Competition Guidelines

The Robert Spiess Memorial
2007 Haiku Awards

As a memorial to Editor Bob Spiess, who died on March 13, 2002, Modern Haiku sponsors The Robert Spiess Memorial Award Haiku Competition.

Modern Haiku is pleased to announce the winners of the 2007 Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Contest. Haiku were to be written in the spirit of the following “Speculation” (Robert Spiess, A Year’s Speculations on Haiku, Modern Haiku Press, 1995):

If a haiku is to have life it must have rhythm or flow—for whatever life is, there is rhythm. Needless to say, this rhythm will seldom be a regular meter, but will be a rhythm or flow that is natural to the entities of the haiku and their particular relation. When the rhythm is proper to the haiku it simply will be felt in an aesthetic mode of “rightness.”

Contest coordinator Billie Wilson received 381 entries from 97 poets in 11 countries. Judges were Jeffrey Winke and Charles Trumbull.



First Prize:

childhood home
i park in the shade
of my cherry stone

Ernest J. Berry          

An exquisite haiku that captures a now-and-then moment that captures the flow and rhythms of life. There are many interpretations here that make for numerous fresh readings.

The winner receives $100 plus a signed copy of The Turtle’s Ears (1971, out of print), inscribed by Bob to the previous owner.

Second Prize:

the school bell rings …
the wings of a butterfly tremble
on the pin


A classically constructed haiku with ample room for the reader to participate. Is this the morning or afternoon school bell—or maybe recess? What causes the butterfly’s wings to tremble—wind? sound? motion? Very well done.

The winner receives $50 plus a copy of Bob’s The Shape of Water (1982).

Third Prize:

followed home
by a dog I don’t know
autumn dusk

Jim Kacian           

Another classically constructed haiku that embodies the aesthetic of sabi, an ineffable loneliness. The verse echoes Bashô’s “along this road / no one travels; / autumn evening.”

The winner receives $25 plus a copy of Bob’s Some Sticks and Pebbles (2001).

Honorable Mention (no rank assigned):

blizzard day—
extra brown sugar
on my oatmeal

Kenneth Elba Carrier       

This haiku captures the sense of I-deserve-it indulgence that one feels upon having to come to terms with the irresistible forces of nature. Delightful.

Honorable Mention (no rank assigned):

in the gutter
a crumpled scratch card—
ragweed in bloom

Raffael de Gruttola      

Here we are neatly presented a feeling of frustration and rejection in the form of a losing lotto ticket framed in the larger scene by ragweed, the yearly scourge of hay fever sufferers.

Honorable Mention (no rank assigned):

gathering dusk
fragments of sky between limbs
become one

Scott Mason           

This haiku captures it superbly—those moments when dusk turns into night. Well rendered.

Honorable Mention (no rank assigned):

solar eclipse—
the rare silence
of seagulls

Patricia Neubauer           

A head-nodding “yes, I've experienced the eerie silence of a solar eclipse” is followed by a “hooray! something to dumbfound the ever-vocal seagulls.”

Honorable Mention (no rank assigned):

family secrets
a thicket full
of ripe raspberries

Marie Summers           

The poet nicely juxtaposes two rich images, the intriguing “family secrets” and a patch of luscious morsels that are guarded by treacherous thorns. Nice.

Honorable Mention Award winners receive a copy of
Bob’s A Year’s Speculations on Haiku (1995)



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