Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 1994

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 1994

for books published in 1993

unknown judges

Thank you to all who sent work to be considered for the 1994 Merit Book Awards. Each book is worthy of being included in personal collections. Decisions for awards were difficult ones to make, given the quality and the diversity of the entries. As judges, we sought to evaluate the submissions in the criteria traditionally invoked in discussing haiku and related forms. In each case there was a give and take of opinions before arriving at an agreement. After registering the “initial impact” of the work, we refined our impressions by further reading and discussion. We looked for achievement overall:  appropriateness and precision of language, tone, and thought. Also, in the case of several forms (e.g., haiku, renku, tanka, haibun), one had to evaluate their interrelations, consonance, etc. That is, how were the parts articulated? It was agreed from the start that each judge would keep a record of notes from successive readings. Subsequently, we would collate our observations before making final decisions. All of this did not mean a pedantic adherence to “rules,” or a “value” applied mechanically without appreciation of “originality.” Lest the judges be too harshly judged, we plead honest hard work and possible fallibility.


First Place

Margaret Chula. Grinding My Ink. Lake Oswego, OR: Katsura Press, 1993.

Superbly sustained focus, centering in daily life at the place where she lived in Japan. Initially, she writes: “this collection of haiku is dedicated to the house at Icho da cho 10-1 and to John who shared it with me.” This is followed by an Introduction in which she masterfully creates the ambience. The brush calligraphy (kanji) which correspond to and set apart each section of haiku are exciting, and take us back to the title, Grinding My Ink. Each section has its special imagery, tones and moods. Indeed, this book is a good example of unity in diversity, a cohesiveness of all elements. Nothing seems extraneous.


Second Place

Charles B. Dickson. A Moon in Each Eye. Edited by Vincent Tripi. Gualala, CA: AHA Books, 1993.

Published posthumously, Dickson’s family dedicates the book to Vincent Tripi, who selected and edited the poems. The unity of setting, of “scene” in the poetic sense, is built of interrelated images of a rural world. There’s an integration of person, place and things observed. Simple (in the best haiku sense of the word) and delicately sensuous haiku.


Third Place

Francine Porad. The Patchwork Quilt: Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, Renku, Artwork. Mercer Island, WA: Vandina Press, 1993.

We find a clue to the book’s structure in the title. This is a sensitive gathering of haiku, senryu, and tanka. It is true to the author’s work in general, a blending of pathos, humor and wit. The book’s integrity is marked by a refreshing absence of pretentiousness, a tenderness without sentimentality. Also included are her monoprints. An excitingly versatile writer and painter.


Honorable Mention

Cyril Childs, Editor. The New Zealand Haiku Anthology. Wellington, New Zealand: The New Zealand Poetry Society, 1993.

The work of 19 contributors, all New Zealanders. A fascinating insight into the feel of another country and culture. A lively and vigorous collection.


Honorable Mention

Jean Jorgensen. Border Crossing: Haiku and Related Poetry. Edmonton, Alberta: Four Seasons Corner, 1993.

The title implies a literal border crossing and symbolic crossings—into puberty, growing up and leaving home, changes of season, etc. Poems animated by a charming wit.


Honorable Mention

David Priebe, Editor. Timepieces: Haiku Week At-a-glance 1994. Los Angeles, CA: Cloverleaf Books, 1993.

A calendar featuring winners of a contest calling for haiku on natural and seasonal themes only. An innovative service for haiku poets and those fond of haiku.


Honorable Mention

Michael Dylan Welch, Editor. Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go. Foster City, CA: Press Here, 1993.

Anthology containing senryu by Laura Bell, Garry Gay, Christopher Herold, vincent tripi, Michael Dylan Welch, and Paul O. Williams. A most amusing collection.




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.