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THF Monthly Kukai — January 2024

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:

Note: Anonymity is an essential part of any kukai. Please respect this to offer the reader (and voter) the opportunity to choose only the poem.

The THF Kukai Overview

A kukai is a (usually quite casual) poetry contest. The administrator of the kukai (that’s us) assigns a theme for a given writing period and posts to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) on the THF site, which is then redirected outward through our various media outlets. Poets write work to this theme during the allotted time and submit it to the administrator. The work submitted is gathered into an anonymous roster and posted to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) for public viewing. At that time all participating poets and other interested readers may vote for their favorites. Votes are tallied and the results made public. The top winners will be acknowledged each month, and offered their choice of prizes from a list compiled by the Foundation. Please remember that everyone who votes is a winner — the process of choosing your personal favorites is not just fun, but also one of the best ways to improve your own haiku practice!

Results of Last Month’s THF Kukai

theme: festival

In December there were 141 submissions from twenty-six countries across five continents.
Seventy-five voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize (tie)
ceasefire . . .
a soldier comes home
for Christmas
     — Neena Singh (44 points - 2; 4; 4; 2; 2)
First Prize (tie)
paper lanterns —
the spirits float away
for another year
     — Ruth Holzer (44 points - 4; 2; 3; 2; 3)
Third Prize
end of the festival
a young janitor gathers
fallen stars
     — Hifsa Ashraf (43 points - 5; 1; 4; 1; 0)
Honorable Mentions
New Year's Eve
a girl seeks her father
amid the stars
     — Milan Rajkumar
solstice gathering
I let loose
my inner pagan
     — Tracy Davidson
holiday meal
the annual festival
of slights
     — Curt Linderman
among the lit lawn deer
a dark one
     — Elizabeth Bentley

Writing for The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai

On the first day of each month The Haiku Foundation will announce the kukai theme for that month. This theme should be the topic of your poem, and may be stated (by using the theme word or words) or implied. Form may be traditional (three-line, 5-7-5) or free (various numbers of lines and/or syllables). Season words (kigo) may or may not be used at the poet’s discretion. A poet may submit one poem per theme. All poems must be the original, unpublished work of the author. In order to maintain the spirit and fairness of the kukai, a poem that has appeared anywhere with its author’s name cannot be allowed for submission.

Please use the Kukai submission form below to enter your poem, and then press Submit to send your entry. No other submissions will be recognized or honored. Once a poem is submitted it cannot be revised. All poems must be signed (that is, no “anonymous” poems will be accepted, and the Submit button will not be available until both Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in). Poets will not receive acknowledgment of their submissions. Poems will be accepted from the announcement of the theme through midnight of the 15th of that month. All poets are eligible to participate. Administrators of the kukai are ineligible to submit poems. Your submission form to us should look something like this:

line one
followed by line two
and then line three


this poem is all in one line



[all lines right-justified]

If your poem has special formatting requirements you should note them as in the third example above.

Good luck, and have fun!


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I agree with Maureen. These are beautiful haiku. Neena Singh’s poem of a soldier coming home for Christmas touched my heart.

  2. Dear Tom:
    I blush for putting my kukai in the comment section. Would you be able to erase it from this submission? I apologize for my blunder:/

    Madeleine Kavanagh

  3. I love the many winning haiku from December! The first one touched me in particular because my eldest grandson, a Marine stationed in Japan, surprised his father, 3 siblings, 5 cousins and 5 grandparents by arriving home on Christmas Eve.

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