My first experience of judging — results of the San Francisco International Haiku Competition

Last autumn, I received an email from J Hahn Doleman of the Haiku Poets of Northern California. Jeff is the Contest Coordinator of the San Francisco International Competition for Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and Haibun, sponsored by the HPNC. In his communication he asked if I would agree to judge the haiku category of the 2022 competition. To say that I was surprised is an under-statement but I was also extremely honoured, so accepted.

Over a period of six weeks I read the four hundred and forty-five entries–three times. Choosing from these was a daunting task and every haiku was re-read several weeks apart to ensure that there was consistency of choice. The competition was judged double-blind, so entrants were unaware of my identity and each poem simply had a number attributed to it. Imagine my shock, after sending my selection and judge’s report to Jeff, to learn that I had chosen the same poet’s entries for the top three prizes!

Everyone in the haiku community will have heard of the winner, Scott Mason. Scott is a highly respected and prolific poet and, despite my shock at placing him first, second AND third, as Jeff pointed out, it was probably only a matter of time before he achieved such a result.

As mentioned in my report, the final selection contains those haiku that I found to have placed a moment in time into sharp focus and reflected this in an interesting or thought-provoking way. I also considered the aural effect and visual layout and I hope you agree that these are fine, well-crafted poems.

Click here to read the winning haiku and commentary.

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11th Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Contest

Combining words and images to produce haiga and shahai (photo haiku) has grown to become one of my favourite creative activities. I’m a fan of short form poetry and enjoy taking photographs of the local landscape, so it’s an interesting challenge to combine these in a way that adds meaning, without one part simply describing the other (see The Role of Fusuko Furi in Photo Haiku for more info). So this morning I was ridiculously excited to learn that I have been placed in both categories of this year’s Seoutchi-Matsuyama photo haiku competition.

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray
Try as we might to look past the fence and cross the water to a greener shore in a pleasing sunlit background our travel dreams are frustrated by the pandemic. The bold horizontal leading lines of the fence, the sea, and the landscape stretch right across this wide-angle image, dovetailing with the sound of despair from the text: though we want to, we cannot go. Similarly, the well-placed ellipsis […] makes us pause and cuts the lines of a debate in two. The haikuist masterfully imbued a photo and a pithy 3-4-3 syllable form with the longing that is on all of our minds.

This part of the competition involved the entrants using their own photograph and writing a haiku to accompany it. Mine was taken during lockdown on a short drive with my family along the coast from my hometown of Warrenpoint, County Down. It features Carlingford Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea, with the mountains of County Louth across the water. It was fortunate that the shot, taken from the passenger seat while moving, wasn’t blurred!

The second part of the contest involved writing a haiku in response to a set photograph. This one was taken by one of the judges, Kit Nagamura (thank you, Kit)

I imagined the tension and pull of gravity as the bird lifted itself from the water, much like a plane taking off. I’m terrified of flying and that is definitely the worst part of the experience for me! When I lived in England for over a decade, I often travelled home and it was much easier to take the plane to Dublin or Belfast. But I never got used to it. After the holidays, it was also difficult leaving my family behind, hence why i struggled with the weight of departure.

Thanks so much to David McMurray for his judge’s comments. David is editor of The Asahi Haikuist Network

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The streets of Washington DC blooming with haiku

I’ve been entering the Golden Haiku poetry contest since it began in 2014, as I love community projects that put poetry on the street. This one brings a host of haiku to downtown DC, where a selection of entries from all over the world are printed on colourful street signs and displayed in the tree boxes that line the streets of the Golden Triangle neighbourhood.

This year’s contest had over 2900 entries from 71 countries, 49 states of the US and the District of Columbia, so I was very excited to learn last night that two of my haiku are to feature on the street signs. I know quite a few online friends who have had haiku selected — as well as a few poets from the island of Ireland, so congratulations to all!

All the winning haiku from 2022 are here.

This one could have been written for St Patrick’s Day tomorrow!
My father spent a lot of time in the garden of our family home, especially after he retired from teaching. He was extremely knowledgeable about plants and could tell me the Latin and common name for any tree, shrub, flower and wildflower.
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Daily Haiku: Jan. 11, 2022

Thanks to Charlotte Digregorio for featuring this senryu on her blog.

