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The submission period for the 2021 Golden Haiku competition is now closed.
Originating in Japan, haiku is the shortest form of poetry in the world. In a short descriptive verse, it captures a moment in the poet’s life or simply expresses the beauty of nature.
Since 2014, the Golden Triangle BID has hosted the Golden Haiku poetry contest to bring pops of warmth, color, and inspiration to the streets of downtown DC during the late winter months. We invite the public to write and submit original, contemporary haiku for this temporary community art project. In 2021, we introduced a youth category, inviting students to explore haiku and perhaps become published poets.
Submissions are reviewed by an expert panel of judges; winning poets receive prizes, and winning haiku are displayed on colorful street signs in the tree boxes lining the streets of the Golden Triangle neighborhood.
The contest’s popularity has grown each year; it is internationally recognized and beloved by locals and visitors alike. In 2021, we received more than 2,800 entries from 60 countries, 49 states, and the District of Columbia.
The year’s Golden Haiku competition is perhaps more important now than it has been in its eight-year history. In a time when the world has been brought together in unprecedented ways, the Golden Haiku competition is an opportunity to connect globally with others by sharing and celebrating hope through words. This year’s haiku theme is “Daydreams & Musings.” The theme invites poems that offer a sense of escape and reflection from many perspectives. Acknowledging the challenges of the current time, “Daydreams & Musings” creates a worldwide community of thought, hope, and joy.
Golden Haiku follows the Haiku Society of America’s guidelines for modern haiku, which does not require the traditional 5-7-5 structure. Removing the strict structural requirements for syllables frees the author to use evocative language to capture a moment or expression of beauty in a short, descriptive verse. Learn more about how to write a contemporary haiku here.
All entries were reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of published haiku experts (see below) who selected first, second, and third place winners, a regional favorite, and the new Youth Category winners.
First Place – $500
Second Place – $200
Third Place – $100
Regional/DC Winner – $200
Youth Category Winners:
High School Winner – $150
Elementary/Middle School Winner – $75
Winning haiku—along with a selection of honorable mentions—are displayed in hundreds of tree boxes along some of Washington DC’s most iconic streets from March through early May 2021. The colorful haiku signs brighten the winter landscape for all passersby to enjoy, reminding them during those late winter months that spring is just around the corner.
Each participant may enter only once, submitting a maximum of three original, self-authored haiku via the submission form. Winners are notified by email in early March, and publicly announced in mid-March.
Abigail Friedman is an award-winning author of numerous works on haiku, including The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan (Stone Bridge Press), I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda (Stone Bridge Press), and Street Chatter Fading (Larkspur Press). She is a former diplomat and is on the Board of Trustees of the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C.
Kit Pancoast Nagamura has been a columnist for The Japan Times for over a decade and appeared as a regular on NHK World‘s Haiku Masters and Journeys in Japan programs. She has won one of Japan’s prestigious Ito-en Oi Cha Haiku Contest prizes and is a member of the Haiku International Association. Her book, Grit, Grace, and Gold, was published in 2020. She will be judging from Japan.
John Stevenson is managing editor of The Heron’s Nest. A former President of the Haiku Society of America, he has served as editor of Frogpond. He is the author of books such as Quiet Enough, Some of the Silence, Live Again, (d)ark, and Emoji Moon.
If you have any additional questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out this haiku video series featuring Golden Haiku competition judge, Abigail Friedman:
Read this list of five ideas to help you get started writing contemporary haiku.
Other helpful resource sites: