Haiku Society of America Senryu Awards for 2021 - Judges Commentary

Haiku Society of America Senryu Award
in Memorial of Gerald Brady

Judges Commentary for 2021

Judges: Mike Rehling & Kelly Sauvage

When asked to judge the Brady Senryu Contest, we were both thrilled—for both the honor of being selected as judges and to have the pleasure of reading the high quality of senryu submitted to HSA contests over the many decades. We were not disappointed! It was very hard to select from the over seven hundred poems submitted. We enjoyed reading them, and the variety of topics covered was amazing. It was tough to winnow the entries down to the list below. Thanks to all of the poets for submitting your best work to this year's contest.


First Place

over world events

Amy Losak, New Jersey, USA

Among the multitudinous aspects of senryu that capture our imagination and affirm our existence on this planet, it is the form’s invitation to see ourselves as a part of nature rather than apart from it that the poet brings to life in this year’s top entry. By juxtaposing the universal concern over “world events,” the historic challenges presented by Covid, social justice violations, political tensions, etc., with the emergence of Brood X, we recognize that we are not the only species experiencing flux. 

With the word “brooding” in the first line serving as a uniquely placed pivot, we begin the poem cogitating upon our own concerns, only to find ourselves surprised by a masterfully executed double meaning pertaining to the life cycle of cicadas. However, it is the humor accompanying the surprise that humbles us and puts into perspective the interdependent nature of life on Earth.

The economy of language implemented here also enhances the power of this poem. The poet refrains from explanation, diatribe, or sentimentality, allowing us to discover on our own this depth of connection amid trying times and to embrace a bit of much-needed levity. These five words are a gift that will not soon be forgotten.


Second Place

rainbow flag
there is no color
for who I am

Alvin B. Cruz, National Capitol Region, Philippines

The poet shares a moment of epiphany and reflection that provides a space for everyone to grow into. Buddha said, "Know who you are, be what you know." The first step to freeing others of preconceptions is to free yourself in the same way. We are all unique and yet all of us are connected in a universe where the smallest of things are part of the limitless whole. This poem invites us all to “be” ourselves and yet “accept” fully everyone else on this small planet we inhabit. It often may seem like an unattainable mission, but it is one we must take for ourselves as well as others to be free of the delusion of differences.


Third Prize

home movie
my parents mute
the sex scene

Spyros Mylonas, Tennessee, USA

Watching movies at home with mom and dad. Even as we grow older, they still make moves to protect us from some very inevitable truths. In this poem though, are we watching movies created of family events? Has the presentation entered an “unexpected” area that the parents had forgotten about? Does a hand find the wrong place? That would bring a whole new level of interpretation to this poem, wouldn't it? What makes this poem so engaging is that we can each “replay” our own family moments in the living room watching movies together.


Honorable Mention

another fight—
the roses from last time
still blooming

Greg Schwartz, Maryland, USA


Honorable Mention

conspiracy theories why you won’t return my calls

kjmunro, Yukon Territory, Canada


Honorable Mention

crushed by guilt

Amelia Cotter, Illinois, USA


Honorable Mention

election night seabirds switch to the other landfill

Matthew Markworth, Ohio, USA


Honorable Mention

estate sale
a bargain
on bedpans

Spyros Mylonas, Tennessee, USA


Honorable Mention

falling leaves
the unexpected weight
of her ashes

Helen Ogden, California, USA


Honorable Mention

travel ban
I stroke her hair
with my cursor

Alan S. Bridges, Massachusetts, USA


Honorable Mention

world hunger
the emptiness
of emojis

June Rose Dowis, Louisiana, USA


About the Judges:

Mike Rehling is a quiet vegan haiku poet living in the north woods of MIchigan with his wife and his cat.

Kelly Sauvage is a carnivorous experimental poet who considers the road her home.





These awards for unpublished haiku were originally made possible by Mrs. Harold G. Henderson in memory of Harold G. Henderson, who helped found The Haiku Society of America.

Winners by Year:

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 20102009 2008 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 |

See the complete collection of award-winning haiku from all previous Senryu Award competitions

See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Senryu Award.