Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 2001

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 2001

Pamela Miller Ness and Karen Klein, judges

We had the privilege of reviewing 35 books published in 2000; each one of them has many features worthy of commendation. We congratulate all the authors and wish them well in future publications.

Here's how we made our decisions. First, we independently read the many fine volumes without sharing our impressions. Then we made a preliminary list of the eight or nine books we separately evaluated as outstanding and emailed the list to each other. To our surprise and delight, with few exceptions, our lists were identical. In the last phase of judging, we discussed the merits of each book and moved to our final selections. In judging each book, we looked for overall consistency in the high quality of the poems, a pleasing design appropriate to the text, and an original contribution to our common endeavor of writing haiku and its related forms. We are pleased to make the following awards and special category honorable mentions and encourage the HSA membership to support the winning authors and publishers by buying and reading these books.


First Place

Connie Hutchison, Editor. To Find the Words. The Haiku Society of America Northwest Region Members Anthology, 2000.

As Connie Hutchison indicates in her Foreword, "this anthology was truly a collaboration" and its overall excellence attests to that fine working together. The poems have been sequenced as linked verse(haikai), so although the list of poets is alphabetical, the poems have been placed in an order which enhances their juxtapositions. Each right hand page contains a single poem, so the book can be read through as a continuous body of work. On the left hand pages, the brief biography of each poet appears. The book's design is perfect in its size (5.5 x 7.25) and the placement of text, its typeface, its Larroque Mouchette covers, its Thai lace paper endsheets, its handsewn three-hole bindings. Dedicated to Francine Porad, whose energetic ink drawings begin and end the text, to find the words is a tribute to her wonderful contributions and her most important role in the haiku community.


Second Place

Christopher Herold. A Path in the Garden. Oswego, OR: Katsura Press, 2000.

Herold's haiku, written during 30 years of practice as poet, gardener, and Zen practitioner, reflect consummate artistry. With extraordinary spareness, simplicity, and beauty of language, he captures the eternal in the quotidian. These haiku are intimate, yet universal. We accompany Herold at a leisurely pace on the path he creates within and without the walls of his gardens. Ruth Yarrow's glowing watercolors of the gate bring us in and then lead us out. We are grateful, as John Stevenson eloquently writes in the foreword, to have accepted Herold's invitation into the garden and eager for a return visit.

first light—
the deep print of a sole
among crocuses


Third Place

Ernest Berry. Forgotten War. Queensland, Australia: Post Pressed, 2000.

"Penned after many years of trying to forget," this memoir, loosely in the form of a haibun, contains not only Ernest Berry's prose, haiku and senryu, but also his brush drawings, photographs of himself then and now, and of soldiers and of children from wartime Korea. The sequence takes the author from young recruit eager to do battle, to horror-struck warrior, to reflective return visitor many years later. Often ironic, his poems have a powerful emotional range: sorrow, anger, bitter humor, bewilderment, helpless grief. In the midst of human catastrophe, he remains mindful of the natural world.

line of refugees
the smallest child
carries a centipede

At the end of the text are haiku and a haibun, "Losing Private Sutherland," contributed by Jerry Kilbride who also served in the Korean War.


Special Category Honorable Mention for Haiga

Raffael de Gruttola. Echoes in Sand. Upton, MA: piXeLaRt Press, 2000.

First edition limited to 50 copies on archival Concorde paper with the artists' signatures on each print. This exquisite portfolio is the result of a six year collaboration between Croteau and de Gruttola. Each haiga is printed on a separate sheet which is suitable for framing, and each haiku's position in relation to the art work is an important component in creating the overall visual image. Deo Tomas' printing has faithfully captured the subtle tonalities of the brush strokes and wash. In his foreword, Tadashi Kondo describes this work as a "unique contribution to the noble spirit of uniting East and West." Usually drawing in haiga is representational, but here it is abstract. "Even though the picture is abstract," says Kondo, "the poem-picture relationship does suggest a correspondence which advances a new approach in the understanding of the haiga art." The light flowing brush lines, large areas of wash contrasted with the darker, thinner, more constricted marks, in this haiga for example, create the sense and feeling of the haiku:

swoop of the hawk
on the river bedrock
caught trout


Special Category Honorable Mention for Criticism

A. C. Missias, Editor. In Due Season: A discussion of the role of kigo in English-language haiku; (Acorn Supplement #1). Philadelphia, PA: Redfox Press, 2000.

This first in a series of biannual critical supplements to the journal Acorn focuses on the subject of kigo. Five nationally and internationally-acclaimed poets, critics, and editors (Jim Kacian, Dhugal Lindsay, Jane Reichhold, Charles Trumbull, and Michael Dylan Welch) offer thought-provoking and contradictory essays, each carefully researched and documented. Kigo: what is one? how to use one? do we need one? promises to be a hotly debated topic at many future HSA meetings, and this small volume gives all of us lots to think about as we write our own haiku.


Special Category Honorable Mention for Tanka

Cherie Hunter Day. Early Indigo. Liverpool, England, UK: Snapshot Press, 2000.

Awarded first prize in the Snapshots Collection Competition of 1999, this is the first book-length collection of tanka by Cherie Hunter Day, prize-winning author of both tanka and haiku. As the author writes in her preface, "This poetic form seems to be the perfect literary medium with which to convey the connection between nature and my interior landscape. It permits a focus on a moment in time—a moment of depth and clarity." Her tanka effectively communicate that connection with enormous emotional power.

years later
in the middle of the hallway
the smell of daffodils
during her last illness
the room filled with such yellow


Special Category Honorable Mention for Haiku Novel

David Lanoue. Haiku Guy. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2000.

David Lanoue breaks new ground with the first novel whose subject is the writing of haiku. The novel blends the fictional story of Buck-Teeth, a fictitious student of Cup-of Tea (Issa), who travels between 18th century Edo and contemporary New Orleans on his journey to become a poet. Lanoue skillfully weaves lessons on haiku into this humorous and original story. We laughed and marveled at this witty, imaginative, and instructive text.


Special Category Honorable Mention for First Book of Poetry

Laurie W. Stoelting. Light on the Mountain mt. Tamalpais a poet's view. Mill Valley, CA: Field Trips, 2000.

Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to support the preservation of the historic West Point Inn on Mt. Tamalpais. This book is profoundly about place. The author, a frequent walker of Mt. Tamalpais, has included an index of the location for each haiku and indicated if it were a trail road or a fire road. Stoelting's keen awareness of her surroundings and her intimacy with them shine in the poems. The larger resonances of our lives are not lost on her either.

the single rivulet
how slowly a pond
lets go



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.