The 22 Best Haiku of 2022

Winner and Runners-up of the Society of Classical Poets 2022 Haiku Competition

Judged by Margaret Coats (see her remarks below)

See all entrants here.




a cicada’s husk
grandfather in his best suit
hands folded, eyes closed

—Ngo Binh Anh Khoa





New blooms on black trees
veiled in quiet bone-white fog
spring’s dirge to winter

—Hannah Lee


blossoms of the spring
two high school students fighting
for the window seat

—Oluwasegun Oluseyi Adesina


Delicate white wings
dance over sun-kissed petals
tipsy with nectar

—Mia P. Solomonides


Yes, there is a dove
sitting in a tall oak tree.
I hear a high coo.

—Michael Lowenberg


Cerulean sky
above yellow sunflowers
The smell of burning

—Mantz Yorke


mushroom multitudes
popping up after the rain
a refugee camp

—Raymond C. Roy


Turtle, a green leaf
blown slowly over the ground
by a lazy breeze

—Michael David Eaton


lost in perfumed air
a small skipper is crossing
the wildflower sea

—Benjamin Bläsi


The night condenses
into black brown coffee drops.
They stain the morning.

—Ezeifedi Chibueze


Wet cement sky leaks
the hills melt into red sludge
banana plants mould

—Jyi Jyo


high-rise balcony
the perfect panorama
of summertime smog



Secrets long buried
Beneath this rushing river
Now breathe summer air

—Bentley Brock


a hot summer night
only a slice of the moon
for my refreshment

—Urszula Marciniak


the last fallen rose
wilts sweetly, lightly, slowly
blushing so faintly

—Natalie Tokita


blue morning-glories
mirroring a cloudless sky
blue morning-glories

—Stefanie Bucifal


Halloween party
The devil’s fork in his hand
bigger than he is

—Andrew Shimield


Autumn spider spins
Silk threads overwintering
Her offspring within

—Mihael de la Montagnes


Fall’s artillery
Acorns spatter on my roof
Rat! Tat! Winter comes

—John Sheills


Concentration camp
From the bottom barbed wire hangs
Skin scrape frost-encased

—John Kolyav


Winter grips us still
Icicle soul siesta
Drip me back to life

—Brianna C


Let’s meet, you and I
Under winter cherry trees
Love won’t wait till spring

—Rose Jakubaszek



Comments from the Judge 

Congratulations to the winner, who has not published at the Society of Classical Poets, but who follows similar ideals in his bilingual edition of the Vietnamese classic, The Tale of Kieu. This work has been translated into English several times, but Ngo Binh Anh Khoa presents an English version in the traditional verse form.

Congratulations as well to the runners-up, who stand out among a field of 388 competitors this year, up from 246 in 2020 and 339 in 2021. And this field, in my opinion, surpassed earlier years in quality of poems as well as in number of poets.

Many thanks to all poets who entered the competition, and made it a delight to judge!

In the winning haiku, the image of the grandfather is dignified and peaceful. He might be occupied in prayer or meditation. But because he is compared to a cicada husk, he must be dead, well dressed for a last farewell. Cicadas are insects that make a raucous racket of strident noises for a week or ten days at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn. Then all at once they fall silent, with bodies decaying near hard, shiny shells of chestnut or amber color. This, at least, is what happened in the experience of the haiku contest judge while living in Japan. Linking the seasonal image of a cicada husk and the description of a deceased individual, the poet hints at profound questions about the grandfather’s life and death. It seems he died early, before reaching a mellow autumn or the winter of old age. He made a loud clamor shortly before death, and may have died suddenly along with others like himself. Was he a man who spoke out against injustice or persecution? Was he a leader who caused an uproar by speech or writings? Was he someone known for untiring effort, spending his whole life’s energy in strenuous work at the height of his powers? Haiku brevity leaves the reader to ponder the possibilities, while the poem suggests a soul at rest and a spirit to be honored.

Several runners-up show how haiku in traditional form, even with reference to nature and season, can address concerns of human society. Mantz Yorke flies the blue-over-yellow Ukrainian flag, noticing sunflower seed and oil as major products of this country where war continues. Raymond C. Roy speaks of refugees there and elsewhere. Bentley Brock refers to recent dramatic drying up of major rivers such as the Rhine and the Loire. John Kolyav, with only “frost” to represent nature, considers the raw brutality of a concentration camp.

