Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 2004

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

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Student Haiku Awards for 2004

an’ya and Kirsty Karkow

It has given us enormous pleasure, and we've felt honored to read so many haiku from so many fine upcoming young poets. For the most part, they are happy, exuberant haiku full of light-hearted energy. There is also a keen sense of place and the feeling that these are true experiences. It may be noted that none of the haiku that we have chosen use capital letters, or even much in the way of punctuation. We have looked for fresh images, juxtaposition, use of all five senses, and haiku that show rather than tell of an event or feeling, leading the reader to think more deeply. To those whose haiku do not appear below, please remember that poetry is subjective, and at another time and place, your haiku might well be the one chosen. Our warmest congratulations to the finalists, and thank you to all those who submitted haiku, for their interest and effort. Bravo! ~ an’ya and Kirsty Karkow


ocean shore
lost in a pile of rocks
a seal sleeps

James Kelly
Wahlert High School, Age 17, Dubuque, IA

Considering all the varied shapes and shadows on the shore, this seal cannot be seen unless the poet is very quiet, studying the scene as words of a haiku start to form. Imagine the happiness as she/he suddenly notices a sleeping seal; this feeling of wonder conveyed to the reader. The form of the seal is indeed “lost”, camouflaged, and this moment is very nicely rendered in classic haiku form. ~kk

A fine zoom effect in this haiku, from the wide setting of a vast ocean shore being lost in a pile of rocks, to the last line when the writer allows us to see a sleeping seal. Just as if this seal is nestled safely in the rock arms of the sea itself. Multiple images of ocean, shore, rocks, a seal, yet all tied together in a common theme to form a complete haiku moment. ~an’ya


cold in church
mother and I
move closer

Amanda White
Wahlert High School, Age 17, Dubuque, IA

A successful haiku leads the reader to deeper thoughts with each reading. This one succeeds. The poet and his/her mother move closer not only physically, but possibly spiritually and emotionally as well. There is excellent us of alliteration. ~kk

This haiku has deeper layered meaning than it appears to have at first reading. I feel the coldness perhaps of an old stone church, juxtaposed with the warmth of a mother/daughter or mother/son relationship. This could possibly have deep religious implications as well with the mother image representative of the Virgin Mary, although the author skillfully leaves it up to reader interpretation. ~an’ya


summer cottage
the bullfrog
slips my grasp

Emily Cornish
School of the Arts, Age 15, Rochester, NY

For me, this haiku tells of the hard, slippery things in life being set aside, or even lost in summertime lightness. In this case the comparative shortness of the middle line works in that it emphasizes the difficulties (represented by the possibly warty bullfrog) that have slipped away. Nice use of “s” sounds. ~kk

This haiku to me is simply “real”, and bullfrogs are definitely “slippery” creatures. I can also empathize with the writer's dismay of not being able to hold on to said frog, and yet I enjoyed the humor. So many things in life simply “slip-away”, which is what makes this particular piece so profound, especially having been composed by a younger author. ~an’ya


shifting shadows
deep in the hills
a dog barks

Allison McCrossen
School of the Arts, Age 13, Rochester, NY

This poem presents a shaded, thought-provoking landscape . . . slightly mysterious. I like the middle line pivot which makes sense with the first and also with the final line. The use of sound, a bark, far away, makes for an eerie feeling. Here the mood is re-enforced by the image. ~kk

Right off in line one, I’m intrigued about the “shifting shadows”, then line two draws me in even further, (deep into the hills), and just when I’m right on the very edge of this haiku, “a dog barks”, startling me back into reality. Skillfully vague enough to be thereby effective as a haiku moment. ~an’ya


metallic taste
the cold stream spills
from my hand

Jenny Zhang
Cedar Shaols High School, Age 16, Athens, GA

It is refreshing to find the underused senses of taste and touch here. Also, the reader’s senses are jarred awake with the sharpness of the cold water and its acrid flavor. This well-written poem leads the mind to ponder about mountain streams, hiking and even a little philosophy about letting go when life gets bitter. ~kk

What person has not thought this very thing when drinking from a mountain stream? The taste of pure water is so unknown to us anymore that it does taste shockingly metallic. Not to mention that mountain streams are always really cold. This is a well-crafted haiku that has juxtaposition, natural alliteration, and unbelievably incorporates four out of five senses, which not many old-time haiku poets are even able to do! There’s taste, touch, sight, and the sound of the stream as well. ~an’ya


my copper wish

Elizabeth Hetherington
School of the Arts, Age 16, Rochester, NY

This is a haiku that some would say has bent the rules. However, it does show us as readers a very unique way of looking at an otherwise common situation, which is what a successful haiku should do. Had I been critiquing this one, I would suggest that the author perhaps might consider using an emdash after “koi”, or perhaps even consider combining lines one and two, making room for a wide setting in line one. Keep up the good work. ~an’ya

In a novel and arresting way, we know that this poet has made a wish on a copper coin and tossed it into a pool of carp. We also know that a carp in investigating the coin. All in 5 words. I wonder, as maybe the writer wonders, will this affect the outcome of the wish? I agree with an'ya that another image would perfect the verse . . . juxtaposing with this very original and already intriguing image. ~kk


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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