2008 TLP Competition Favorite Poems

Bamboo pictureTo honor the fine work of poets who submitted entries to the 2008 Turtle Light Press Haiku Chapbook Competition, which was won by Michael McClintock, author of Sketches from the San Joaquin, we have selected a handful of the poems that we have most enjoyed. We hope that you will enjoy this cross-section of haiku from around the world.


Pamela A. Babusci
Rochester, New York
I write haiku because it brings an inner-peace & serenity into my essence. It teaches me to observe life, in all its forms more closely & carefully, and to distill & write down these moments into a haiku which brings enlightenment. I am content to be a droplet in the pond of haiku – for as the droplet falls, its ripples can reverberate for many years.

pouring tea
into a chipped cup…
loneliness returns

Evergreen Haiku Journal, Japan

on the water lily
remains of a dragonfly…
morning stillness

Evergreen Haiku Journal, Japan

Helen Buckingham
Bristol, UK
While I’ve been writing poetry for the last quarter century, it was as the result of being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis in the early nineties that I decided to have a go at writing haiku. And that was shortly followed by its sister form, senryu. I soon found myself addicted to their meditative qualities and it has proved a powerful healing force in my life ever since.

Lent lunch
with the monkfish

Bottle Rockets and The Snapshot Calendar Award, 2005

still life:
the pear’s
pitted skin

Frogpond 29:1, Winter 2006

results morning:
the mulberry tree
a deeper green

Snapshots 12, 2006
Tom Clausen
Ithaca, New York
I arrived at haiku after a long journey and many detours yet all along I was searching for the magic and wonder of the here and now. On a hospital form that asked for my religion, I put: haiku. By nature, I tend toward reiteration and being overly wordy, so haiku is a great antidote. It was my good fortune to read an article in a free paper in 1988 profiling Ruth Yarrow and it was a satori like moment. I saw that haiku was essential and a wonderful way to appreciate the natural world in all its nuances.

checkout line…
an old acquaintance
looking older

Haiku Headlines #129, December 1998

in the cold rain
their snow fort

Frogpond XX (1), Editor’s Choice Award, 1997

they embrace
under the streetlight
snow falling

Haiku Headlines #142, January 2000
Alice Frampton
Seabeck, Washington
I came to haiku in January of 2000 when I sent my first submission to Frogpond. With kind words from its former editor, Jim Kacian, I entered the haiku community and began to learn the essence of haiku. I was coordinator of Haiku Canada’s pacifi-kana region for five years. Since 2008, I have served as associate editor for The Heron’s Nest. A retired pre-school teacher, I once again reside in the United States after thirty-four years in Canada.

at my age
a snow angel

Haiku Canada Review, Vol. 1, October 2007

New Year’s Day
trails in the snow

blizzard . . .
in the knitted throw
the scent of Mom

Shiki Kukai, January 2007
Garry Gay
Windsor, California
What brought me to haiku was a book I found on the shelf of an old house I rented in Kentfield, California. It was Basho’s Narrow Road To The Deep North. I could not put it down. I had already been writing shorter and shorter modern verse poetry but the haiku just seemed to fit my personality and my love of nature. I think my work has a little dash of humor and is reflective of my photography skills. I am a very visual person and see a lot of the little things that go on around me. I have a kind of haiku vision.

deep in the garden
only a butterfly
knows where I am

at the fence
they sit on their tractors
talking hay

Honorable Mention, Gerald Brady Memorial Senryu Award, HSA, 2000

november rain –
the lawn chairs still sit
in the family circle

Barry George
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I was first drawn to haiku when I learned about it in grade school. After many years of writing longer lyrical poetry, I came back to haiku as I found myself writing mostly about immediate perceptions, sensations, and feelings. I find Philadelphia, home for almost 25 years now, a great window on both the people and “nature” that I like to write about in haiku and senryu. My collection, Wrecking  Ball and Other Urban Haiku, was just published by Accents Publishing.

park statue –
the French general bowing
to dandelions

Wrecking  Ball and Other Urban Haiku, Accents Publishing, 2010

noisy hallway –
the signing class
saying goodnight

Wrecking  Ball and Other Urban Haiku

city canyon
dark with rain –
a hawk’s cry

Wrecking  Ball and Other Urban Haiku
LeRoy Gorman
Napanee, Canada
As I remember, my first encounter with haiku was through Harold Henderson. My interest really took off after reading Eric Amann’s The Wordless Poem. Born in Smiths Falls, Ontario, I grew up on a farm near Merrickville. My poetry, much of it visual, is mostly minimalist and haiku or haiku in intent. Since 1996, I have been editor of Haiku Canada Publications. I also publish poetry leaflets and postcards under my pawEpress imprint.

appointment calendar
a coffee ring joins one day
to the next

The Heron’s Nest, VIII:1, March 2006

crematorium flood
little boxes
float to sea

South By Southeast, 14:1, 2007

last day of the fair
a man with one arm
is selling balloons

Presence #33, 2007
Sterling Haynes
West Kelowna, Canada
I am primarily a writer of creative non-fiction and humor but haiku are fun, too. Haiku crystallizes my thoughts and I think makes my other writing and stories more succinct and my humor sharper. My work becomes stripped down but still metaphorical.

morning after pills
taken in the pharmacy –
a light bulb flickers

Graham High
Blackheath, UK
A painter and sculptor, I came to haiku quite late having written mainstream poetry since the 1970s. I only began to write haiku in 1999. As a poet, I am quite immediate and use ‘imagist’ strategies, so haiku fits fairly well with my other writing practices. Even so, I find it necessary to blank out much of my haiku thinking when I am intent on producing a poem. I have published six haiku collections, been editor of the British haiku journal, Blithe Spirit, and operate a small publishing outfit called RAM which specializes in encouraging haiku writers.

