Honorable Mention:

by Ellen Lord, MI, USA

A Poet in Winter

January ends. Lake-effect skies yawn on. The Irish call it ‘the drearies’. I bundle up and walk into a new-snow meadow. How I love the hush of a soft winter’s morning. I stop to gaze at faces in the clouds. Today, they all look like strangers, perhaps a clown or two. I whisper my poems to a crow in a jagged pine. He doesn’t seem to care. He reminds me of that poetry critic from a workshop I attended last week. I smile. I wonder who will remember me—and what—and why—and why not—

Then I realize, it really doesn’t matter at all. Such a welcome reprieve to be alone on this long rising road in Michigan.

so much pending
under a shroud of snow

~ ~ ~

Comments from the Judges

In A Poet in Winter, terse sentences reflect the poet’s footfalls in “a new-snow meadow. . . on a long rising road in Michigan.” Earth joins sky as cloud faces morph from strangers to clowns. A crow casts doubt on some whispered poems as the poet moves inward. The interior meander briefly recalls a poetry workshop, then continues into musings of remembrance. Walking out of this inner-space, the poet returns to earth with an intriguing and potent haiku.

About the Judges

Marilyn Ashbaugh‘s haiku, haibun, haiga and tanka appear in journals and anthologies dedicated to these forms, including haikuKATHA, The Haibun Journal, #FemkuMag, hedgerow, The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, and The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku. Her awards include: Tejasvat Award (2023), Kiyoshi & Kiyoko Tokutomi Haiku Contest (2021, 2022); Akita International Haiku Contest (2019, 2020). A haiku of hers was shortlisted for the 2021 Touchstone Award for Individual Poems. Ashbaugh is the new haiku editor at Under the Basho. She resides in Edwardsburg, Michigan, and Gulf Stream, Florida.

Sean O’Connor is an award-winning poet, author and editor based in rural Tipperary, Ireland. He is the founder and editor of The Haibun Journal and was editor of the Irish print journal Haiku Spirit 1998-2000. He was a member of the judging panel of the Japan-based Genjuan International Haibun Contest for two years (2020 and 2021). O’Connor’s work has been widely published, translated, and anthologized worldwide. He co-wrote Pilgrim Foxes with Ken Jones and Jim Norton, published by Pilgrim Press (2000). His first solo collection Let Silence Speak (Alba Publishing 2016) was shortlisted for the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award 2016. A year later his title Even the Mountains: Five years in a Japanese Village (Alba Publishing 2017) was well received by reviewers. He won the HSA Merit Book Award: Best Haibun Book 2021 for Fragmentation (Alba Publishing 2021) and his haiku ‘nights drawing in’ won second place in the HSA Haiku Award 2022. Also in 2022, his book The God of Bones was awarded Honorable Mentions in both the HSA Merit Book Award and the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award, 2022. In 2021 and 2022 he was awarded Literature Bursaries by the Arts Council of Ireland. In 2023 Alba Publishing released his latest book, A Patch of Earth.

The purpose of the Haiku Society of America’s Haibun Awards competition is to recognize the best unpublished haibun submitted. Authors may submit up to three unpublished haibun, of no more than 1,000 words, not submitted for publication or to any other contest. Publication is defined as an appearance in a printed book, magazine, or journal (sold or given away), or in any online journal that presents edited periodic content. The appearance of poems in online discussion lists or personal websites is not considered publication. Judges will be asked to disqualify any haibun that they have seen before..

Winners by Year (with judges’ comments):

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 |

For details about the contest rules, see the Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards guidelin





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