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The Haiku Foundation Announces Its Touchstone Individual Poems Long List for 2021

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. 2021 saw an exponential growth in the number of submissions to the Awards, comprising 1506 distinct entries. Forty-eight editors nominated 1118 poems, 29 additional journals are represented via individual nominations, who also nominated from numerous anthologies and contests. Individual poets nominated 388 poems.

 

The Touchstone Awards are a truly international haiku affair, as nominations come from around the globe: this year from Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Our heartfelt thanks to the editors and poets who nominated poems.

 

In the first round the six panel members consider the entire anonymous roster and nominate their ten highest-ranking haiku. These poems become the Long List (57 poems this year due to a small overlap in panel members’ choices). In the second round the panel will select their top selections from the Long List, which becomes the Short List of thirty poems. (We display here the poems from the Long List that did not make the Short List, to keep their anonymity for the panelists, who are still in their deliberations. They comprise twenty-seven poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.) In the final round the panel selects the haiku from the Short List which will be recognized as the Award winners for 2021.

 

Many thanks to our distinguished panel — Roberta Beary, Chuck Brickley, Anna Maris, Pravat Kumar Padhy, Christopher Patchel and Angela Terry. They have been incredibly generous with their time and effort over the last several months. Their diligence, expertise, and thoughtful consideration has been beyond exemplary.

 

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

 

Bruce H. Feingold
Coordinator, Touchstone Awards

 

Robin Anna Smith
Associate Coordinator, Touchstone Awards

 


autumn rain . . .
the desire to become
his urn
— Cristina Apetrei, Katikati Haiku Contest

 

adding ellipses
to the darkest night
winter stars
— Hifsa Ashraf, Frogpond 44:3

 

thistle seed
a new spot
on her spine
— Alan S. Bridges, Modern Haiku 52.2

 

grief you say the quiet part loud
— Cherie Hunter Day, hedgerow 137

 

waterfall —
a single drop of river
finds its fern
— Bill Fay, tinywords (6/29/21)

 

cherry blossoms empty sidewalks
— B.A. France, Fireflies’ Light: A Magazine of Short Poems 23

 

bringing the mountain
with it
the spring wind
— Jenny Fraser, Wales Haiku Journal (Spring 2021)

 

space debris . . .
the newborn foal
finds its legs
— Ferris Gilli, Acorn 47

 

tarnished menorah —
the generations of shadow
and light
— Ruth Holzer, The Heron’s Nest XXIII:4

 

reawakening to what is not mine the passing clouds
— Lakshmi Iyer, The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai, April 2021

 

fresh snow
the path I’m on
not made by humans
— Kristen Lindquist, hedgerow 137

 

winter sky
a row of cows
holds down the field
— Madelaine Caritas Longman, Acorn 47

 

brooding over world events cicadas
— Amy Losak, 2021 Gerald Brady Memorial Senryu Contest

 

city fountain
the ragged man
steals a wish
— Vicki Miko, tsuri-dōrō — a small journal of haiku and senryū 1

 

worm moon this pain bone deep
— Lori A Minor, Shamrock 45

 

but today he’s twirling his cane meadowlarks
— Bob Redmond, Frogpond 44:3

 

chaos theory
a butterfly sets off
the car alarm
— Mark Ritchie, Blithe Spirit 31.2

 

ghetto garden
the seedlings
that never grow
— Jonathan Roman, Prune Juice Journal 34

 

continuing thunder
the many names
of God
— Michelle Schaefer, Modern Haiku 52.1

 

gun shots I know nothing of lullabies
— Teji Sethi, Nick Virgilio Writers Assoc. Haiku in Action, August 26, 2021

 

windblown leaves —
deleting the words
I clung onto yesterday
— Stephen Smith, bottle rockets 44

 

in the family
one more year
wooden chair
— John Stevenson, Modern Haiku 52.2

 

new year
the door I leave from
and return through
— John Stevenson, Upstate Dim Sum 2021/1

 

Fata Morgana the (in)visibility of my (dis)ability
— Debbie Strange, 2021 Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest

 

migrant worker
turning the apples
bruises down
— Lew Watts, Prune Juice Journal 33

 

carrying the firewood inside all those years
— Jamie Wimberly, Modern Haiku 52.2

 

night fishing . . .
I catch and release
moonsong
— Veronika Zora Novak, Stardust 58

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, but I would like to note that my haiku is formatted incorrectly. It should be:

    worm moon
    this pain
    bone deep

    It’s not a monoku. Again, thank you.

