In each issue throughout its six-year run, American Haiku, the first periodical outside Japan devoted entirely to haiku and senryu, awarded prizes to a number of poems chosen by the editors from subscribers’ submissions. Beginning with a contest in late 1962, the American Haiku Awards were the first regular competition for English-language haiku.
For publication in each early issue, the editors of American Haiku selected three haiku that they judged to be the best entries in a competition of original haiku in English in a contest that had been held earlier. Cash awards of $35.00, $15.00, and $5.00 were awarded for the first, second, and third place haiku.
In issue 2:1 Editor Clement Hoyt chose two haiku as tied for First and found so many good haiku among the submissions to the contest that he designated four for Special Awards and eight for Special Mention. Prizes were a year’s subscription to American Haiku and an extra issue of the journal, respectively. These two special categories remained for two more issues.
Beginning with Vol. 3, no. 2, the magazine dropped the notion of a contest, and the editors began simply choosing their favorite haiku from among those submitted during each month and reporting several months’ worth—beginning with May 1965— in each issue. The authors of these monthly winning haiku were each awarded $10.00.
From the contest that closed on December 20, 1962; awards published in American Haiku number one:
|First||J. W. Hackett||Searching on the wind,|
the hawk’s cry
is the shape of its beak.
|Second||O M B Southard||In the garden pool,|
dark and still, a stepping-stone
releases the moon.
|Third||Frank Ankenbrand, Jr.||Crunch, crunch, crunch, hungry|
winter is snapping at my
footsteps in the snow.
From the contest that closed on August 30, 1963; awards published in American Haiku number two:
out of the water …
out of itself.
|Second||Warren F. O’Rourke||… toc …|
the old tree sighs
… toc-toc …
at the new woodpecker
… toc-toc …
|Third||Robert O. Dodsworth||Seashell|
and seashore …
one inside the other.
From the contest that closed on March 15, 1964; awards published in American Haiku 2:1:
|Tied for First||Warren F. O’Rourke||Sunset: carrying|
red balloon, he looks back …
a child leaves the zoo.
|Nicholas Virgilio||The town clock’s face|
adds another shade of yellow
to the afterglow.
Perched on my shoulder,
a downy woodpecker looked
at me with closed eyes.
|Special Awards (4)||Marjory Bates Pratt|
Waves against bell-buoys
and your thoughts against my heart
make a strange music.
followed by Willy Blake
with a light.
Night fog on the farm,—
the passing skunk’s pungency
is not unpleasing.
|Virginia Brady Young|
For the shy, childless
one it is finished. Listen …
the sound of the sea.
|Special Mention (8)||Phil Adams|
My child screams hatred
at the sun, as he watches
his snowman drain away.
Evening, and still—
from a Canadian thistle
white stars rising!
That duck! How roguish—
He kicks at infinity
and picks at the mire!
|John S. Haney|
He sips a martini—
inhaling cigarette smoke—
exhaling a thought.
Stinging snow flurries
whirl past the street light; head down
a lone man hurries.
|Amelia W. Swayne|
We find a blue egg
as we plant our garden corn—
Careless young starling!
Through autumnal dusk
the smoke of leaves curls itself
in a question mark.
|Mary lou Wells|
The clouds are playing
horseshoes; see? one has ringed the
top of the mountain.
From the contest that closed on September 15, 1964; awards published in American Haiku 2:2:
|First||Cornelia P. Draves||Faces like wet leaves|
glued to asylum windows
watch the brewing storm.
Brown mimosa seed
where blossoms once invited
hummingbirds to feed.
|Third||Ethel Green Russell||Dawn, and morning Mass:|
two cardinals celebrate
at the garden bath.
|Special Awards (4)||Phil Adams||After a spring rain,|
the earth and a robin play
tug-of-war with a worm.
|Georgian Tashjian||In our old oak tree|
the parasitic starlings
scold the mistletoe.
|John S. Haney||Crossing beneath|
the street light and the moon,
my shadow is confused.
|Joyce W. Webb||After the crickets|
have left for winter quarters
the clock ticks louder.
|Special Mention (8)||Eloise Barksdale||Willow branches|
brush abstracts for all the shows;
my window frames them.
|J Del B [Jeanne DeL. Bonnette]||Small blue-tailed lizard|
streaks into rainwet mint bed—
no raindrop trembles.
|Peggy Ann Boggs||A blur of blue wings—|
a gray flashing bushy tail—
one brown acorn falls.
The fall rain whispers
—and a grasshopper hinges
slowly down a thistle.
|Leonard Helie||The same country road|
that pointed toward the city
welcomes my return.
|William J. Noble||A golden sound fades,|
taking with it the image
of a giant bell.
|The Herron||Budding branches sway,|
rain has washed the scented air—
sounds are magnified …
|H. D. Pote|
Yesterday we moved;
today, rain closing us in
makes the strange house home.
