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Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest (2012– )

Sharpening the Green Pencil is an international online haiku competition begun in Romania in 2012 by Corneliu Traian Atanasiu. It is one of the top English-language haiku contests based in Europe and has usually attracted more than 200 entries from around the globe. Atanasiu continues to coordinate the annual contest with the sponsorship and assistance of the Romanian Kukai Group. Contest entries are gathered into a print and digital publication, Sharpening the Green Pencil [year]: The Book of the Contest.

General Information

The Sharpening the Green Pencil haiku contest is open to anyone regardless of age or nationality. Submissions are accepted during the month of February and should consist of one haiku in English not previously published in any form print or electronic nor under consideration in any other contest. Poets are asked to submit a version in their haiku in their native language as well.

There is no prescribed theme. The recommended style is contemporary: three lines within the 5–7–5–syllable pattern but no strict syllable count.

There is no charge to enter the contest. An entry form is available on the contest website.

The contest’s name is taken from a haiku of Elena Manta Ciubotariu’s that won an award in the 1995 Hawai’i Education Association Contest:

The child sharpens
The green pencil

Contest results are announced each year on April 1 on the Sharpening the Green Pencil website and the contest entries are gathered and published by Calamēo in an e-book in English, Romanian, and the original language. The books are also accessible from the website.

Prizes are books and diplomas for the top winners and diplomas for the recipients of commendations (normally ten poets).

12th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2023

JurySeren Fargo, Preselector;
Kit Nagamura, Final Judge
and Comments
Conference administration
Number of entriesNot stated
Results & comments publishedSharpening the Green Pencil website
First PlaceSrinivasa Rao Sambangi,
Hyderabad, India
half time 
my son and I exchange 
our goal posts
Second PlaceAddison Redley,
London, U.K.
yesterday’s news 
in a wire basket 
another war
Third PlaceCristina-Valeria Apetrei,
Saveni, Romania
first light 
the trail to his burial place 
speckled with petals
Honorable Mention (3)Daniela Misso,
San Gemini (TR), Italy
winter deepens … 
in an old coat pocket
blue glass beads
Sandra St-Laurent,
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
fall’s carpet 
the crisp sound
of crème brûlée
Marion Clarke,
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, U.K.
star by star 
the lane lights up … 
Commendation (3)Ruwanka Jayatillake,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
unsold roses 
in the dumpster 
valentine’s day
Ivan Gaćina,
Zadar, Croatia
my last-ditch effort 
to keep you with me …
dandelion fluffs
Viktoriya Marinova,
Sofia, Bulgaria
foggy morning 
the unpicked rose hips 
in signal red

11th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2022

JuryAlan Peat, Final Judge
Conference administration
Number of entriesNot stated
Results & comments publishedSharpening the Green Pencil website
Joint First PlaceRamesh Anand,
Chennai, India
spring’s shadow
the young nurse
mothers my mother
Richard Thomas,
Plymouth, U.K.
silver lining—
what the storm takes
from the magpie’s fable
Second PlaceLuminița Petrea,
Botoșani, Romania
crane feather
between heaven and earth
a flying kigo
Third PlaceLisa Anne Johnson,
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
late winter—
a coffee ring settling
beside the coaster
Honorable Mention (3)Neena Singh,
Chandigarh, India
kite-flying …
a street child colors
the unmasked sky
Vandana Parashar,
Panchkula, Haryana, India
not falling for you
not falling for me
Henryk Czempiel,
Strzelce Opolskie, Poland
Kiev nights
checking again
if any star falls
Commendation (3)Vitaly Svirin,
St. Petersburg, Russia
in the wind’s voice
there are notes of disquiet …
the bending pines groan.
Adrian Bouter,
Gouda, Netherlands
reading Rilke
reminds me of autumn—
refugee flows
Richa Sharma,
Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
unexpected rain
his apology letter

10th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2021

JudgesÐurđa Vukelić-Rozić, Croatia, Pre-selector
Julie Warther Schwerin, U.S.A., Final Judge and Comments
Conference administrationCezar-Florin Ciobîcă, Romania, Coordinator
Ana Drobot, Romania, Secretary
Number of entries205 from 40 countries
Results & comments publishedSharpening the Green Pencil website
First PlaceSeren Fargo
Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A.
monarch migration—
the grandparents
I never knew
Second PlaceSandra Simpson
Tauranga, New Zealand
longest night—
the clay bowl’s
whorls and ridges
Third PlaceMarilyn Ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan, U.S.A.
blueberry dusk
a fresh crop of fireflies
in the farm field
1st Honorable MentionDarrell Lindsey
Nacogdoches, Texas, U.S.A.
marquee pigeons
the tale of the town
in missing letters
2nd Honorable MentionValorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff,
Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.A.
dark pond
a lone skater slices the ice
into moons
3rd Honorable MentionMarietta McGregor,
Canberra, Australia
whipsnap wind …
another day’s worries
hung out to dry
1st CommendedBilly Antonio,
Laoac, Philippines
war veteran’s tale
bonfire embers reach
the Milky Way
2nd CommendedAljoša Vuković,
Šibenik, Croatia
summer breeze—
new lovers
on an old bench
3rd CommendedKimberley Sanson,
rabbit ear iris
the texture
of the morning dew

