Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 1995

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 1995

for books published in 1994

Bruce Ross and Alfred H. Marks

We wish to thank all entrants to the 1995 Merit Book Awards and for their contributions to the HSA Library. 1994 was dominated by the publication of A Haiku Path, an impressive history of HAS, which will receive a special award of recognition. There were also many fine volumes of translations, particularly of the classical Japanese masters. In addition, several volumes dominated by English-language tanka appeared. The “charge” of a haiku or other form, translated or not, was a major criterion of judgment. And the competing volumes of haiku seemed superior in this year. 1995 was a difficult year to judge the Merit Book Awards. Our research, furthermore, led us to realize the impressive stamina of haiku and related Japanese forms in both traditional and innovative directions.


First Place

Ion Codrescu, Editor. Ocolind iazul/Round the Pond, Antologie de/An Anthology by Ion Codrescu, Editor, Constanta, Romania, Editura Muntenia, 1994

For being perhaps the first haiku-oriented international Western anthology of articles, commentary, letters, autobiography, and original haiku, haibun, and renga. This bilingual collection (Romanian/English) was created to commemorate the tercentenary of Basho’s death. The collection nudges us, if we consider lyric and Imagist elements, to answer “Yes!” to Ion Codrescu’s question in his insightful “Forward”: “Will haiku be, after three hundred years since Basho’s death, a catalyst for Western poetry . . .?” The volume allows us to share what major (and other) figures in modern international haiku and haiku studies, such as Marijan Cekolj (Croatia), Elizabeth St Jacques (Canada), Koko Kato (Japan), James Kirkup (England), Gunther Klinge (Germany) Humberto Senegal (Colombia) and Makoto Ueda (U.S.A.) think about the form. The views and insights of the collection both converge and diverge but all are clearly heartfelt and, when coupled with the solicited original haiku that are appended to most entries, the volume offers both delight and instruction in the perhaps shortest and certainly one of the most vital poetic forms practiced worldwide.


Second Place

Nick Avis. Footprints. Pointe Claire, Quebec: King’s Road Press, 1994.

A selection of haiku and “eye-ku” by one of our most gifted haiku poets, here in the Hexagram Series edited by Marco Fraticelli. There is an exquisite subtlety in the internal compression of the images in these haiku and a tenderness of expression in evoking the emotional exchange of love and longing that is one of the volume’s major subjects.


Third Place

Tom Clausen. Autumn Wind in the Cracks. Ithaca, NY: 1994.

A first collection by an extraordinary haiku poet. For the consistently delicate tone of these collected haiku and senryu that have delighted many of us as they appeared in the haiku journals.


Honorable Mention

Sam Savage. Trawlers. McClellanville, SC: Hardscrabble Press, 1994.

These 21 haiku unify very well the experience of commercial fishing, often with a deep, moving tone.


Honorable Mention

Vincent Tripi, White. Amherst, MA: Swamp Press, 1994.

For the evocation of winter, nature’s moment-by-moment creation, and childhood’s wonder. And for regardful allusions to American haiku masters.




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.