International Haiku Contest

GENJUAN International Haibun Contest 2018 GUIDELINES – NEW!
Genjuan 幻住庵 is the name of the cottage near Lake Biwa where, in 1690, Basho lived for a time. His residence in this ‘Vision-Inhabited Cottage’ was probably the happiest period of his life, and it was there that he wrote his most famous short haibun. The purpose of the Contest is to encourage the writing of fine haibun in English and maintain the connection between the traditional Japanese perception of haibun and what is evolving around the world. The judges are hoping that the Contest will continue to receive a warm response from all haibun writers. The award for the Grand Prix remains the same – a fine, full-size replica of a Hokusai or Hiroshige ukiyo-e print – and smaller gifts will be sent to the An (Cottage) Prize-winners. The writers of all the decorated works will receive a certificate of merit. We sincerely look forward to your participation.

Guidelines for 2018

1 Subject: Free.

2 Style: No restrictions, but special attention must be paid to honour the spirit of haikai. This includes such features as the subtle linking of haiku with prose, omission prompting the reader’s imagination, humour and self-depracation.

3 Length: In total, between 7 and 35 lines (at 1 line = 80 spaces; a 3-line haiku counts as 3 lines; the title, as 1 line).

4 Haiku/Title: At least one haiku (no formal restrictions) should be included and each piece should be given a title, however short.

5 Format: Print each piece separately on one sheet of A4-size paper (and use the reverse if long) and write at the bottom your name (and your pen name, if you have one) together with your address, telephone number, and email address. Your privacy will be strictly protected, and the judges will not see your names until the result has been decided.

6 Deadline: All entries should reach the following address between 1 October 2017 and 31 January 2018. Please send your entries to: Ms. Eiko Mori, 2-11-23-206 Jokoji, Amagasaki-shi, Hyogo-ken 660-0811, Japan. Entries received after this date might not be accepted. Kindly avoid sending by express and using extra-large envelopes. Best write your home address on your envelope, too. We apologize for not being able to accept emailed entries.

7 Entry Fee: None.

8 Restrictions: Entrants can send up to three entries, but two is what we normally expect. They should be unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. As we cannot return your entries after screening, please retain your own copies.

9 Questions: All queries should be sent to the address above or by email to Email Ms. Mori 2 weeks after sending your entries if you wish to have an acknowledgement of receipt.

10 Judges: Nenten Tsubouchi (emeritus), Stephen Henry Gill (Tito), Hisashi Miyazaki, Angelee Deodhar (newly appointed)

11 Special Request: The authors of the decorated works will later be requested to send us their pieces as Word-files by email. In this, we expect your cooperation.
12 Results: The results will be posted on the Hailstone Icebox by May after awardees have first been notified by email. Later, the prize-winning pieces will be posted there on a dedicated page. Judges’ comments will, in due course, be sent to awardees, together with prizes and/or certificates of merit.

Occasional Poetry or How I Got an Honorable Mention in the Magnolia Garden Poetry Contest

Over Spring Break, Rich and I spent a few lovely days in Charleston, South Carolina. High on my list was a visit to the famous Magnolia Gardens. (Photos from their website below).


Turns out, they have a poetry contest, and the deadline was our first day in town. Rich, perhaps overestimating my powers, offered me a visit right away. And then, presumably, I’d write a poem between lunch and dinner.

At first. this seemed ridiculous. To write a poem about something, you need to understand it. I was off my territory, among new flora and fauna. Still, I know something about gardens. And about poetry about gardens.


So I wrote a poem and sent it in. The winners were announced. I wasn’t on the list. Made sense–I’d been inspired but was competing with people who really knew the garden.

Then, two days ago, I got a phone call. I’d won Honorable Mention. “It must be a mistake,” I said. The caller kindly informed me I’d been looking at the wrong web page–last year’s.

So, here is my poem. Thank you, Magnolia!