Some readers will need explanation of a few creative word choices. The “banana plants” mentioned by Jyi Jyo are “bashō” in Japanese. This could allude to the great haiku poet himself, or to poetry in general, suffering mould in the cataclysm the author describes. Benjamin Bläsi writes of a “skipper” (captain of a boat) in his wildflower sea. At “Halloween” gatherings such as the one Andrew Shimield depicts, persons (especially children) dress in bizarre costumes. Brianna C makes curious use of “siesta” (usually a long afternoon nap) to tell what happens to a soul in winter.

In addition to the winner and runners-up, a few more poems from the 2022 competition show the impressive potential of English haiku in traditional form. Those mentioned below are chosen not because they are “the best of the rest,” but because they are excellent examples of particular techniques. Here are two that rhyme all three lines:


bones beneath the ground
buried deep within a mound
dying to be found

—Jason Mackey


Body, heart, and mind
Splintered shards too hard to find
Leaving me behind



The pen name of the second author is part of the art, revealing what is left behind.

Compare these rhyming haiku in English to a poem formerly attributed to Bashō, but now considered to be the work of Sagami no Tawarabo. At one of Japan’s most scenic spots, gazing at numerous islands (shima) with pine trees (matsu) beautifully weathered by sea wind, he wrote:


Matsushima ya
Ah, ah, Matsushima ya
Matsushima ya


This is the only Japanese haiku I know that rhymes all three lines. It does so by repetition of the same sounds, known as “identical rhyme” in English. Repetition also produces identical end rhyme on two lines (rather than three) in haiku by such classic masters as Buson, Issa, Ransetsu, Kakei, Shiki, Ryōta, and Taigi. Internal rhyme happens as well, and on rare occasions there is end rhyme like that in English. Rhyme is uncommon in classic haiku, but anyone who thinks it is forbidden needs to read more poems. Among our 2022 runners-up, Stefanie Bucifal (repeating a line) and Natalie Tokita (repeating unstressed syllables in a lovely rhythm) employ the classic identical rhyme technique.

To deal with a topic at length, haiku can form part of a sequence. The Society of Classical Poets Competition is intended for individual haiku, but we received one sequence entitled as such that offers an excellent treatment of the covid experience.


COVID Crises

We demand answers!
Oxygen concentrators
Still stuck with Customs.

Planes land with supplies.
Despite the scramble, no one
Gets aid they must have.

Pain, tears, and anger
Loss that belongs to us all.
How much can be borne?

—Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan


Three brief observations, from a particular place in the world, work together to express feelings of persons with differing experience all over the globe. Who cannot say, “We demand answers!” to incompetent bureaucrats and political profiteers? There is truly “Loss that belongs to us all.” As judge of this contest, I could not have selected one of these haiku as better than the others, when their effect depends on the sequence of three. But I do thank the author for the powerful example of a cohesive haiku sequence spotlighted here.

Riddles are classic in many languages and literatures. Haiku can accommodate them. This one features alliteration and clever wordplay, with the answer to the riddle as “cutting word” separating the poem’s two parts.


Feasted it withers
fasted it fattens: for love
forfeit is surfeit

—Marlin Mattson


This witty riddle, like the above sequence of three poems, and the two rhyming poems before, does not look at nature or give an indication of the season. Does that mean these should be called senryu rather than haiku? We had some discussion of this as the competition was in progress. I said there is no clear distinction between the two, and I believe that is why the Society of Classical Poets has just one category for “Haiku and Senryu.” The name “Senryū” belongs to a Japanese poet of the 18th century, known for sharp, cynical, humorous satires on human failings. He used the haiku form, but moved away from observations of the natural world and attention to the seasons of the year. Poems like his are senryu, while those on nature are haiku. But what about poems that (technically speaking) belong to neither group? Below are two good ones.


planning dad’s birthday
I collect the smashed pieces
of my piggy bank

—Daipayan Nair


This poem, showing a child’s immense love for his father, is very far from cynical and might even be called sentimental. For the family, it refers to the season when the birthday occurs, but that’s not in the poem. This is true for very many poems that reflect on personal events and circumstances.


still a nobody
a lump of clay starts to spin
on the potter’s wheel

—Ravi Kiran


This poem about the beginning of personal development has neither the topic nor the tone of senryu. From a Judaeo-Christian perspective, it concerns God’s action as creator and shaper of each individual life. The image of potter-and-clay undoubtedly has significant implications elsewhere.

