The Haiku Foundation is pleased to announce the very first Touchstone Awards for Individual Haibun, honoring haibun published in 2022. More than 200 haibun were nominated by poets, readers, and editors around the world. After much deliberation, the three panelists narrowed the field to a Long List of 15 haibun, then a Short List of seven. This third and final round recognizes three haibun with the highest honor of Awarded.
For this first year of Awards for haibun, the panelists and I were very impressed with not only the number of haibun, but also with the overall quality and range of the nominees. These Awarded works represent the very best of the English-language haibun that were published last year. Thank you so much to the haibun panelists—Keith Polette, Renee Owen, and Marietta McGregor—for their time, efforts, and expertise in making these selections and writing the commentaries, setting a high standard for future selections.
The panelists’ commentaries for these Awardees will be shared in the near future, along with those of the Awarded Individual Haiku/Senryu and Books.
Please join us in congratulating the awarded poets!
Coordinator, Touchstone Awards for Individual Haibun
After Long Absence
the wrinkles on your face have as many different patterns as a snowflake. a snowflake falls between us signaling a change in the temperature like an avalanche brewing in the teapot. in the teapot you gave me so many Christmases ago I save the letters you wrote when you loved me. when you loved me the weather didn’t matter because every day was a rainbow made of angel wings. angel wings on the snow-covered ground form a pattern made by children. children we always meant to have.
a part of me
—Roberta Beary, Contemporary Haibun Online 18.3
The man who keeps each season in a box is spring cleaning. He polishes the silver box that winter is kept in. It is cold to the touch. Autumn’s box is fashioned of driftwood. If you shake it you can hear dryness rustle. He gives it a little dust. You have to be careful with summer; it’s hot to the touch now. Hold it too long and you’ll burn your fingers. He leaves it alone on the high shelf. Ah, but Spring is his favourite box. Open its cloisonné lid and the buttercups will make your chin glow yellow. There are too many shades of green to count. Ask him politely and he’ll point out Crested Dog’s tail and cowslips and Yorkshire fog. Look closely: there, inside the box. Can you see the young boy with the basin cut? The one who is holding his dad’s hand? They are walking through the wildflower meadow in Muker. Soon they will reach the river with its banks of celandines and oxeye daisies.
faded as a haircut
in a barbershop window
—Alan Peat, 2022 Samurai Haibun Contest
Spatial Concept: Waiting
The first time I saw it was at the Tate and I was
with you for the first time you wer so young and
beautiful and your skin was perfec then when you
asked me to go with you I bough ome books from
the salvation army the kind wit ots of photos so I
didn’t come across as a some nd of dick or stupid
even recognized a few p tings before reading the
label each time I said tist’s name you’d turn and
smile even if I got wrong made me sometimes
wish I’d stitched mouth shut And then suddenly
there it was ha g alone on a white wall the beige
canvas slash I could almost hear the right arm
stabbing th dragging the blade down and across
though lat things moved on to multiple wounds
and differ t tools—bare hands, nails, chisels, even
screwdriv s by then I’d lost track of you after the
first scars appeared your way of cutting off an older
deeper p in you said I’m here lost lost you lost
old prison cell
the final tally-mark
* Spatial Concept: Waiting (1960), one of a set of paintings by Lucio
Fontana (1899–1968) in which the canvas is sliced.
—Lew Watts, Frogpond 45.1
(NB: Online formatting deviates slightly from that of the original publication.)