Shiki Haiku Poems Contest

May 2001

 Haiku News

Announcement: Results:


The World Haiku Club is pleased to announce the results of “World-wide Shiki Haiku Poems Contest” in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary (Japanese calendar) of the death of Masaoka Shiki. This is part of our year-long celebrations and will serve their main purpose, “Reappraising Masaoka Shiki”. By writing haiku poems for this contest, we wish to deepen our true understanding of the father of modern haiku in the 21st century context. Together with the prize-winning haiku, other works of outstanding merit will be “published” in the first issue (prototype) of our forthcoming comprehensive magazine “World Haiku Review”.

Criteria used were haiku poems inspired by Shiki in any aspects of him and/or reflecting the spirit of Shiki’s own haiku poems. It was a sophisticated contest which is designed to entice you to read a lot of Shiki’s haiku poems.

There is one very interesting characteristic which has emerged very prominently in almost all entries. The haiku poems submitted were much closer to Japanese haiku than the usual haiku poems which one reads everyday in the West. This may not be, or ought not be, surprising since the requirements were to write haiku inspired by Shiki but it does seem to be telling us an important lesson. Why are they closer (and arguably more “genuine”) to Japanese haiku?

Another striking feature was that the general quality of submissions was much higher than other contests. Again, this should not be surprising as Shiki’s soul must have entered into the poets who participated in this Contest. After seeing a Cézanne or Rembrandt, one’s painting becomes a tiny-weeny bit better. Shiki was a good teacher when alive. He seems to be a good teacher after death (i.e. 100 years after). From that point of view alone, this type of contest may be useful to us.

Because of this unusually high quality, it has been decided that in addition to the winners and honourable mentions, a few other excellent poems will also be announced.

Happy Shiki Centenary!

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) Centenary WHC Celebrations


Winners (country of residence)  



First Place: Carmen Sterba (Japan)  [Prize: “Masaoka Shiki”, Janine Beichman (hardcover, $50 worth)]


after the rain
I check the growth
of each tulip

Because of his health, Shiki wrote about his garden (peonies, roses and chrysanthemums) and everyday changes that were in his house.

Second Place: an’ya (Petrovic, Andja aka, USA) [Prize: a book, see below]
blood moon
cuckoo’s voice in the back
of his throat

this draws inspiration from Shiki’s 5th grade poem , “cuckoo cries as if it coughed up blood” and how he actually wrote of his own later health problems.

Third Place: Robert Scott (The Netherlands) [Prize, a book, see below]


winter isolation
my heartbeat
enters the silence

Shiki often contrasted silence with different sounds to produce a resonance of both. This is the theme of this haiku.

Honourable Mention


Debi Bender

a few fence posts
remaining in the old field
summer drought

Northeast Orlando, Florida, being edged in fields, my haiku is written responsively to the desolation of Shiki’s winter — the effects of drought on fields (and abandoned citrus groves), a sense of melancholy loneliness. Shiki’s haiku:

Only the gate
of the abbey is left,
on the winter moor.

Masaoka Shiki
(translator unknown)

DeVar Dahl

autumn winds
pine cones roll
under the fence

Shiki was a keen observer of the action of the elements on plants, pools, streams, etc. and captured plain but intriguing pictures of these interactions.

Marlene Egger

spring cleaning
I leave the spider web
up in the corner

Benefiting from Shiki’s experience: ‘kumo korosu/ato no sabishiki/yosamu kana’.

Sue Mill

winter night-
the noodle soup
burns my tongue

Sue Mill

washing day
a wind gust fills the legs
of his trousers


Sue Mill

afternoon nap
woken by the sound
of breaking china

Shiki believed in shasei, sketching from life, and I believe the most
everyday of experiences are represented in the haiku I am submitting.

Anna Tambour

no borrowed toys
my dog carries her own
ball at the beach

This haiku has two references:
A. “Noboru”, his popular name, and the pen name parody “Yakyu (No-ball) referring to his madness for baseball.

B. I have contrasted the companionship of a dog and people to that of the cat in Shiki’s: Like a cat knowing no love, I play with a ball.

Other Excellent Poems


last homecoming
eleven autumn leaves part
from their maple

Regarding Shiki’s last homecoming/farewell party, and his last works in Matsuyama; autumn leaves being his colleagues, and Shiki himself, the tree.

Becky Bunsic

reading Shiki
in the shade
of a persimmon tree

I wrote this because of Master Shiki’s great love for persimmons.

Sonia Cristina Coman

deserted beach-
among sand castles
broken shells

DeVar Dahl

this heat
words written in the dust
on the shed window

I think Shiki was very sensitive to summer heat because of his limited ability to escape it.

DeVar Dahl

autumn winds
pine cones roll
under the fence

Shiki was a keen observer of the action of the elements on plants, pools, streams, etc. and captured plain but intriguing pictures of these interactions.

Marlene Egger

spring freshet
the shouts of boys
whacking at a snake

Boys in every season…inspired by Shiki’s ‘no no michi ya/warabe hebi utsu/mugi no aki’.

Terrie Leigh Relf

in the garden —
a snail without its shell
crawls up a dead twig

Robert Scott

sun comes out
crocus here
crocus there

Shiki often simply concentrated on a natural scene. Some of his haiku also had a non-committal element which Burton Watson compared to Cubist paintings.

Robert Scott

last gales of the millennium
thin trousers whip
my skinny legs

During his illness, Shiki sometimes contrasted his physical decline with the buoyancy of nature. This haiku refers to that, as well as to aging and the marking of time, which Shiki must have indulged in towards the end of his life.

Cindy Tebo

persistent cough
the whippoorwill
can’t sleep either

Shiki’s writing was influenced by his illness. Sometimes our pain keeps us awake. And all we can do is listen

Billie Wilson

flowering peach tree —
eighteen thousand haiku
slowly savored

alludes to –

sanzen no
haiku o kemishi
kaki futatsu

looking through
three thousand haiku
eating two persimmons

Shiki Masaoka (Translation by Kim)



This entry was posted in Contests, Haiku, Shiki, Vol 1-1 May 2001 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Shiki Haiku Poems Contest

  1. What a beautiful Post. Thank you. Ellen

  2. Anonymous says:

    thanks for share and encouragement

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