Winning haiku

Now accepting submissions for the 2020 Haiku Invitational until June 1!

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Winning Haiku

  • Submit to the 2020 Haiku Invitational HERE
  • (Submissions are now closed! Please check back in September for the release of the winning poems)

Please submit up to two poems on the theme of cherry blossoms. Read the 2019 winning selections and commentary for inspiration. You can also read about our winners!

The top poems in six main categories (Vancouver, BC, Canada, United States, International and Youth) will receive celebrity readings and be featured in creative ways during the 2020 festival some which include: publication in The Bulletin magazine, Haiku Canada newsletter, an online publication in the newsletter of the Haiku Society of America, and publication on the VCBF website. Winning poems will be read by Christopher Gaze at the VSO’s Tea & Trumpets Concert, at our media-kickoff event, Cherry Jam Downtown concert by media celebrity emcee and celebrated at Sakura Days Japan Fair  Leith Wheeler Haiku House, click here to see how else we celebrate our winning haiku.

For inspiration to write your own cherry blossom haiku, see Past Haiku

For more information, please visit our About Haiku and Teaching Haiku and Jump into Haiku, and  Some suggestions for writing haiku pages. Click here for additional notes on capitalization and punctuation.

2020 Haiku Invitational Judge Bios:

Winning Haiku Gary Hotham has been writing haiku for more than fifty years and his work has appeared in many journals, anthologies, and books. His latest chapbook is Rightsizing the Universe: Haiku Theory in 2019 and his last major collection of haiku was Stone’s Throw: Promises of Mere Words in 2016. He has judged many haiku contests and selected haiku for anthologies. He lives in Scaggsville, Maryland, and currently serves as the first vice president of the Haiku Society of America.
Winning Haiku Agnes Eva Savich is a Haiku Society of America member and author of The Watcher: Poems (Cedar Leaf Press). She leads the Austin Haiku Study Group in Texas.
Her haiku have been published in AcornBonesBottle RocketsFrogpondHeliosparrowMayflyModern HaikuPresenceThe Heron’s NestTinywords, and elsewhere. She has won awards in previous VCBF Haiku Invitational contests, and mentions in international contests such as Yamadera, Bashō, Golden Triangle, Betty Drevniok, Ito En, and Revista. Her work has been included in Wishbone Moon: Women’s Haiku Anthology as well as Haiku 21: An Anthology of Contemporary English-Language Haiku.
Winning Haiku Beth Skala holds a degree in Far Eastern studies. Her memoir unSUPERvised: Growing Up in the 1950s is in haibun style. Other publications include: My Mary Bennet: Poems, Letters and MiscellaneaNot for Sissies: Poems on Aging; and Puttin’ On the Glam: Poems for Caregivers. Beth has won top British Columbia haiku four times in VCBF’s Haiku Invitational. She received recognition in the IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award, Genjuan International Haibun Contest, Drummond Poetry Contest, and the League of Canadian Poets National Haiku Contest. Beth is a member of Haiku Canada, the Federation of BC Writers, and Pens Ultimate Nanaimo

Programs subject to change.

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International "Kusamakura" Haiku Competition

International “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition Website


The 25th International “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition in Kumamoto

The people are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic in the whole world. We are requested to stay at home in fear of the expansion of coronavirus.

However, we can take advantage of our imagination and go beyond the limit of our life by composing Haiku poems. The entry for the 25th international “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition starts now.

We are looking forward to having many applicants and wonderful haiku poems from all over the world.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the annual awarding ceremony in November will not be held this year. All the winners will have their prizes by mail

Application Guidelines Entries must be submitted via the homepage. Each applicant can enter up to two haiku poems.

  • Entries are only possible in English, Chinese and Spanish.
  • Please entry from the button at the bottom of page 3.

All submissions to the Kusamakura Haiku Competition must be original and cannot have been previously published.

Haiku submissions to the Kusamakura Haiku Competition cannot be sent to any other publications for consideration, including online publications, and they cannot appear in any published form, including print magazines and journals, online forums, blogs, personal websites, etc., until after the completion of the Kusamakura Haiku Competition Awards Ceremony.