9th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2020

JuryMichael Dylan Welch, President of the Jury
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă, Dan Doman,
and Cristina Young, Members of the Jury
Conference administrationCezar-Florin Ciobîcă, Coordinator
Ana Drobot, Secretary
Number of entries176 from 44 countries
Results & comments publishedSharpening the Green Pencil website
First PrizeSanela Pliško,
Pula, Croatia
diagnosis …
how easily we become
autumn leaves
Second PrizeTracy Davidson,
Stratford-upon-Avon, U.K.
bitter frost
nothing left to offer
the homeless man
Third PrizeAgus Maulana Sunjaya,
Tangerang, Java, Indonesia
hunger moon
the long shadow
of this world
1st Honorable MentionJoanne van Helvoort,
Beerta, Netherlands
four years now
the pink fairy dress
she would have worn
2nd Honorable MentionAntonio Martínez Rubio,
Villarrobledo, Albacete, Spain
no names …
on the common grave
spring wildflowers
3rd Honorable MentionOlivier Schopfer,
Geneva, Switzerland
adding milk to my tea …
the many shapes
of morning clouds
1st CommendedLouise Hopewell,
Melbourne, Australia
asked to give
yet another eulogy
biting wind
2nd CommendedRodica Stefan,
Bucharest, Romania
bowed with the dew—
morning prayer
3rd CommendedRadostina Dragostinova,
Sofia, Bulgaria
evening chill
under the pear tree
the smile of a strange woman

8th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2019

JuryJim Kacian, President of the Jury
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă, Dan Doman,
and Lavana Kray, Members of the Jury
Conference administrationCorneliu Traian Atanasiu, Secretary
Ana Drobot, Translator
Number of entries224 from 41 countries
First PrizeMartha Magenta,
Bristol, U.K.
sea breeze …
I breathe in
your accent
Second PrizeKanchan Chatterjee,
Jamshedpur, India
evening chill …
a paper plane stuck
on barbed wire
Third PrizeEufemia Griffo,
Settimo Milanese, Italy
white butterflies
thinking about
everything I lost
Honorable Mention (3)Pragya Vishnoi,
Kanpur, India
war anniversary
her daughter knows
each star by name
Aparna Pathak,
Gurugram, India
planetarium …
one by one
his teeth shine
Zoran Doderović,
Novi Sad, Serbia
morning light
dripping from the wet leaves
a cuckoo’s call
Commendation (5)Miljenko Šimunović,
Ivanić-Grad, Croatia
last chemo session—
the snow-snakes pouring tears
from magnolia tree
Deborah Karl-Brandt,
Bonn, Germany
First snow of the year
The telephone starts
to shrill
Chirag Tulsiani,
Kolkata, India
family reunion—
we spit out seeds 
like before …
Wilfredo R. Bongcaron,
Manila, Philippines
waning moon—
the cicadas’
sudden silence
Cynthia Rowe,
Sydney, Australia
receding shore—
the refugee’s doll 
trailing kelp

7th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2018

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu, President
Cezar Florin CiobîcăandDan Doman, Members
Conference administrationCristina Oprea Young and
Eduard Țară, Secretaries;
Ana Drobot, English Advisor
Number of entries269 from 50 countries
First PrizeDebbie Strange,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

frozen trough
I cup the warm breath
of my horse
Second Prize (tie)Zuzanna Truchlewska,
Łaziska Górne, Poland

after the war …
in a barrel of a tank
bird’s nest
Cristina Apetrei,
Botoșani, Romania

