Haiku Happenings

A view from the Plimmerton area, near Wellington. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Auckland is at Alert Level 3 (to be reviewed on October 4); the rest of the country remains at Alert Level 2. See the official website for restrictions and information. Note that Level 2 in 2021 is not the same as Level 2 in 2020.

September 2021: Well, that was a bit of a to-do, wasn’t it? I hope that everyone has stayed safe and well during the lockdown – ongoing for a while yet, after all Level 3 isn’t that different to Level 4. Anecdotal evidence seems to be that the stresses and anxieties have for many been worse this time. Haiku are a great way to lose oneself, either in the gathering of material or in the writing process, so don’t forget to take a daily dose of our ‘medicine’. I am reliably informed that spring begins on September 22 (the day of the vernal equinox) so that may help lift our spirits too.

This month’s article by Michael Dylan Welch is about the reading and interpretation of haiku and neatly illustrates the point about how the reader completes the poem. Contest listings have been updated to the end of November – please don’t forget the Katikati Haiku Contest, which is free to enter this year, closes on September 19. And see below for a clutch of journal news. Don’t forget that Haiku North America is a virtual event this year and registration is free. Details are at the bottom of this page.

If you’ve been writing heaps during lockdown and would like to try some new outlets for your work, why not peruse the Publications page?

If you’re looking for some reading material or would like to spend some time with articles previously published here, please go to the index of Archived Articles; or try out the index for Websites & Resources, which includes links to Youtube videos.

Thanks, as always, to the New Zealand Poetry Society for giving us space on its site – free of charge. If you’d consider joining the NZPS, it would be a small repayment for the hosting and support that we receive out of kindness. For those within New Zealand, your membership fees are tax deductible, as is any donation you make over the top of the annual sub. Read more about joining and membership benefits here, including how to join if you live outside New Zealand.

If you’d like to recommend an article, offer to write something for these pages, or generally have something to say about haiku and its related forms, please feel free to get in touch with me.  If you find any broken links within an article please let me know. Time passes and websites disappear but clicking on a broken link is always frustrating so I’d like to keep them up to date if I can.

– Sandra

Publication & Contest News

1: The monthly Tricycle Haiku Challenge might be fun. A season word is given (at present there is one for summer and one for winter) which must then be used in a 5-7-5 haiku. From the month’s crop three poems will be selected to be published online and once a quarter one will also appear in print with a commentary. See the website for full details. The submission form is right at the bottom.

2: Take 5ive is a new online journal for 5-line forms only – tanka, gogyohka and gogyoshi. The journal may be monthly ‘circumstances permitting’.
Submit: At any time. See the website for full details.

3: Whiptail is a new journal for single-line poems, including haiku and tanka.
Submit: On a rolling basis from October 1. See submission details here.

4: And with every journal that opens, one closes … Halibut (Canada) has closed and Bones (international) is on an indefinite hiatus. In both cases, the archives remain available at the respective websites.

5: There will be no more Genjuan International Haibun Contest with the judges and organisers deciding to call it a day. ‘Thank you for your creativity and enthusiastic support these past 10 years (13, if we include the first 3 as Kikakuza). Icebox will of course continue to publish and promote haibun in English,’ says Stephen Gill. Available for purchase is The Cottage of Visions, Genjuan Haibun 2018-21 anthology. See the website for details.

6: News from cattails, the journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, is that Gautam Nadkarni has been asked to step down as senryu editor, with immediate effect. The remaining members of the editorial team, Mike Montreuil and Sonam Chhoki, while praising Gautam for his 4 years of dedicated work, say the decision was made around recent Facebook posts that “have offended and upset poets, both women and men and are contrary to the ethos of UHTS and cattails. We cannot condone views that reinforce gender steroetypes and inequality and also wound the sensibilities of those who have had painful, personal experiences”.

