Although the call for entries for this year's writing contest came during the final rush of the presidential election season, we decided that by the time the winners had been chosen, no one would feel like reading haiku about politics (although we can imagine the outpouring had we made Barack Obama a theme this year).

Instead, we left the poetry topic up to the writers but asked them to stay within a haiku's 5/7/5 parameter. They did so in droves. This week, we present all three of the poetry winners.

We also roll out the first-place winner in our "It's a Mystery" fiction category. Psychological thrillers and gumshoe stories abounded for this category. In the upcoming weeks, look for our second- and third-place winners.

Finally, because the West is a topic of endless interest to us (and, hopefully, our readers), we challenged nonfiction writers to tackle this expansive subject. Many of them pondered the West as seen from the open road, and we'll also be publishing those winning entries in the weeks to come.

On the next page, you'll meet this year's winners. Thank you to the hundreds of writers who entered this year's contest. Keep writing and look for next year's rules in September.

And thanks to our judges:

Renowned author Natalie Goldberg’s most recent book, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, will be available next year in paperback. She also is the author of 10 other books, including Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure. Goldberg teaches national writing workshops and retreats (

Robert Wilder publishes a monthly column, “Daddy Needs a Drink,” for the Reporter; his first book is titled the same. His most recent book, Tales from the Teacher’s Lounge, has been optioned for sitcom adaptation. Wilder teaches English and creative writing at Santa Fe Prep. “Daddy Needs a Drink Minute” airs twice weekly on KBAC, 98.1 FM (

Poet Miriam Sagan has written more than 20 books of both poetry and essays, including Gossip, Rag Trade and the memoir Searching for a Mustard Seed: A Young Widow’s Unconventional Story, which won the 2004 Best Memoir award from Independent Publisher. Sagan has published her work internationally in more than 200 magazines and directs Santa Fe Community College’s
creative writing program.


Jodi Drinkwater
“Jesus Sleeping” Read it Now!
Poet and painter Jodi Drinkwater has had her work published in various literary journals. “Jesus Sleeping” is her first published work of fiction. New to Santa Fe and a transplant from Kansas, Jodi owes thanks to
the people who have taught her about horses and the northern New Mexico landscape. To see more of Jodi’s work please visit her website.

Michael Agar
“La Villa Irreal”
Mike Agar has been writing lies and cracking jokes for decades, while disguised as an academic and a consultant. You can see the story on his website. Thanks to Java Joe’s South for the writing space.

Joshua Laurenzi
“The Artist”
Joshua Laurenzi and his girlfriend live in a house, with five other people, in this kind of apartment thing on one side with its own bathroom. He enjoys chopping wood. 


Barbara Tyner
“The Wild West Comes of Age”
Barbara Tyner is a Canadian-American writer, painter and art historian who is currently wearing a lot of hats. Her return to the sunny Southwest from Vancouver’s misty shores is proof of something someone told her many years ago in a small rez town: “Once you get that red New Mexico mud on your boots, it’s hard to scrape it off.” She rides her bike everywhere.

Tom Ireland
“Horizontal Displacement”
A native New Yorker, Tom Ireland moved to New Mexico in 1971. After two years at Lama Foundation, he and his former wife traveled by mule in the direction of southeast Utah, but they only made it as far as Durango (snow, fences, renegade mule). They bought land near Ojo Caliente, where his daughter Hannah was born, and raised sheep and goats. Ireland has written four books of nonfiction, including Birds of Sorrow: Notes from a River Junction in Northern New Mexico. After moving to Santa Fe in the ’80s, he began editing books for various academic publishers and has been employed at the Office of Archaeological Studies, a state agency, for 20 years. One of his essays was published in Best American Travel Writing, and two others were cited as “notable” in Best American Essays. He received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Jeffrey E Smith Award in nonfiction.

Pasquala Enos
“Desert Blood”
Pasquala Enos writes to keep her sanity and currently uses her computer as a bookshelf.  Fiercely and proudly Native American, she hopes to write for Rolling Stone magazine while still adhereing to her roots.  Pasquala's perfect childhood denied her of any creative angst and she now relies on her eccentric family for inspiration.


Jill Beyer
Jill Beyer was once named “Champion Mud Wrestler” by her soccer team for mindlessly diving face first into an ice-cold mud puddle to deflect a penalty shot. She has enjoyed living on dry land in New Mexico since 1994. Currently, Jill is enrolled in the Creative Writing Certificate Program at SFCC. She said that she usually shaves her stubbles to ride but always wears her brain bucket!

Man with beer-belly,
improves his bicycling
by shaving his legs.

Sharon O’Neal Wirtz

“Bear Scat”
Sharon O’Neal Wirtz first became interested in haiku after hearing Alan Watts read haiku on a record in 1958. After meeting the late Santa Fe poet Elizabeth Searle Lamb, Sharon began haiku with her students at Pecos Elementary School. She finds inspiration hiking with her trail-designer husband and recently adopted dog Sprout.

Valles Caldera
bear scat steaming on the trail
a crushed wild onion

Cat Wood
Cat Wood is a writer, yogini and barista. She is originally from Iowa and currently lives in Santa Fe with her husband and son.

Lucy, don’t kill birds.
Live against your nature like
I do. Easier.