Haiku Society of America Rengay Awards for 2020

Haiku Society of America Rengay Award
in Honor of Garry Gay


Judged by
Garry Gay and Renee Owen
Judges Commentary

2020 First Place


Left Behind

as if
she were still here
mourning doves

the unplanted garden sprouts
volunteer sunflowers

her handwriting
on the sugar canister
first hummingbirds

what she would have wanted
dividing up
the bearded irises

her African Grey, her voice

dandelion seeds
the weight
of her ashes

by Lew Watts and Tanya McDonald

2020 Second Place


Spaces Between

woods’ edge—
without borders

saltspray roses by the beach
wind tousles her hair

remnants of a wall
      mice nesting now
in crannies of then

dark side of the moon
light-drawn moths

animal shapes
formed by clouds . . .
or the spaces between

spider’s web in the dew
drop within drop within

by Jennifer Burd, Michele Root-Bernstein, and Laszlo Slomovits
Link 1 - JB, 2 - LS, 3 - MRB, 4 - JB, 5 - LS, 6 - MRB

2020 Third Place

Translating Twilight

almost spring
a shine to the redwing’s
ready whistle

a scent of stillness
day moon waning

translating twilight
into song
sunset-chested robin

wayside teasels
the scrape of dawn on dark

clearing sky . . .
the salt
of stars on our tongues

echoes off the wind chimes

by Jennifer Burd, Michele Root-Bernstein, and Laszlo Slomovits
Link 1 - MRB, 2 - JB, 3 - LS, 4 - MRB, 5 - JB, 6 - LS

2020 Honorable Mentions (unranked)


Scorched Earth

first breath
the new day explodes
in smoke and fire

scorched earth
as black as coal

water bombers
where once there was
only birdsong

cresting the hill
the road ahead
wobbling with heat

suddenly darkness
descends over the town

the hidden sun
filling billows of cloud
with a lurid gold

by Ron C. Moss and Simon Hanson

Honorable Mentions (unranked)

Shifting Shale

bush walk
shadows of palm fronds
lace the path . . .

the fleeting brush
of your hand against mine

a shaft of light
on echidna quills . . .
rustle of leaves

crozzled trees
the morning flecked
with birdsong

beneath our rippled soles
the scent of damp earth rising

and the shifting shale
within our lives

by Beverley George and David Terelinck

Honorable Mentions (unranked)

Still the Daylilies

the color yellow
featured on Sesame Street

fresh thistle seed
in the finch feeder

line the path
to the fire lookout

all the way to the horizon
and then some
Indian paintbrush

dandelion clocks
fill the field with white light

all her people gone
still the daylilies
at her grave

by Angela Terry and Julie Warther

Honorable Mentions (unranked)

Sunday Saunter

Armstrong Woods
our path to the old grove begins
with morning glories

a stream swirls ‘round rocks
on its way to the sea

salmon ladder
we all need a little help
to get back home

raiding raccoons
a slamming screen door
ends the pillage

long-shadowed forest
dusk scatters the remains of day

ancient memories
coming and going
a cricket’s soft chirp

by John Thompson and Michael Sheffield






These awards for unpublished rengay are sponsored by the Haiku Society of America in honor of Garry Gay, the inventor of rengay.

Winners by Year: | 2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 ||

See the complete collection of award-winning haiku from all previous Rengay Award competitions

See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Rengay Award competition. 


Ingredients We Look for in Exemplary Rengay:

by Garry Gay and Renee Owen

Adherence to Form – 2-person rengay (3/2/3/3/2/3) and 3-person rengay (3/2/3/2/3/2).

Compelling Themes – at least one discernable primary theme with a possible bonus for a secondary theme.

Universality of Meaning – why the poem matters and what it speaks to.

Effective Haiku – preferably strong haiku that carry enough weight to stand on their own.

Linking & Shifting – linking creates a pleasing flow, with 2-line stanzas linking well with the lines directly above and below, while the shift adds a new dimension.

Interesting Title – especially compelling if it doesn’t echo a line from the first few stanzas.

Exceptional Writing Style – incorporates poetic techniques, fresh imagery and word choices, a variety of sensory details, varied line/stanza structure, noteworthy sounds (like alliteration, consonance, etc.), avoids clichés and contains no spelling or grammatical errors.

Sense of Mystery or Something Left Unsaid—to engage and stimulate the reader.

Satisfactory Ending – a sense of completion and a possible link between the final and first stanza.

Multiple Rereadings – the poem continues to deepen and hold our interest.