2020 Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge
A selection of entries
Golden sunlight over the Gorge (photographer: Theresa Peterson)

In April 2020, to celebrate National Poetry Month and International Haiku Poetry Day on April 17, Friends of the Columbia Gorge launched a special Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge.

The challenge was designed to provide members of the public with a way to remain virtually connected with the Columbia Gorge and celebrate its wonders while supporting the temporary closure of public lands due to public safety concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The public responded to the challenge, submitting 223 haiku in less than a week

With so many worthy entries to consider, Friends staff had to make some hard choices about which haiku to highlight. In the end, we selected 17 haiku entries to share for International Poetry Day that embody both the timeless art of the haiku and the timeless beauty of the Columbia Gorge. Thanks to all of those who wrote, submitted, and shared a haiku with Friends staff or a loved one, and special thanks to Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford for his advice and support in helping us launch this effort. Enjoy!

“Haiku is not a shriek, a howl, a sigh, or a yawn; rather, it is the deep breath of life.”―Santoka Taneda

Friends 2020 Gorge Haiku Challenge: Some of Our Favorites

Hamilton Mountain
Silence high above river
Then wind in tree tops

(Janet Carter)

Rise, fall, rise and falls
Switchback trails misty in fog
Near the cougar’s path

(Janet Pardo)

Above the valley
between river and sky, this
is where angels rest

(Curt Jennewine)

Climbing winding trails
past Doug fir and trillium
to the waterfalls

(Rain Bow)

The heart of the Gorge? 
Look down! Forest magic when 
Trillium awakes

(Susan Easterly)

(photographer: Jerad Armijo)

See coyote wall
where basalt flow ended time
vulture soars after.

(Ellen Mendoza)

Columbia Gorge
She Who Watches Horse Thief Lake
Nature history

(Holly Cushman)

By the trail, charred snags;
Ancient trees consumed by fire.
To my ears, bird song.

(Natalie DaSilva)

Turtles bask on logs
Unaware of us working
Stewards of the Gorge

(Alice Weaver)

This cut in the earth
Made in rock by soft water
Makes its own weather

(James Cameron)

Dazzling yellow fields
Soon the balsamroot will bloom
I long to see it

(Karen Johnson)

Riding the Syncline
A riot of colored blooms
The dappled river

(John Sullivan)

Multnomah Falls (photo: Friends' archive)

Highways closed, resting
mud trails emptied of footsteps
Mother Earth exhales

(Melissa Madenski)

Challenging our souls
Angel’s Rest or Ruckel Ridge
Nature heals our hearts.

(Susan M. Souers)

Wildflowers still bloom
Provide essential service
Making seeds of hope

(Jennifer O'Donnell)

Waterfall misting
Mossy rocks and ferns so green
Calming Gorge, serene

(Michelle Heile)

The Columbia
Flows downstream to the ocean
Salmon flow back up

(Jay Bowerman)


Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 6,000 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Gorge for future generations For more information about our 2020 Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge or for additional information on Friends community engagement efforts and potential partnership opportunities please contact Friends Community Engagement Specialist Natasha Stone: natasha@gorgefriends.org.