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2023 Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems — Long List

The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems recognize excellence and innovation in English-language haiku and senryu published in juried public venues during each calendar year. In 2023, we received 1671 distinct entries submitted from 51 journal editors, 14 contest organizers, and 298 individuals.

 

The Touchstone Awards are an international affair, as English-language haiku and senryu nominations come from around the globe. Our heartfelt thanks to the editors, contest coordinators, and poets who nominated poems.

 

In the first round, the six panel members consider the anonymous roster and each selects what they perceive to be the ten most exceptional poems. These are combined to become the Long List. In the second round, the panel ranks their top selections from the Long List, of which the highest-scoring poems become the Short List. In the final round, the panel selects the top haiku and senryu from the Short List to be recognized as the Award winners for 2023.

 

Many thanks to our distinguished panel — Roberta Beary, Gregory Longenecker, Marianne Paul, Agnes Eva Savich, Dan Schwerin, and Shloka Shankar. They put much time and effort and, especially, careful thought and evaluation into this challenging selection process.

 

The final results for The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems will be announced on April 17, as part of the Haiku Foundation’s celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day.

 

Please join us in cheering on these fine poets!

 

Robin Smith

Coordinator, Touchstone Awards For Individual Poems

 

hunger moon

a mother swaddles

her silent infant

     —Farah Ali, Suspect Device #11

 

 

the mother my summer died

     —Susan Antolin, Mariposa #49

 

 

spring cleaning

we sweep a war

under the rug

     —Marilyn Ashbaugh, haikuKATHA, Issue 16, Feb 2023

 

 

while(the clouds turn into rain)the lily blooms

     —Norma Bradley, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 7; while the lily blooms, Yavanika Press (2023)

 

 

the secret song of the creek my mother asks for her mother

     —Anette Chaney, Trailblazer Contest 2023

 

 

forest walk

the phoenix stirring

within me

     —Antoinette Cheung, Wales Haiku Journal, Summer 2023

 

 

early phone call

I watch grief claim

my mother’s face

     —Marion Clarke, Under the Basho, November 5, 2023

 

 

grief an ancient dialect of snow

     —Cherie Hunter Day, hedgerow, #144

 

 

eggshell

at some point

they all leave

     —Johnette Downing, Modern Haiku, Volume 54.3, Autumn 2023

 

 

coastal walk

the tumult of the sea

in my son’s eyes

     —Adele Evershed, Wales Haiku Journal, Spring 2023

 

 

autumn morning

a few atoms of Issa

in each dewdrop

     —Keith Evetts, Leaf, Issue 2, December 2023

 

 

proxy war chills at Netflix

     —Tazeen Fatma, Prune Juice Journal, Issue 39

 

 

breaking waves

we talk with our children

about our ashes

     —Bruce Feingold, tinywords, Issue 23.1, May 17, 2023

 

 

desert cliffs

the shadow of a raven

carries dad home

     —Bruce H. Feingold, To Live Here: A Haiku Anthology, 2023

 

 

bone white winter moon breath of a snow hare

     —Joan C. Fingon, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 6

 

 

cocooned

feeling my wings

become

     —Mark Gilbert, Stardust Haiku, Issue #73 January 2023

 

 

cathedral vaulting

the centuries

of whale fall

     —Laurie Greer, Kingfisher #7

 

 

infant funeral

the hush of snow falling

into an ocean

     —John Hawkhead, Asahi Haikuist Network, November 3, 2023

 

 

                           moon

       slipping

                                          through   

                the

                                        old

                  oak’s

                            hold

                              of

                            dark

     —Cynthia Hendel, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 8

Please note: We did our best, but the formatting of the above poem differs slightly from the published version, in which the shape varies due to differences in font and line spacing.

 

 

should you clip my rorschach’s wings 

     —Jonathan Humphrey, Prune Juice, Issue 41

 

 

making

its own weather

hearsay

     —Jonathan Humphrey, Prune Juice, Issue 41

 

 

six spruces where astral rhymes are scent

     —Jonathan Humphrey, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 8

 

 

reconciled –

mother stops balancing

her checkbook

     —Barbara Kaufmann, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, May 19, 2023

 

 

THiRD PLaNET FROm THE SUN an antHILL

     —Julie Bloss Kelsey, tsuri-dōrō – a small journal of haiku and senryū, Issue 17, Sept/Oct 2023

 

 

idleschoolgirl

a drizzle plucking

p u dd l e s

     —Anju Kishore, haikuKATHA, Issue 21, July 2023

 

 

hospice invoice:

date of arrival

date of departure

     —Ellen Kom, Prune Juice Journal, Issue 39

 

 

father’s war journal…

an ocean without

a shore

     —Kathryn Liebowitz, Kingfisher #8

 

 

her long gaze

at The Birth of Venus

a teenaged niqābi

     —Chen-ou Liu, tsuri-dōrō – a small journal of haiku and senryū, Issue #16 – July/August 2023

 

 

until it’s a noun garden

     —Matthew Markworth, Modern Haiku, 54.2

 

 

inexperienced moonlight in the bed of lilies

     —Mary McCormack, Kingfisher #8, October 2023

 

 

15 items or lest we forget

     —David McKee, Frogpond, 46:1, Winter 2023

 

 

robin songs

an immigrant’s child

translates for grandpa

     —Joe McKeon, Robert Spiess Haiku Contest 2023

 

 

                                                 and i

the fine slackline

                               and i

                                                                           and i

     —Kati Mohr, Marlene Mountain Memorial Contest 2023

 

 

opening dad’s pocket knife the cold between us

     —Ron C. Moss, Modern Haiku, 54:3, Autumn 2023

 

 

betel leaf vine —

a farmer chews the tip

of her folksong

     —Daipayan Nair, haikuKATHA, Issue 22, August 2023

 

 

beam by beam

the old barn taken down

to sky

     —Peter Newton, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 25, June 2023

 

 

laughing daughters somewhere sunflowers

     —John Pappas, FreshOut Magazine, July 2, 2023

 

 

border checkpoint

she tells her dolls

to be brave

     —John Pappas, Haiku in Action, Week 73

 

 

no letup

in the culture wars

Memorial Day

     —Christopher Patchel, tsuri-dōrō – a small journal of haiku and senryū, Issue #18, Nov/Dec 2023

 

 

the machete

used to cut the cane

used to cut the neighbors

     —Bryan Rickert, Haiku in Action, Week 77

 

 

advice for my son —

the tissue paper

protecting each pear

     —Chad Lee Robinson, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 25, March 2023

 

 

folding towels

my mother’s way

with the past

     —Michele Root-Bernstein, The Heron’s Nest, Volume 25, March 2023

 

 

still born inside the after-black an ounce of moon

     —Rowan Beckett, Trailblazer Contest 2023

 

 

the last song

I sing her the lullaby

she taught me

     —Patricia McKernon Runkle, tinywords, 23.1, May 15, 2023

 

 

fading into frame this deer quiet dawn

     —Rich Schilling, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 8

 

 

pallanguzhi

the filling and emptying

of life’s coffers

     —Vidya Shankar, Under the Basho, May 8, 2023

 

 

a million twilit reasons but one white stork

     —Richa Sharma, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 6

 

 

broken rice bowl-

I never stopped

to be a daughter

     —Maria Teresa Sisti, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Friday, June 16, 2023; KM100NZ International Haiku Competition 2023

 

 

snow grains

the field dad had no time

to plant

     —Debbie Strange, folk ku, Issue 1: May 2023

 

 

all the notes I’ll never reach birdsong

     —Jennifer Sutherland, Modern Haiku, 54.3, Autumn 2023

 

 

so far from the nest

will anyone who knows you

know your tree

     —Herb Tate, folk ku, Issue 1: May 2023

 

