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Eric Darby
I write poetry often, but not much haiku. When I do try that form, it’s usually for a specific reason, like this contest. Since haiku traditionally involves nature, I wanted to find a metaphor for Syracuse in nature. I’m a fisherman, so I started thinking about the slow rebirth of Onondaga Lake, which can now support a bass and carp population. In America, carp aren’t considered a sport fish—they’re called trash or junk fish. But in Europe, they’re highly prized and there are huge carp fishing tournaments, so it’s a matter of perception.

Carp can thrive in harsh conditions, and are prized by some people, so that became the central idea of the poem, because so-called harsh conditions are also a matter of perception. So many Syracuse residents defy perceptions of what life would be in a wintery, post-industrial city, and are thriving in a place that might be too harsh for others.

Onondaga's carp
are beautiful—eating junk,
breathing mud, living.

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