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EJCA Spring Haiku Contest 2022

春もやや  
気色ととのふ  
月と梅

The spring haze.
The scent already in the air.
The moon and ume.


Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

With Springtime finally upon us and the plum tree blossoming, EJCA would like to call upon your hidden poetic talents and invites you to get creative and craft and submit a Haiku, suitably themed to celebrate the season.

Prizes (and bragging rights when you are named among the best) are available and providing an additional incentive (should you need that extra bit of a 'nudge' to grab your pen).

We hope you join in the fun!  

Kids: We would love to see submissions from many aspiring young poets!

Artists: We would love to see renderings of your Haiku, or in style, e.g. Calligraphy

Winners and a selection of poems will be announced on this page and in moshi moshi and/or our social media channels. 


How to participate?

  • Before or on June 19th, 23:59 MDT, please submit your Haiku
  • If you want to illustrate your Haiku (or submit a calligraphic version), please submit your work as text (3 lines) as well as (scanned) in a pdf-document containing your artwork
  • A jury will review the submissions by end of June, and notify the winners 

Rules

  • Everyone is invited (EJCA member or not) to participate
  • Everyone can submit up to two Haiku that you have authored
  • To be considered for prizes, your poem should follow the spirit of good Haiku form - see below, section "What is a Haiku?"
  • Make sure to give your Haiku a Spring theme!
  • Our jury will evaluate in several categories (such as originality, adherence to Haiku Form, matching the season topic) to determine winners
Our winners - and a selection of submitted Haiku

Congratulations to our winners from all over the world!

Best overall - Japanese language Haiku

Best Overall - English Language Haiku

Setsuo Nakaya (Edmonton)

花冷えに

なぞらえ加国の

春を耐え

Marcellin Dallaire-Beaumont  (Belgium)

home sold last spring

another man sits under

my plum tree

Second best overall - Japanese language Haiku

Second best overall - English language Haiku

Yumeho Ito (Japan)

木漏れ日の

葉の隙間から

捧ぐ糸

* Yumeho is also the overall best young poet under 15 years of age, but in an effort to avoid double-awarding and to highlight more winners, we reserve that category for the runner-up!  

John Priegert  (Edmonton)

Blossoming plums

erase the memory of winter

The sound of frogs

Brightest Young Poet (under 15 years of age)

Jinie Park (Japan)

Ice on river melts

Flowers start to show their face 

I hear the bees buzz

Critics Prize

Critics Prize

Dan Iulian

pruning -

just the wind still flies

from the old nest

Adeline Panamaroff

Spring sunshine promises

Release from life’s aches and pains

Missing you Cora

note 1: We did not receive a sufficient number of supporting 'artwork'  and so did not award prizes in this category.
 note 2: However, in the English language section we had many excellent submissions and awarded two additional critics prizes based on feedback from our expert juror.

Please also read our article in the upcoming July/August moshi moshi!  We will be in touch with the winners regarding prize distribution.
The EJCA-sponsored overall prize fund exceeds 120 CAD!  

Commentary to our Japanese language Haiku submissions,
provided by reknown Poet Shajin Watanabe

入選作

特選

花冷えに なぞらえ加国の 春を耐え

桜が咲き、もうすっかり春になったと思っていると、思いがけない寒い日が戻ってきて驚かせることがありますが、それを日本では「花冷え」と呼んで、春の季語になっています。カナダではヴァンクーヴァー市の桜が有名ですが、一句は、日本の「花冷え」に見立てて、カナダのやや寒い春に耐えている、というのです。

芸術表現の技法の一つに「見立て」があります。日本の和歌・俳句・戯作文学・歌舞伎などによく見られる技法ですが、一句は「~なぞらえる」という見立てによってカナダの春のちょっと寒い日を、日本の「花冷え」と思って「耐えよう」という心の持ちようから詩が生れました。カナダと日本をつなぎ、1回目の俳句大会の巻頭を飾るのにふさわしい句です。