Harvest Day
the last cricket fills
my piggy-bank
Third Prize (disqualified
because of previous
Ramlawt Dinpuia,
Aizawl, India
morning cicada
a boy in the asylum
recites his prayer
Commendation (11)Angelo B. Ancheta,
Rizal, Philippines
super blood moon
the scent of a woman
in red
Pris Campbell,
Lake Worth, Florida, U.S.A.
scattered sand …
baby sea turtles return
to the stars
Kanchan Chatterjee,
Jamshedpur, India
summer field …
a farmer talks to his goat
while chewing a grass
Ivan Gaćina,
Zadar, Croatia
oak woods …
a woodpecker arranges
the night silence
Goran Gatalica,
Zagreb, Croatia
winter dawn—
small refugee takes breath
in a tank car
Letitia Lucia Iubu,
Craiova, Romania
other ships
and other sailors—
the sea is the same
Carole MacRury,
Point Roberts, Washington, U.S.A.
oh to have
the heron’s hollow bones—
the weight of winter
David McMurray,
Kagoshima, Japan
Cherry-colored mist
rolls along curves and valley—
blind masseuse’s hands
Dan Norea,
Constanța, Romania
everything unchanged—
the rip in the curtain
woven by a spider
Dragutin Pasarić,
Kutina, Croatia
a winter travelogue—
over distant glades I follow
the trail of a doe
Valentina Rinaldi Adams,
Fairlawn, Ohio, U.S.A.
hearing aids—
birds sing
Selected Poems (13)Theresa A. Cancro,
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.
wild violets
brushing her cheek
the shadow of a bruise
Erin Castaldi,
Mays Landing, New Jersey, U.S.A.
pressed flowers
tucked in pages
first hallelujah
Cherese Cobb,
Maryville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Día de los Muertos
scrubbing from your headstone—
our last conversation
Anne Curran,
Hamilton, New Zealand

Nana pieces together
her jigsaw puzzle …
summer afternoon
Małgorzata Formanowska,
Wrocław, Poland
on grandma’s armchair
unfinished needlework
John Hawkhead,
Bradford-on-Avon, U.K.
night glimmered river
the poacher casts a net
over someone’s stars
Marilyn Humbert,
Sydney, Australia
slow day
in the garden
a snail overtakes me
Ron C. Moss,
Lesley Vale, Australia
sick with fever …
one white duck
on dark water
Pravat Kumar Padhy,
Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
in between
thunders of wave—
receding silence
Slavica Sarkotić,
Lekenik, Croatia
on wrinkled newspaper
winter stories and photos
burning in the stove
Olivier Schopfer,
Geneva, Switzerland
blowing dust
off a secondhand book
autumn fog
Mariana Tănase,
Brăila, Romania

the fallen branch—
on the large snow mantle stretch
a new graffiti
Maria Laura Valente,
Cesena, Italy

day hospital—
the hushed catharsis
of the snow

6th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2017

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationEduard Țară, Secretary; 
Cristina Oprea and Ana Drobot,
Number of entries275 from 45 countries
First PrizeStella Pierides,
Neusäß, Germany
refugee child—
folding and unfolding
his paper boat
Second PrizeRodica P. Calotă,
Târgu Jiu, Romania
Table of Silence—
we can hear the moonbeam
polishing the stone
Third Prize (tie)Ioana Brînzei,
Botoșani, Romania
winter night—
somebody’s footprints
lead to the moon
Vitali Khomin,
Mukachevo, Ukraine
the ashes of the temple
as if nothing had happened
plum blossoms
Commendation (10)Raj Bose,
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
Hot summer day
Nodding in agreement
Lizard and I
Anna Goluba,
Warsaw, Poland
Winter night …
Untouched whiteness
Of her diary’s pages
Anita Guenin,
San Diego, California, U.S.A.
borrowed time—
I put more honey
in my tea
Jonathan Humphrey,
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
sewing needle’s sheen—
a cricket cleans
its antenna
Marcela Ignătescu,
Drajna de Jos, Romania
snowfall over the village—
having the grandson on her lap
evening prayer
Chen-ou Liu,
Ajax, Ontario, Canada
two lines on the test
a pregnant silence
fills our bedroom
Dan Norea,
Constanța, Romania
carrousel in winter—
a child puts his scarf
around the horse’s neck
Cristina Pârvu,
Ploiești, Romania
flowers over the grave—
between me and mum
the cherry tree’s fragrance
Gregory Piko,
Yass, New South Wales, Australia
this beach of pebbles
after the wave
my life rearranged
Ali Znaidi,
Redeyef, Tunisia
we couldn’t say …
sirocco gusts
Selected Poems (10)Billy Antonio,
Laoac, Philippines
midday sun
shadow of a tree
shadow of a bird
Marta Chociłowska,
Warsaw, Poland
family reunion
in the shade of an old chestnut
one vacant chair
Nadin Ghileschi,
Botoșani, Romania
unmotivated absence—
in the public garden
the blackbird’s song
Nikolay Grankin,
Krasnodar, Russia
early frosts
my shirt on the clothesline
takes the form of wind
Natalia Kuznetsova,
Moscow, Russia
all over no man’s land—
fragile truce
Neha R. Krishna,
Mumbai, India
a flock of starlings
drawing patterns in the sky
fetal ultrasound
David Milovanović,
Lapovo, Serbia
back home
there’s still that little boy
in the grimy mirror
Carl Seguiban,
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
monsoon days
the path to her doorstep
waist deep in stars
Keith A. Simmonds,
Rodez, France
Grandma spring cleaning …
the odour of time
lingers in her rooms
Gergana Yaninska,
Plovdiv, Bulgaria
origami frogs
jump toward the finish line
children’s ward

