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All haiku must be in English and must meet the criteria for the Traditional category, as described in Examples of Traditional Haiku in English below. All poems must be the original, unpublished work of the submitter.

Examples of Traditional Haiku in English


      snow mixes with rain—
      my mother keeps calling me
      by my brother's name


This poem, by Paul David Mena of United States, is an excellent example of the traditional approach to haiku in English—three lines, 5-7-5 syllables, with a caesura after the first line emphasized by a dash. Beyond these overt indicators, the poet does other things to make this a better than average poem. Notice that the diction is straightforward, without words that indicate judgment, or that pad out the syllable count, or that tell the reader what to think. Snow and rain are the season words (really just a single season is indicated though two words are used), indicating the onset of winter. The second image is personal and human, and either taken from actual experience or else easily imagined as such.

The images are very clear, and it is possible for the reader or listener to understand the relationships immediately. It is also very easy to imagine one’s own experience in the stead of the the poet’s. So the poem permits the reader not just to read it, but to participate in it, and to feel the emotion which inspired it.

Here are a few others. After you’ve studied them and have come to understand how they work and why, you will also understand what we’ll be looking for in the traditional category of the HaikuNow! contest.

      Wakened by birdsong;
      drifting from one world of dreams
      into another
      —Robert Major (United States)


      the Milky Way streams—
      a farmer bends to his work
      widening a ditch
      —H. F. Noyes (Greece)


      The names of the dead
      sinking deeper and deeper
      into the red leaves
      —Eric Amann (Canada)
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