 

river mouth

her mother tongue

flows freely

     —C.X. Turner, haikuNetra 1.3

 

 

))) hUM ^^^ miNg bird ! >

     —Joseph P. Wechselberger, whiptail: journal of the single-line poem, Issue 7

 

 

summer

sliding into autumn

slow trombone jazz

     —Tony Williams, Haiku in Action, Week 72

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. My thanks to the panelists for the inclusion – such a lovely surprise! Thanks also to Jodie Hawthorne (editor of “folk ku”), Robin, and THF team. Congratulations to all long-listed poets, and good luck!

    shine on,
    Debbie

  2. Congratulations to all the long listed poets. Incredible work by all and a wonderful reading experience. Thank you to all the judges for their time and efforts. Good luck to all.

  3. Many thanks to Robin and the judges as well as the poets.

    This is a beautifully curated group of poems which I enjoyed reading immensely. Beyond that, many of these haiku speak to each other as well—creating a wonderful read as a group. Wouldn’t it be cool to have these together as a broadside or mini-chap?

    Thanks again. I am looking forward to seeing how this group winnows down—a difficult job, no doubt.

    1. A chapbook of the Touchstone longlist/shortlist/winning nominated poems is a good idea!

  4. Wow, what a lot of work to arrive at this point, Robin! Many, many thanks to you and your team—and best of luck to all selected poets. 🍀

  5. An interesting selection, no doubt, in every sense of the word.
    Refreshing to see that at least some of the above offering strive for excellence and demonstrate artistic value.
    “Infant funeral” is especially deep, subtle and touching, not to mention its unique juxtaposition, its fine soundscape and its various layers.

    Just remember that creating a piece of art that is valuable, memorable and intricate is always so much more difficult than just grabbing a bucket of paint and throwing it all over the canvas.

    1. Hello “No Comment,”

      I’m glad you enjoyed some of the poems.

      However, your comment borders on violating rule 5 in our Code of Conduct, which I suspect you are aware of since you chose not to share your name publicly. I have pasted the rule below in case you were not aware, and for the benefit of others too. Please keep this in mind for future posts. This is not the place to invalidate the work of others.

      5. Comments should be diplomatic and respectful. Please attempt to make your comments constructive and of the type that you would like to hear yourself. https://thehaikufoundation.org/about-thf/policies/

      Thank you,
      Robin

      1. Dear Robin,

        My comment was not written with the intention of invalidating fellow poets.
        I formulated my message in a respectful, positive and diplomatic way, emphasizing those qualities that I admire in haiku and in poetry in general and I even highlighted an example of a poem that I found especially delicate and multi-layered.
        However, with all due respect, I also think that people are allowed to disagree and express different opinions that reflect their own tastes in art – as long as it is done in a cultured, non-offensive manner.
        Our differences and occasional disagreements generate meaningful conversations that may help us to improve our skills but when these dialogues are stifled and people are not allowed to voice differing opinions then we have a problem.
        I sincerely hope that’s not the case on this platform and I can feel free to say what I like and what I dislike in a haiku.
        About the specific rules of conduct I had no knowledge, but seeing the alarmingly strong reaction my comment triggered, I choose to remain anonymous.

        1. Hello “No Comment,”

          I am glad to hear this and yes, that was a nice comment about the one poem.

          Yes, they are, on all counts.

          It shouldn’t seem “alarmingly strong” that we make anyone aware that we have a Code of Conduct at any time. We do this to maintain a safe environment for our readers.

          Nothing and no one are being stifled here. The tone and wording (specifically) in part of your post, which I reviewed with another staff member, bordered on violating rule 5 in our Code of Conduct, so I shared the rule. You weren’t given a warning. Your post wasn’t removed. You weren’t banned.

          Certainly, tone and suggestion are things that are easily read differently by different people, which is why we are very conservative when it comes to removing posts, etc. — those things rarely happen.