  2. I have only just discovered that my haiku was long-listed. I am grateful for the efforts of the poets and editors who made proposals, the panel who carefully selected those they thought best achieved the criteria and to the coordinators for overseeing the process. Out of 1506 entries, to end up in the top ten choices of any of the judges (each of them greatly admired practitioners of the art) is a heartwarming privilege and It is also a distinct honour to be in the company of the other 56 poets listed. Incidentally, I spell honour like that because I am from the UK – so we didn’t miss out entirely, Lorin!

  3. ““The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems recognize excellence and innovation in English-language haiku and senryu . . .”
    Further down, we read: “The Touchstone Awards are a truly international haiku affair, as nominations come from around the globe: this year from Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States . . . .” There seems to be a contradiction here. ” – Gabriel

    There’s no contradiction: these particular awards are for English-language haiku. Like it or not, people living in the above-mentioned countries and regions and also people in the British Isles (which, most oddly, in my view, is not mentioned in the list … perhaps no haiku from anywhere in the British Isles was submitted? Hmmm. ) can speak and write in English and therefore may write haiku in English if they choose, have it published and perhaps have a haiku selected for a competition such as this. “International”, in context here, means that people from various world regions and nations have had their EL haiku selected for the long list in this competition.

    Banging the drum about whether or not English (in its various local forms) should be an international language or not has nothing to do with whether or not anyone who can write a haiku in English should or shouldn’t do so., have it published and entered into an EL haiku competition.

    Joshua Gage is the only one making any sense here :

    “… how would this contest be judged? How could you judge a poem in a language that you didn’t know …”?

    1. One of the reasons why I question the rise of English-language haiku from multilingual regions is this: I have seen hundreds of haiku from East European countries (and elsewhere) which do themselves no favour at all by aping Anglophones. I’m sure their haiku would be quite beautiful in their own language but many of them sound artificial in English, or simply ungrammatical. Basho reminds us to bring our haiku to our lips; in other words, to ask ourselves, ‘Does it sound OK, not too elevated or convoluted?’. When submitting to English-language platforms, haijin for whom English did not come with their breast milk should employ the services of an editor who is a native speaker of English. Otherwise, the ‘rise’ of English-language haiku will be haiku’s downfall. Every language has its own music, its own echoes and nuances. The best music and the finest nuances are rarely found in a second language, unless one is devoted to that language, as Beckett (an Anglo-Irishman) was devoted to French, let us say, or Nabokov (a Russian) or Conrad (a Pole) to English. Otherwise we are treading on thin ice, I’m afraid.

  4. There’s nothing cruel about being long listed and not making the short list, as that is still a considerable accomplishment since the spirit of the award is not meant to be a competitive one, but I agree with Josh, that anonymity doesn’t matter at that point. I would find it hard to believe that all of the judges didn’t recognize at least a few of these poems from the journals we all read and that’s okay. I could even argue that who wrote the poem actually matters, but as far as the English aspect goes, it would be more unfair for people to judge poems in a language not native to them. It would be biased, which opens actual avenues for English prejudice, and if translations were used, the poems would be judged as often being better or worse than their original. It could be that a translated into English poems category is added, though, where the poet and translator(s) are recognized. That could be interesting. Again, lets not see each other as opponents but together in promoting haiku.

    1. Matt,

      Let’s be clear about what’s cruel.
      It’s cruel to present the list as “The Long List” and have everyone expect that their poems are capable as making it to the final round, only to say “No, sorry, you folks are the runners up.”

      It’s cruel to use the Long List as a way to attack and belittle poets for personal reasons, then dismiss that these attacks have occurred.

      Had this been presented as the runners up originally, I think there would be a lot less animosity, but it wasn’t. People literally had to point out the flaws in the math (again, in a comment that has been deleted because, you know, God forbid the THF and its leaders take accountability and responsibility) to get the original posting changed. There are a lot of hurt feelings across social media, and a lot of misunderstandings. There are people reading this who still think this is the full long list BECAUSE 1) this is how it’s always been presented and 2) there’s no official apology from THF explaining that things were screwed up, only a parenthetical phrase hidden in the third paragraph that a lot of folks miss.

