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Haiku Maven: Two-Timing Haiku Poet

hm_logo Dear Haiku Maven, I caught a haiku celebrity, whom I consider a friend, cheating in public. He two-timed one of his old but still winsome haiku by sending it to a new contest, open only to unpublished work, where it was shortlisted. I know his haiku was previously published because it is in a book of his haiku which I bought from him. He wrote a beautiful inscription in it saying how much he valued our friendship. When quizzed by me about the contest, he said he misread the rules and would take care of it. That was three weeks ago. His haiku is still on the shortlist. I know you have covered this topic before but this is different. Clueless

Step away from the stage lights surrounding this haiku celebrity and see him in his natural setting. He is, after all, only human, although of the slow moving variety. Haiku Maven thinks he will eventually do the right thing and contact the contest organizers. Admitting his mistake to you is the first step. The other steps will follow. This haiku celebrity joins a long list of contest submitters who have misread contest rules. Haiku Maven believes it is best to submit only original (unpublished) work to contests. That way these sticky situations can be avoided because as seasoned contest submitters know only too well, truth will out.

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.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Hi Marion,

    I’m afraid writing a haiku that is close to one of your own will most likely be seen as a case of plagiarism even if it’s self-plagiarism.

    Regretfully I feel you’ll need to withdraw. It’s a real shame as your haiku, perhaps seen as simply revised, has done so well. I would congratulate yourself, and not beat yourself up about it.

    It’s vital to keep a submission record, and always read EVERY LAST WORD in submission guidelines, both in the big print as well as any ‘small print’.

    All I can do is commiserate as well as congratulate you for going so well.

    warmest regards,


  2. A haiku that I recently submitted to a contest has got through two screenings and now I’m being asked to confirm it hasn’t been published. Although it hasn’t been, word for word, it is very similar to one that appeared in an online journal in January 2013. I’ve just been chatting online with Alan Summers and he had a look at the t&cs (which I will always do from now on) and has just informed me that in the rules it states: “Awards will be revoked for any poems found to be plagiarized, to have been submitted for other contests or publications, or to closely resemble other poems.” Does that ‘closely resemble other poems’ refer to your own as well as anyone else’s poems, I wonder?


  3. Dear Gene, Thank you. I often use the search feature on my blogs to see if/where I posted a poem. Before blogging, I didn’t have that much to keep track of – I could just check my shelf of treasures! Now my blog archives are the record of what I want to keep.

    I’ve found that poems sometimes need to change when published in different places. Time Of Singing recently published two haiku and a tanka. Lora Zill, the Editor, suggested a revision for a haiku from my blog, which I accepted. I had not realized how the blog was providing information for readers that would not be present in the journal (in this case a vintage picture of a tree on my blog). Then I reprinted the new version on a blog, with a link to the journal’s website. Nice collaboration between blogs and a print journal founded in 1958. Old poems can be new again.

    Always aware here of new readers, and also aware that some conversations are among poets who have studied haiku for some time. In one place I remember and share; in another I have to reach to understand and simply read, and wait a few more years . . .

    A wonderful mix of posts here.

  4. Here are a couple blunders:

    My first haiku submission here in the States i withdraw
    five haiku, because I wasn’t aware a friend submitted the
    poems to a magazine in Japan. I was grateful that I found
    out. Another: when The Heron’s Nest dropped an issue
    from 12, to 11, I forgot, and sent the poem to the World
    Haiku Association under my profile. It was finally removed,
    but how embarrassing, adding a poem that wasn’t out yet.
    Actually, i tried to withdraw the poem, i believe that Ferris
    was away, so Paul wrote back and said my poem will still
    be published. It may have been removed before the Nest
    came out, but i cannot remember.

  5. Thank you Patrick.

    Ellen, every publication, contest etc.
    have guidelines. Editors differ from
    publication to publication. It’s pretty
    to keep a record of your work, where
    it was submitted, and what poems
    are published. No one is perfect, I’ve
    withdrawn poems.

  6. Hi Gene,

    I don’t know a lot about haiku contests, simply know I forget about my own work sometimes. Recently I had the opportunity to help judge a contest for Time Of Singing, which publishes many forms, including haiku and tanka. When I received the large envelope with many excellent poems, checking to be sure guidelines were followed was simply a way to begin. I think the contest was for short rhyming poems. Poets who didn’t win can always submit their work for review for another issue.

    So I think perhaps we’re saying to give others the benefit of the doubt, as I surely need the same. And to let the process work in a quiet way.

    All in favor of some structure, yet also am an advocate for more flexibility with submission guidelines for journals (which I know has been discussed in great detail here, with due respect for each editor’s guidelines). I continue to wonder how and where the new generation will publish, as poets in high school and college grow their work.

    All the best, Ellen

  7. Oh yeah, i guess there are Rules now too?

    The bottom line is, at best, their poem is
    republished: So what. If there are prize
    monies involved, trust me, you’ll never
    miss it, and i am displaced aka homeless.

    Some folks within the community are
    all about Credits, god knows why?

    ps: the only haiku celebrities are some of
    the dead ones.

  8. Good to see Haiku Maven again. Sometimes I look in my WordPress stats and someone is reading an old poem or essay, that I had forgotten that I wrote and/or published before. Now each month I am reading in my Archives for that month, previous years, to remember and reprint my best poems, where that is allowed (usually my blogs). I also have a shelf where I keep the journals and books where my work has appeared. Others who publish far more have shared here about their record-keeping systems.

    Many of my poems are about the same themes, and a new poem may seem a lot like an older poem. As I’ve been saying to family and old friends, I write about the same things because that is the story I’ve been given. Simple views along country roads that sustain me – poems as thank you notes – and hopefully a little better translation to words over the years.

    So yes we are human and I can see how mistakes can occur – and then be corrected in a low-key way. So many ways to publish now and the rules vary a lot.

    Thanks and best wishes, Ellen

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