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Friends of the Columbia Gorge Launches Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge

April 9, 2020
Categorie(s): Latest News

Contact: Burt Edwards, communications director | 703.861.8237 (cell) | (email)

Portland, OR–In celebration of National Poetry Month (April) and International Haiku Poetry Day on April 17, Friends of the Columbia Gorge is launching a special Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge. The challenge is 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 recent closure of public lands–including Friends' Mosier Plateau and Lyle Cherry Orchard preserves–in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area due to public safety concern created by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Gorge has always brought people together and even though trails might be closed, we wanted to bring the wonder of the Gorge to everyone through the beauty of words," Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman said.

To help us launch the challenge, Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford created a short video exploring what the Gorge and haikus have in common, as well as offering some tips on the process of writing a haiku. Stafford was among the featured poets at a special reading and discussion forum (Conservation in Verse: Authors, Artists & Activists on Protecting the Landscapes We Love) cohosted last spring by Friends and examining the connections between poetry, art, and conservation.

"Growing up, poetry was an escape for me. Just as a good book can elevate you into another world, so can reading a poem or writing a haiku," Friends Community Engagement Specialist Natasha Stone noted.

"By bringing treasured landscapes to life in our minds and reminding ourselves of what we love most about them, we can escape, inspire, and unite. And we hope in coming weeks to launch other virtual community engagement tools to both offer a sense of escape and provide a way for the public to stay connected with each other and to the Gorge," Stone added.

To participate in the Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge Friends invites Gorge and poetry lovers far and wide to write and share their passion for the Gorge with a haiku. All writers are urged to please follow the traditional haiku format which has three lines with 17 syllables (5-7-5 syllable structure).

To submit a haiku in the challenge, members of the public can post the poem on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (please tag @gorgefriends with the hashtag #HaikuPoetryDay) or email it to by 5 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday, April 15. Friends staff will select a number of favorites to re-share on its website and social media channels on April 16-17. Friends also encourages writers to share their Gorge haikus with friends, family, and other loved ones–both near and far.

One of the most majestic and unique river canyons on the globe, the Columbia Gorge has the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America and at least 15 species of wildflowers that exist nowhere else in the world. Initiated as a project of The Haiku Foundation in 2012, International Haiku Poetry Day (April 17) occurs in the heart of the celebration of National Poetry Month.

For additional information on Friends community engagement efforts and potential community partnership opportunities please send an inquiry to


Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 7,000 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Gorge for future generations. Learn more: or follow-us: @GorgeFriends