Fortuna’s Garden

I take your hand along the mossy way
Camellia blossoms fall, the red Japonica
That brings to mind a viewing with a parasol;
Inside a winding glade a statue stands—
A saint, a goddess, or a grave.

Once I was young, and dreamed
I held a globe of water in my hands—
It shattered, and a cardinal, red bird,
Flew out and lighted in the grove’s pale trees.

Red petals punctuate my thoughts
And make me want to kiss
Your lips again, worn soft
By time, and mine.

Within the boxwood maze
An unseen peacock’s cry
Whose Argos eyes fan out yet still can’t see.
White camellia, scentless,
Settles down like snow
And jonquils springing from cool ground
Evoke what might have been—
What I know now
That once I did not know.


Constellation Poetry Competition

POETRY COMPETITION judged by George Szirtes on the theme Constellations. Closing date for entries: 5pm, Monday 8th September. The Ealing Autumn Festival 2014 is inspired by the 450th anniversary of the birth of Galileo. All ages are welcome with categories for 18 years and under, as well as for adults.
There will be cash prizes to a total value of £500 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize-winners. The winning poems will be published on the Ealing Autumn Festival website and their authors invited to read them at the presentation of prizes. George Szirtes will announce the winners and present the prizes at the Ealing Autumn Festival on Tuesday 21st October. Closing date for entries for the poetry competition is 5pm, Monday 8th September 2014. Entry forms and details about how to enter at:;
Further information:, 44 208 567 7623, 

Devon Miller-Duggan on Judging a Poetry Contest

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be reading 110 pages of poetry and 3 chunks of memoir/creative non-fiction by high school students in Delaware (the small state by the big water…). Of course, they’ve been in my in-box for a while now. I think actually may be the Queen of Procrastination—especially if being queen involves highly developed skills around Getting In Under the Wire, for which I have a positive genius, if I do say so myself.

Decades ago I decided to quit trying to work the way “they” said I should and get good at working the way I seem to be genetically programmed to work. I can’t say that making peace with my inner ADD-driven procrastinator has eliminated the stress of last-minute, fear-driven WORK fits. After all, that anxiety is a lot of what energizes the work itself. But it has taken away a goodly portion of the self-laceration involved. Good thing.

So why did I agree to judge a contest (a national art and writing comp. that recognizes extraordinary gifts)? Bunches of fairly obvious reasons: citizenship, the honor of being asked, a longstanding and deeply held belief in the education of gifted and talented young people, paying my dues. What will I get out of it besides a very small, but still nice, honorarium and the loss of a not inconsiderable number of hours? Well, I’ll have gotten the material for this blog entry, because nothing energizes the brain like avoiding a pile of not-always-rapturous work.

More to the point, I will have gotten the answer to a question I heard for the umptieth time on NPR yesterday: Is Poetry Dead? Of course, the answer in the NPR story was no because it was another nice story about the transformative power of poetry for at-risk kids. It’s an old story, but one that bears repeating loudly and frequently. I have no idea about the circumstances of the kids who wrote the poems I’m reading. I’ll bet that a fairly serious proportion of the best poems will be by students from the state’s “better” schools. But some won’t. Doesn’t matter. I have on my desk a gillion poems written by humans who are in the process of surviving their own adolescences by, among other things, writing poetry. That is certainly not the only reason poetry is not dead and still MATTERS. But it’s a damn fine one. So, to the kids I’m giving lousy scores to—Boy I wish I could talk to you face to face and tell you how much I respect the work you’re doing. Keep doing it. It may not save you, but it’ll help. It may not change the world much that you can tell, but, believe me, it is keeping the world just a little farther from the edge—it’s sacred work. And to the kids whose work is already showing signs of gifts and energy and edge—the high scorers: you rejoice my heart.