秀作

木漏れ日の  葉の隙間から  捧ぐ糸

「木漏れ日」は季語ではありませんが、俳句に「木漏れ日」を詠んだ句が多くあります。木漏れ日自体が詩的な景色なのですね。一句は、その木漏れ日が漏れてくる「葉の隙間から捧ぐ糸」が見える、というのです。「捧ぐ糸」がややわかりにくい表現になっていますが、単純に「光線」として受けとめて見ることから始めると句の景色が見え始めるでしょう。天上からの人間界に捧げられたその「糸」の贈り物は我々の生活の助けとなっているものかも知れませんね。読者ごとに違った感想が生れるてくる句ですが、詩歌を読むとはそういうことでもあります。











佳作

垣根こえ ライラック 群れ咲く散歩みち

素直な表現のなかに、春のひと日の喜びが感じられる句です。

「ライラック」は寒冷を好む花であり、日本では春の季語のものですが、国土が寒冷地帯にあるカナダの人々にも似たような体験を持つ人もいて、共感度が高い句となっていましょう。句を詠もうとしたときの作者の心の奥にあった「友好心」が詠ませてくれた一句でしょうか。


ウグイスも 春待ち望む 鳴き声と

ウグイス(Japanese bush warbler)は春の季語。日本では、奈良平安時代(710~1191年)から、春が来たかはウグイスが鳴き出したかによって決めていました。そのくらい、当時の人々も暖かい春の到来を待ち望んでいたのです。一句はそのウグイス自身も「春の来るのを待っている」というのです。鳥側で詠んだところに「新しみ」がある句です。「あたらしみ」は俳句の詠むときの大事な一つです。


雪溶けの 春の日差しが 照らすかな

一句は「季重なり(一句に季語が二つあること)」の句。「雪解け」も「春」もともに春の季語です。俳句は季語は一つのみを使うのがルールですが、冬に降り積もった雪に難渋していた生活をようやく「春」の強い日差しがその「雪」を溶かしてくれる日になった、その喜びを「照らすかな」とした表現が力強く、「季重なり」という欠点(キズ)を吹き飛ばしています。


桜咲く 花弁も踊る 温もりよ

日本では2月1日以降の、日ごとの最高気温を足して、その合計温度が600度を超えると、桜が開花するとされています。カナダではどうなのでしょうか?。

一句は暑さで咲き出した桜の花自体が、そのうれしさに踊り出すほどであるというのです。その表現を擬人化といいます。俳句の技法の一つです。


桜咲く その木の下で 召し上がれ

「桜咲く その木の下で召し上がれ」と言われると、いわゆる酒を飲んだり、踊り出したりする日本のどんちゃん騒ぎの「花見の宴会」とは違う感じがします。

詩歌ではそのことを言うのに、どう言うかです。あなたならどういいますか。その表現に年齢・性別・生い立ちなどが自ずと表れてきます。私ならどう表現するか。友人や家族の人と話してみてみましょう。


藤が咲く春の景色ね ふるえるは

「藤の花」は晩春の季語です。紫色の蝶型の花は古来から揺れているさまが好まれ詠まれました。藤の花が風で波のように揺れ動くことさまをあらわすのに「藤波」がありますが、古来から和歌でも多く詠まれています。一句は「春の景色ね/ふるえるは」と直に表現されていますが、そこには自然を見るときのその民族の特有の視点があり、この句にも受け継がれているところがあります。「月見」にも日本特有の文化的見方がありますが、カナダではどういう場面にそれが感じられるのでしょうか。


貝割菜の ひとつひとつが 息を吐く

句のイメージが良いのですが、先行句に「ひらひらと月光降りぬ貝割菜」川端茅舎があり、この句が以後の「貝割菜」の邪魔をしています。それくらい名句なのです。越えなければならない句ですが、俳句初心者で「「ひとつひとつが 息を吐く」のイメージはなかなかの表現です。その将来性からことも含んでの評価(Good) です。 

選者:渡辺舎人



Winners

Tokusen (Excellence)

I Endure Cold Spring in Canada 

Pretending it as a brief return of chilly weather 

in the middle of cherry blossom season

After cherry blossom blooming, we tend to think we are in the middle of spring. Then, sometimes, an unexpected cold day returns, which takes us by surprise; this is “Hana-bie” and a Spring Season Word (Ki-go) in Haiku.

