lives.”
“This senyru is erotic in nature. There are few modern haiku that explore erotic themes. Some decades ago, Rod Wilmot, a Canadian haiku pioneer, published an anthology of erotic haiku and senryu. In “blood moon”, this poet’s lover “doesn’t take no / for an answer”. Their passion transcends physicality and even the nature of the menstrual cycle. The senryu is reminiscent of the tanka of the Japanese bluestocking feminist, Yasano Akiko, whose poems were made renown through the translations into English by Kenneth Rexroth. “blood moon” exhibits the raw passion of human nature — and love — in depicting a dark intimacy, which when brought out
into the light of its aesthetic accomplishment, deepens the human experience for the reader and expands that experience in its presentation of what is significant about how Eros affects our lives and stirs our hearts.”
“This senryu’s first line gives us clues to understanding the poet’s possible meaning. The blood moon occurs during a full moon and a total lunar eclipse, when light waves appearing red from the earth’s sunrises and sunsets, intensified by cloud cover and pollution, reflect off the moon’s surface. Ancient people feared the blood moon, not understanding it and considering it an omen of disaster. Even today, an association persists with both the full moon and the blood moon as times of increased danger. In the context of this senryu, the blood moon image conjures up violence, as the “he” in the poem refuses to “take no/for an answer”. The #MeToo movement has succeeded in making the unconscious conscious, and in bringing to light behavior that has inflicted silent suffering and trauma on so many. Whether on a date, or in a committed relationship or marriage, when a person says no they mean no, and not accepting that boundary is an act of aggression called rape. This tiny poem speaks volumes.”
See the complete list of past winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.