          You replied that weren’t aware of the rule…this is part of why we share it. It is also done to make sure other readers are aware of it. It has nothing to do with not being able to disagree or voice differing opinions, nor does it say that anywhere.

          If you’d like to continue our conversation in more detail, I’d be happy to email you.

          Thanks,
          Robin

  6. My deepest thanks to all who worked on this project, and especially to Tanya McDonald for nominating my haiku. Congratulations to all the poets whose work is represented here–I am humbled and thrilled to be in such company.

  7. Thanks very much to the judges; to find my haiku in the company of so many spectacular poems is a great honor. Congratulations to all, and thanks to Tanya McDonald of Kingfisher for putting my work forward.

  8. Many thanks to the team for all the work and consideration that has gone into producing a list of very interesting and varied poems! Well fulfilling the brief. Much to think about.

  9. Thanks to the Judges. Thanks to the Editors of haikuKATHA for nominating this ku of mine. Congratulations to all the poets who have been longlisted. I feel honoured to share the space with you all.

  10. Thank you to the Haiku Foundation and the panel. Thank you to Modern Haiku for initially publication.
    I am elated to be included in this list.
    Congratulations to all the long list poets .

  11. Thanks to Robin and the Panel for their efforts as I know it’s a tremendous task to sort through the poems! I am honored to have two poems chosen! Thanks to the editors of tiny words (Peter Newton and Kathe Palke) and to Clair Thom, publisher of Wee Sparrow Press, and editors Giorgia Di Pancrazio & Katherine E. Winnick of To Live Here. The Long List is an incredible array of haiku and congratulations to my fellow poets!

  12. Congrats to all the long-listed poets! My thanks to the judges for all their time and hard work, and also to the editors and individuals who took the time to nominate poems. I’m delighted and grateful to be included alongside such excellent poems!

  13. These selections are excellent, and I was happy to see some of my favorites I’ve read this year included. The creativity and openness to interpretation are inspiring!

    Congratulations to all these deserving poets, the journals they appeared in, and the judges.

  14. Thanks very much to the judges and great congratulations to all the poets. I’m blessed to be in such fine company!

  15. Congratulations to everyone! Thanks to Robin and the panel for including mine, and especially Jodie at King River Press for publishing it in the first place.

  16. Excited to see one of my poems made the list this year. My congrats to all & thanks to the judges & coordinators. 1671 entries is a massive undertaking!

  17. Some very touching haiku here. (Love: John Hawkwhead’s “infant funeral”.)

    I notice a widely spread bunch of journals choices have been made from.
    Nothing from Heliosparrow.

    These are the ones 6 people could agree on. Can’t be easy.

    1. Hi Meg!

      Glad you enjoy the selected poems.

      The reason it is difficult to get a Heliosparrow poem in the mix is because they do not submit to the Touchstones. That means poems from the journal can only be considered if they are nominated by individuals (meaning few, if any, make it into the pot).

      In fact, out of 87 journals I sent invitations to this year, only 51 sent in poems (despite that huge number of submissions). Some just choose not to participate for one reason or another.

      We understand that poets may get upset not seeing some of the journals they favor reflected here, but unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the policies of the journals.

      Hope that helps,
      Robin

  18. Congratulations to all the poets. Many thanks to the judges, editors of whiptail journal and The Haiku Foundation for the honour. I feel very thankful to the poet who nominated this poem in particular. Sending best wishes to everyone! 🙏❤️

    Richa Sharma

  19. Congratulations to all the poets! Thank you for including mine and to whiptail for publishing it!!

    1. Congratulations, Rich! I’m thrilled to see your whiptail poem (and the others) on the Long List! Good luck!

  20. Heartfelt congratulations to all the long list poets! Beautiful and moving set of poems well chosen by discerning judges!

  21. Dear Robin and Team,

    Deep bow and gratitude for all your time and effort.

    Thank you for including one of mine.

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