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Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2004

The Haiku Society of America sponsors this annual award for excellence in published haiku, translation, and criticism.

Merit Book Awards judges commets by year: 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000

Return to archive of Merit Book Awards archive.

For full details about the contest rules, see Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards.


Merit Book Awards for 2004 (for books published in 2003)


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.

Kirsty Karkow and Edward J. Rielly, judges

First Place

Puddle on the Ink Stone: Haiku and Other Short Poems by Carolyn Thomas
36679 Las Begonias, Cathedral City, CA 92234), ISBN 0-9724396-0-9, $12.50 postpaid.

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

Haiku for a Moonless Night, Volume I by an’ya
Natal*Light Press, P.O. Box 1168, Crooked River Ranch, OR 97760), ISBN 0-9727130-0-X, $15.95 plus $3.00 postage.

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

Chrysanthemum Love by Fay Aoyagi
Blue Willow Press, 930 Pine Street, #105, San Francisco, CA 94108), ISBN 0-9745547-0-7, $10.00 postpaid.

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.

Highly Commended

Amongst the Graffiti: Collected Haiku and Senryu 1972-2002 by Janice M. Bostok
Post Pressed, 31 Allara St., Flaxton, Qld 4560, Australia, ISBN 1-876682-46-9, AU$21.50 plus postage (order online at www.postpressed.com.au).

At the Tombstone (Kraj Nadgrobnika) by Dimitar Anakiev
Red Moon Press, P.O. Box 2461, Winchester, VA 22604-1661), ISBN 1-893959-31-7, $12.00 plus $3.00 postage.

The Smell of Rust by Margaret Chula
Katsura Press, P.O. Box 275, Lake Oswego, OR 97034, ISBN 0-9638551-2-3, $14.95.

Award for Best Anthology

Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, Jeanne Emrich, ed.
Lone Egret Press, P.O. Box 390545, Edina, MN 55435), $12.00 plus $2.00 postage.

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.

Highly Commended Anthologies

A New Resonance 3: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, eds.
Red Moon Press, P.O. Box 2461, Winchester, VA 22604-1661, ISBN 1-893959-39-2, $16.95 plus $3.00 postage.

Contemporary Haibun 4, Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, and Ken Jones, eds.
Red Moon Press, P.O. Box 2461, Winchester, VA 22604-1661, ISBN 1-893959-34-1, $14.95 plus $3.00 postage.

Pegging the Wind: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2002, Jim Kacian, et al, eds.
Red Moon Press, P.O. Box 2461, Winchester, VA 22604-1661), ISBN 1-893959-32-5, $16.95 plus $3.00 postage.

Award for Best Book of Criticism

Haiku: A Poet’s Guide by Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, P.O. Box 68, Lincoln, IL 62656, ISBN 0-9741894-0-5, $20.00 postpaid.

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 by an Individual Poet

Ascend with Care by William M. Ramsey
Leap Press, P.O. Box 1424, North Falmouth, MA 02556, ISBN 0-9747229-0-1, $7.00 plus $1.50 postage.

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

A Spill of Apples: Tanrenga and Other Linked Verse by Carol Purington and Larry Kimmel
Winfred Press, 364 Wilson Hill Road, Colrain, MA 01340, ISBN 0-9743856-6-2, $10.00 postpaid.

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 tanrenga in English. It is special, not least because of the verbal play between two praiseworthy poets.

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