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Last Updated May 28, 2020 Winning Haiku Winning Haiku

The 24th Competition Awards Ceremony, November 16, 2019

Winning Haiku

  1. “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition Office
  2. 5-21-5 Hanazono, Nishi-Ku Kumamoto City 860-0072 Japan
  3. e-mail: [email protected]

Holiday Haiku Poetry Contest Winners

Winning Haiku

Over the holidays, we launched our first haiku poetry contest (something you’ll be seeing much more of from us– our Valentine’s Day Haiku Contest runs through February 10, with voting remaining open until February 13).

Winners from the Holiday Haiku contest and the winning poems can be enjoyed below.

1st Place – Caitlin Diana Doyle (@cddthatssme)

You can find more of Caitlin’s work online.

2nd Place – L. Stevens (@everydaystrangeblog)

You can find more of L. Stevens’s work online.

3rd Place – Erica Abbott (@poetry_erica)

4th Place – Callie Ghormley (@calliepoetrypoems)

5th Place – Rachel Pond (@racheljpond)

Think you have what it takes to win a poetry contest? Enter the little infinite Valentine’s Day Haiku Contest. Once you’re entered, winners will be selected by most aggregated votes, so share to your social platforms and get people voting for your poem!

Featured photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

British schoolgirl named first non-Japanese winner of haiku contest

  • A British schoolgirl inspired by an autumnal stroll across a newly mown lawn has become the first non-Japanese person to win a prestigious haiku competition.
  • Gracie Starkey, 14, from Gloucestershire, beat more than 18,000 entries to take the prize in the English-language section of the contest organised annually by a Japanese tea company.
  • Starkey flew to Tokyo to pick up her prize, telling friends she was off on holiday to a remote spot in Wales because she had to keep her win secret.
  • The teenager was given the task of writing a haiku after a poet led a Saturday morning workshop at her school, Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, where she had been learning Japanese.
  • As she and a friend took a walk after the workshop, grass cuttings stuck to her footwear and the haiku came to her:
  • Freshly mown grassclinging to my shoesmy muddled thoughts

Her poem – a non-traditional form that does not follow the classic five-seven-five syllable pattern – was entered into the competition organised by the multinational Ito En, first held in 1989. For the first 27 years the English-language section was won by Japanese people.

Two million people take part in the competition and this year there were 18,248 entries in English. The English category was judged by the haiku poet Tsunehiko Hoshino and Adrian Pinnington, an expert in Japanese literature based at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Pinnington said of Gracie’s entry: “This is a very unique and fresh poem. The author is walking across a freshly cut lawn and some grass gets on to the bottom of their shoes.

“The subtly differently coloured blades of grass create a random pattern. Thinking about life while walking across the lawn, the author comes to think of it as reflecting their own complicated thinking. The expression ‘muddled thoughts’ is especially skilfully used.”

Gracie said she was amazed when she heard she had won and had been invited to Tokyo.

“I could only tell my mum and dad and sister and my Japanese teacher at Wycliffe College,” said Gracie. “I told my friends that I was going to Wales for a week and that I wouldn’t have any phone reception.”

Gracie’s haiku on a bottle of green tea. Photograph: Wycliffe College/PA

When she arrived at the Imperial Palace Hotel for the ceremony, Gracie was swamped by press photographers and camera crews. “Everyone was taking pictures and there were at least 20 camera crews and photographers. It was amazing.”

As well as winning the trip, Gracie’s poem was rendered by a famous calligrapher, and she received a cash prize. Most thrillingly, her poem is being reproduced on thousands of bottles of green tea.

Gracie and her Japanese teacher at Wycliffe, Satoko Suzui, gave a speech at the ceremony explaining the inspiration for her haiku. “I spoke a little in Japanese explaining who I was, my age and about my school and friends, then I spoke in English with my teacher translating,” Gracie said.

Previously she had little interest in poetry. “This has certainly made me more interested in poetry and in Japanese culture.”

