Dear Haiku Maven, I recently received a blast email about a haiku contest “now open for submission of entries.” This contest is sponsored by a haiku association which appears to be made up of one person, who is also the contest judge. There is a fee for submitting each haiku, with no limit on the number each entrant can submit. The contest requires two copies of each haiku on separate index cards, one with a name and one without. Contest rules say the judging is blind but all entries go to the contest judge. This doesn’t seem right to me. Am I supposed to take the judge’s word for it that she doesn’t look at the cards with the names until she picks the winning haiku? I’ve looked at the haiku of past winners, and sometimes the same poets win year after year. Do you think I should enter my haiku in this contest?
Signed, On the Fence
Dear On the Fence, In reading between the lines of your query, Haiku Maven believes what you are really asking is whether this particular contest is worthy of your haiku entry. In fact, you appear to have answered your own question by voicing your doubts about the contest and its judge being totally above-board. Like many things, what is above-board is in the eye of the beholder. Some haiku poets would not hesitate to enter their work in any contest. Others will enter only contests where the judge is not revealed until after the results are announced. Still others will only enter contests where the judge is disclosed ahead of time, so that they can decide to enter based on their experience with or knowledge of that particular judge. Back in the day when Haiku Maven entered contests, the choice was limited. Today there are a plethora of haiku contests, and the contests are not just restricted to English-speaking countries and Japan. They are worldwide. Haiku Maven encourages you to enter haiku contests where you have no doubt about either the contest or its judge. Remember your reputation is also affected by the quality of the contests where your haiku win, place or show.
The Haiku Maven posts each Friday to The Haiku Foundation blog. Haiku Maven offers advice about awkward situations involving haiku poets. The word maven comes from the Yiddish meyvn, meaning “one who understands.” Please use our Contact page to send a question. Haiku Maven will select a pseudonym for you based on your question. Click this link to see the Haiku Maven archive. Feel free to leave comments.