From the contest that closed on March 30, 1965; awards published in American Haiku 3:1:
|First||O M B Southard||The old rooster crows—|
Out of the mist come the rocks
and the twisted pine.
|Second||Evelyn Tooley Hunt|
Two old mud-turtles
dozing on the river bank …
each in his own shell.
|Third||Georgian Tashjian||A year already—|
and still this cup of water
does not taste of home.
|Special Awards (4)||Iris O’Neal Bowen||Ignoring the hearse,|
the starling search the fresh dirt
by the open grave.
|Cornelia P. Draves||Around the corner|
same old man hawking handsful
of fresh yellow spring.
|Carrow De Vries||Our dusty screen door|
hit by many raindrops smells
as nothing else does.
|Marjorie Bates Pratt||Through the March gutters|
children sail their paper boats
to a far country.
|Special Mention (8)||Ida Fasel||In the museum|
wax eyes follow me about,
staring at my breath.
|Laura Jane Keister||In the flower box,|
a fountain of dust erupting
from a feather ball.
|John S. Haney||Seagulls invisible—|
their voices uttering
the mood of the mist.
|George Little||Stiller, stiller than before,|
the after-rain outside
the greenhouse door.
|Cleone Montgomery||Slow motion in grass—|
it might be the wind moving
but for two bright eyes.
|Adele Wirtz||For the circus clown|
summer is the long season
of his painted smile.
|Edith Lodge||The last leaf takes wing:|
a foliage of sparrows
clothes the winter branch.
|Tohko [Clement Hoyt]||“Hush …, bamboo breathed.|
Shadow and leaf shook
“Hush … Hush,”
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 3:2:
|May 1965||B. N. Wyatt||The heavens tremble|
at the flick of my finger
in this still water.
|June 1965||Walter H. Kerr||Where last week’s flood|
rested from its sea journey—
drying maps of mud.
|July 1965||Robert N. Johnson||A spreading pine—|
the boat is wandering
on its mooring line.
|August 1965||Evelyn Tooley Hunt||A faded scarecrow|
with bird dung on his shoulder
hides in the tall corn.
|September 1965||Tohko [Clement Hoyt]||Hair, in my comb’s teeth,|
the color of autumn wind—
this whole day is gray.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 4:1:
|October 1965||O M B Southard||From wind and moonlight|
the bridge shelters the river—
and this leaky boat.
|November 1965||Foster Jewell||From the waterfall|
another river rises,
weaving off in mist.
|December 1965||Paul O. Williams||Tide in, rising breeze,|
boats jerk and bob like puppies
worrying the leash.
|January 1966||Gustave Keyser||Breathing heavily,|
in and out—in and out
the summer sea.
|February 1966||Gustave Keyser||Locusts with chainsaws|
are cutting our landmark oak
into fine sawdust.
|March 1966||Georjian Tashjian||On the harbor bridge|
old sailors’ hands grip the railing,
steering for channels.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 4:2:
|April 1966||Gerald Mueller||Looking for my face|
in the quiet green water …
a white fish-belly.
|May 1966||Foster Jewell||Shreds of morning mist|
vanishing on the hillside
where the shadbush blooms.
|June 1966||Phyllis A. Lesher||Nocturnal seascape—|
waves talking along ships’ hulls
and squaw-ducks quarreling.
|July 1966||Foster Jewell||Step after slow step|
over breath-holding silence
of fresh-crusted snow.
|August 1966||John S. Haney||The two poplar trees,|
slender and tall on the hill—
a gate for the moon.
|September 1966||Ga-Go (Travis B. Frosig)|
In the smokery
the silver scaled herring
turns to warmest gold.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 5:1:
|October 1966||“The October 1966 award-winning haiku cannot be published here, |
because it was printed as the AMERICAN HAIKU award winner
by another publication, April 1965. Our policy is to publish
previously unpublished haiku only.”
|November 1966||Foster Jewell||Those old rail fences|
and their way of zigzagging
|December 1966||Marjorie Bates Pratt||To wake in the night|
and hear no insect voices …
the first frost has come.
|January 1967||Carol Law||The sound of the chain|
across the pasture gate—
how cold the night!
|February 1967||Walter H. Kerr||Last night’s pale harvest|
guarded by a scarecrow’s ghost
and this old rail fence.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 5:2:
|March 1967||Joanne Borgesen||The last falconer—|
moving through the mountain snow—
whispers to his bird.
|April 1967||Foster Jewell||Cliff dweller ruins …|
shadows going in and out …
now and then, swallows.
|May 1967||Foster Jewell||Flash flood in the night,|
and the moon last week seen wriggling
down the arroyo.
|June 1967||Jess Perlman||Even tall trees droop,|
surrendering to the sun
in a cloudless sky.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 6:1:
|July 1967||Evelyn Tooley Hunt||Lanterns at the shrine,|
each wearing a small halo
of circling shadflies.
|August 1967||Lorraine Ellis Harr||Night in the garden;|
something stirs the pumpkin leaves
… not a breath of wind.
|September 1967||O Southard||From under the hay|
behind the harnessed horses—
the creak of a wheel.
|October 1967||Foster Jewell||Crowding the silence—|
looming up larger than sound …
still no coyote call.
Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 6:2:
|November 1967||Thelma Finefrock||In somnolent yards|
chickens, with beaks locked open,
watch raindrops splash dust.
|December 1967||Marjorie Bates Pratt||The first skim of ice—|
a trap for the yellow leaves
that fell on the lake.
|January 1968||Foster Jewell||On the evening sky,|
the smudge of the last buzzard
sliding into night.
|February 1968||Stanford Lyon||The pond so quiet|
even the water spider
Sources / Further Reading
- American Haiku. Edited by James Bull et al., Platteville, Wis., and Houston, Texas, 1964–1968.