Haiku Society of America

First Place:
Jerry Kilbride

  • yard sale, sunlight filling
  • mason jars

Second Place: Kathleen Burgy

leaving home . . . the smell of smoke

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from old brick chimneys

Third Place: Ross Figgins

  1. frozen pond— white antlers rise
  2. through the ice

Honorable Mention: Steven D. Dalachinsky

  • June night my mother alone with
  • her cancer

Honorable Mention: Sister Mary Thomas Eulberg

     at dinner biting into the roast beef . . .

     the butcher's thumb nail

Honorable Mention: Dee Evetts

  1. phoning the neighbors their real voices
  2. through the open window

Honorable Mention: Dee Evetts

  • repeating the lecture his eyes following
  • the window-cleaner's blade

Honorable Mention: Esther Harris

  1. Tools rusting Unused on the work bench
  2. A faucet dripping

Honorable Mention: H. F. Noyes

  • full moon       peering into
  • the half-built house

Honorable Mention: Donald E. McLeod

  1. dusk drawing the pond's depth
  2. to the surface

Honorable Mention: Carol Montgomery

  • old woman, wrapping her cat's gifts
  • —centering the bows

Honorable Mention: Lynn G. Moore

  1. on the way to work a hot air balloon
  2. up in the mist

Honorable Mention: Denver Stull

  • this heat;      the dog's tail
  •           the only breeze

Winning Haiku Poems

Announcing the Winning Haiku Poems

First VSANA Haiku contest, February 1–March 31, 2020

We had a total of 402 haiku submitted by 156 people from 26 countries. This was an extraordinary response to our first haiku contest. The poems were submitted to a judge while withholding the identity of the authors. We were fortunate to have partnered with one of the world’s leading haiku poetess, an’ya, in this blind judging process. To learn more about an’ya, click here.

First, Second and Third Places and three Honorable Mentions were awarded. Since so many excellent haiku were submitted, an additional 15 poems were selected as Commended Haiku and are published here. Thanks to everyone who submitted haiku and congratulations to the winners.

​First Place

Furuya stoneI trace its sharp contours

with a soft heart

Julie Bloss Kelsey, USA For the First Place Winner, I chose this well written haiku  by Julie Bloss Kelsey from the USA. When composing this genre, an important component is juxtaposition or contrast, and in this case, the “sharp contours” of the stone are in juxtaposition with Julie’s words “soft heart” in her final line. Obviously, Julie has traced the stone via her heart, memorizing its contours to recall that memory whenever she thinks of it, a snapshot picture of this viewing stone embedded deep in her mind. My hearty congratulations to Julie and thanks to her for entering!    Second Placewhat I see is goodbut what I feel is better

I am now happy

Nigel Atkinson, Australia This haiku was written in the originally taught 5,7,5 form. It’s a simple “aha” moment, and just what stone viewing is all about; similar to cherry blossom viewing, moon viewing, or any other kind of contemplative viewing. In simple terms, Nigel has captured the essence of this Furuya stone perfectly—how it made him FEEL. Usually in haiku, the “I” is to be avoided, but in this particular case, the haiku technique of repetition, and the 3 “I”s allows both this author and his readers to become “one with the stone.” Thank you, Nigel!    Third Placerustic graveyardall the tombstones

facing the road

Ed Bremson, USA This haiku is another example of what collecting viewing stones is about—“shapes,” for viewing stones are a “sculptural” art form. In the case of this haiku, Ed saw the mountain peaks as “tombstones,” what do you see? When labeling a stone, the collector is free to choose his or her own classification, but the art of viewing stones is interpretive, so what you see may be completely different from what I see or the owner sees, and that’s alright too. Thanks for letting us see your interpretation Ed!

