Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 1998

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

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Student Haiku Awards for 1998

Ellen Compton and Jeff Witkin

For all that each is unique, the poems we have chosen have this one quality in common: they draw the reader into the moment—telling neither too much nor too little—leaving room for the reader to reflect on his/her own experience. Congratulations to the poets.
~ Ellen Compton and Jeff Witkin


for a moment
everything still

Tyler Stoffel
Wahlert High School, Age 18, grade 12, Dubuque, IA

Haiku-like, the photograph captures a single moment in a world given increasingly to activity. Perhaps the photo is a “still” taken from filmed motion—a dance performance or the flight of a hawk, for example. Or might the stillness be in the posing for the photo? ~Compton

A snapshot of the way things are, when seen clearly, stops us and puts us firmly in eternity. The poet at the flashpoint sees the connection between people, objects, and occasions that are in and outside of the photo here, sees their past and their future; as the film gathers its light, the poetic vision brings the poet home. ~Witkin


smiling at him
in the old pictures
he smiles back

Crystal Wagner
Wahlert High School, Age 17, grade 11, Dubuque. IA

The smile across time is tinged with sadness. As our own face is seen in a pond, the poet sees through many years, many changes, and from the silty bottom, a smile rises to the clean surface of the moment. We wonder about the relationship between these two, but it is the linking of the poet with the here and now that brings the poem its gleam. ~Witkin

Has the smiled-at managed into sourness, or become ill? Has the relationship changed or ended? This is a poem of delicate understatement—one that suggests the poet's longing and offers many possibilities as to its cause. ~Compton


the quiet girl
a loud shirt

Tara Stecklein
Wahlert High School, Age 18, grade 12, Dubuque, IA

A moment of heightened perception, in which one external (the shirt) lets the poet look beyond another external (the girl's apparent quietness) to perceive the girl within. ~Compton

The contrast shocks us into awareness that things are not always as they seem. The child never heard is finally seen in all her complexities and contradictions of ourselves. Regardless of who chose the shirt, the girl who wears it now comes boldly to life. ~Witkin


finding myself
between the willows —
autumn evening

Adam Rauch
Marple Newtown Senior High School, Age 17, grade 12, Newtown Square, PA

Stopping on an evening walk the poet finds himself between two willows. The trees will soon shed their leaves, the coolness gives a sense of winter. Deeply felt is all that has been lost. At the same time the willows will bring forth their leaves again in spring. For the moment the poet and the willows are one. ~Witkin

Like the autumn evening, the poem is bitter-sweet. The poet's experience might recall similar times in one's own autumn walks, often over unplanned routes, frequently lost in thought—only to arrive in a familiar place without being quite sure how one got there. The leaves are turning, dusk comes early. In beauty there is just a little pain. ~Compton


signs of spring —
tanktop revealing
her butterfly tattoo

Dani DeCaro
Marple Newtown Senior High School, Age 16, grade 12, Newtown Square, PA

A gently humorous moment. One senses not only the poet's joy in the signs of spring, but also the joy of the tanktop wearer in her new freedom. Might they be the same person? Nice rhythm in this poem especially the tanktop/tattoo interplay. ~Compton

The lightness of the poem flutters delicately past the butterfly and then ends. The consonance of tanktop with tattoo reinforces what we feel only at the last word. A time of renewal and the warm spring sun brings freshness and play and yet the tanktop wearer, perhaps still quite young, has heard at least a note or two from the songs of experience. The interplay of the unfolding of spring and the unfolding of the wings of youth make poetry out of what could have been cute word play. ~Witkin


leaf pattern
rearranged by the wind

Bridget Leary
Wahlert High School, Age 18, grade 12, Dubuque IA

A simple description. Watching this miracle, the poet sees her own life, all life, as part of the cosmic lattice. The changing patterns, all of them beautiful, hold for a moment an understanding of the mystery behind it all. In the season for reflection on change, there is a profound sense of awe in this vision. ~Witkin

A meditative poem that speaks of the specialness of “nothing special,” and of the ephemeral nature of all things. The poet has perceived a grace in every-day shapes constantly forming and re-forming into patterns, no two ever the same. ~Witkin


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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