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The Results of the 32nd

There were 30,434 entries in theEnglish Haiku division of this contest. (All division combined featured entries from 68 different contries.) We would like to introducethe winning pieces of this English Haiku division.

Grand Award

Long-distance running I don't want to do it Long-distance running

Tanka is a short verse form. My tanka teacher used to compare the syllable total to money and tell me, “You’ve only got 31 bucks, so spend them wisely!” The budget for a haiku is even tighter. You only get 17 bucks! When writing in English, the haiku rules are less strict, but it’s just as important to cut out unnecessary words and keep only the essentials. At first glance, that would seem to disqualify the grand prize winner for this, our 32nd contest. The poem seems redundant, wasteful, and long-distance running isn’t a topic suited to the haiku form in the first place. Yet, read it again and you see that, despite reservations, it’s a real gem. The protagonist, a student, is required to do sports, track and field, and he’s not having fun. It’s a drag, exhausting, but can’t be avoided, so he repeats the words to express the repetitive nature of long-distance running. This goes against established haiku method, but it’s not a waste of budget. It’s bold innovation.
〈Arthur Binard〉

Award for excellence

  • remove the mask I saw it for the first time my friend's face
  • First sunrise A drone takes a picture of the Tower of London
  • Due to coronavirus My class door was taken away North wind blowing now
  • in an unfamiliar land I found hometown apples
  • Please take me to school But my true wish is Time with father in the car
  • anniversary photo my father smiles at last
  • taking a break I hold my breath to hear the mountain's voice
  • busy pond students with backpacks watch the turtles
  • more kids than pieces― maple fudge

Judges’ Award

  • Arthur Binard
    pet shop I look at a puppy a clerk looks at me

    Pet stores employ a cunning strategy—using the products that are most likely to sell, the puppies and kittens, to lure customers in. Those cute round eyes give off an allure that turns window-shoppers into new pet owners. Here the author is caught up in looking at a puppy, while the clerk is doing some looking of their own—into the mind of a potential customer.

  • Tsunehiko Hoshino
    the laundry after it's folded up full of personality

    Laundry is a basic chore, and so something that’s often written about. Here, however, the idea of the folded items looking like some kind of work of art provides a fresh new take. Whether “full of personality” refers to the people inside when the articles are being worn, or an expression of the personality of the one who folded them, is left to the imagination of the reader.

Sponsors’ Award

  • Haiku International Association (H.I.A)
    strawberry fields the sunburnt faces of the farmworkers


  • Arthur Binard

    The English haiku section of our competition casts its net wide for competitors. Elementary school kids who have grown up speaking Japanese and only started with English recently at school face off on the same battleground as highly expressive native-level speakers who have lived with English for more than 50 years. If pure technique was used to decide the quality of these English haiku, the winners would surely all come from other countries. But that’s not the case. We place our focus more on insight and intention, seeking the spark of the unexpected that pulses at the core of haiku culture. Veterans may sometimes do well to step back and see things from a beginner’s perspective.

  • Tsunehiko Hoshino

    We received a wide variety of deeply interesting haiku from overseas for this competition. It was a shame, however, to see so many heavily influenced by the translated works of Japanese authors. On the other hand, there were many impressive pieces from junior high and high school students, produced away from adult interference. They avoided unnecessary verbs, and don’t abbreviate necessary prepositions. Everyone needs to be careful not to end up with a sequence of disconnected nouns. Poems about masks, which seemed like a timely topic, also proved hard for people to crack.

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