Burt Edwards, communications director, Friends of the Columbia Gorge | 703.861.8237 (Cell) | firstname.lastname@example.org (email)
PORTLAND, OR – In celebration of National Poetry Month, and in advance of International Haiku Poetry Day (April 17), Friends of the Columbia Gorge recently launched its third Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge. For this year's Gorge Haiku Challenge, Friends is inviting nature and poetry lovers—far and wide—to write and share haikus illustrating what they love about the Gorge (the views, the communities, waterfalls, etc.) and encouraging us all to explore new and different connections with nature.
"When we think of the Gorge, we often think of hikers who have logged many miles and have all the equipment," said Friends Community Engagement Specialist Kassy Delgado. "But this image limits who we see as those who enjoy and feel welcome in the Gorge."
One of the most majestic and unique river canyons on the globe, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America and at least 15 species of wildflowers that exist nowhere else in the world. International Haiku Poetry Day, first initiated as a project of The Haiku Foundation in 2012, occurs every April 17 during the heart of the celebration of National Poetry Month.
Friends first launched the Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge in spring of 2020 to provide members of the public with a way to remain virtually connected with the Columbia Gorge during the height of the first COVID-19 pandemic wave. The public responded to the challenge, submitting 223 haikus in less than a week with entries from as close as Gresham, Oregon to Germany. Friends has continued the challenge, ever since, as an ongoing public engagement tool to celebrate the wonders of the Gorge and bring people together, through art, to illustrate why it's so important to protect, preserve, and steward the Columbia Gorge for future generations.
"Elevating treasured landscapes into haiku reminds us of what we love most about them—places of solitude, inspiration, and commonality," said Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman. "Beauty is what you see, but wonder is how you feel. We hope this year's Gorge Haiku Challenge will provide creative avenues to explore the many ways one can connect with the outdoors and appreciate the wonders of the Columbia Gorge."
To submit a haiku, members of the public can post the poem on Facebook (please tag @gorgefriends); Instagram (tag @gorgefriends with the hashtag #HaikuPoetryDay); Twitter (tag @gorgefriends with the hashtag #HaikuPoetryDay); or email it to email@example.com by Thursday, April 14 (COB, 5 p.m. Pacific).
Friends staff will share a collection of favorite Gorge haikus as part of International Haiku Poetry Day on Sunday, April 17. All writers are urged to please follow the traditional Japanese haiku format which has three lines with 17 syllables (5-7-5 syllable structure). For more information about Friends’ Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge, please visit gorgefriends.org/haiku.
- Read our 2022 Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge launch blog.
- Read selections from Friends' 2021 Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge.
- Watch a 2020 video of former Oregon Poet Laureate, Kim Stafford offering some tips on the process of writing a haiku.
- Learn more about Friends other recent public engagement activities.