lovers on the road –
a swallowtail flirting
with its own shadow

A Bigger Ocean, RAM Publications, 2010

carved heart in the snow
the busy footprints all round
… approaching   … leaving

Yellow Moon, 2007

shading your sketch
to catch the falling light –
rain slants in

Traveling Light, RAM Publications, 2010
Gary Hotham
Scaggsville, Maryland
I have been crafting haiku for more than 40 years and my latest book is Spilled Milk: Haiku Destinies with Pinyon Publishing. I write to remember, enjoy, understand, share, think, discover; to slow my life down, to see what words can do. In an essay on writing, I once said, “just as Adam during his time in the Garden of Eden named the living creatures, the poet names life’s various moments and states of being.” For me, the challenge is to write a haiku that recreates moments or states of being with precision and with as much concision as possible.

not here long –
the child asks to see
a star fall

Spilled Milk, Pinyon Publishing, 2010

express bus –
vacant seats next to

Spilled Milk

Clelia Ifrim
Bucharest, Romania
I don’t remember when I wrote my first haiku – perhaps in the 1980s. A poetry moment is for me a genuine moment of life. This year I translated contemporary poet and essayist Ryu Yotsuya’s book, History of  Haiku – 10 Haikuists and Their Work, into Romanian and published it as a book. In the book, Yotsuya says about Ippekiro Nakatsuka’s haiku: “They reproduce human spirits which flicker like candle flames in their flexible sentences,” and that is why I write haiku.

blind girl waves
to a call in the high sky –
first departing geese

bell rings in a tree –
somewhere in the dark, somewhere
a cricket chirring

Peggy Willis Lyles (passed away on September 3, 2010)
Tucker, Georgia
In 2009, Peggy wrote to TLP about her beginnings and attachment to haiku
I am grateful to early members of the English-language haiku movement for inspiring my interest in the genre. I find haiku close at hand and believe they are often expressions of the human heart connecting to other human beings, nature, and the wordless mysteries.

quick brush strokes
while the light holds –

a breeze
where paths cross
tangled vines

in spite of everything…forsythia
Elliot Nicely
Amherst, Ohio
My approach to haiku is heavily influenced by the ideas of John Wayne who said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.”

dandelion field
the summer wind casts
a thousand wishes

bottle rockets, Vol. 8/2

autumn sunrise
the flit of goldfinches
past the window

Kathmandu, Nepal
The first time I got inspired to write a haiku was when I saw an urban porter with a big load on his head who was bowing to an idol of God in a temple. The economy of words and ability to encompass perceptions, feelings and emotions in three lines make haiku writing most satisfying and enlightening for me. I share my love and passion with fellow haiku writers, particularly in English. I will always remain grateful to the pioneers of haiku writing like Basho, Issa and many others from around the world.

bamboo trees –
the skyscrapers
of a city

a blind man
walking with a stick

Kenneth Pobo
Media, Pennsylvania
I guess what brought me to haiku are three names: Basho, Buson, and Issa.  I was assigned writing a haiku in 6th grade. I got an A-. How does one grade a haiku? When I asked my teacher, “Was it really that good?” he demoted my haiku to a C+. He thought I was being “smart.” Well, whatever. I think that to write strong haiku, a writer must learn how to observe intensely and how to put those observations into small syllabic frames, put the world in a back pocket.

night’s jar
just opened
the firefly

Claudia Coutu Radmore
Carleton Place, Canada
I came to haiku to learn disciplines that would improve my lyric poetry. It hooked me. I stayed. I’m entranced by so few words having such impact, whether like a punch in the solar plexus or like the proverbial bird wearing down a mountain by the brushing of its wing once every thousand years.

a red house
a blue road
the crayons scattered

after the storm
tips of young birches iced
to the ground

abandoned farm
the wild pear
in bloom

Carpe Diem, Canadian Anthology of Haiku, 2008
Guy Simser
Kanata, Canada
As a boy, I loved the natural world and the sound of words like “gutta-percha” or “amphora.” I was often perplexed by mysteries, such as why the worm walks like that and why the butterfly wouldn’t talk to me. With age, this sense of mystery widened into wondering about human behavior, its joys and conundrums (another word I love). After many years of being whacked for overwriting the obvious, I’ve come to agree after many years that brevity is the soul of wit.

squatting four-year-old
learning about grasshoppers
two steps at a time

the sweaty darkness
of its silent floating world
a single firefly

Ko Magazine (Nagoya, Japan), Autumn/Winter, 2002

higher, higher –
spitting watermelon seeds
through the gate

Skaidrite Stelzer
Toledo, Ohio
My interest in haiku began when I read a collection of Japanese haiku back in the 1970s. I love the single image, the visual strength of it and the way in which haiku seem to shift in changing light as one reads them. In my own work, I often sense a hint of surrealism, too.

your glass eye
through the net of snow
barely visible

George Swede
Toronto, Canada
A serious interest in the haiku form began after I was sent a review copy of Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku. Its poems included the entire range of modern expression, from naturalism through symbolism to surrealism and inspired me to change my focus from short free verse to haiku. My first engagement with the haiku community was to help found Haiku Canada in 1977. My first collection of haiku, Endless Jigsaw, was published in 1978; my latest was published in 2010, Joy In Me Still. I was the Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives and now am the editor of Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America.

horizon moon
the snowman headless
no longer

Joy In Me Still, Inkling Press, 2010

after the cremation     ice cream
Joy In Me Still

exchanging pleasantries
while hammering
crab shells

Joy In Me Still



2012 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition WInner — Graham High’s The Window That Closes

2010 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition Winner — Catherine J.S. Lee’s All That Remains

2008 TLP Haiku Chapbook Competition Winner — Michael McClintock’s Sketches from the San Joaquin

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