Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards for 1997

Haiku Society of America

Merit Book Awards for 1997

for books published in 1996

Hayat Abuza and Charles Trumbull

A haiku book is more than a handful of verses. Editing, illustration, design and layout, and production values as well as the quality of individual poems and the sensibility of the selection are all factors that contribute to the success of the finished book. In evaluating the entries in the 1997 HSA Merit Book Award competition we sought balance and harmony among these several criteria. Finally, we asked ourselves: which of these books make genuine contributions to the haiku literature? which are good values? which would we like to own?

We took seriously the HSA Guidelines for entries in the contests, especially the defining passage, “outstanding collection of original haiku in English published in the previous year.” Finally, we thank the HSA for the opportunity to be involved in this fascinating and important work


First Place

Vincent Tripi. The Path of the Bird. Richland Center, WI: Hummingbird Press, 1996.

. . . the path of the bird is an affectionate collection of haiku celebrating birds and the ways we encounter them. In an exquisitely produced and numbered edition, the poems move easily from ocean to arroyo to mountain with great delicacy and beauty. The clarity of each haiku moment and the harmony of the design and presentation bring this book top honors.


Second Place

David Cobb. Jumping from Kiyomizu: a Haiku Sequence. North Shields, Northumberland, UK: Iron Press, 1996.

Jumping from Kiyomizu comprises a long sequence of poems arranged in the stages of the life cycle from birth to death. These haiku succeed in conveying large themes through small, vividly crafted impressions—humorous, touching, and surprising. They are impressive in their variety of subjects and in the way they resonate ever more deeply on each reading.


Third Place

William Hart. Paris. Fulton, MO: Timberline Press, 1996.

Handset and classically presented, Paris evokes a city, its people and its moods. The author wanders smoothly from street corner to museum to Metro, displaying a wry and seasoned perspective. Like a traveler’s sketchbook, this collection brings home favorite images to savor later.


Honorable Mention

Jim Kacian. Presents of Mind. Lake Oswego, OR: Katsura Press, 1996.


Honorable Mention

John Sheirer. Students Breathing. Elbow Lake, MN, 1996.

John Sheirer’s chapbook length haibun is exceptional and deserving of special mention. The topic—a teacher’s work year—is inspired, and the author handles the subject matter with inventiveness and wit. The content as well as the simple design make for an endearing book that readers will want to share with their teacher friends—while still keeping a copy for themselves!


Honorable Mention

H.F. Noyes.. Between Two Waves/Intre doud valuri. Constanta, Romania: Editura Leda, 1996.

The judges wish to recognize the efforts of Ion Codrescu of Constanta, Romania—publisher, poet, sumi-e artist, and tireless “haiku ambassador.” Two excellent books from his publishing house were entered in the competition, both deserving of special attention. Between Two Waves is a rich collection of haiku on the theme of water by the contemporary master H.F. Noyes, in the English original and Romanian translation. What a prize this book must be for Romanian haikuists!


Honorable Mention

Vasile Spinei. Surasul calugarului/The Monk’s Smile. Constanta, Romania: Editura Leda, 1996.

The second title represents what certainly must be the first haiku book to bring the poems of a poet from the Republic of Moldova into English: The Monk’s Smile demonstrates a very high level of haiku and is all in all a very winning collection. Ion Codrescu illustrated both books and, with his wife Mihaela, provided translations.




The purpose of the Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Awards is to recognize the best haiku and related books published in a given year in the English language. Every year sees a fresh crop of fine individual collections, anthologies, translations, critical studies and innovative forms.

In the past, the HSA Merit Book awards were partially supported by a memorial gift. Leroy Kanterman, cofounder of the Haiku Society of America, made a gift to support the first place award in memory of his wife Mildred Kanterman. See the archives of Merit Book Awards.

The Merit Book Awards competition is open to the public. Books must have been published in the previous year and must clearly contain a printed previous year copyright. A member, author, or publisher may submit or nominate more than one title. At least 50 percent of the book must be haiku, senryu, or haibun, or prose about these subjects (books mostly of tanka, for example, are not eligible). HSA will also consider collections that have only appeared in an e-book/digital book format. Two print copies of the digital book may be sent by the publisher. Books published by HSA officers are eligible for this award. Books published by the national HSA organization, however, are not eligible.

Winners by Year (with judges' comments):

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 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1985 | 1983 | 1981 | 1978 | 1975 |

See the contest rules for entering the next Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards competition.