      Again, this is not about the judges or their decisions, nor is it about the Touchstone panels in general, but about the way that THF and its representatives mislead the public and hurt poets they were supposedly “supporting” or “encouraging.”

  5. I think it’s probably unusual to generate two heated debates wit one announcement but this year’s Touchstone has done it!

    First, an announcement entitled “The haiku foundation announces its touchstone individual poems long list for 2021”. Oops, I for one thought the list represented the list of poems up for an award, and so were others. But while this is unfortunate, it’s also a mistake rater than cruelty. It’s a shame people have been left confused and/or potentially embarrassed by this, but we do need to recognise that a lot of effort and co-ordination goes into the awards and mistakes do happen. Regrettable, but not an act of malice.

    Second, the English language issue. Absolutely, English as been used as a cultural weapon throughout the centuries. Cultural domination applied globally and deliberately by British Empire makers and then continued via the commercial and industrial domination globally of the USA. However, this Touchstone contest is for English Language Haiku. We could, if we wished, say all English Language Haiku is cultural appropriation. The Japanese don’t see it that way, or many of their institutions and cultural bodies don’t – in fact it is very much encouraged. So the international aspect claimed by the Haiku Foundation (and correctly in my small opinion) is for like-minded individuals from many locations around the world to express themselves in a way that allows us all to communicate in a common ‘artistic dialect’. We could not do the same using all our different languages with the same level of appreciation or understanding. English dominance continues to be a culturally sensitive subject, but it also serves as a lingua franca (the French must love that) whereby people from around the world can work together on science, technology, diplomacy and art. I’m not being an apologist here, but this is an award for short poems written in English. Perhaps an award for haiku written in other languages could be instituted, but that could also be seen as problematic once the announcement of winners was made.

    1. ‘… but it also serves as a lingua franca (the French must love that) whereby people from around the world can work together on science, technology, diplomacy and art. . . .’ English as a language of diplomacy? No, no, no, You must mean propaganda, as in BBC,
      Fox News and other arms of UKASA (UK & USA).

      1. That’s not what I meant at all. ‘Diplomacy’ as in dialogue between inter-national groups such as in the EU…

        And the point here is that this particular award is for English Language haiku with poems written by people all over the world. That is very clear but ignore it if you choose. This is not the place for political posturing about ‘UKASA propaganda’.

        1. It is preposterous to suggest that English is some kind of a neutral language, innocently going about its global business.
          No, every language has a way of looking at the world and every language is formed and informed by its experience, as a dominant language, or as a language that is dominated by another. How can you speak of dialogue? What dialogue did Yiddish have with the German master race? What dialogue does the Assembly in Northern Ireland have with Irish speakers? Keep politics out of it, you say? Does not the author of The Wretched of the Earth clearly state that language is power? Does the Touchstone Award Committee not wish to share power with those in the worldwide haiku community who do not identify themselves as ‘English’?

          1. Furthermore: why in the name of all that’s good and holy is there not a programme to widen appreciation of haiku among indigenous Americans? Surely the day must come when the Touchstone Award Committee will get off its English rocking-horse and recognise the legitimacy of America’s own indigenous languages. There are more than 100 indigenous languages in the US, most of them endangered, or nearly choked to death.

          2. Gabriel, I did not suggest anything of the sort and you know it. And how can you honestly conflate a haiku award with the mass genocide of the Nazis.

            I’m sure the THF committee would be open to hearing your views on how the 100 or more indigenous languages in the US could be considered for a haiku programme, as I’m sure they would be very pleased to hear your guidance on how haiku written in all the world’s languages could be considered in this annual award.

            I won’t respond any further, not because your points are well made, but because your points are far wider than this Touchstone Award and you are clearly not considering any point of view other than your own.

