Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2006
The Haiku Society of America sponsors this annual award for excellence in published haiku, translation, and criticism.
Return to archive of Merit Book Awards archive.
For full details about the contest rules, see Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards.
Merit Book Awards for 2006 (for books published in 2005)
Yu Chang and A. C. Missias, judges
Turn to the Earth by Peter Yovu
This collection stood out from the other entries, not for its production values, which are simple, but for the near-uniform high quality of the work it contains. There is nature here, and human situations, and especially that critical interface of the two that provides the energy for much of the best of the haiku genre.
These gleanings of a decade’s work display good sensibilities and awareness of the world around us, and manage to convey a philosophical outlook without our ever becoming excessively aware of an intrusive author presence. A challenging feat, worthy of recognition.
Second Place (tie)
Crumb Moves the Ant by Geri Barton
Another simple Saki Press production, this book contains many sharp observations and good poems on a variety of subjects and from a variety of perspectives. An enjoyable visit.
Second Place (tie)
Wild Again: Selected Haiku of Nina Wicker by Nina Wicker, edited by Lenard D. Moore, Dave Russo, and Jim Kacian
A glossy perfect-bound book, this collection reprints some poems from the author’s previous collections, as well as some newer poems. Generally strong haiku, with a number of real standouts.
Pilgrimage by Michael Dudley
This collection includes both haiku and a few essays, and spans a broader range of poetry types than just the well-traveled core of the
Best Anthology (tie)
If I Met Basho by Patrick Gallagher, Pamela Miller Ness, Laurie W. Stoelting, and Karma Tenzing Wangchuk; edited by w. f. owen
This collection features four established haiku poets who were featured at an annual reading for the Haiku Poets of Northern California. Each
Best Anthology (tie)
A New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku edited by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts
This series attempts to introduce “emerging” haiku poets—those focused on work in this genre, but who have not yet published a major solo collection. Thus they can comprise a mix of familiar names with virtually unpublished poets, each with enough representative poems to give the reader a meaningful sense of the writer’s perspective and voice. This collection, as with its predecessors, offers a wealth of strong haiku and a promising set of poets worth watching.
Honorable Mention, Anthology
The Unswept Path: Contemporary American Haiku edited by John Brandi and Dennis Maloney
This book is quite different from many of the books given awards this year, because it is clearly attempting to accomplish something specific, as is hinted at in the preface by William J. Higginson:
Rather than strictly attempting to show a selection of outstanding haiku, as might be agreed by a consensus of specialists, it catalogs the wide range of voices and approaches that can be found identifying their work with the genre. As a result, it is unlikely that every reader will find agreeable every poem or even every authorial viewpoint represented here (and presented in alphabetical order with little additional guidance), nor will a newcomer get a clear sense of what unifies these poems under a single name. But unmistakably many outstanding poems appear here, and perhaps it is time to come face to face with the margins of our tradition, if for no other reason that to be prodded to reexamine our assumptions and self-imposed limits. A worthy addition to the literature.
Best Serial Book
Tug of the Current: Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, 2004, edited by Jim Kacian et al
A system by which each poem must get the votes of at least half of a discriminating panel of judges once again yields an excellent crop of haiku and related works (gleaned from most serials and books published in English). This series continues to stand as a touchstone of the best of contemporary haiku, and is always an enjoyable and illuminating read.
Best Haiga Collection
Reeds: Contemporary Haiga 2005, edited by Jeanne Emrich
The publication of haiga (the combination of haiku with visual art) is demanding, and Reeds does an excellent job of rising to the challenge, yielding a volume that gives the art high-quality reproduction that shows each piece as the artist intended, whether it’s a traditional ink-brush drawing or modern computerized collage. A range of approaches appear here, both in the medium of the art and in the linkage to the poem, where some are closer to illustrations, while others create an unexpected spark between words and images, yielding additional meaning.
There is also something intimate about seeing the original handwriting of some authors or artists as they worked the text into the piece themselves; this effect is even more striking when balanced against calligraphed kanji (also translated below the piece) and variously typeset pieces. A couple of essays and an interview, as well as short contributor biographies, round out the collection. Overall, this publication (the third in an annual journal series) serves as a
2006 Mildred Kanterman Memorial Award