While cherry blossom in Vancouver is well-known in Canada, I assume that the cherry blossom season in this Haiku is the one in Japan. The author likens relatively chilly spring in Canada to “Hana-bie” in Japan and endures the chilly Canadian spring. The technique used is called “Mitate.” “Mitate” (similar to Metaphor) is one of artistic techniques of expression. It is commonly used in “Waka,” “Haiku,” “play,” and “Kabuki.” 

Lyricism was born from the author’s will to endure a little chilly spring day in Canada while pretending it as Japan’s “Hana-bie.” The haiku, connecting Canada and Japan, fits perfectly as the first prize winner of EJCA’s very first Haiku contest



Syusaku (Very Good Work)


Rays of light shining through leaves (komore-bi)

Threads being dedicated

Between leaves

“Komore-bi” (Rays of light shining through leaves) is not a Season Word, but there are many Haiku that write about “Komore-bi.” “Komore-bi” itself is a lyrical scenery. 

The author sees “Komore-bi” as “threads being dedicated between leaves.” The expression, “threads being dedicated” is slightly difficult to understand; however, if you simply think them as rays of light, you will start seeing the scenery of the haiku. Those gifts of threads dedicated from up above the sky to the human world might be helping our lives. I expect each reader has a different interpretation/impression about this haku. At the same time, that is a way of reading poetry.



Kasaku (Good)

Going over the hedge

Lilacs blooming like frocking small birds

Found during my walk

With honest and straightforward expressions, the haiku makes a reader feel the joy of a spring Day. Lilacs are flowers which like cold or chilly climate. Lilacs are a Spring seasonal word in Japan, and Canadian people whose country located in a cold region have similar experiences (i.e., feel the arrival of spring or a joy of spring by seeing Lilacs), which make this haiku highly relatable to both Japanese and Canadian readers. When the author was about to write this haiku, the friendship towards Japan or Canada might have been hidden in his/her mind, and that could have been a driving force behind this haiku.


Even an Uguisu bird

Longing for spring

Its chirping sounds

Uguisu (Japanese bush warbler) is a spring seasonal word. In Japan, since Nara/Heian era (710 to 1191 a.d.), the arrival of spring had been determined by whether Uguisu birds started chirping, which shows how much people in those days were longing for the arrival of warm spring.  This haiku states that the Uguisu bird itself is “longing for the arrival of spring.” The haiku has a feel of freshness because it is written by the bird’s point of view. Being fresh is one of the most important things to have in your mind when you write a haiku.


Melting Snow

Spring Sunshine

Shining upon

The haiku is “ki-gasanari (having two seasonal words). Both “Melting Snow” and “Spring” are spring seasonal words. It is a rule of haiku to use only one seasonal word per haiku; however, in this haiku, the phrase, “shining upon” to express the joy of welcoming a day when the strong sunshine of “Spring” finally melts “Snow” (that had piled up in winter and made the life difficult) is very powerful and it blows away the defect (kizu) of having two seasonal words.  


Blooming Cherry Blossoms

Even their petals dancing

Warmth of Spring

In Japan, after February 1st, you add up each day’s highest temperature and when the total of them exceeds 600 degrees, cherry blossoms are said to bloom. I wonder whether the same thing can be applied to Canada. 

The haiku states that Cherry blossoms blooming in the warmness started dancing out of happiness. This is personification. The technique used often in haiku.


Blooming Cherry Blossoms

Under this cherry tree

Bon appetit! (Enjoy special dishes)

While the haiku describes having a meal under a cherry tree, the expression such as “Bon appetit!” gives a different (elegant) feel, compared to a Japan’s typical “Hanami no Enkai (Cherry-blossom viewing party)” in which people would drink sake, start dancing, and get loud.

In poetry, it is all about how you describe/express one thing. How do you describe a party under a cherry tree? The description/expression reflects the author’s age, gender, and background. It is a good exercise to have a conversation with your friends or family about how you would describe one incident or one item.


Wisteria blooms

The scene of Spring

Shivering wisteria flowers

“Wisteria flowers” is a seasonal word of late spring. In Japan, those purple flowers shaped like a butterfly had been liked because of their way of shaking or moving in the air and they were written in numerous poetry since ancient times. There is a lyrical expression called “Fuji-nami” which describes wisteria flowers moving like a wave because of a wind. The haiku expresses straightforwardly; “Shivering wisteria flowers” are “the scene of Spring,” where you find a very characteristic Japanese perspective when they observe nature. 

