Ito-En Haiku Contest Winners (English Division), 2017

It was an honor to judge the Ito-en Haiku Contest this year. My husband and I traveled to Nippon Club in New York City for the ceremony where we met some warm and wonderful people/poets.

As promised to the winners, here are my notes on the haiku I chose. Please note that the names of writers were not shared with me until afterwards.

Gold Prize

ice-fishing I catch a cold
–Susan Burch, MD

At first read, I pictured a man fishing. I like the humor and
directness and how this haiku, in only seven syllables, captures the
hard essence of winter and how we seldom get our
expectations met in the way we wish.

Silver Prize

ancient forest-
the aroma rises
from my tea
—Barbara Kaufmann, NY

It wasn’t until after I chose this haiku that I remembered the contest
was sponsored by a tea company. To smell an ancient forest rising from
tea … how powerful the moment, as if the trees were communicating with the poet. The haiku has a healing quality  reminding us that we are not separate from Nature itself. A moment of awakening brought on by the
sense of smell.

Bronze Prize

first day of school
a black mark
on  her white shoes

–Julie Warther, OH


A little girl heads off the first day of school with new notebook and the expectation of doing well. Her mother helps dress her with great care. Not a hair  out of place. She is filled with hope until the black mark appears on her shoe and seems to spoil her day. This haiku/senryu emotes tremendous compassion for the youngster. Life again interferes with our wishes, a lesson we learn early on . It wasn’t until the ceremony  I learned that the black mark was put there by a boy who stepped on her shoe.

Feel free to check out my Ito-En Facebook album where I share photos of others who won prizes including those of some of our younger poets.



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One thought on “Ito-En Haiku Contest Winners (English Division), 2017

  1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments, Alexis. You captured the essence of my experience at the moment I said my ‘aha.’ I smiled at your comment about the tea company. It wasn’t until after I hit ‘send’ that I remembered that same thing!

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