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American Haiku Awards (1962–1968)

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:

FirstJ. W. HackettSearching on the wind,
   the hawk’s cry
      is the shape of its beak.
SecondO M B SouthardIn the garden pool,
   dark and still, a stepping-stone
      releases the moon.
ThirdFrank 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:

FirstNicholas VirgilioLily:
     out of the water …
          out of itself.
SecondWarren F. O’Rourke… toc …
the old tree sighs
… toc-toc …
at the new woodpecker
… toc-toc …
this spring.
Third               Robert O. DodsworthSeashell
   and seashore …
      one inside the other.

From the contest that closed on March 15, 1964; awards published in American Haiku 2:1:

Tied for FirstWarren F. O’Rourke
Sunset: carrying
   red balloon, he looks back …
      a child leaves the zoo.
Nicholas VirgilioThe town clock’s face
   adds another shade of yellow
      to the afterglow. 
ThirdPatricia Woodward
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.
John Tagliabue
Tiger! Tiger!
   followed by Willy Blake
      with a light.
Robert Spiess
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.
Don Eulert
Evening, and still—
   from a Canadian thistle
      white stars rising!
Mildred Boink
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.
Gustave Keyser
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!
Charles Shaw
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:

FirstCornelia P. DravesFaces like wet leaves
   glued to asylum windows
      watch the brewing storm.
SecondEthel Freeman
Brown mimosa seed
   where blossoms once invited
      hummingbirds to feed.
ThirdEthel Green RussellDawn, and morning Mass:
   two cardinals celebrate
      at the garden bath.
Special Awards (4)Phil AdamsAfter a spring rain,
   the earth and a robin play
      tug-of-war with a worm.
Georgian TashjianIn our old oak tree
   the parasitic starlings
      scold the mistletoe.
John S. HaneyCrossing beneath
   the street light and the moon,
      my shadow is confused.
Joyce W. WebbAfter the crickets
   have left for winter quarters
      the clock ticks louder.
Special Mention (8)Eloise BarksdaleWillow 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 BoggsA blur of blue wings—
   a gray flashing bushy tail—
      one brown acorn falls.
Don Eulert
The fall rain whispers
   —and a grasshopper hinges
      slowly down a thistle.
Leonard HelieThe same country road
   that pointed toward the city
      welcomes my return.
William J. NobleA golden sound fades,
   taking with it the image
      of a giant bell.
The HerronBudding 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:

FirstO M B SouthardThe old rooster crows—
   Out of the mist come the rocks
      and the twisted pine. 
SecondEvelyn Tooley Hunt
Two old mud-turtles
   dozing on the river bank …
      each in his own shell.
ThirdGeorgian TashjianA year already—
   and still this cup of water
      does not taste of home.
Special Awards (4)Iris O’Neal BowenIgnoring the hearse,
   the starling search the fresh dirt
       by the open grave.
Cornelia P. DravesAround the corner
   same old man hawking handsful
      of fresh yellow spring.
Carrow De VriesOur dusty screen door
   hit by many raindrops smells
      as nothing else does.
Marjorie Bates PrattThrough the March gutters
   children sail their paper boats
      to a far country.
Special Mention (8)Ida FaselIn the museum
   wax eyes follow me about,
      staring at my breath.
Laura Jane KeisterIn the flower box,
   a fountain of dust erupting
      from a feather ball.
John S. HaneySeagulls invisible—
   their voices uttering
      the mood of the mist.
George LittleStiller, stiller than before,
   the after-rain outside
      the greenhouse door.
Cleone MontgomerySlow motion in grass—
   it might be the wind moving
      but for two bright eyes.
Adele WirtzFor the circus clown
   summer is the long season
      of his painted smile.
Edith LodgeThe last leaf takes wing:
   a foliage of sparrows
      clothes the winter branch.
Tohko [Clement Hoyt]“Hush …, bamboo breathed.
     Shadow and leaf shook
                  “Hush … Hush,”
          whispered bamboo.

Selected by the editors to be the best subscriber haiku submitted during the months listed; awards published in American Haiku 3:2:

May 1965B. N. WyattThe heavens tremble
   at the flick of my finger
      in this still water.
June 1965Walter H. KerrWhere last week’s flood
   rested from its sea journey—
      drying maps of mud.
July 1965Robert N. JohnsonA spreading pine—
   the boat is wandering
      on its mooring line.
August 1965Evelyn Tooley HuntA faded scarecrow
   with bird dung on his shoulder
      hides in the tall corn.
September 1965Tohko [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 1965O M B SouthardFrom wind and moonlight
   the bridge shelters the river—
      and this leaky boat. 
November 1965Foster JewellFrom the waterfall
   another river rises,
      weaving off in mist. 
December 1965Paul O. WilliamsTide in, rising breeze,
     boats jerk and bob like puppies
          worrying the leash.
January 1966Gustave KeyserBreathing heavily,
   in and out—in and out
      the summer sea.
February 1966Gustave KeyserLocusts with chainsaws
   are cutting our landmark oak
      into fine sawdust.
March 1966Georjian TashjianOn 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 1966Gerald MuellerLooking for my face
   in the quiet green water …
      a white fish-belly.
May 1966Foster JewellShreds of morning mist
   vanishing on the hillside
      where the shadbush blooms. 
June 1966Phyllis A. LesherNocturnal seascape—
   waves talking along ships’ hulls
      and squaw-ducks quarreling.
July 1966Foster JewellStep after slow step
   over breath-holding silence
      of fresh-crusted snow. 
August 1966John S. HaneyThe two poplar trees,
   slender and tall on the hill—
      a gate for the moon.
September 1966Ga-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 1966Foster JewellThose old rail fences
   and their way of zigzagging
      around violets.
December 1966Marjorie Bates PrattTo wake in the night
   and hear no insect voices …
      the first frost has come.
January 1967Carol LawThe sound of the chain
   across the pasture gate—
      how cold the night!
February 1967Walter H. KerrLast 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 1967Joanne BorgesenThe last falconer—
   moving through the mountain snow—
      whispers to his bird.
April 1967Foster JewellCliff dweller ruins …
   shadows going in and out …
      now and then, swallows. 
May 1967Foster JewellFlash flood in the night,
   and the moon last week seen wriggling
      down the arroyo.
June 1967Jess PerlmanEven 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 1967Evelyn Tooley HuntLanterns at the shrine,
  each wearing a small halo
       of circling shadflies.
August 1967Lorraine Ellis HarrNight in the garden;
   something stirs the pumpkin leaves
      … not a breath of wind.
September 1967O SouthardFrom under the hay
   behind the harnessed horses—
      the creak of a wheel.
October 1967Foster JewellCrowding 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 1967Thelma FinefrockIn somnolent yards
   chickens, with beaks locked open,
      watch raindrops splash dust.
December 1967Marjorie Bates PrattThe first skim of ice—
   a trap for the yellow leaves
      that fell on the lake.
January 1968Foster JewellOn the evening sky,
   the smudge of the last buzzard
      sliding into night.
February 1968Stanford LyonThe pond so quiet
   even the water spider
      seems undecided.

Sources / Further Reading

  • American Haiku. Edited by James Bull et al., Platteville, Wis., and Houston, Texas, 1964–1968.

American Haiku

Compiled by the Haikupedia Editors

Updated on December 24, 2023