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Originally published April 8, 2013 at 5:01 AM | Page modified April 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM

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It’s haiku heaven at Seattle Public Library

Seattle public library is celebrating National Poetry Month 2013 with a haiku contest. Here are some of the winners.

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Lit Life

Seatttleites love their libraries. They check out literally millions of items — 11.5 million books, movies, DVDs and CDs (both hard copy and digital) in 2012 alone. They flock to author readings, queue up for story times, register for how-to and self-improvement sessions. They raise their own taxes to keep the libraries open, in an era when many cities are hammering plywood over library doors.

And they even write poetry to the library. In honor of National Poetry Month, the Seattle Public Library sponsored a haiku contest. The theme: Write a haiku that celebrates the library in your life.

There were 40 winners chosen from 402 entries, submitted over a 12-day period; the library started posting them on its website on April 1. I have put my limited experience as a poetry judge into play and picked out some that spoke to me. They made me think of all libraries, places of refuge and restoration, from the Carnegie library I lived in as a kid to the glass and steel monument in downtown Seattle that vibrates with learning. Here’s a sample: for all the winners go the library website.

Find the library

It’s a chamber of secrets

A wrinkle in time.

—Clio Vos, age 9, Orca K-8, Columbia branch

Breathe in the soft text

Bound endlessly, spine broken,

Drown me in your words

—Kay Wong, age 14, Nathan Hale High School, Northeast branch

library book on Rin Tin Tin


bookmark wagging

—Tom Greggs, Northeast branch

If I were a goat

I’d graze on Ballard’s rooftop

I’m not; I’ll browse books

—Susan Ovens, Ballard branch

Fishing in Green Lake

heron cocks her gray-blue head

at my library

—Rebecca Albiani, Green Lake branch

Silent books on shelves

Held captive by their covers

Till eyes give them voice

—Susan Guse, Columbia branch

golden violets

pressed in an old book

tale in a tale

—Don Hansbrough,Capitol Hill branch

And my personal favorite:

books are full of words

libraries are full of books

books are awesome worlds

—Cameron Anderson, age 11, Pinehurst K– 8, Northgate branch

Inspired to write your own haiku? The structure is three lines of five, seven and five syllables sequentially. Give it a try and share the results on the comments thread with this story.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.

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