          3. As I say, every language carries a history and English has charmed or bullied its way into the lives of millions of people around the world:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RnmtzwIijg
            As the current lingua mundi, English must now examine how it has achieved such dominance. (Buccaneering for the most part). English speakers in cultural and literary societies and fellowships, such as The Haiku Foundation, should drop linguistic exclusiveness and be prepared to experiment with inclusiveness. It’s not up to me here in Ireland to suggest ways for the US-based Haiku Foundation to diversify, starting with embracing the indigenous languages of the Americas. Show that you can be a touchstone of civilisation, courtesy and diplomacy. Otherwise you will remain encased within the Anglosphere, and that doesn’t augur well for humanity – or haiku!

          4. I don’t mind talking to myself, which seems to be the case here. There are over 60 million Hispanics in the US. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if their numbers doubled or trebled and if it came to pass that they challenged white WASP America in terms of cultural influence. How relevant are the Touchstone Awards to Hispanics, Asians, Afro-Americans and indigenous peoples?
            I think this is a fair question to ask. John says I refuse to consider any viewpoint but my own. Au contraire! I am trying to embrace the viewpoint of the above-mentioned communities, to name but a few, all of whom must be unbelievably disenchanted with Touchstone’s efforts.

    2. John,

      If you don’t realize that this was a deliberate attack meant to provoke a reaction, and that it took comments on this and other threads (which have conveniently been deleted by the powers that be) to actually make it clear that the folks on this list were not, in fact, the full long list but only the ones who didn’t make the cut, then I’ll tell you right out: this was a specific and deliberate attack meant to harm people.

      You write “It’s a shame people have been left confused and/or potentially embarrassed by this…” but it’s not just confusion or embarrassment, it’s hurt and pain that not only does THF and RMP not recognize, but have chosen to dismiss.

  6. I would like to extend much thanks and gratitude to The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Award Committee for contributing their personal time and effort into the arduous selection process.

    I am humbly honoured to receive news that my haiku has made the short list alongside such brilliant haiku composed by my lovely fellow haijin.

    Best wishes and blessings everyone!

    Peace

    1. Veronika,
      I’m so sorry you were led to believe you short listed.

      Look at what Jim just added: “We display here the poems from the Long List that did not make the Short List, to keep their anonymity for the panelists, who are still in their deliberations. They comprise twenty-seven poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.”

      This is poorly done, and it’s clear that folks were mislead into believing they still had a chance of winning this “prestigious” award. You and the other poets on this list deserved better treatment.

      1. Hey Everyone! I honestly don’t follow or pay attention to awards and contests. Having been told by a member of our haiku community that my haiku was nominated made me laugh. I received this link indirectly and have no qualms as I simply didn’t pay proper attention and misunderstood the process. I thank you Joshua Gage for your helpful efforts to clarify the processes. I am still laughing as I initially had laughed.

        Again, best wishes peace and blessings to everyone!

  7. “We display here the poems from the Long List that did not make the Short List, to keep their anonymity for the panelists, who are still in their deliberations. They comprise twenty-seven poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.”

    This is a cruel way to display this information. I’m sorry, but the way that this was presented made it seem like this was a complete list, not just a list of runners up. I appreciate the effort done by the judges, but this is seriously a messed up way to announce runners up and winners, and very cruel and disheartening way of telling folks they lost.

    1. Just to follow up, if the poems are PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED, the idea of “anonymity for the panelists” doesn’t make sense. I realize it would take some work, but there’s nothing stopping a contest judge from Googling or searching through print issues to find the poems, especially if they’re in well known journals or online journals.

      Also, this was not the way this was done last year, so to already discount these poets after building up their expectations is really cruel:

      https://thehaikufoundation.org/the-haiku-foundation-announces-its-touchstone-individual-poems-long-list-for-2020/
      https://thehaikufoundation.org/the-haiku-foundation-announces-its-touchstone-individual-poems-short-list-for-2020/

      Very problematic in their presentation of the list this year, and it’s clear that folks think they’re still in the running.

  8. First of all, THANK YOU to the panel, the coordinators, and The Haiku Foundation for the tremendous amount of work that they put in to make these awards possible. Secondly, CONGRATULATIONS to all those poets whose poems made it on to this long list. I’m humbled and THANKFUL to be in their company.

    1. Honoured to be long-listed alongside some great haiku poets.

      Thanks to the distinguished panel and The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Awards management.

      Congratulations and Good Luck to all nominees!