7: Modern Haiku has changed its submission rules for haibun to try and work around space issues in the print journal. “To this end, in order to allow an even greater diversity of voices, we are changing our submission rules to restrict poets who have published haibun in one issue from publishing haibun in the following two issues. This rule only applies to haibun by these authors, not haiku.” See the full Submissions guidelines here.

8: MahMight is a new haiku journal edited by Alan Summers. It has some unusual, but likely fun, requirements for submission. Out of the ordinary anyway.
Submit: At any time. See the website for full details.

9: Change is afoot at The Heron’s Nest with associate editor Scott Mason stepping down and being replaced by Tom Painting from the December issue. Scott has been at the Nest since 2011 and, according to the announcement, has also donated prize money from haiku contests that he won during the past 10 years, ‘a very considerable sum!’ to the publication.

10: For German speakers comes news of the publication of a German Haiku Society anthology with the title (in translation) of the sun-ripe apples. The anthology brings together almost 156 works (haiku, tanka and haibun) by 500 authors on 90 pages. Read more here.

10: Atlas Poetica 40 : A Journal of World Tanka was published in June with publisher and editor M. Kei explaining that the delays was not least down to him having contracted Covid-19 (he has recovered). “It was deemed best to skip spring publication and move No. 40 to summer. All following projects, including the forthcoming Tanka in Translation Project scheduled for issue 41, are moved back one season, but will continue as planned.” See more at the Atlas Poetica website


To all the youngsters from Christchurch who did so well in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Invitational (Canada). Sakura Awards: Aveline Forsyth, Annabel Kelly and Lucy Penney (all aged 9). Honourable Mentions: Tom Dennis (9), Chole Evans (11), Olivia Fry (10), Isabelle Harrison, William Johnson, Celine Kuang (all 9) and Henry Palmer (8).

early morning
I follow the blossoms
to the mosque

Chole Evans

Read all the winning haiku, and judges’ commentary for the top-placed poems, here.

To all the winners and place-getters in the NZPS International Haiku Contest! Katherine Raine, placed Fourth. Read the top five haiku, and Simon Hanson’s judge’s comments (scroll down).

Highly Commended Kiwis: Sandra Simpson, Jenny Fraser, Nola Borrell. Commended Kiwis: Katherine Raine (2), Margaret Beverland, Jenny Fraser (2), Julie Prince, Sandra Simpson and our Kiwi poet resident in Australia, Owen Bullock.

To Anne Curran who was a Finalist in the Haiku Society of Constanta Contest (Romania) with

a wall of water
swallows the town –
sudden silence

See all the winning poems here.

Contest results

Gourds-theme Haiku Contest (Croatia)

UHTS Tanka Contest (US) results: an’ya First; Daniela Misso Second; Barbara A Taylor Third; Debbie Strange Honourable Mention. To read the poems and the judge’s comments join the UHTS (free) to receive the seedpods newsletter.

Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award (US)

Japan Fair Haiku Contest (US)

Marlene Mountain Contest (US, opens as a pdf)

San Francisco International Haibun Contest (US)

H Gene Murtha Memorial Senryu Contest (US)

Free e-Books

Prune Juice Book of Senryu celebrates 10 years of publishing English senryu from around the world by 85 of the online journal’s contributors. The ebook features 337 poems.

echoes 2 is a new e-book to celebrate 20 years of the Red Moon Press series, New Resonances, which introduces up-and-coming haiku poets. The 10th biennial volume was published in 2017, bringing the total number of poets featured across the 20 years to 170. echoes 2  includes work from all 10 volumes.

Snapshot Press has a number of e-books for free download and regularly adds new titles. Visit the website to choose a title.

2021 Events

Haiku North America: October 15-17, a virtual event via Zoom coming to you from Victoria (Vancouver Island), British Columbia, Canada. Registration is free.

Japan Writers Conference: October 16-17, Tokai University, Shonan Campus in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, free. Most presentations in English.

Seabeck Haiku Getaway: October 28-31, tentatively, Washington State, US.