Oregon’s Poet Laureate to Judge Local Food & Farm Haiku Contest

(Kim Stafford, official poet laureate of Oregon, has history in the Sisters area. He will judge the Farm & Food Haiku contest for Sisters Farmers Market’s special Tea & Poetry event on Sunday, September 22 | Photo provided)

What’s small, mysterious and bursting with flavor? A truffle, perhaps. A perfectly ripe raspberry. Or a tiny poem about delicious local foods.

The State of Oregon’s official Poet Laureate, Kim Stafford, has signed on as the judge for the Food & Farm Haiku contest at Sisters Farmers Market’s special Tea & Poetry event on Sunday, September 22. Anyone can enter the contest, and need not be present to win.

“Small, dusky, and mysterious, a haiku passes before you like a bat, sweeping away the mosquitos of annoyance, and startling you awake to the magic of the moment,” said Stafford. A poet, educator, and delightful storyteller, Stafford has roots in Central Oregon. When he was young, his family — including his father, poet William Stafford—built their own cabin near the town of Sisters.

You don’t have to be a poet to dream up a short poem. All ages are invited to jump on in and try. Prizes include gift certificates to Metolius Tea, Jackson’s Corner restaurant, Mountain Rose Herbs, Mahonia Gardens farm, Paulina Springs Books, Suttle Tea teahouse, Seed to Table education farm, and Bedouin clothing store and cafe.

Winning haiku will also be published in The Nugget Newspaper, media sponsor of Sisters Farmers Market.

“We invite you to celebrate the seasons and really sink into your senses,” said Tea & Poetry organizer Tiffany Lee Brown, a.k.a. T. “Write about food, farms, or tea. Think about how foods smell, look, and taste, what they feel like rolling around in your mouth, what memories they invoke.”

Entrants may use the popular American style of writing haiku: a three-line poem featuring a 5-7-5 syllable structure. Alternately, they may choose to write in the Japanese tradition, focusing on how their words and imagery evoke the seasons rather than counting syllables.

With help from Aude Girin, Seed to Table’s education coordinator, Brown led the audience at a recent Sisters Farmers Market talent show in a group tasting and writing exercise. An example:

Crisp green cucumber

Rests beside a bursting peach —

Harvest time is near.

Food & Farm Haiku contest entries may be dropped off in person at Paulina Springs Books or Sisters Farmers Market; entry is free. The deadline is September 18 at 2 p.m. Details can be found at tinyurl.com/foodhaiku.

Online submissions are accepted via Submittable for a small fee; the submission link is tinyurl.com/foodhaiku-submittable. Alternate prizes will be available for non-local winners who are unable to use local gift certificates.

Sisters Farmers Market is open through the end of September, on Sundays from 11am to 2pm at Fir Street Park, one block north of Cascade Ave/Hwy 20. Co-presented by New Oregon Arts & Letters, the Tea & Poetry event is funded in part by grants from the Roundhouse Foundation and the City of Sisters. It will feature activities for adults and kids, with poetry playshop leader Krayna Castelbaum, a poetry booth from Deschutes County Library and tea tastings.


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