Haiku Society of America Haibun Renku Awards for 2022

Haiku Society of America Renku Awards
in Memorial of Bernard Lionel Einbond

~ ~ ~

HSA Renku Awards for 2022

Christopher Herold and Patricia J. Machmiller

First Place

Perchance - Maine, USA

20 stanza nijuin
Onawa, Maine

Yu Chang
Tom Clausen
Paul MacNeil (with permission by daughter, Meghan)
John Stevenson
Hilary Tann

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                                           rumble of thunder
                                           the floating dock
                                           shifts with the wind

Hilary Tann

                                           tree shadows
                                           on and off the canoe

Yu Chang

                                           scraping rust
                                           from a buried

Paul MacNeil

                                           her henna hair
                                           a welcome surprise

Tom Clausen

                                           longstanding habits
                                           of smoking
                                           and moon-viewing

John Stevenson

                                           the mycologist
                                           crawls under a rock


                                           somewhere in the wall
                                           a cricket
                                           chirps the night away


                                           scroll of a mandarin
                                           absorbed in calligraphy


                                           I wonder
                                           what my date thinks
                                           of the explicit scenes


                                           a diamond
                                           for her lip ring


                                           tandem skydiving
                                           to celebrate
                                           their anniversary


                                           pitiless moonlight
                                           on the frozen DMZ


                                           The weatherman,
                                           so perspicacious, telling us
                                           “It’s cold!”


                                           landmark church
                                           without a congregation


                                           rather sleep
                                           than watch the Empire State Building
                                           change color


                                           to dream . . .


                                           peeling off
                                           from a traffic circle
                                           to nowhere


                                           comp tickets
                                           for the Grapefruit League


                                           yellow spray of forsythia
                                           arching over
                                           the stone wall


                                           male pheasants
                                           in full display



~ ~ ~


Second Place

Bay Nuts - California, USA

20 stanza Autumn nijuin
October 14, 2022

Roger Abe
Linda Papanicolaou
Carol Steele
J. Zimmerman



~ ~ ~

Bay Nuts


~ 1 ~

                                           in the morning fog
                                           young bay nuts
                                           waking up

Roger Abe - ra

                                           the swirl of cream
                                           in the pumpkin latte

J. Zimmerman - jz

                                           fishing boats
                                           and a hunter’s moon
                                           roll on the sea


                                           at the edge of the woods
                                           a crow’s shrill cry

Carol Steele - cs


~ 2 ~

                                           the manicurist
                                           smooths my thumbnail
                                           with an emery board


                                           his favorite lipstick
                                           is Fire and Ice


                                           another suitor
                                           returns from a quest
                                           for the princess

Linda Papanicolaou - lp

                                           one hundred varieties
                                           bloom in Mother’s iris bed


                                           still on the easel
                                           a half-finished painting
                                           of billowing clouds


                                           caught in the pull
                                           of a siphoning geoduck



~ 3 ~

                                           is it true
                                           that the universe
                                           is a hologram?


                                           I jump, you jump
                                           Buddha jumps over the wall


                                           renewing their vows
                                           she wears again her
                                           handmade wedding dress


                                           their heated gazes
                                           over mulled wine


                                           après ski
                                           moonrise and the theme song
                                           from a Bond movie


                                           Sesame Street is brought to you
                                           by the letters M and Q



~ 4 ~

                                           sky writing
                                           to infinity
                                           and beyond


                                           tadpoles in a jar
                                           cling to strands of algae


                                           from over the fence
                                           a volunteer in my garden
                                           brings drifting blossoms


                                           Dad’s trucker’s permit
                                           found while spring cleaning



~ ~ ~




The Haiku Society of America sposors this annual award for renku of 36, 20, or 12 stanzas.

See the contest guidelines for the HSA Renku Awards.

For more information about the goals of this contest, download a copy of the HSA Renku Contest Committee Report (pdf) published in Frogpod XIII:2 (May 1990).

Awards by year:

| 2022 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 |


2022 judges commentary:

The art of writing renku requires poets and those who assess their work to consider many elements of composition both technical and poetic. Before considering the technical aspects I like to read each submission with a beginner’s mind so as to not become overly distracted by those things that I might otherwise regard as flaws. Instead I seek the heart of the renku-writing experience: obvious enjoyment of creative collaboration that results in learning from and about one another. Does the poem flow? Does it touch me emotionally? Am I surprised? Do I laugh? Have I learned something?

Many more readings follow for every renku is perfectly imperfect. Those flaws must be take into consideration. I explore eleven layers of technical skill and six layers of poetic ability. Which poems best adhere to guiding principles (both traditional and evolved) and simultaneously demonstrate poetic finesse? Which renku are unique in ways that render them memorable?

Regardless of what poem(s) are chosen to be winners, renku-composition is truly a marvelous means to work together in ways that are at once artistic, educational and supportive. ~ Christopher Herold


Renku derives its power and energy from variety—a variety of images, seasons, voices, points of view, and language. The secret to creating a successful poem out of all this variety is getting it to cohere. While many of the submissions to the Einbond contest this year made for a good read, “Perchance” accomplished both goals with style. “Perchance” is the work of five voices; it contains a number of delightful and charming surprises.

First and foremost, was the title—it tantalizes the reader and we eagerly follow its sly beckoning.

Second, the language, sometimes edgy, sometimes unexpected, sustained out interest—a scimitar, a mycologist, a scroll, a DMZ, and for non-baseball aficionados, the enigmatic Grapefruit League, Major League Baseball’s Spring Training Program in Florida.

Third, some pleasing links: “rust” and “henna hair,” “peeling off” and “the Grapefruit League,” and best of all, a reference to “sleep” in one verse leading to the linking verse “perchance / to dream . . .”. With that, Shakespeare himself, without being mentioned, makes an appearance and the poem’s title takes greater import.