    2. Jonathan and Hifsa,

      I’m so sorry that you got conned into believing that you had a chance of winning. Look at what Jim just added: “We display here the poems from the Long List that did not make the Short List, to keep their anonymity for the panelists, who are still in their deliberations. They comprise twenty-seven poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.”

      This is poorly done, and it’s clear that folks were mislead into believing they still had a chance of winning this “prestigious” award. You and the other poets on this list deserved better treatment.

      1. Joshua,

        I appreciate the sentiment, but I never expect to be in the running, much less to win anything. I simply take things as they come.

        Could the announcement have been worded differently? Sure. I did find it a bit confusing at first. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying anyone got “conned”. Expressing gratitude for even being acknowledged from such a large starting list of poems & poets is still appropriate, in my opinion.

        I know that none of us are writing & practicing haikai to win anything, but because it enriches us. Any award or acknowledgement that The Haiku Foundation or any other entity hands out is simply extra.

        1. Jonathan,

          I’m glad that you don’t write or practice haiku to win anything, but that is not the case for many people, including people included on this list. This is beyond “confusing;” the post initially made it seem like the folks on this list were still in the running for an award and the benefits that come with said award (money, credits, accolades, etc.). So yes, those folks were conned into believing that they had a chance of winning, and many people are hurt to find out that this is simply not true.

          I think it’s very easy to feel honored at receiving an acknowledgement but also to acknowledge that something was promised and then taken away, especially considering the way these things were done in previous years; the two are not mutually exclusive, but THF and it’s leadership refuse to acknowledge that any wrong doing happened or to apologize for their mistakes and the hurt they’ve caused. I think it’s also important to recognize that this was deliberate on the part of the THF (not, perhaps, the Touchstone heads or editors, but the powers that be above them) in an attempt to attack specific people, and that the rest of the folks on the list were simply innocent victims in this attack.

  9. “The current Long List comprises twenty-eight poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.”
    I counted only 27. There should be 28, I think.

    1. Yeah, I saw that, too, only my comment was deleted. :::shrug:::

      Look at what Jim just added:
      We display here the poems from the Long List that did not make the Short List, to keep their anonymity for the panelists, who are still in their deliberations. They comprise twenty-seven poems from traditional to experimental representing sixteen journals and four contests.

  10. Language diversity is the spiritual equivalent of bio-diversity: neglecting or allowing individual languages to die will result in global spiritual impoverishment. An agenda that encourages monolingualism is one that, by extension, supports dictatorship.

  11. “The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems recognize excellence and innovation in English-language haiku and senryu . . .”
    Further down, we read: “The Touchstone Awards are a truly international haiku affair, as nominations come from around the globe: this year from Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States . . .” There seems to be a contradiction here. How can Touchstone speak of being international whilst honouring only a section of global haiku, namely that which is produced in English only (or translated into English for all we know). No, it seems to me that this is not an international affair at all but an entirely English affair, disguise it as you will. Indeed, the dominance of English threatens the very existence of languages in the territories mentioned.
    Linguistic diversity is as important as biodiversity for the future of our planet. Haiku cannot thrive forever in its English-language monocultural form without reaching out and embracing and nurturing haiku in lesser-spoken languages. Haijin who reject their ancestral tongue in favour of the illusory advantages offered by English should study such key texts as ‘Decolonisig the Mind’, in which we read (about African hopes, for instance):
    “We African writers are bound by our calling to do for our languages what Spencer, Milton and Shakespeare did for English; what Pushkin and Tolstoy did for Russian; indeed what all writers in world history have done for their languages by meeting the challenge of creating a literature in them, which process later opens the languages for philosophy, science, technology and all other areas of human creative endeavors . . .”
    Mention of Spencer reminds me that Spencer’s aim when he arrived in Ireland was to undermine the Irish language and eradicate it if possible. He and his odious ilk damn well nearly succeeded!

    1. I see sense in what Gabriel writes. Haiku in English alone cannot be the criteria for haiku in other languages. There is so much being written in Arabic, Romanian, Serbian, Chinese, and other languages that have been ignored.

    2. You make an excellent point; however, how would this contest be judged? How could you judge a poem in a language that you didn’t know and be trusted to be accurate with your judgement. Following that, if we went on translations, how could we know those translations could capture everything the original language contained?

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