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.