Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 2004

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 2004

Kirsty Karkow and Edward J. Rielly, judges

We had the privilege and challenge of selecting from among thirty-two submissions for Merit Book Awards for books published in 2003. The quality of the books made selections difficult but our reading highly enjoyable. After reading and reflecting individually on the books, we met to discuss the entries and choose those that would receive public commendation. All of the thirty-two books, including those not here mentioned, reflect the sincerity and aesthetic commitment of their authors and editors.


First Place

Carolyn Thomas. Puddle on the Ink Stone: Haiku and Other Short Poems. Cathedral City, CA, 2003.

Carolyn Thomas divides her book traditionally into seasons. She offers excellent haiku and includes a strong section of tanka and other poems. Each page induces thoughtful reflection, and the sumi-e brushwork adds a finishing touch to this most attractive book. Her poetry conveys a clear Zen influence.


Second Place

An'ya. Haiku for a Moonless Night, Volume 1. Crooked River Ranch, OR:Natal*Light Press, 2003.

These haiku run the gamut in subject from the mundane to the spiritual while consistently reflecting an acute ability to sense the essence of things. Kuniharu Shimizu’s haiga grace many of the pages in this attractive, handmade volume.


Third Place

Faye Aoyagi. Chrysanthemum Love. San Francisco, CA: Blue Willow Press, 2003.

Fay Aoyagi writes to tell her stories, taking the haiku seriously but not herself. The humor and lightness work well with the winsome pen and ink drawings by Keiko Matsumoto. Her approach reflects a cosmopolitan background.


Award for Best Anthology

Jeanne Emrich, Editor. Reeds: Contemporary Haiga . Edina, MN: Lone Egret Press, 2003.

The subtitle “Contemporary Haiga” has a dual reference, to both the fact of recent creation and the nontraditional pictorial approach in many of the haiga. A large number of the haiga are in color, and the book includes a brief history of haiga and a list of suggested readings.


Award for Best Book of Criticism

Lee Gurga. Haiku: A Poet's Guide. Lincoln, IL: Modern Haiku Press, 2003.

Lee Gurga’s book discusses haiku and related forms such as senryu, renku, haibun, and haiga. It is especially useful to the beginning writer or to the veteran who wishes to try another genre. The book also will be of great value to teachers. The writing is clear, the examples are many, and the bibliography serves as a helpful resource.


Award for Best Book of Haibun

William M. Ramsey. Ascend with Care. North Falmouth, MA: Leap Press, 2003.

The haibun in this volume, as Rich Youmans has written in the introduction, “chronicle one winter’s journey of the spirit.” The haibun offer an intellectual challenge to the reader, and the marriage of prose and haiku is more intimate than in most haibun, the prose and haiku often flowing syntactically from one to another. An interview with William Ramsey on the art of haibun concludes the book.


Award for Best Book of Linked Verse

Carol Purington and Larry Kimmel. A Spill of Apples: Tan-renga and Other Linked Verse. Colrain, MA: Winfred Press, 2003.

As Jane Reichhold says in the preface, “collaboration is a kind of poetry in itself.” Here is a fine collaboration among two poets and an accomplished artist (Merrill Ann Gonzales). This may be the first book of published tan-renga in English. It is special, not least because of the verbal play between two praiseworthy poets.


Highly Commended Books

Janice M. Bostok. Amongst the Graffiti: Collected Haiku and Senryu 1972-2002. Flaxton, Qld, Australia: Post-Pressed, 2003.

Dimitar Anakiev. At the Tombstone (Kraj Nadgrobnika). Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003.

Margaret Chula. The Smell of Rust. Lake Oswego, OR: Katsura Press, 2003.

Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, editors. A New Resonance 3: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003.

Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, and Ken Jones, editors. Contemporary Haibun 4. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003.

Jim Kacian, et al, editors. Pegging the Wind: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2002. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003.



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):

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1985 | 1983 | 1981 | 1978 | 1975 |

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