5th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2016

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and 
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationCristina Oprea and
Eduard Țară, Secretaries
Ana Drobot, English Advisor
Number of entries250 from 45 countries
First PrizeArchana Kapoor Nagpal,
Bangalore, India
fogbound …
singing rhymes to the baby
in my womb
Second PrizeMarta Chociłowska,
Warsaw, Poland
cutting reeds
piece by piece
the backwater turns blue
Third PrizeMarek Kozubek,
Bangkok, Thailand
stone Buddha—
I learn to forgive
a mosquito 
Commendation (10)Stephanie Viaya Bose,
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
dad’s life
the bite marks
on his pipe
Petru-Ioan Gârda,
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
new buds next to the crosses—
the cemetery comes back
to life again
Rajandeep Garg,
Sangrur, Punjab, India
wood silence …
each thought unstrings
to a bird song
Jacek Margolak,
Kielce, Poland
spring cleaning
I take out of the shoe box
my childhood
Anna Maris,
Överby, Sweden
spring rain
an old letter
unfolded again 
Dan Norea,
Constanța, Romania
a wheelchair—
carefully avoiding
the lines of hopscotch
Rita Odeh,
Haifa, Israel
some seeds
in his pockets …
the refugee
Minh Triêt Pham,
Paris, France
summer mountain lake—
she’s taking her swimsuit off
and my doubts away
Vladimir Šuk,
Oroslavje, Croatia
dry stone wall
a young lizard gathers
the sunrays
Michael Dylan Welch,
Sammamish, Washington, U.S.A.
playing and falling
the children
the snow
Selected Poems (10)Magdalena Banaszkiewicz,
Krosno Odrzańskie, Poland
so close to each other—
the stars mingle
with the campfire sparks
Cherese Cobb,
Maryville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
line of ants
one by one, the old woman
counts her grandchildren
Nadin Ghileschi,
Botoșani, Romania
first cruise
on the curtain folds
a spider
Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy,
Birmingham, U.K.
autumn wind—
a toy guitar
scrapes the wall
Ajaya Mahala,
Pune, Maharashtra, India
first cruise
on the curtain folds
a spider
Dragan J. Ristić,
Niš, Serbia
pale chrysanthemum—
the picture of a merry woman
on the tombstone
Ernesto P. Santiago,
Solano, Philippines
a quarter moon—
my mother measures
the rain barrel
Ken Sawitri,
Blora, Central Java, Indonesia
migrant’s shelters
above them
the wandering moon
Silva Trstenjak,
Štrigova, Croatia
on the lavender stalk
a snail getting ready
for tomorrow’s date
Agnieszka Żądło,
Zielonka, Poland
too tight elevator
enjoying the talk is falling
each floor

4th Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2015

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and 
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationCristina Oprea and
Eduard Țară, Secretaries
Number of entries286 from 40 countries
First PrizeRoberta Beary,
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
quiet rain …
a robin slips through
my chemo fog
Second PrizePetru-Ioan Gârda,
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
whisper of spring—
snowdrops besieging
a cartridge case
Third PrizeChase Gagnon,
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
stargazing …
the warmth of the sun
still in her hair
Commendation (10)Gabriel Alexe,
Botoșani, Romania
bent tree …
the last apple plunging into
the fountain’s abyss
Francesco de Sabata,
Pescantina (VR), Italy
all the shadows
join together at evening—
I stay alone
Marilyn Humbert,
Sydney, Australia
hitch a ride on thistledown—
new beginnings
Nina Kovačić,
Zagreb, Croatia
The first day of school—
her legs waving on a bench
far from the floor
Andrius Luneckas,
Vilnius, Lithuania
soldiers on both sides of
Boris Nazansky,
Zagreb, Croatia
scorching heat
dragonfly’s eyes reflect
dry pebbles
Minh-Triêt Pham,
Paris, France
mist rising—
the castle ruins
Shloka Shankar,
Bangalore, India
trench lines
in the bramble
a soldier’s sigh
Debbie Strange,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
out to pasture
only the wind upon
her bent back
Božena Zernec,
Krapina, Croatia
how harmlessly
they rustle in the breeze,
the poppy capsules

