Haiku Society of America Haibun Student Haiku Awards for 2024

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

~ ~ ~

Student Haiku Awards for 2024

Sharon Pretti and M. Shane Pruett

Here are the winning haiku:

Teo Contac
Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

Emme Doyle
Grade 8, Atlanta, GA

Elsa Krol
Grade 9, State College, PA

Benjamin Moon-Chun
Grade 8, Decatur, GA

Maria Negrut
Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

Edi Parvu
Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

~ ~ ~


spring tide
the colored pencil box
she never used

Teo Contac — Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

This poem captured me at the first reading. A spring tide could be a simple seasonal reference, or more technically the tide after a full or new moon. Regardless, the tide evokes the beach for me, and against the unused pencil box it feels empty, or lonely. Why wasn’t it used? There’s a sense of loss but we don’t know what kind. Maybe it was a failed relationship or possibly an even more significant loss. We are invited into the poem to fill in the meaning from our own history and perspective. (MSP)

The beauty of this poem is what makes me return to haiku again and again for solace, surprise, and connection. Understatement is skillfully achieved, and the reader is allowed to enter the poem without being told how to feel. The sense of loss and the promise of a new season are revealed quietly by the unfolding images. Beauty and sorrow exist side by side. A gorgeous haiku. (SP)

~ ~ ~

cranberry sauce
in an antique bowl—
autumn deepens

Emme Doyle – Grade 8, Atlanta, GA

It’s difficult to capture multiple senses in a haiku and this poem beautifully succeeds at evoking sight, taste, even smell. The color red infuses the poem connecting nature to the holiday meal. The poem suggests leaves and I think of the scent of autumn. What a joy to experience all the facets of this marvelous haiku. (SP)

This haiku takes me back to Thanksgivings when the whole family descends on a home bringing tables full of amazing food. The warmth of family and the aromas of food plays well against the suggestion of the chill of autumn, and for my part I can see very specific old bowls that came out only on those special occasions. (MSP)

~ ~ ~

flower moon
touching the water
bullfrogs' thrum

Elsa Krol – Grade 9, State College, PA

There are so many moons in haiku and of course there are many poems about the moon on the water, but in this one we have the auditory addition of the thrum of bullfrogs. In numbers bullfrog calls become a roar and we can imagine this roar setting the water to rippling, thus breaking the moon’s smooth edge on the water’s surface like gently waiving flower petals. (MSP)

This wonderful haiku placed me in the peace and solitude of an evening pond. I was impressed by how beautifully and naturally this scene unfolded, artfully avoiding mere description. The poem’s assonance (touching-thrum, water-frog) elevates it even further. Truly a haiku meant to be heard out loud. (SP)

~ ~ ~

rice cakes orbit
in a cloudy broth
lunar new year

Benjamin Moon-Chun – Grade 8, Decatur, GA

I was immediately impressed by this haiku and its attention to detail. The poem begins with an intimate, domestic moment, then zooms out to encompass the new year, new beginnings, unknown futures. The best haiku explore shifts in focus and this one does so with subtlety and authenticity. Such a fresh and surprising juxtaposition. (SP)

Another stellar haiku. The image of the rice cakes in broth against the suggestion of the moon is incredibly effective. I felt like “orbit” really isn’t needed but the poem is still very successful and such word choice really can come down to a poet’s personal voice. (MSP)

~ ~ ~

day moon . . .
mom still needs
a blood donor

Maria Negrut – Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

We’ve all seen a lonely moon hanging in the vast blue sky. Here to me is an effective use of sabi in its evocation of the loneliness of uncertain health and the despair that can result therefrom. Most of us will experience some form of the fear and anxiety associated with illness in our lives. This poem puts you right into the heart of it. (MSP)

I was struck by the stillness and poignancy of this haiku. The poem addresses an intense subject, yet does so with great subtlety and skill. The natural image is so lovely. The fading moon juxtaposed with the mother’s health creates great emotion. This poem exemplifies a hallmark of strong haiku: the weaving together of our inner and outer worlds. So well done. (SP)

~ ~ ~

silent night
a cherry branch
hits the moon

Edi Parvu – Grade 7, Botosani, Romania

I was delighted by this haiku. Cherry blossoms and branches are classic images in Japanese poetry, and I saw them in a new way. Word choice is critical in haiku and the use of “hit” here is excellent. The branch comes alive. It’s in action against the silent night. This poem isn’t static. It gives us a visual and visceral experience. Bravo. (SP)

This poem is a lovely example of shasei – capturing a simple moment as championed by Shiki. Of course the branch can’t hit the moon, but on a dark night from the right perspective it is a lovely flight for the imagination. (MSP)

~ ~ ~


About our 2024 judges:

Sharon Pretti is a widely published poet and her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Spillway, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The MacGuffin, Calyx, JAMA, The Bellevue Literary Review and others. She has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and was nominated for the Best New Poets 2024 Magazine. She is also an award-winning haiku poet and frequent contributor to haiku journals including Modern Haiku and Frogpond. In 2018, Sharon was selected as one of four poets for Open Iris, the Two Autumns Press chapbook published by Haiku Poets of Northern California. She had the pleasure of editing Filling in the Sky, the 2021 Two Autumns Press chapbook. She holds a masters of social work degree from UC Berkeley and spent the majority of her career at a large county hospital in San Francisco. There, she enjoyed leading a longstanding poetry class for the patients. For many years, she edited Kaleidoscope, an anthology of the patients’ poems. Sharon has also taught poetry workshops in assisted living facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a native San Franciscan and continues to live in the city, enjoying the coastal fog and breezes.

M. Shane Pruett, PhD, is a bird watching, baking, guitar-playing father/husband who loves to travel and strives to write meaningfully about each of the facets of a wonderful life. He received a Sakura award and 2nd place in The First Yugen International Haiku Contest in 2021 and is a Pushcart and Touchstone nominated poet. Shane has been fortunate to be published in numerous haikai journals in recent years and is currently the Poetry Pea journal's haibun editor.




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

Download your PDF copy for a teacher in your area.