Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 2015

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

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Student Haiku Awards for 2015

Mike Rehling and Aubrie Cox

This year we had over 3,600 haiku to judge. We were excited to see so much student work come in. There were, of course, the traditional 5–7–5 poems along with those that were clearly writing about the fact that they had to write a haiku. However, with that said, many of them delved deep into the psyche and human experience. We were moved by those that opened up about depression, about heartbreak and the loss of family members. We were also delighted by those that captured the wonders of childhood.

In the end, we looked for quality haiku: poems that had a clear cut and juxtaposition of images and/or ideas, offered original ideas for universal experiences, and simply moved us. ~ Mike Rehling and Aubrie Cox


soon-to-be stepdad
blabbers politics
looking for my vote

Elena Bonvicini
Sage Hill School, Grade 10, Newport Coast, CA

We were enamored with this haiku’s wit and play on words. It captures the essence of the relationship between a child and a future stepparent who desperately wants the child to like him or her. The first two lines make it seem as though the speaker is bored and that the soon-to-be stepdad is blabbering on about grown-up matters, but the third line provides a twist at the end, showing the reader that the future stepdad is talking to the child but he or she isn’t impressed. “Blabbers” works multiple angles and serves an important role in this haiku.


missing puzzle piece
we blame
the vacuum

Maggie George
Sprayberry High School, Age 16, Grade 11, Marietta, GA

Nothing could be worse in the puzzle world than getting almost there, and having to endure the indignity of an incomplete image. This group of puzzle solvers has not resorted to blaming one another or using the worn out “the dog ate it” line. No, they have placed the blame squarely on a piece of metal and plastic. There is a creativity in their decision on where to place the blame that shows they indeed are good at problem solving, if not puzzles.


first day of school
eating lunch
in the bathroom

Catharine Malzahn
Sage Hill School, Grade 10, Newport Coast, CA

Starting in a new school, or a new year in a new building can be tough. We can just imagine a kid on his or her first day not knowing where to sit in the lunchroom and too shy to talk to anyone, so he or she eats alone in the bathroom where there is privacy and not a lot of noise. This haiku does a phenomenal job of conveying emotion without stating that the child may be feeling sad, anxious, out of place, etc. It establishes season and location without any excess words.


coffee crumble cake
my mom
brings up grades

Kian Etedali
Sage Hill School, Grade 12, Newport Coast, CA

If your mother is going to bring up your grades, chances are you are not on track to be valedictorian of your class. But if you have to endure that discussion it is by far better to do it with “coffee crumble cake” on a plate in front of you. It is a sign of a Mom who gets her way without resorting to brute force, but then again that cake is indeed a force to be reckoned with in the end.


Friday morning prayer
purple hijabs
dance in the wind

Claire Reardon
St. Ignatius College Prep, Grade 12, Chicago, IL

We don’t see a lot of haiku that mention hijabs, which is unfortunate. The way this poem uses specific language and shifts from line one to line two makes it an evocative haiku. There’s something contemplative about the fabric moving in the wind during prayer: the movement, the rich yet lightness in the color purple, and the early morning air. There are limitless possibilities for smells and sounds that undoubtedly heighten while our eyes are closed, and we lower ourselves to the ground.


bedtime story
only pretending
to fall asleep

Sophie Sadd
The Paideia School, Grade 8, Atlanta, GA

As we grow up there is the inevitable pull between the child in us and the desire to be fully adult. Children are not the only ones torn between these two aspects of our life. Parents want their kids to grow up, but they also hang on to the fond memories of childhood, both their own and their child’s. In this poem we have bridged that gap nicely. The parent is reading the story, and the child has kindly allowed this to happen, but cut short the moment with their own very kind deception. It shows the merger of child and adult in one fell swoop.


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About our judges:

Aubrie Cox went to university to write a novel and came out writing haiku. It’s worked pretty well so far. Now, she is an editor for both the online journal A Hundred Gourds and Juxtapositions: A Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship. Her poetry and prose can be found in publications such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, and NANO Fiction.

Michael Rehling is a quiet poet, living in the North Woods of Michigan with his wife and two cats.




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