Self-Publishing Your Poetry Book: Part 1 by Miriam Sagan

Self-Publishing Your Poetry Book: Part 1

I am in the middle of judging a national contest of self-published poetry books. Of course I’m doing as objective a job as I can, but the process raises some questions. Why self-publish at all? And what are the obvious pitfalls, and how can they be avoided?
The root of the word “publish” means to speak aloud. And contemporary technology has made self-publishing a book extremely easy. From desk top publishing to publishers on demand, the resources are there for an author. However, self-publishing can lead to disappointment as well as a feeling of success, to unprofessional presentation as well as a commercial one.
Know Your Audience
Most books of poetry are not “commercial” in the general sense. Even prize-winning volumes never sell more than a few thousand–or even a few hundred–copies. The audience for poetry is small, but successful poets know that their specific audience is the one that can be counted on to buy books. So your first step is to know your audience. Many years ago, New Mexico poet Joan Logghe was just getting started. But people flocked to her poetry readings–and she found herself signing and handing out copies of her work. She realized she had an audience and self-published a small chapbook which sold well. She then went on to publish with establishes presses who were impressed with her track record. So self-publishing is appropriate for an emerging writer.
Your audience might be closer to home. I’ve seen nicely done volumes of holiday thoughts and poems that could be given as gifts. A collection aimed at friends and family is niched for that audience. If your collection is essentially personally meaningful but not aimed at at wider poetry audience, take this into account and know your own goal. For example, if you are basically collecting work for your grandchildren, don’t then be disappointed that you haven’t written a bestseller!
One of the strongest approaches to self-publishing is do so as a part of a group. A writer’s group that publishes a volume together has more built-in readers and resources than one poet alone. Sometimes three or so writers may band together and create a joint book. It is also sometimes easier to promote other peoples’ work than just your own. Acknowledgments also add to a book. One of the most professional touches a book of poetry can have is an acknowledgments page. Try publishing some of the individual poems in small and literary magazines. That kind of credit really helps increase the seriousness of a book of poetry.
Knowing your audience determines the number of copies in print run, and your marketing strategy. A holiday gift can simply be shared. Or events can be set up at local bookstores or libraries. An inspirational book might be appropriate for a church or synagogue book fair. But before you get carried away with the mechanics of publishing, sit down and determine who exactly your audience is.
Audience Check List
Strong reasons to publish:
You already have some audience
You want to create something for your family or community
To memorialize a friend or family member
To create a collaborative or group project
Poor reasons to publish:
You expect the books will just naturally sell
You expect fame and fortune
NEXT: Judging A Book By Its Cover

16 Ways To Not Win A Poetry Contest

16 Ways to Not Win a Poetry Contest by Miriam Sagan

As a poet and teacher, I’ve been asked to judge many poetry contests. These range from large national ones to one in the local newspaper. At times, there have been so many entries that they’ve arrived in boxes from UPS. I’ve been paid in money, thanks, and even gift certificates for restaurants in town. What strikes me about these contests is both optimistic and pessimistic. The optimism comes from the fact that so many people actually care enough about poetry to write it and submit it. The pessimism derives from the fact that many of these writers obviously don’t read or even know much about contemporary poetry.

There are a few simple things any poet can do to vastly increase the chances of winning a poetry contest. These include everything from honing craft to following directions. I thought it would be fun, however, to tell you how to NOT win a poetry contest. I’ve often wished I could include such a slip with entries that didn’t win–and never would–without work from the poet.

