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

The Haiku Foundation is pleased to announce 2021 Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems Short List. 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.
In this second round the panel selected their top choices from the Long List. In the final round the panel will select the haiku from the Short List that will be recognized as the Awarded haiku for 2021.
Many thanks to our distinguished panelists:  Roberta Beary, Chuck Brickley, Anna Maris, Pravat Kumar Padhy, Christopher Patchel,, and Angela Terry. 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



for the children 
my twenties
     — Susan Antolin, Mariposa 44 
they were my daughters . . .
     — Meredith Ackroyd, Frogpond 44.3
capitol steps
a riot
of cherry blossoms
     — Marilyn Ashbaugh, GEPPO 46:3
late-night train
the mother's lullaby
for everyone
     — Hifsa Ashraf, kontinuum: kortárs haiku_contemporary haiku 1.1
as the crow flies fentanyl
     — Aaron Barry, Prune Juice 35
the river in every room brown trout
     — Bisshie, The Heron’s Nest 23.1
gone to seed . . .
wind and light 
sweep the field
     — Tom Clausen, Upstate Dim Sum 2021/I
incoming tide
sand unzips the
soles of my feet
     — Robert Davey, Acorn 46
ancient syllables
the forest alive
in birdsong
     — Pat Davis, Cold Moon, October 7, 2021
the minor notes
in a half scale
slow rising moon
     — Terri L. French, tsuri-dōrō 5
not just blowing smoke climate change
     — Terri French, tinywords 21.2
     — Lee Gurga, Modern Haiku 52.1
not as long
as it used to be
summer day
     — Jennifer Hambrick, Wales Haiku Journal, Autumn 2021
years of being who we are
 my shirt letting the rain 
        soak in
     — Gary Hotham, tsuri-dōrō: a small journal of haiku and senryū 4
tearing the filter 
off his cigarette —
war stories
     — PMF Johnson, bottle rockets 44
to what is not mine
the passing clouds
     — Lakshmi Iyer, The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai, April 2021
spring sun
still some winter
in the turtle
     — Laurie D. Morrissey, First Frost 1.1
middle age
I build the snowman 
a son
     — Peter Newton, The Heron’s Nest 23.2
ancient wisdom —
naming negative space
in the night sky
     — Helen Ogden, Cold Moon, October 22, 2021
beneath the blossoms
she counts her years
on one hand
     — Sasha A. Palmer, Japan Fair Haiku Contest, June 26, 2021
bottled water
does the river know
its many names?
     — Minal Sarosh, Akitsu Quarterly, Fall 2021
scenting the night
with somewhere else
train whistle
     — Ann K. Schwader, The Heron’s Nest 23.1
not every color 
has a name . . .
midnight jazz
     — Tiffany Shaw-Diaz, Stardust Haiku 50
childhood memories . . . 
I open and close
the wrought iron gate
     — Neena Singh, The Haiku Foundation Haiku Dialogue, October 6, 2021
the blue swallows the blue swallows
     — our thomas, Whiptail 1
below the missing dog a missing woman
     — Joan Torres, #FemkuMag 31
conger eel thrashing in the creel this hunger
     — Lew Watts, Wales Haiku Journal, Winter 2021
starry night
 — a lighthouse 
 — a lighthouse
     — James Young, The Poetry Pea Journal of haiku and senryu: Spring 2021
acres of cotton
his son asks if they'll
be slaves again
     — J. Zimmerman, Presence 71
bobolink in flight
his song for her the length
of a hay field 
     — J. Zimmerman, Modern Haiku 52.3
global warming
the delicate oars
of this lifeboat
     — J. Zimmerman, tinywords, October 14, 2021

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Congratulations, Lew! A virtuosic example of pure poetry. The long “ee’s” slip between the hard “c’s” and harsh consonant digraphs (“th”, “sh”), demanding the reader’s image of the eel’s struggle feel visceral, violent. The joining of the fragment “this hunger” to the phrase “conger eel thrashing in the creel” without punctuation contributes to the claustrophobic hopelessness the poet feels at this moment. Everyone feels at this moment.

