Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards for 2018

Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards

Haibun Awards for 2018

John Stevenson

First Place

by Jennifer Hambrick, Worthington, Ohio, U.S.A.

That Summer

everything was wheelie-o, bling-bloop, water in the frying pan, skittereedoo.  everything purple and pink, crackly crunch, salty sweet, lemon-lime.  everything high-heeled, lip glossed, hair moussed, thonged, pixie cut.  everything school’s out, girlish pout, without a doubt, push and shout.  everything untied, wide-eyed, jute-chinned, hemmed-in, take-n-bake, glass bead, knock-kneed.  everything tilt-a-whirl, carousel, gyro tower, brown cow, show them how, nope, no going back now.

walking around
in a new place
first kiss

~ ~ ~

This seems to me to be the complete package. Haibun lend themselves to performance and this one is a delight to recite. The title seems like a mere setting indicator at first, but then we realize that it means that summer. The prose is loop after loop of everything, everything, everything—very age appropriate. And the poem puts it all into place. The balance of the piece is almost invisible because of the sweet delirium of the subject and its constituent images, but it is there all the same, holding the thing together.

Second Place

by Joan Prefontaine, Cottonwood, Arizona, U.S.A.

This is Your Last Chance

to save the whales, the rivers, the ocean, the endangered species, the planet, your last day to donate, to purchase a T-shirt on behalf of everything you love, to make a contribution to show you care, to submit your comments, to express your opinion, to march with others who agree with you, to sign our petition, to contact your congress members, to communicate your outrage, to respond, to react, to stand up and be counted, this is your final notice, your last day to give, time’s almost up, only hours left, the bar is closing, this is your last call, your final notice, your last email from us, our funds are dangerously short and everything is urgent, so please send what you can, cash, Paypal or credit card, we don’t care, whatever you can spare will help to save us, surely, since time, our oh-so-precious time is running out.

tossing a coin
in the fountain
New Year’s Day

~ ~ ~

Like the first-place selection, this haibun is flawlessly crafted, every part of it doing its job, building toward an understanding of not so much what time is as what time feels like. In a sense, every moment of our lives is a last chance. And the urge to make good use of our time creates the pressure that is so well expressed here.

Third Place:

by Michele Root-Bernstein, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.


This friend of mine, a woman who spent her working life as an orthopedic surgeon, she’s telling me she has trouble following the conversation in a crowded room.

early au
the   un sets
in a    low tree

~ ~ ~

I’m especially fond of very brief haibun. If a poet can do the job with a minimum of words, I am impressed. And this one even truncates some of the individual words—to great effect. One might think that this piece would be hard to perform effectively. I tried it out with a friend, a non-haiku poet and I can report that it works very well, indeed.

Honorable Mention (unranked):

Joan Prefontaine, Cottonwood, Arizona, U.S.A.

On the Level
An old friend of mine has decided the earth is flat, that the moon landing was a hoax created by trick photography, and that the planets don’t revolve around the sun. He explains to me, the daughter of a mathematician and a reference librarian, that the earth is a disc surrounded by an ice wall, and that our day and night, as well as our seasonal shifts, are caused by the moon and sun chasing each other around like siblings, 3000 miles above us. His grown children attempt to contradict him on Facebook, where he posts links to Flat Earth Society news. “What about Pythagoras?” “What about gravity?” “You’ve got to be kidding, Dad!” they comment beneath his postings, to no avail. Lately, it feels as if we are moving backward in time, to an anti-scientific age, or perhaps there has never been such a thing as a time-line, or linear progress, as we have been taught. Perhaps, instead, our beliefs, like our discoveries, follow a more circuitous path, the way ships sail hull-first over the horizon, shrinking out of sight for some, looming menacingly for others.

a curve-ball
far beyond the catcher’s reach
spring training

~ ~ ~

Billie Wilson, Juneau, Alaska, U.S.A.

A Chicken Coop Chronicle

My little brother is 75. He doesn’t recall that decades ago we buried a time capsule under the clothesline strung between the barn and the chicken coop. I describe our debate about what to put in Grampa’s old tobacco tin. I recall a little boy’s reluctance to part with a favorite aggie marble; and a young girl’s lingering over a movie star’s photo on a Dixie Cup lid. I tell how we sorted through these and other treasures we were sure some future kid or visiting Martian would marvel over when they found our secret cache. He grins when I mention we dug up the tin, opened it, and reburied it several times that summer, just to be sure everything was still there.

tangled bittersweet
a rusted mailbox
with no name

~ ~ ~

C.E. Gallagher, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


I report for my 3-11 shift at the nursing home. From the last room on the right, I hear frantic calls for help and respond without thinking. I race her wheelchair down the long, narrow hall, back through the years. Alice’s long grey braids trail behind her desperation. We reach safety at the nurse’s station before the barn fire reaches the farmhouse.

Mind’s eye
on fire
helpless again

~ ~ ~

John Hawk, Hilliard, Ohio, U.S.A.


We worked when we wanted, just enough to cover baseball cards and beer when the county fair rolled around. The heat and bugs had their way with us, but when break time hit we’d collapse in the grass talking cars or girls or whatever made us laugh the loudest. The wind raced back and forth over what remained, howling but never dying, drowning out the farmer's call to begin again.

cold well water
half the hayfield
left to bale

~ ~ ~

Jacquie Pearce, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Third Wolf

There are two wolves inside each of us. One good, one bad. (You've probably heard the story.) The wolves are in a fight to the death. The one you feed is the one that wins (or so the story goes). But what about the third wolf? Who is she? And what if I share the food equally? One for you, one for me, one for you, and so on ?the way we were taught to share candy as children. And what if I don't look directly at the wolves, but glance sideways out of the corner of my eye, pretending not to look at all? And instead of wolves, what if they are crows?

There was a girl who fed the crows every day in her back yard. One day, they began leaving her gifts. First, a paper clip, then a shiny silver screw, buttons, a bent piece of metal, a set of car keys, two earrings that did not match . . .

at the playground's edge
turning and turning
the stone in my pocket

~ ~ ~

About the Judge

John Stevenson is the current honorary curator of the America Haiku Archives at the California State Library. He is a former president of H.S.A., former editor of Frogpond and currently the managing editor of The Heron's Nest.





The purpose of the Haiku Society of America's Haibun Awards competition is to recognize the best unpublished haibun submitted. Authors may submit up to three unpublished haibun, of no more than 1,000 words, not submitted for publication or to any other contest. Publication is defined as an appearance in a printed book, magazine, or journal (sold or given away), or in any online journal that presents edited periodic content. The appearance of poems in online discussion lists or personal websites is not considered publication. Judges will be asked to disqualify any haibun that they have seen before..

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 |

For details about the contest rules, see the Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards guidelines.