1.Write your poem in total isolation. Don’t read contemporary poetry–after all–you don’t want to be influenced, even by the greats.
2.Don’t revise. Don’t bring the poem to a class, or critique group, or ask a friend. Who cares what anyone thinks, it is your poem.
3.Don’t read the poem aloud to see if it is finished. Why disturb your napping cat?
4.Ignore the craft of poetry–feelings don’t need images or metaphors.
5.Use a hackneyed one word title like “Death” or “Autumn.”
6.Content? What is that? Isn’t a poem supposed to be obscure?
7.Disregard the specified rules of the contest.
8.Go over the line or word limit–after all, it is your favorite poem!
9.Heck, send whatever you want–a novel chapter, a non-rhyming poem to a rhymed contest, a cycle of poems when you only paid for one. How uptight can these judges be?
10.Use teeny tiny type (maybe no one will notice it is over the line limit) or gigantic cursive or handwriting or attach a photo of your puppy.
11.Submit something pornographic
12.Or a wild-eyed religious rant or
13.Spew hate.
14.Include a note telling the judge why you really should win.
15.If you don’t win, curl up in a ball and absolutely decide to stop writing.
16.Never enter another contest again.


If you follow all these steps I can guarantee you will never win a poetry contest. On the other hand, if you avoid these steps you just might win!

This is re-blogged from the Writer’s Digest blog edited by Robert Brewer which first published it.

Poetry Contest by Kenneth P. Gurney

Poetry Contest

There were seven hundred and twenty-six entries
typed in thirty-two slightly different serif fonts 
and seventeen slightly different sans-serif fonts
on nine different weights of paper 
with eleven different brightness factors
and forty-three submissions
were immediately discarded
for not following the guidelines
leaving six hundred and eighty-three eligible poems
but being a devout christian and poet myself
I was faced with the practical dilemma 
of judge not lest yea be judged
and I could not make up my mind
as to which poem to choose as the best
or second or third, so I decided to pray
for a sign from God as to which poems
should be the chosen poems
and I first looked for the mention of Jesus
or any of the disciples
or any of the saints
or quotes from the gospels
but there were none 
as this is a landscape poetry contest 
none of which mentioned Golgotha
or any location in the holy lands
or sites deemed holy according to the vatican
and so I set the poems out in the yard
so each was uncovered to the sun
and to the sky and I got down on my knees 
and prayed in earnest for a sign:
a flight of morning doves
marked three poems with bird droppings—
which in Italy is seen as a sign of good luck—
and I awarded the poem with the largest splat
best and so on down to third.

Kenneth P. Gurney

Puerto del Sol Contest

Dear submitters and readers,

The editors of Puerto del Sol are excited to announce that we are currently holding our magazine’s first contest in poetry and fiction after several decades of publication. The poetry category will be judged by Julie Carr, author of Sarah–Of Fragments and Lines, 100 Notes on Violence, and Mead: An Epithalamion. The fiction category will be judged by Dawn Raffel, author of Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, In the Year of Long Division, and Carrying the Body.

The entry fee is $15, and includes a copy of our upcoming double-issue. Fiction submissions are limited to one piece of no more than 10,000 words per entry. Poetry submissions are limited to three poems of no more than two pages per entry. Prizes for fiction and poetry will be $400 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third. The winning manuscripts will be published in our 2011 double issue, side-by-side with a selection of today’s most exciting writing and art. All submissions will be considered for publication. Please see for further details and guidelines.

Please also note that our new issue, which features the work of writers like Rick Moody, Joshua Cohen, Grace Krlanovich, Sam Pink, Annie Finch, Kate Greenstreet, and many others, is currently on sale at the website (, to be shipped as soon as it returns from the printer.

We’re looking forward to reading your work!

Thank you for your support,
The editors of Puerto del Sol

7 Ways To NOT Win A Poetry Contest

7 Ways To NOT Win A Poetry Contest

I thought I’d add some provisos to my earlier piece.

1. Disregard the rules

2. Go over the line or word limit–after all, it is your favorite poem!

3. Heck, send whatever you want–a novel chapter, a non-rhyming poem to a rhymed contest, a cycle of poems when you only paid for one. How uptight can these judges be?

4. Use teeny tiny type (maybe no one will notice it is over the line limit) or gigantic cursive or handwriting or attach a photo of your puppy.

5. Submit something pornographic

6. Or a wild-eyed religious rant or

7. Spew hate

These rules might seem obvious–if so, congratulations–you are ahead of the game!