It was showcased on Cornell University’s Mann Library website feature, the Daily Haiku. Curator Tom Clausen selected it along with thirty more of my poems for the month of December. This one was first published in the senryu journal Prune Juice, July 2013.

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog


confirmation mass
carved on the front pew
JC was here

by MarionClarke (Northern Ireland)

Mann Library’s Daily Haiku, Dec. 24, 2021

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The Fly

This haiga, a form that combines art with haiku or senryu, is featured on the cover of the latest issue of the journal Prune Juice.

Founded by Alexis Rotella in 2009, Prune Juice Journal is the longest-running international literary journal dedicated solely to English Senryu and related forms. Tia Haynes is the current editor. You can find the current issue here.

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On a roll

This started off as a one-item blog post but over the last few hours it has snowballed—apologies, that’s not very seasonable! 🎃

Haiku Dialogue, a weekly feature on The Haiku Foundation, is a great source of inspiration for haiku, and also a way to see how other poets respond to the same prompt.

iThe current curator, Australian poet Marietta McGregor, has been posting one of her photographs with a brief comment in order to inspire participants. A week later, she features a selection of her favourite verses. Today I was happy to learn that one one of mine had been selected. It was inspired by a real event while shopping in the city nearest to my hometown. It was a magical moment and I stayed for a while to admire the heron.

And I was even happier to hear just a couple of hours later that my entries in the 13th Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum English Haiku Contest were selected to feature in the contest anthology.

As if this wasn’t enough excitement for one day in the life of a haiku poet, I’ve also discovered that my monoku has been published today in one of my favourite journals—tinywords! 🕺

Happy Halloween to all! 🎃

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Rachel Sutcliffe, formerly of Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, was a talented haiku poet who is much missed in the international haiku community. For almost a decade, she and I workshopped our creative fiction and poetry on several online forums and since her death from lupus in 2019, I have been in regular contact with her mother, Marie.

When I learned that Marie was to visit Ireland in August, we arranged to meet up in Belfast. I was surprised and delighted when she gifted me a set of writers’ pencils and the charm in the photo above that had belonged to Rachel. We found we had lots to talk about and ended up spending several hours together that day. The tanka below, published and translated into Chinese by the poet Chen-ou Liu, was inspired by our meeting.

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Jabberwocky, swans and chocolate eggs …

My thanks to Gordon Hewitt of Community Arts Partnership, Belfast, for sharing this interview in which he asks about my writing journey and, in particular, short form poetry.

Check out the other features in this month’s issue…

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“Desk-ku” and the 10th Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Contest

almost noon . . .
we ask the rickshaw man
to wait for the drums

This photograph taken by Kit Nagamura is of rickshaws parked at the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama. It was one of several used to inspire haiku writers in this year’s Setouchi-Matsuyama photo haiku competition.

I had no idea what to write, having never been to Japan, so I decided to do a little research on the area in the photograph. Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku and also its largest city. I discovered the Dogo Onsen is a historical bath house and that a taika drum is sounded in a tower of the building three times a day. I imagined a tourist would want to hang on to hear the sound.

I was very happy my haiku was highly commended in the 10th Setouchi-Matsyama competition. It is a true desk-ku, that is, one written from what I’ve read or discovered through research rather than something I experienced. I was also delighted to learn that this bath house was used for inspiration in my favourite Hayao Miyazaki animated film, Spirited Away.

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A brand new year…

Woke up to find my sister Edel had posted this photograph on our family WhatsApp group to welcome the New Year. She had captured the first sunrise from the shore of Carlingford Lough, in our hometown of Warrenpoint.

Living round the corner from such beauty really does the heart good. ❤️ However, I missed the dawn as I was still asleep, having stayed up well into the wee small hours watching coverage of the 2019 Glastonbury festival. Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to stop looking back. Oh, and to do a lot more painting—so this landscape could be the first of 2021!

New Year’s Day
a gull soars towards
the light

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