Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 1987

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 1987

for books published in 1985 and 1986

John K. Gillespie and Peggy Heinrich


First Place

Rod Willmot. The Ribs of Dragonfly. Black Moss Press, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 1984.

cold rain
a trace of warmth
in the smell of wet cloth

the shed door shuts
a dragonfly skeleton
flies into the dark


Second Place

Richard Tice. Station Stop. Middlewood Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986.

the sun on water —
dragonfly shadow

rain on oak leaves —
sharing a cranny
with the ants


Third Place

R. W. Grandinetti Rader. Neon Shapes. Jade Mountain Press, Morristown, New Jersey, 1985.

winter morning,
the pretzel vendor
hugs himself

            the blindman
autumn fog


Honorable Mention

Adele Kenny. Between Hail Marys. Muse Pie Press, Passaic, New Jersey, 1986.

long in the heat
the cry
of a tropical bird

from the open grave
rising halos
of mist


Honorable Mention

Elizabeth Searle Lamb. Casting into a Cloud. From Here Press, Fanwood, New Jersey, 1985.

before firstlight
the wild plum blossoms
whiten the dry ditch

wind in the sagebrush—
     the same dusty color
          the smell of it


Honorable Mention

Alexis Rotella. Rearranging Light. Muse Pie Press, Passaic, New Jersey, 1985.

the lily

At the top
of the ferris wheel,
lilac scent


Honorable Mention

Nicholas A. Virgilio. Selected Haiku. Burnt Lake Press, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, 1985.

     shaking the muskrat —
snow falls from the trapper’s hair —
               and from a reed

     deep in rank grass,
through a bullet-riddled helmet:
          an unknown flower


Honorable Mention - Translation

Lenore Mayhew, translator. Monkey’s Raincoat: Linked Poetry of the Basho School with Haiku Selections. Charles E. Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont, 1985.

A selection from Monkey’s Raincoat, the last six verses of “Grass and Plum” (Ume Wakana), a 36-stanza renga:

     Close neighbor
a dry cough
     from his veranda.

~ Doho

The more you know him
the more the spirit shows.

~ Empu

     Every design some
habitual picture;
     Fukushima lacquerware.

~ Ranran

Thin snow falling
on the bamboo geta at the door.

~ Fumikuni

     Flowers again,
and again I can’t decide
     whom shall I take to look?

~ Yasui

In the spring wind, the doll’s sleeve
a deeper blue.

~ Uko


Honorable Mention - Textbook

William J. Higginson with Penny Harter. The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. McGraw-Hill, New York, New York, 1985.

on the gray church wall
     the shadow of a candle
          . . . shadow of its smoke

~ L. A. Davidson

The water deepens—
     following the dark canoe
          a pair of muskrats.

~ O. Southard


Honorable Mention - Anthology

Cor van den Heuvel, editor. The Haiku Anthology. Fireside/Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 1986.

Searching on the wind,
     the hawk’s cry . . .
          is the shape of its beak.

~ James W. Hackett

Hair, in my comb’s teeth,
     the color of autumn wind—
          this whole day is gray.

~ Clement Hoyt



The purpose of the Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Awards is to recognize the best haiku and related books published in a given year in the English language. Every year sees a fresh crop of fine individual collections, anthologies, translations, critical studies and innovative forms.

In the past, the HSA Merit Book awards were partially supported by a memorial gift. Leroy Kanterman, cofounder of the Haiku Society of America, made a gift to support the first place award in memory of his wife Mildred Kanterman. See the archives of Merit Book Awards.

The Merit Book Awards competition is open to the public. Books must have been published in the previous year and must clearly contain a printed previous year copyright. A member, author, or publisher may submit or nominate more than one title. At least 50 percent of the book must be haiku, senryu, or haibun, or prose about these subjects (books mostly of tanka, for example, are not eligible). HSA will also consider collections that have only appeared in an e-book/digital book format. Two print copies of the digital book may be sent by the publisher. Books published by HSA officers are eligible for this award. Books published by the national HSA organization, however, are not eligible.

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

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See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards competition.