Contributed photo/
                                Lisa Salisbury has worked for San Juan Island School District since 2000.

Contributed photo/ Lisa Salisbury has worked for San Juan Island School District since 2000.

Seventeen-syllable Sailing | San Juan Islander wins Washington State Ferries haiku contest

If you think that sailing to the San Juan Islands is as pretty as a poem, you’re not alone.

Lisa Salisbury of San Juan Island won the Washington State Ferries online haiku contest on March 23 for her piece about a summer ferry ride. Her 17-syllable poem will be featured on the summer sailing schedule, which runs roughly from June through September.

In her first and only tweet, Salisbury was one of nearly 500 contestants who entered the contest by tagging their haikus to the WSF Twitter page. Three finalists were selected by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna, and the poem with the most likes on Twitter took home first place.

By day, Salisbury has been manning the Friday Harbor Middle School and High School library for about eight of her 17 years with the San Juan Island School District, but in the evenings she studies poetry, focusing on haikus for about a year.

“I was in the haiku state of mind,” said Salisbury about the reason she entered the contest.

A haiku is a Japenese, three-line poem, which typically describes nature. Haikus consist of five syllables in the first line, seven on the second and five on the closing line.

For her piece, Salisbury wanted to incorporate alliteration with the “s” sounds from terms like “Salish Sea” and depict an inclusive scene, familiar to both islanders who frequent the ferries and those who ride them less often.

“I wanted my haiku to describe a universal experience,” said Salisbury, “something that everyone could relate to and enjoy.”

WSF has featured photo contests for schedule covers, said Washington State Department of Transportation Spokesperson Justin Fujioka, but never a poem.

“We were thinking off the wall and came up with a haiku,” said Fujioka about the formation of the contest.

Though the poem is what Salisbury calls her “first publicly printed piece,” it could reach an audience of millions. Last summer, about 7.5 million passengers rode the ferries throughout the state.

Courage, said Salisbury, is all it took to win.

“It’s just about being brave and sharing your words,” she said. “I hope I inspire my students to put their words out there.”

Salisbury will meet Luna on Friday, April 27, when the state poet laureate visits the school district for a reading, coinciding with National Poetry Month in April. Read about public events with Luna, below.

Public events with Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna

Poetry reading, 7 p.m., April 27, San Juan Island Library, free. Luna, along with local poets Jennifer Boyden, Jill McCabe Johnson and Gary Thompson, will read their poems.

Poetry walk, 10 a.m., April 28, American Camp, free. Luna will lead a poetry walk. If it rains, meet at the visitor’s center. Bring your favorite poems. The event is co-sponsored by the San Juan Island National Historical Park and the library.

Poetry Workshop, 1 to 3 p.m., April 28, San Juan Island Library meeting room, free. Work on poetry with Luna at this workshop. Sign up at the library.

Visit for more information.

WSF haiku winner:

On deep blue waters

Gliding through the Salish Sea

Summer light shimmers