3rd Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2014

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and 
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationEduard Țară, Secretary
Number of entries264 from 47 countries
First PrizeDorota Pyra,
Gdańsk, Poland
snowy orchard
the smell of summer
in a baked apple
Second PrizeChase Gagnon,
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
humid night …
a tadpole breaks the surface
of ancient stars
Third PrizeMinh-Triêt Pham,
Paris, France
carnival wig—
a touch of fantasy
during chemo
Commendation (10)Margaret Beverland,
Katikati, New Zealand
never missing
a wingbeat
migrating geese
Bouwe Brouwer,
Sneek, Netherlands
falling leaves
slowly the fading light
enters my room
Frank Dietrich,
Düsseldorf, Germany
autumn equinox—
cutting an apple
in half
Jan Dobb,
Canberra, Australia
windswept sky
a collie on the hillside
shifting sheep
Anna Goluba,
Warsaw, Poland
Foggy evening—
The old boat
Sinks in the silence
Devin Harrison,
Vancouver, Canada
growing old
the snow from childhood
rests on my shoulders
Krzysztof Kokot,
Nowy Targ, Poland
pale girl—
on the hospital lawn
primroses bloom
Angelica Seithe,
Wettenberg, Germany
fresh snow
no traces left
between us
Keith A. Simmonds,
Rodez, France
tumultuous waves …
a fisherman’s boat stumbles
into a rainbow
Vania Stefanova,
Sliven, Bulgaria
a fox cub
lying in the red clay
another sunset

2nd Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2013

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and 
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationEduard Țară, Secretary
Number of entries199 from 38 countries
First PrizeAsni Amin,
letting go …
the butterflies I’ll never
see again
Second PrizeÐurđa Vukelić Rožić,
Ivanić-Grad, Croatia
fishing with father—
an empty bucket full of
Third PrizeRita Odeh,
Nazareth, Israel
dark mirror—
the coldness of that single
dangling breast
Commendation (10)Billy Antonio,
Laoac, Philippines
moss-covered well—
I think of all summers past
bathing as a boy
Ellen Compton,
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
the lab report …
violets in the rain
Nikola Ðuretić,
Zagreb, Croatia
silent winter night
but never like this one in
Issa’s haiku
Vitali Khomin,
Mukachevo, Ukraine
warm evening
on the threshold of the church
a snail slumbers
Brian Robertson,
Toronto, Canada
quiet kitchen
as ashtray full of words
I can’t take back
Borivoje Sekulić,
Laćarak, Serbia
deep thoughts
an ant’s bite brings me
back to reality
Artūras Šilanskas,
Vilnius, Lithuania
frosted buds
I wonder how it feels
writing a jisei
Sandra Simpson,
Tauranga, New Zealand
evening breeze—
tiny crabs move the beach
grain by grain
Anna Świtalska Jopek,
Gdańsk, Poland
autumn wind
clatter of wooden hangers
in my wardrobe
Kate Yaroshyna,
Minsk, Belarus
all inclusive.
the fly is stiffened
in amber

1st Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest, 2012

JuryCorneliu Traian Atanasiu,
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă and 
Dan Doman, Members
Conference administrationEduard Țară, Secretary
Number of entries280 poems by 140 participants
from 31 countries
First PrizeArtūras Šilanskas,
Vilnius, Lithuania
the hunter’s moon
a night is not enough
to get the point
Second PrizeAndrea Cecon,
Cividale del Friuli, Italy
falling leaves
one by one
my old friends
Third PrizeKaren O’Leary,
West Fargo, North Dakota, U.S.A.
rattling windows
dad gasps his final breath
during a blizzard
Commendation (7)Ljubomir Dragović,
Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
whiz of a scythe
in the transparent blueness
larks’ undersongs
Darrell Lindsey,
Nacogdoches, Texas, U.S.A.
sumi-e mountains
a blackbird tries to fly
from the drying ink
Ljubomir Radovančević,
Zagreb, Croatia
snow storm—
petrified raven traveling
on a withered tree
Bruce Ross,
Bangor, Maine, U.S.A.
in the dream
my dead friend has to go
winter solstice
Sandra Simpson,
Tauranga, New Zealand
peach season—
the way his foot
fits my hand
Dietmar Tauchner,
Puchberg, Austria
the silence
of history
Herwig Verleyen,
Bruges, Belgium
His roots and branches
hold earth and sky together—
the old oak tree.

Compiled by the Romanian Kukai Group and the Haikupedia Editors

Sources / Further Reading

Updated on December 31, 2023