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HaikuNow! 2010

The winners, runners up, and judge’s comments from HaikuNow! 2010 are below. For all of this information and additional, notable poems in each category, see the PDF version of the HaikuNow! 2010 Contest Results.


HaikuNow! 2010: Winners in the Traditional Haiku Category

For a description of this category, see Traditional Haiku.

First Prize

Cherie Hunter Day

war memorial
the shine on a bronze soldier
from so many hands
     —Cherie Hunter Day
Runners Up
the rare kimono
our eyes roll over its hills
flowers and mountains
     —John Tiong Chung Hoo
vernal equinox:
sharing a branch an orange
and orange blossom
     —Victor Ortiz
the leaf blower man—
when he turns and walks away
the leaves follow him
     —Madeleine Findlay
The morning is here—
Orange Juice in a Flintstones glass.
What should I do next?
     —Cory Ryant

I found so many of the haiku entries not only nicely poised but arresting. I chose the one about the war memorial because it allowed a small observation (the shiny bronze) to ripple out to a very heavy subject indeed, the kind of ponderous subject that haiku is usually too small to contain. The one featuring the surprising appearance of a Flintstones glass showed the American side of haiku; plus the clueless speaker appears to be in a perfectly empty-headed haiku state of mind. The kimono poem made me slightly dizzy in the way it rolled over the landscape which was both real and fabricated, in this case, made of fabric. The leaf blower man made me laugh out loud, which is the preferred reaction to a haiku that is really not trying to be “funny;” I love its odd mix of absurdity and empathy. It was the sheer “obviousness” of the orange haiku that got me: imagine an orange and an orange blossom on the same tree, a true haiku eye-opener!

—Billy Collins

HaikuNow! 2010: Winners in the Contemporary Haiku Category

For a description of this category, see Contemporary Haiku.

First Prize

Lorin Ford

distant thunder
the future
in my bones
     —Lorin Ford
Runners Up
night swimming
losing ourselves
in the darkness
     —Vanessa Proctor
the Big Dipper—
rows of corn connect
farm to farm
     —Chad Lee Robinson
her pain wakes me
a cockroach escapes
from the light
     —Rosie Roumeliotis
milky way
what I don’t know
I don’t know
     —Nora Wood

I had a lot of difficulty choosing one poem over several others in this category. I felt the work was all of a piece, all high quality, and I had to sleep on this several days before one emerged from the pack. I love the immersion of “night swimming,” how its darkness is both enveloping and at the same time welcoming. “her pain wakes me” is a novella in a few words, and captures a scene vividly and tellingly. The amorphous quality of the “milky way” perfectly mirrors the aperçu of the poet, making something fresh of one of the most common images in poetry. And the way we create and recognize pattern, amongst the stars, say, or between our own earthly designs, attracted me strongly to “the Big Dipper.” It was,in fact, this same sense of connectedness that convinced me that “distant thunder” was my first choice. Many of us have had this same experience, knowing in our joints what will be. This poem captures it for us perfectly.

—Jim Kacian

HaikuNow! 2010: Winners in the Innovative Haiku Category

For a description of this category, see Innovative Haiku.

First Prize

Olga Dugan

what we say          what we do
pear blossom        in winter
     —Olga Dugan
Runners Up
salt wind ripples on an inner lake
     —Cherie Hunter Day
a rake in hand . . . the duck’s mind
     —Tom Clausen
flipped boxcars God doesn’t play dice . . .
     —Scott Mason
dawn bumps the Jesus fish
     —H. Gene Murtha

Being innovative on command is not a skill I possess. Being innovative in a genre with established strictures daunts me even more. So it is not very surprising if most of the poems in this category were only mildly innovative, and then generally in one area, content. As life presents us with ever-new and -changing aspects, finding something to write that’s never been done before is a real possibility, and most of the poets here did exactly that, or else found novel ways to posit their images on the mind’s retina. “flipped boxcars” for instance puns on a famous quotation and misleads the reader, for a moment, into seeing something other than what is intended. “a rake in hand” puts me in mind of the famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” by the philosopher Thomas Nagel—he concludes that even a moment of such knowing would make us insane. “salt wind” is not allusive in such overt ways, but conjures its own possible impossibilities which are delectable to ponder. And “dawn” is fun and boppy, and sees the scene in an original way. “what we say,” however, does what I find so hard to do: it actually suggests a new way to organize material within a haiku. Its multiple reading possibilities are the very essence of innovation, and I expect serious poets will study this poem, and we’ll see more like it in the near future. But Olga Dugan got here first.

—Jim Kacian


First-prize winners in each category received $100. Honorable mentions received $25. All winning poems will be featured on The Haiku Foundation web site and permanently archived.


Alice Frampton was the contest coordinator. We had three pre-selectors: Peggy Willis Lyles (Traditional); Philip Rowland (Innovative); and John Stevenson (Contemporary).

Billy Collins was the final judge for haiku in the Traditional category. He served as U. S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and has been called “The most popular poet in America,” (New York Times). His book of haiku, She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in 2006. He is Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY). See for additional information.

Jim Kacian was the final judge for haiku in the Contemporary and Innovative categories. He is the founder of The Haiku Foundation and the author of 15 books of haiku. See for additional information.

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