Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 1994

Haiku Society of America Student Haiku Awards
in Memorial of Nicholas A. Virgilio

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Student Haiku Awards for 1994

Christopher Herold and June Hymas

More than a quarter of the 450 entries in this year's contest were exceptionally good. It is interesting to note that, although this event is a haiku contest, a vast majority of the entries were pure senryu. Nature, other than human nature, was a mere footnote. Nevertheless, the sensitivity demonstrated by these young poets is astounding. We wish there were space to praise a good many more. Nearly all of the haiku submitted were not only written in the free-form style, but were of the minimalist school, many with a single word constituting a line.

In choosing the winners, we looked for originality, interpenetration, clarity, and concreteness of images, focus on the present instant, and skill with words. Overall, we sought, especially, a sense of the deeper spirit of haiku.

The haiku teacher and the ninth-grade class at Wahlert High School in Dubuque, Iowa, are sure to celebrate, having swept all honors in this year's contest. Since there were only a few high schools whose students submitted work, we hope that more will be done in the future to promote haiku, and to encourage participation in the Nicholas Virgilio contest. ~ Christopher Herold and June Hymas


digging potatoes
my dog barks
at the shovel

Lisa Tranel
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

The seasonal reference of this poem is clear; the time when potatoes are harvested. Other than potatoes, what treasure will the shovel unearth, maybe a coveted bone? At some level, does Lisa's dog recognize its own nature in that of the shovel, much as haiku poets recognize themselves through heightened awareness of "external" phenomena? The poet may well have been mulling over this very question. In doing what her dog does so well, dig, she finds significance in a common activity, significance that might otherwise have gone unnoticed: the unearthing of simple treasures, and a realization of a deeper connection to her dog, perhaps in the same way that her dog felt a connection to the shovel.


pheasant hunting
his hand too cold
to pull the trigger

Adam Asbury
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

We feel the bitter cold of this poem, the coldness that was to end with the taking of life. The actual split-second of "freezing-up" is the point of focus. So sudden, the single explosion, a pheasant's wings . . . deafening, the silence where a gunshot could have been.


mountains the horizon

Brooke Althaus
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

The poem is not "I see mountains along the horizon," or "mountains are the horizon," or any other re-write. It's not only that the single horizontal line suggests the horizon, although that is the case. As we live with this poem, we find that it continually expands. "Mountains" is a rich word, associated with snow, rock, trees, stillness, storms, the purple shadows, and so forth. As we move through this cluster of meanings, we come to "the horizon" which always surrounds us. It is a difficult path ahead, to matter which way we go. It won't be a flat, easy walk.


turning the corner
he turns his hat
in a different direction

Nate Jenkins
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

A simple act, a natural act, perhaps an unconscious one. Adaptability is a strong human characteristic. Here are two possible scenarios, each powerful in its own way: (1) A teenager leaves home for school, baseball cap worn in the more conventional manner, as his parents insist upon seeing it. But, when he turns the corner, he assumes his image of choice, turning the cap backwards as is the custom of his friends. The rebellion of youth is universal; it has always been. (2) A teenager leaves home, baseball cap worn in the conventional way, and reaches the corner. It is a brisk day and there is a stiff breeze . . . rounding the corner, he turns his cap so that it will not be taken by the wind. He is in tune with his environment and takes charge of his life. Adaptability--whether to social environment or to the weather.


on my dirty palm

Jessi Kurt
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

Even those who may not be familiar with this rite are likely to understand this poem. The image is stark and clear; the poet's recognition of the need to be unburdened of sin, of guilt, is expressed more by the dirty palm than by the Eucharist itself. It is the contrast that underlines this need and deepens the impression.


rain . . .
he holds out
his hands

Amanda Wetjen
Wahlert High School, 9th grade, Dubuque, IA

The ellipsis holds us for a moment in the first awareness of rain. It is possible that the rain is so light that hands are held out to be sure. This is a common reaction, often an involuntary one. Alternatively, the person holding out his hands may know that it has started to rain and welcome it, palms up, a willing participation—a celebration.


grandmother’s smile
into a yawn

Lisa White
Wahlert High School, 9th grade , Dubuque, IA

As we grow older, those things that once fascinated or gave pleasure tend to exert less of a hold on us. Exuberance gives way to calmness, laughter to a smile (sometimes merely a polite smile). Often we grow weary, even in the company of friends and relatives, and it becomes less and less important to conceal our true feelings. This poem acknowledges and accepts the universal seasons of life.


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The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition for Grades 7-12 was founded in 1990 by the Sacred Heart Church in Camden, N.J. It is sponsored and administered by the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association in memory of Nicholas A. Virgilio, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, who died in 1989. See the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association for more about Nick.

The Haiku Society of America cosponsors the contest, provides judges, and publishes the contest results in its journal, Frogpond, and on its Website (www.hsa-haiku.org). Judges' comments are added to the web site following publication in Frogpond.

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

2024 | 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 |

For details about the contest rules, read the complete contest submission guidelines.

See the Haiku Society of America publication of the award winning haiku and senryu:

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition Anthology

edited by Randy M. Brooks
designed by Ignatius Fay

© 2022 HAIKU Society of America


To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition, the executive committee of the Haiku Society of America published this anthology of award-winning haiku and senryu. The student observations, insights, experiences, emotions and insights evident in these haiku and senryu are a wonderful testament to the fresh voices and vivid imagery of young people. We believe the judges’ commentaries add a valuable layer of meaning as we see how leaders, editors, writers and members of the Haiku Society of America carefully consider the significance of each award-winning poem.

This collection celebrates the work of students whose teachers have gone beyond the stereotypical haiku lesson plan emphasizing only one dimension of haiku—the five/seven/five syllable form. In these haiku and senryu the reader will find a wind range of form, carefully constructed arrangement of lines, surprising juxtaposition of images, and fresh sensory perceptions. They will find what we all love in haiku—the human spirit responding to the amazing diversity of experiences and emotions offered to us in our everyday lives.

Come, enjoy these award-winning haiku and senryu full of the wonder, surprise and angst that are the gifts of being young. These young people enjoy being alive and effectively share that joy through their haiku and senryu.

~ Randy M. Brooks, Editor