Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 2000

Haiku Society of America Student Haiku Awards
in Memorial of Nicholas A. Virgilio

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Student Haiku Awards for 2000

Ruth Yarrow and Kathleen Decker

We feel honored to have this chance to share moments in your lives. Many submissions had the snap and humor of senryu, but since this is a haiku contest, we didn't choose them. We chose the haiku that for us evoked emotion, as we've tried to sketch in our comments. We find that fresh images, often two that reverberate with each other, work best. You don't need to summarize your experience in the last line—readers can share what you're feeling simply from the way you capture the experience. If yours was not one of the six we finally chose, please know that other judges may well have chosen different ones, and don't be discouraged. Know that your poems were read and enjoyed, and that you have ahead of you a life of moments to capture. We hope you all keep writing! ~ Ruth Yarrow and Kathleen Decker

spring morning
the dewy grass
holds the shape of her step

Nathaniel B. Gach
Marple Newtown High School, Age 18, grade 12, Newtown Square, PA

There's a freshness about this bright green haiku that captures the essence of spring. You can see where she stepped because the tender grass is squashed down, and the dew drops knocked off. But it's a light, transitory step, just as the season itself is light and transitory. The step took just a moment, the length of a haiku. The poet has captured the feeling of this moment and the whole season in a few words. ~Yarrow

This poem has captured a fleeting moment, and the beauty of a beloved's footsteps, in very few words. There is an optimism in the implied word play on spring morning, and springy step (leaving the imprint of her step). ~Decker


Thanksgiving Dinner
Silence, and the
pendulum swinging

Dave Ferry
Marple Newtown High School, Age 17, grade 12, Newtown Square, PA

This moment of silence, probably the grace before the meal, feels heavy and ponderous, like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. We can feel that strong emotions exist between family members. While the family is still for a moment, the poet is suddenly aware of the movement of the pendulum. Paradoxically, while this special moment is frozen like a snapshot, time moves on. The next Thanksgiving will not be the same; individual family members may come or go, and each may change. One thing is certain--they will all be older, because the pendulum is swinging. The poet has captured the contrast between stillness and movement in one moment. ~Yarrow

This had a different feel for me—I felt that the poet might have been capturing extreme tension. Thanksgiving, a time of joy and plenty, is suddenly arrested and held captive by silence. Perhaps no one dares to speak, or a faux pas has been committed, and the conversation is arrested. ~Decker


a whale’s last call
the blue sea —

Elizabeth Frank
Wahlert High School, Age 17, grade 12, Dubuque, IA

Contrasts enrich this haiku. First is the obvious contrast between the translucent blue waters and the opaque red blood. The whale's last call contrasts with the silence of death. Its call reaches out while its death closes in. The enormity of the whale and the distances in the sea contrast with the close immediate wound. The poet, in a few words, gives us a life and its end. ~Yarrow

I have little to add to this elegant comment except that the contrast in the warm color of life, the sea, (blue) is laid in stark contrast to the red of death, and find this exceptionally well done for a student haiku. ~Decker


autumn afternoon
hole in the stone wall
a perfect frame

Nathaniel B. Gach
Marple Newtown High School, Age 18, grade 12, Newtown Square, PA

The poet might have just walked on by, barely noticing the hole in the wall, let alone what lies on the other side. But he or she stopped and let the neutral colors of cool stone frame the bright colors of flaming autumn. The "aw" alliteration in "autumn afternoon" and the "oh" sounds in "hole in the stone wall" are a perfect frame for the feeling of appreciating beautify that pervades this haiku. ~Yarrow

This haiku reminds us of the process of writing haiku — to stop and examine the moment, and to glory in its simplicity. In my mind, the author was hurrying past the wall, and was stopped by the view through the wall. A lover, or perhaps just a distant landscape, suddenly enriched by its quaint frame. ~Decker


from Orion
a bat flits
to the moon

Thomas Murray
School of the Arts, Age 15, grade 9, Rochester, NY

The poet submitted this in capital letters, which may indicate how he or she felt about this special moment. We feel it works just as well in lower case, so have taken the liberty to write it this way. In just the fleeting moment that it takes a bat to fly, it appears to have linked the great distance from Orion's stars to the moon. Two cold bright distant points in the night sky are joined by a warm, dark, near fellow mammal. ~Yarrow

I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the bat, and the immensity of the dark night sky. Of course, it is impossible to fly from Orion to the moon, but the bat is impossibly small next to the stars, and it is that contrast which is endearing, and striking. ~Decker


mountain view photo
the tourist’s breath

Kate Chapman
Wahlert High School, Age 18, grade 12, Dubuque, IA

A photograph is taken in an instant and captures an image. This haiku on the surface simply describes that picture. The poet, though, has written more than a matter-of-fact description. We can tell it's cold on the mountain, because the tourist's warm breath has condensed in the chilly mountain air. We can guess that the tourist may have climbed and is breathing hard. But most importantly, the emotion slips through. We can feel the tourist's deep breath as she or he takes in the majesty of the scene, and then exhales in awe at its beauty. Not just the photo but the mountain itself has captures the tourist's breath. ~Yarrow

There is another way to look at this moment. Perhaps the tourist's breath has given the mountain a faint haze in the photo. So perhaps the tourist's breath has given another dimension to the mountain in the photo, and they have added some mystery to the scene as it was captured on film. ~Decker


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The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition for Grades 7-12 was founded in 1990 by the Sacred Heart Church in Camden, N.J. It is sponsored and administered by the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association in memory of Nicholas A. Virgilio, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, who died in 1989. See the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association for more about Nick.

The Haiku Society of America cosponsors the contest, provides judges, and publishes the contest results in its journal, Frogpond, and on its Website (www.hsa-haiku.org). Judges' comments are added to the web site following publication in Frogpond.

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

2024 | 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 |

For details about the contest rules, read the complete contest submission guidelines.

See the Haiku Society of America publication of the award winning haiku and senryu:

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition Anthology

edited by Randy M. Brooks
designed by Ignatius Fay

© 2022 HAIKU Society of America


To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition, the executive committee of the Haiku Society of America published this anthology of award-winning haiku and senryu. The student observations, insights, experiences, emotions and insights evident in these haiku and senryu are a wonderful testament to the fresh voices and vivid imagery of young people. We believe the judges’ commentaries add a valuable layer of meaning as we see how leaders, editors, writers and members of the Haiku Society of America carefully consider the significance of each award-winning poem.

This collection celebrates the work of students whose teachers have gone beyond the stereotypical haiku lesson plan emphasizing only one dimension of haiku—the five/seven/five syllable form. In these haiku and senryu the reader will find a wind range of form, carefully constructed arrangement of lines, surprising juxtaposition of images, and fresh sensory perceptions. They will find what we all love in haiku—the human spirit responding to the amazing diversity of experiences and emotions offered to us in our everyday lives.

Come, enjoy these award-winning haiku and senryu full of the wonder, surprise and angst that are the gifts of being young. These young people enjoy being alive and effectively share that joy through their haiku and senryu.

~ Randy M. Brooks, Editor