Haiku Society of America Haiku Award for 2012 - Judges Commentary

Haiku Society of America Haiku Award
in Memorial of Harold G. Henderson


Judges: Mark Harris and Peter Yovu

Judges’ general comments:

In discussing the poems at hand, we agreed that the haiku we value most are layered—that they do not just direct awareness to one area of experience—pleasant or painful memories, for example, or to what is easily grasped (and discarded)—but lead us into depths, into recognitions we did not know we had until the poem drew us in. It is not so much a matter of innovation, of making something new for the sake of it, but more an understanding that there are senses and sensibilities within us that ordinary discourse does not reach.

Richard Gilbert, discussing the work of Kaneko Tohta, has this to say:

"Haiku at their best arise unbidden as new countries (planets, landscapes), deepening surface consciousness. One thinks of Huidobro's Altazar, falling through history, suspended by his parachute—a freefall  collision or collusion of graceful language with grace. Extended 'moments' occur introspectively and intimately in poems that pursue reality at an angle, possessing the power to abruptly twist or cut in layered paradoxes which enlarge consciousness, breathing us into the new."

Each of the six chosen haiku opened unexpected layers of awareness and understanding in us, ranging from physical sensation to some kind of psychological or spiritual insight.

These haiku represent writers who clearly feel that this almost impossibly short genre is capable of embodying wonders "deepening surface consciousness". Do they represent haiku at its "best"? You will be the judge of that.

~ Mark Harris and Peter Yovu


First Place

no escaping
this moonlight—

Scott Mason


Second Place

river mud
the shape
of boys

Jayne Miller


Third Place

somewhere becoming rain becoming somewhere

Jim Kacian


Honorable Mentions (unranked)

desert twilight
a map with many creases
nailed to a cross

Garry Gay


we huddle
over mother’s open grave—
lawless winter

Anita Curran Guenin


a long bus ride
the prophetic language
of the stops

Michael McClintock





These awards for unpublished haiku were originally made possible by Mrs. Harold G. Henderson in memory of Harold G. Henderson, who helped found The Haiku Society of America.

Download a PDF file sampler of Henderson Awards.

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See the complete collection of award-winning haiku from all previous Henderson Haiku Award competitions

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