Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 1981

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 1981

for books published in 1978-1980

Alfred Marks (chairman)
Sydell Rosenberg, and Lilli Tanzer


First Place

Raymond Roseliep. Sailing Bones. Rook Press, Ruffsdale, Pennsylvania, 1978.

    in the stream
stones making half
      the music

their small talk
after marriage
            the wild strawberries


Second Place

Bernard Lionel Einbond. The Coming Indoors and Other Poems. Charles E. Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont, 1979.

The white of her neck
as she lifts her hair for me
to undo her dress.

The coming indoors
on a wintry afternoon;
the breath of a child.


Third Place

Virginia Brady Young. Shedding the River. privately published, 1978.

During a downpour
     the frog’s eyes
          — open.

Pulling the plow
               the smell of earth.


Honorable Mention

Gary Hotham. Against the Linoleum. Yiqralo Press, Laurel, Maryland, 1979.

night comes —
picking up your shoes
still warm

wild geese —
the clouds too low
to see them


Honorable Mention

George Swede. Wingbeats. Juniper Press, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1979.

Rain falling
the lily pad

The open mouths
of my two sons — soundless
above the waves


Honorable Mention

Proxade Davis. Scrub Pine. Zephyr Instant Printing, Hyannis, Massachusetts, 1980.

standing in the marsh
a deer listens
winter evening now

empty beach
a sand pail upside down


Honorable Mention

Geraldine C. Little. Separation: Seasons in Space. Sparrow Press, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1979.

Spring comes late here. I don’t mind. I had no wish to rush it. Now that it is here, I think I have never seen spring before. We must need contrasts really to see contrasts. . . .

the small shadow
          of a single buttercup
                    reshaped by wind

The woodpecker’s click
          then an unknown bird talking
                    somewhere. Stranger here, too?


Honorable Mention - Translation

Gary L. Ebersole and Hideko Yamaga. The Elm Erupts: Selections from the works of Horiguchi Seimin. privately published, 1977.

White silver smoke . . .
the elm erupts.

A nighthawk cries . . .
my friends’ shoes flash white
in the night woods




The purpose of the Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Awards is to recognize the best haiku and related books published in a given year in the English language. Every year sees a fresh crop of fine individual collections, anthologies, translations, critical studies and innovative forms.

In the past, the HSA Merit Book awards were partially supported by a memorial gift. Leroy Kanterman, cofounder of the Haiku Society of America, made a gift to support the first place award in memory of his wife Mildred Kanterman. See the archives of Merit Book Awards.

The Merit Book Awards competition is open to the public. Books must have been published in the previous year and must clearly contain a printed previous year copyright. A member, author, or publisher may submit or nominate more than one title. At least 50 percent of the book must be haiku, senryu, or haibun, or prose about these subjects (books mostly of tanka, for example, are not eligible). HSA will also consider collections that have only appeared in an e-book/digital book format. Two print copies of the digital book may be sent by the publisher. Books published by HSA officers are eligible for this award. Books published by the national HSA organization, however, are not eligible.

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1985 | 1983 | 1981 | 1978 | 1975 |

See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards competition.