  2. There are some terrific poems on the shortlist this year! This one certainly stood out to me:

    tearing the filter
    off his cigarette—
    war stories

    -PMF Johnson

    It struck me as familiar when I first read it in String Theory. Turns out, it’s a combination of two of my previously published poems:

    grandpa’s voice
    I tear the filter
    off a cigarette

    (Originally published in Wild Plum, 2017)

    war stories
    the shrapnel in
    his voice

    (Originally published in Turtle Light Press’ Haiku Contest Favorites, 2019)

    Could Johnson have (possibly unconsciously) copied my work? Yes, but the brevity of haiku certainly creates reasonable doubt.

    1. Kudos, Edward, for your outstanding diplomacy (and for both of your outstanding haiku as well).

    2. Edward, I’d like to think that it was an unconscious/subconscious copying, similar to what happens in music sometimes, when there is no deliberate intent present of appropriating/borrowing somebody else’s tune, but it happens. It is also possible that almost identical haiku were written by different poets, who never read each other’s work. And perhaps the brevity of haiku makes it even a stronger possibility. I’m speaking from experience. Last summer we had a power outage, and I wrote this:

      power outage
      in the candlelight
      your face

      Thank Goodness, I didn’t submit it anywhere, or publish it on my blog – that would have been embarrassing. For look what I found on the web, after I wrote my haiku, something I’d never seen before:

      power outage:
      in the candlelight
      our ancestral faces

      — Larry Bole, USA

      It was pretty amazing to see how two people can write almost identical poems, without knowing it.
      So, just saying, things happen.

  3. There is a poem which are in both the previous list ( as a monuku) and in the current list as a three line haiku. Somewhat confusing. But hats off to all who have made the lists!!!

      1. Hello Alan,
        Yes, an extraordinary tercet. What is confusing is : the previous list is said to contain poems OUT from the shortlist.
        Anyway, wishing the very best.

        With respect and regards,

    1. Yes, there is, Subir. Whether in 3 line or monoku form it is the same haiku.

      Congratulations, Lakshmi, on all three counts: honourable mention in a kukai, featured in one-line form on the Touchstone ‘long list’ and also featured in the Touchstone short list, in 3-line form.

  4. Grateful to The Haiku Foundation, the editors of Haiku Dialogue, the friends who nominated and the expert panelists for selecting my ku . I am amazed and humbled, as I am still a learner of this great art of haiku.

    Congratulations to all talented poets, it’s a great honor to be listed here with them.

  5. Congratulations to all the poets! Great work! Looks like a nice variety of journals too.

    1. Dear bisshie, I love this poem. One can see a flooded home, perhaps because of climate change, in the throws of being reclaimed by nature. Another interpretation, trout being a summer kigo: It’s hot outside. The sound of the nearby river in this room, in every room the poet walks through deepens not only the coolness inside, but the poet’s imagination as well, where they see brown trout spawn on their way home and die. Our shared existence, exquisitely evoked by seven words floating on the ripples of six “r’s”.

  6. Congratulations to all poets.
    Credit to the editors that selected all the entries.

  7. Congrats to all of the poets, and thanks to the panelists for all of their work in selecting the short list. I’m delighted, amazed, and humbled to have a poem on this list!

    1. There is a poem which are in both the previous list ( as a monuku) and in the current list as a three line haiku. Somewhat confusing. But hats off to all who have made the lists!!!

  8. Deeply appreciate that one of my poems made the Short List. Many thanks to the panelists and coordinators. Kudos to all listed poets!

    1. A huge honour for me to be included both in longlist and shortlist of Touchstone Individual Poems, 2021.

      Thanks to the distinguished panelists and The Haiku Foundation management team.

      Congrats all!

  9. A fine collection. Congratulations to all poets. I look forward to reading the entire long list, as well.

      1. Thank you, Lorin. That makes it clearer — 57 poems in all made the long list. Cheers, Marietta

        1. Hello Ingrid,
          I understand 27 poems were published a while ago — a partial ‘long list’. The other 30 (listed here) were not published on that first list because they were to be shortlisted and deliberations at that stage were still under way. I think I’m correct in saying this. Anyway, it’s a different way of presenting the lists to previous years. Regards, Marietta

        2. “Um…Was the ‘long list’ published last week?” -Ingrid

          Um… Ingrid, you’ll note that I made the same query myself before I searched for and found the link. All you needed to do to find precisely the date that the ‘long list’ was published was to click on the link.

          As it turned out, (um…) no, it wasn’t last week, but closer to last month, as you would know if you’ve bothered to look.

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