2020 Morioka International Haiku Contest

I had the pleasure of judging the second Morioka International Haiku Contest with Toru Kiuchi in the early autumn of 2020. Results were announced 8 November 2020 in Morioka, Japan. Visit the Morioka website for more information or to see the results online (PDF). Results also available here (click the top-left corner here to see the next page). See also the 2019 contest results.       +

Prize Winners and Poems from Haiku Submissions—English Section

盛岡国際俳句大会 事前投句英語部門 受賞作品一覧

Judges: Toru Kiuchi, Michael Dylan Welch
Japanese Translation: Toru Kiuchi

Grand Prize                                     最優秀作

Engin Gülez

railway station                                                            
quietly becoming a part                                           
of her silence                                                             

The train has left, and so have most of the station’s travelers. As the station grows quiet, we become aware of a person still present, even more silent. Why is she there? Was she expecting someone who never arrived? Or is that person still to come, giving her a growing anticipation, perhaps tinged with fear or eagerness? We do not know, but we are given enough information to enter at least part of the story, which is more than enough to engage us as readers. We are not told the season, but we can imagine it to be winter, the lonely season, for this is a poem about feeling alone, as lonely as an empty railway station. This poem exhibits what former United States poet laureate Billy Collins once referred to as haiku’s “existential gratitude.” —Michael Dylan Welch

電車が出発し、駅にいた旅行者のほとんども出発した。駅が静かになるにつれて、さらに静かになり、私たちはまだ残っている一人に気づく。なぜ彼女はそこにいるのか? 彼女は決して到着しない誰かを期待して待っていたのか? それとも、その人はまだ来るかもしれず、彼女は、恐らく恐れや切望に満ちて、ますます期待に胸をふくらませているのか? 私たちにはわからないが、物語の少なくとも一部に入っていくのに十分な情報が提供されている。これは、読者として私たちを引き付けるのに十分すぎるほどである。季節はわからないが、冬、つまり孤独な季節と想像できる。人のいない駅と同じくらい寂しい、孤独を感じることについての句。この句は、元米国の桂冠詩人ビリー・コリンズがかつて俳句の「実存的謝意」と呼んだものを示している。マイケル・ディランウェルチ

Special Selections                          特賞

Benjamin Blaesi

a murmuration                                                          
of starlings hurries south                                        つぶやき
I cut the last rose                                                      私は最後のバラを切った

Starlings do not hurry south but a murmur does. Truth of season change lies in the changing expression. There is no relationship between starlings and cutting the rose, but one may feel that if a starling’s chirping is gone one will also lose the last rose. Toru Kiuchi


Veronika Zora Novak

cupped hands . . .                                                     
I drink the music                                                       
of moonlight                                                              音楽を飲む

You cannot drink music nor moonlight. However, using both hands, you could scoop up anything, even music and moonlight. This reminds me of a famous Japanese haiku by Hosai Ozaki: “No vessel, receiving alms in cupped hands.” Toru Kiuchi


Patricia M. Campbell

hospital garden                                                         
he quickly lowers his mask                                     彼はすぐにマスクを下げ
and smells the roses                                                バラの香りがする

This poem is full of the sense of the times. Even though we know that poets should not be too political, we haiku poets need to keep up with the times. The word “quickly” represents a tense atmosphere for the COVID-19 age. The reader is, however, relieved to know that the poet peacefully smells a rose. Toru Kiuchi


Beth A. Skala

baking day                                                                 
grandma kneads and shapes                                 
another story                                                           

Readers are welcomed into this warm domestic scene. We expect grandma to be kneading bread, but the last line surprises us with the introduction of story. And so the poem expands beyond images of fresh bread or other baking into the realm of family chronicles, which are surely just as inviting. —Michael Dylan Welch


Ed Bremson

Covid winter . . .                                                      コロナの冬
her one-breath poem                                            彼女の一息の詩を
in two breaths                                                         二呼吸で

None of us have been able to escape the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, so it is no wonder that this topic occurred in many of the poems submitted this year. Haiku is known as a one-breath poem, so if it takes two breaths to read such a short poem, that is a stark reminder of the pandemic’s personal challenges. —Michael Dylan Welch


Honourable Mentions                選外佳作

Nikola Đuretić

A toad croaking                                                      ヒキガエルの鳴き声
as though he grasped                                           彼が人生の謎を
the mystery of life.                                                握ったかのように

Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff

after the argument                                               議論の後
your absence                                                         あなたの不在
black moon                                                            黒い月

Cyndi Lloyd

apple blossoms fall . . .                                        リンゴの花が散る
an edge of the blanket                                        毛布の端が
in her baby’s mouth                                            赤ちゃんの口の中に

Engin Gülez

daughter’s deathbed                                          娘の死の床
knitting what’s left                                              光のなかから
of the light                                                           残ったものを編む

Al W. Gallia

first raindrop                                                       最初の雨滴
the cricket eases                                                蟋蟀が葉の下で
under a leaf                                                        くつろぐ

Indra Neil Mekala

gaining size                                                         大きさを増す
as it rolls . . .                                                       春の露が
spring dew                                                          転がるにつれ

Radostina Dragostinova

old church                                                           古い教会
in the shadow beside the door                       ドアの横にある影のなかに
overblown dandelion                                       吹き飛ばされたタンポポ

Jeff Hoagland

Queen Anne’s lace                                            黒人参
a hoverfly                                                           翼のない
without wings                                                   ハナアブ

Lyle Rumpel

starlit                                                                  星空
coyote calls rise                                                コヨーテの鳴き声が上がる
from the snowpack                                         雪塊氷原から

Tomislav Maretić

too late a visit—                                              訪問には遅すぎる
the pond lilies                                                  池のユリが
closed                                                                閉じている

Lyle Rumpel

window frost                                                    窓の霜
stars unfurl                                                       星が広がる
in the nursery                                                  保育園に

Michael H. Lester

yellow moth—                                                黄色い蛾
one last flutter before                                   鳥が飲み込む前の
the bird swallows                                           最後のはばたき