2020 is officially coming to an end — finally. And last month, Curious City asked for your reflections on what has been a year like no other. But there was one rule: turn your thoughts and feelings about this year into poetry.
Our 2020 Haiku Contest received 255 submissions from listeners of all ages. Some were written in grade school classes, some households wrote their haikus together as a family activity, and some used the contest as an outlet for personal expression.
Here are some things we learned about our readers and listeners: You don’t seem to like Zoom, the passing of time has felt strange this year, and some of you have spent a lot of time with your dogs.
But on a more serious note, this has been a tough year for many of you for many different reasons. A lot of our listeners expressed feelings of grief for those lost to COVID-19, the fires that ravaged the West Coast and a nation that’s politically divided. Several people also expressed hope to come in 2021 — a time when 2020 will be in hindsight, and we can continue to work toward needed change.
Once all of the submissions were in, members of the Curious City team sat down with Evanston drama teacher Michael Rodriguez — whose interview about remote learning inspired this whole thing — and settled on three finalists. Then, we shared those finalists with our listeners to vote on their favorite.
So without further ado, here are the winners of the 2020 Haiku Contest.
Third place goes to Holly Stammis.
Holly has three kids at home, and she says that while spending more time in the house with her family, it seems like there’s a never-ending pile of dishes to clean.
“So if you’ve had kids you know that for every sip of water they take they seem to find a new glass and then they seem to leave it somewhere else …” she said. “But I think the thing that really hit us was just the incessant, all of us home for all of our meals, all of our snacks, everything we were doing, and it just piled up.”
Brad McLane took second place.
The “someone” in this poem refers to someone who has COVID-19. Brad said he wanted to try and capture the growing number of COVID-19 cases in his community since the pandemic began.
“It felt like we were all pretty removed back in the spring,” he said. “The summer we kind of danced around it in northern Chicago. And this fall it’s been coming at us in quite an onslaught.”
And finally, the first place winner is John Tomkiw.
John said that he’s been spending much of his time in his home office since March, and he’s been feeling pretty eager to reconnect with the world outside his home.
“One of the things you start to appreciate more when you’re sequestered this way is these little things,” he said. “I saw a pigeon land on the windowsill one morning and it got me so excited because it was like ‘Look look, a thing! A real thing!’”
Thank you to Holly, Brad and John for offering a little window into their worlds — and thank you to everyone who voted and helped us choose a winner.
We also have some honorable mentions. The fifth and sixth grade students at The Skokie School in Winnetka, Ill. shared some amazing poems with us. Plus, a special shoutout to Edith Bukwa and Miriam Solon, who each sent us dozens of haikus describing 2020.
And lastly, thank you to everyone who shared their 2020 moments with us. We hope it provided some respite from the difficulties of this year — especially as we look toward a new one.
From the Curious City Team, Happy New Year!