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Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards 2016

The Haiku Society of America sponsors this annual award for excellence in published haiku, translation, and criticism. This page includes judges' comments for the awards.

These awards are for books published in 2015. The First Place award was originally made possible by LeRoy Kanterman, cofounder of the Haiku Society of America, in memory of his wife Mildred Kanterman. Congratulations to each of the winners, and to many additional poets who published other worthy books. If you might be interested in serving as a judge for future HSA Merit Book Awards, please notify any Haiku Society of America officer.

Merit Book Awards web pages: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000

Return to archive of Merit Book Awards archive.

For full details about the contest rules, see the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards.


Merit Book Awards for 2016 (for books published in 2015)

Joe McKeon and Naia

The Haiku Society of America is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Merit Book Awards for books published in 2015, judged by Joe McKeon and Naia and coordinated by HSA First Vice President Michael Montreuil. First Place Award was originally made possible by LeRoy Kanterman, cofounder of the Haiku Society of America, in memory of his wife Mildred Kanterman.

Congratulations to all who submitted books to this year’s HSA Merit Book Awards. The quality of submissions is a testament to the vibrant talent of those who study and write haiku throughout the world. As we share this year’s awards, we invite you to savor these perceptive collections and make each personal journey yours.

Mildred Kanterman Memorial Award, First Place $500

Edward J. Rielly. Answers Instead: a life of haiku. Encircle Publications LLC, Farmington, Maine, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-893035-29-4, ISBN-10: 1-893035-29-8

From growing up on his family’s dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, through marriage and beginning his own family, to reflections of and from his later years, Edward J. Rielly’s haiku intimately provide glimpses of his life and the answers awaiting discovery within a life fully experienced. Reilly’s imagistic haiku are stunning. On the surface they portray life in rural America from a perspective only one who has lived it can convey; however, as the depth within each haiku unfolds, the reader senses having lived it, too.

This retrospective collection is organized into three parts.

I. Small Boy at the Fence. Rielly’s reflective haiku take the reader beyond the story of a boyhood immersed in rural farm life to universal revelations regarding the hardships and joys of daily life and the importance of family.

Dad and I
planting a weeping willow—
how little I know

gray winter day—
after the farm sale
the cow not sold

II. Across the Full Moon. As Rielly’s life progresses into experiences with fatherhood and aging parents, his haiku reveal a poignant range of emotions.

with a pink Kleenex
rescuing a spider from
my daughter’s fear

across the full moon
a small, dark cloud—
my mother’s “don’t go”

III. Dandelion Puffs. The answers take shape through Rielly’s wellspring of intuitive insights and are offered up in this final section.

distant birdsong—
the old man lays down
his binoculars

listening to the sound
from the deep well...
stone on stone

The circle completes on the last page of Answers Instead: a life in haiku, with the final haiku of Rielly’s retrospective collection.

another birthday—
the road back to childhood
calling me

Second place $100

Chad Lee Robinson. The Deep End of the Sky. Turtle Light Press, Arlington, Virginia, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-9748147-5-9

Rich in stunning imagery, Chad Lee Robinson’s evocative haiku take the reader on an intimate journey through life in the heartland of South Dakota: life as he observed it, life as he lived it, and life as it continues to unfold. With his haiku

letting go
of the oars...
spring breeze

Robinson invites the reader to slow down and experience this sensory journey. In

winter stars...
the name of my father
of my father’s father

he shares one of many intimate moments of deep connection to the land, to the life.

Third place $50

Roberta Beary. Deflection. Accents Publishing, Lexington, Kentucky, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-936628-33-9

Relationships, expectations, roles, loss, aging—the stuff of life that often makes it hard to find center again—are the guideposts of each reader’s journey through Deflection. With the powerful honesty and evocative layering in this collection, Roberta Beary invites readers to explore some of life’s harsh deflections, as she reveals her own deeply personal experiences.

Honorable mentions (unranked, in alphabetical order by book title)

Rick Tarquinio. Mostly Water. Self-published, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-63110-158-8

Dan Schwerin. ORS. by Red Moon Press, Winchester, Virginia, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-936848-35-5

Bill Cooper. Young Osprey. Red Moon Press, Winchester, Virginia, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-936848-41-6





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