​1st Honorable Mention

I sense throughcriss-crossed mountain passes

a need to fly

Richard Albardiaz, UK This haiku shows us yet another aspect of what viewing stones do for people, and that is tweak their senses. What a beautiful thought in the words “a need to fly,” for not only do we see the mountain stone but we experience it as a bird in flight. However, this author saw even more with the words in line two “criss-crossed” because he saw the patterns in the stone as well. Quite a lovely haiku Richard!   2nd Honorable Mentionfirst dawnall those mountains

I climbed in my dreams

Eduard Tara, Romania This haiku is a good example of a “new year” haiku, the fifth season recognized in Japan. These words in line one “first dawn” are considered a “kigo” which is a word or phrase associated with a particular season, used in traditional forms of Japanese haiku. A New Year haiku can sometimes be difficult to write well, but Eduard has mastered it here. Nice work Eduard!   3rd Honorable Mentiona million liveshave I lived on this tiny

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Stephanie Cupido, South Africa The Third Honorable Mention very skillfully lets us live our lives (a million of them) via this mountain stone. Her haiku is very Japanese in its presentation with the phrase “a million lives,” as often the words “hundred” or “thousand” are also popular to use in haiku. In this case, the million matches the stone’s age. I would encourage Stephanie to lengthen line three by adding one more final word “mountain (range)” for rhythm. Good work Stephanie!


The seventh IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award received over 800 submissions from 64 different countries.

At the award ceremony, which took place as part of The Asian Conference on Literature 2017, the Grand Prize Winner, Runners Up, Commended entries and Guest Judge selections were read out by Professor Myles Chilton of the Department of Nihon University, Japan.

The Grand Prize was awarded to Manos Kounougakis of Greece, while the 1st Choice of Guest Judge Susan Burch, who made her selection on the theme of “History, Story, Narrative”, went to John Hawk of the United States.

Grand Prize

among the debris
the cell phone screen
lights up

Manos Kounougakis, Greece

Guest Judge 1st Choice

still amazed
i found her

John Hawk, USA


The IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award 2016, now in its sixth year, attracted a record of 680 submissions from 60 different countries. The highest number of submissions were received from the United States, with 120 entries, followed by India with 61 entries, 59 from United Kingdom, 54 from Croatia and 50 from Canada.

This year Suraja Roychowdhury of the United States was selected as both Grand Prize winner, and the 1st Choice for the Justice-themed Guest Judge Selection. IAFOR again welcomed renowned critic, author and poet, Dr. A.

Robert Lee, to announce the winner and read the Commended Entries and Runners Up at The Asian Conference on Literature, Librarianship & Archival Science 2016.

Grand Prize & Guest Judge 1st Choice

sunny afternoon
a shadow
on the mammogram

Suraja Roychowdhury, USA


The fifth year of the award attracted 400 entries from 54 countries.

The winner of the 2015 Grand Prize was presented to winner Boris Nazansky of Croatia by Dr. A. Robert Lee, internationally recognised critic, author and poet, and LibrAsia2015 Keynote Speaker. Nazansky’s poem is a wonderful example of the haunting, suggestive, and minimalist beauty of haiku, and attests to the extremely high standard of entries to the award.

Grand Prize

shape of the dark side
of the crescent moon

Boris Nazansky, Croatia


In its fourth year, the award saw 290 entries from 39 countries. Most submissions came from Croatia and USA, but also from India, UK, Romania, Serbia, Canada and New Zealand – testament to the award’s diversity and international focus.

The 2014 Grand Prize was presented to Anthony Kudryavitsky from Ireland by His Excellency Dr. Lars Vargö, Swedish Ambassador to Japan and distinguished poet and Japanologist.

Grand Prize

Fathers’ Day
children measure old oaks
by the length of their arms

Anthony Kudryavitsky, Ireland


The third year of the award saw 170 entries from 30 different countries. The majority of the submissions were submitted from Croatia, USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Romania and Serbia.

The grand prize winner of the 2013 award competition was Krzysztof Kokot from Poland for the following haiku:

Knock on the door
from this and other side
question marks

Krzysztof Kokot, Poland


The second annual haiku award competition saw 208 entries from 28 different countries, with submissions from Croatia, USA, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and UK, the haiku competition proved once again the international widespread and interest in haikus.

The grand prize winner was Anthony Kudryavitsky from Ireland for the following haiku:

on the steps
of the Freedom Memorial,
a discarded snake skin

Anthony Kudryavitsky, Ireland


The first haiku award saw 166 entries from 29 different countries. The majority of the haiku entries came from Croatia.

The grand prize winner was Jim Kacian from USA for the following haiku:

late autumn sun
the field is too small to hold,
my shadow

Jim Kacian, USA

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