In “Tsukimi (viewing the moon),” Japanese also have a very particular cultural perspective towards the moon. In Canada, where do you find a similar perspective which is only unique to Canada?


Kaiware radish sprouts

Each one of them

Breaths out

The imagery in the haiku is very good; however, there is already a renown haiku about kaiware radish sprouts by Bousya Kawabata: 

The moon lights

shining through in flakes

upon Kaiware radish sprouts  

This renown haiku is an obstacle for other kaiware haiku written after Kawabata’s haiku. Kawabata’s haiku is that superb. When you write a haiku about Kaiware, it is required to overcome Kawabata’s haiku. At the same time, for a haiku beginner, the imagery of “each one of them breaths out” is impressive. I give “good” by taking account of the author’s potential. 


Juror: Shajin Watanabe

Enjoy this (best-of) selection of original Haiku we received!

Note: As an experimental feature, to bridge tradition and recent innovations, we have below paired each original text (as submitted) with an AI-generated image. Since Haiku are supposed to be very down-to-earth, you may find these images to be relatively 'too pretty' or 'too smooth'. In that sense, please take a few seconds, close your eyes, and conjure an image of your own, in your mind!    






















note: the artwork you see here was AI-generated, when providing it with just the text of the respective Haiku, and requesting the output in ukiyo-e -style.





What is a Haiku?

From wikipedia:

Haiku (俳句) is a type of short form poetry originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of three phrases that contain a kireji, or "cutting word", 17 on (phonetic units similar to syllables) in a 5, 7, 5 pattern, and a kigo, or seasonal reference. Similar poems that do not adhere to these rules are generally classified as senryū.

Haiku originated as an opening part of a larger Japanese poem called renga. These haiku written as an opening stanza were known as hokku and over time writers began to write them as stand-alone poems. Haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.


What you should keep in mind:

For haiku inspiration, look closely at everything around you in nature, at home, at school, and at work. Write your draft of a haiku, letting yourself be free and creative. Then ask the following questions about your haiku to help you improve them.

  1. How long is your haiku? It’s usually good to write in three lines of about 10 to 17 syllables. In Japanese, you will want to stay with 5-7-5 sounds ('mora'). In English, haiku don’t have to be in the pattern of 5-7-5 syllables.
    See this link if you want to know more.

    The following questions are much more important to observe:
  2. Does your haiku name or suggest one of the seasons—spring, summer, fall, or winter? In Japanese, a kigo or “season word” tells readers when the poem happens, such as saying “tulips” for spring or “snow” for winter. This is one of the most important things to do in haiku.
    For our contest this year, you want to give it a Spring theme!
  3. Does your poem make a “leap,” by having two parts? In Japanese, a kireji or “cutting word” usually cuts the poem into two parts (never three). It’s not just having two parts that matters, though. Rather, it’s the implication in the relationship of the two parts that matters. Giving your poem two often fragmentary parts is also one of the most important goals in haiku.
  4. Is your haiku about common, everyday events in nature or human life? To help you do this, describe what you experience through your five senses.
  5. Does your poem give readers a feeling? It can do this by presenting what caused your feeling rather than the feeling itself. So others can feel what you felt, don’t explain or judge what you describe.
  6. Is your poem in the present tense? To make your haiku feel like it’s happening right now, use the present tense.
  7. Did you write from your own personal experience? When you write other kinds of poetry, you can make things up, but try not to do that with haiku. Memories are okay, though.
  8. How did you capitalize or punctuate your poem? Haiku are usually not sentences (they’re usually fragments), so they don’t need to start with a capital, or end with a period.
  9. Does your haiku avoid a title and rhyme? Haiku are not like other poems, which may have these features. Haiku don’t have titles and rarely rhyme.
  10. What can you do with your haiku? Can you illustrate it? Then please also submit your artistic interpretation together with your text for this contest.

(adapted from Michael Dylan Welch's excellent blog: https://www.graceguts.com/essays/haiku-checklist)

Questions? 

Please contact: lenard@ejca.org

Edmonton Japanese Community Association
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