Fourth, so many delightful sounds—“Her henna hair,” “the mycologist / crawls,” and a sustained run of short i sounds starting in verse 5 with “long-standing habits” and ending in the final verse with “display.” The only break in the run is verse 16 “perchance / to dream . . .”.

The final reward was the surprise ending—“male pheasants / in full display”—a unique and uplifting conclusion.

~ Patricia J. Machmiller

This year’s first place winner is a nijuin renku entitled Perchance—a perfect appellation for the adventure that follows. I am rewarded with a journey of unexpected surprises. Here are some of what I’ve viewed along the path five poets have hewn from their imaginations.

The Jo folio begins with a rumble of thunder that wakes me up, the hokku’s exhilarating wind shifts the dock-of-my-mind, encouraging me to be open, to get ready. The wakiku provides transportation for the trip while the shadows cast imply sunlight to brighten the beginning of our journey.

The daisan exhibits a subtler link, transporting us to the first stop along the way. Somewhere in the Middle-East rust has been scraped from a freshly excavated scimitar. The blade now shines, the reflection reminding us that methods of protection are always part of life.

“Henna hair” is a clever link, one that whisks us into the “ha” phase of the poem. The path now presents more pronounced zigs and zags, not always happy-go-lucky ones—damn cricket!

Soon comes a first-date. This stanza made me laugh. What an ideal beginning to the sequence of love stanzas. Fortunately more dates ensue. Deeper commitment becomes necessary. They take the leap (marriage) and some time later leap again to celebrate (skydiving).

Oh oh! Frozen ground rushes up to challenge the couple.

The use of the word “perspicacious” to describe a weatherman is hilarious and, well, easy to imagine.

The Empire State Building harkens back to a landmark church. Dreams follow going to sleep.

We then come to the renku’s coda (the Kyu). What a superb shift. Why restrict ourselves to a pre-considered travel-route to yet another Point B?  So, we take off from the paralysis of sleep to explore a universe of dreams. 

The renku is winding down. We’re provided a nice warm place to go. Perfect. Complimentary tickets to the Grapefruit League (a series of training-games played by major-league teams either in Florida or Arizona before their season-openers). I’m impressed to recognize how this second stanza of the Kyu folio faintly resonates with the canoe in the second stanza of the Jo.

I love how a spray of forsythia arches over the stone wall, linking to somebody hitting a home-run.

The ageku’s “in full display” links well to the “spray of forsythia.”

The five senses are all represented in this renku and stanzas that present inside or outside scenes (or neither) are beautifully balanced. So are the scene-stanzas to ones that are people oriented. Grammatical choices are also nicely spaced.

I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and assess the submitted poems and delighted to have taken this journey with the five gifted poets who wrote Perchance.

~ Christopher Herold

~ ~ ~

Bay Nuts

“Bay Nuts” was a close second in this year’s Einbond Renku Contest. It adhered closely to the nujuin form, was a delight to read, and had a modern, upbeat feeling to it, probably driven by the frequent pop culture references, such as, a lipstick called Fire and Ice, a hologram, James Bond, and Sesame Street. I particularly appreciated the line in verse 12, “I jump, you jump” with its play on a line from the movie, Titanic, “you jump, I jump . . .”. And I greatly admired the linking, for example, between verse 15 and 16:

après ski
moonrise and the theme song
from a Bond movie

Sesame Street is brought to you
by the letters M and Q

~Patricia J. Machmiller

"Bay Nuts" is also a fine renku. Despite the hokku not having a distinct cut and an overuse of gerunds, especially in the final folio (kyu). Nevertheless, the central folio (“ha”) provides an excellent progression of twists and turns. The two love sequences are both fun and creative. The links between stanzas move very nicely from close-knit to stretched. "Bay Nuts" also succeeds by including a good number of topics from the mandalic universe, especially human-oriented subject matter. Verses presenting inside, outside (or neither), are very well balanced. The five senses are also well covered. All four elements (earth, water, air, fire) come into play. The more I read this renku the more pleasure it yields.

~Christopher Herold

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About the Judges:

Christopher Herold’s linked-verse experiences began in 1991 when he joined Northern California’s Marin Renku Group, perhaps the first in-person renku party groups established outside of Japan. In 1999, Christopher and his wife, Carol O’Dell (also a long-time writer of renku) moved to Port Townsend and were soon able to form a renku club there. The group met almost every month for nearly fifteen years. A vast majority of Herold’s renku-writing has taken place with groups who do meet in person. For him, such renku parties are by far the most satisfying. The 2022 Einbond contest is the fifth that Herold has co-judged (the fourth with Patricia Machmiller).

Patricia J. Machmiller began writing haiku in 1975 with Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society (YTHS). With Jerry Ball, and now Emiko Miyashita, she writes a column of haiku commentary, “Dojin’s Corner,” for GEPPO, the YTHS newsletter. She has two books of haiku, Blush of Winter Moon (Jacaranda Press, 2001) and Utopia: She Hurries On (Swamp Press, 2017). Her haiku have twice been honored with the Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Award. With Fay Aoyagi she translated the haiku of Kiyoko Tokutomi, Kiyoko’s Sky (Brooks Books, 2002). She has four books of haiga, including Mountain Trail: Following the Master (www.lulu.com). Her latest book, Zigzag of the Dragonfly: Writing the Haiku Way, (YTHS, 2020) encapsulates what she has learned about writing haiku. In 1997 she traveled to Japan and was privileged to write renku with Shinku Fukuda and The Milky Way Renku Group on Sado Island. She is also a brush painter and printmaker; some of her haiga, can be seen at www.dandelions.us.