Thinking about haiku and senryu, it’s important to realize that senryu received that name as a subgroup of poems in a long-established haiku tradition. “Senryu” cannot describe the vast group of all non-nature haiku. Poems like these by Daipayan Nair and Ravi Kiran are haiku, though they differ from many others in not presenting a scene from nature or referring to a season. The classic tradition of haiku developed with the natural world as its focus, and the practice of specifying a season. Other haiku are related to this tradition.

Haiku-form poems with topics other than nature can acquire a seasonal reference when included in a sequence or collection, in which the overall concern with nature and seasons is clear. One such book is Kyoto Dwelling (1987; Kindle 2012) by Edith Shiffert. This is a collection of original haiku in English by an American woman who lived in Japan for more than half her life. The 350 poems are in traditional form, unaffected by the dominant fashion for shorter and shapeless free-verse haiku.

Another book of interest to haiku writers is Mastering Japanese Form Poetry and the American Haiku (2022) by E. Owen. It explains not just haiku but other Japanese kinds of poetry composed in 5-syllable and 7-syllable lines. It includes many English poems by the author in traditional Japanese forms. Most are longer than the 3-line haiku, although haiku-like sections have an essential place in the more extended verses. Love poetry is Owen’s special interest. It is intended for adults, but composed with suitable decorum.

The most important traditional-form haiku book is still Japanese Haiku (1955) from the Peter Pauper Press. In it, Peter Beilenson translates more than 200 poems by the great Japanese masters. It is available free online HERE. Beilenson produced three more equally good books of similar size: : The Four SeasonsCherry Blossoms, and Haiku Harvest.




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The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

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30 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    I was going to say that this contest, Margaret’s informed judging, the summary essay and the winning poems themselves were “Well done.” But this would have been inaccurate. Far better to say that all of the above were “Done Masterfully!” As for Margaret, thank you for taking the time and making the effort to gift us with an articulate and informed summary of haiku while separating the wheat from the chaff (So to speak) so we can enjoy and learn from the best of the best.

  2. Paul Freeman

    My name’s not there.
    Sadness, till I read winners.
    Next year beckons.

    Great job everyone, especially the winners whose works I truly find exceptional.

    And thanks for undertaking the massive and obviously (from the winners) successful task of judging, Margaret.

    Till next year adieu.
    It’s not a form to pooh, pooh.
    This noble haiku!

  3. Brian Yapko

    Congratulations to the winner and to each of the runners-up — your poems are all spectacular. And a special thanks to Margaret for investing the time and heart into choosing from so many wonderful works.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Beginning the judging process, I collected 130 possible winners from approximately 1000 poems. With winner, runners-up, and special mentions listed, this announcement includes only 30 poems. Anyone who takes a look at “See all entrants here” will certainly find more very good haiku! Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed.

    • Leo S

      Hi Margaret! Thank you for sharing your insights and reading all of the entries diligently. Would it be possible to share the 130 shortlist entries? I didn’t win but would be thrilled if I made the cut. Congratulations to all the winners and to the organizers of this contest!

      • Margaret Coats

        Hi Leo, thanks for your attention and your inquiry. I have taken a long time to think about your request and consult others involved. We’ve decided not to reveal the longlist, in part because I make choices based on artistic canons and personal preferences that have to measure up against additional standards to make our group of runners-up a stellar selection. Please enjoy all the entries without further ranking than our customary practice provides! You can practice your own judgment on them, and that in itself is a valuable exercise for learning more about haiku. You might be interested as well in what I say to Larry Coltin below.

    • Larry Coltin

      Thank you. I found this site too late to enter for 2022. I have become an obsessive writer of Haiku this last month… 60 so far, and a couple of them I think are good! Will there be a 2023 contest? I purchased the X volume of poetry under the impression it would contain a coupon for membership. (I might have made an error in my thinking.) If you have time to send me an email, I will be grateful.

      • Margaret Coats

        Hello, Larry, thanks for your interest in the Society and in haiku. I hope there will be another haiku contest in the summer of 2023. The contest is not certain to happen, and no dates are set, but check the site occasionally. The space where you now see “2023 SCP Poetry Competition” will feature a Japanese picture with HAIKU CONTEST superimposed while the competition and judging are going on. The competition stage is usually a month or more.

        For membership in the Society now that you have purchased the Journal, go back to the JOIN icon at the top of any page. Find the words “SCP Membership Application Form,” which will underline if you hover over them, and you can then click to see what information you need to put into an e-mail. You cannot fill out the form online, nor does a paper copy come with the Journal. You can, however, send information by postal mail if e-mail is not convenient for you.

        Because SCP supports traditional-form haiku, I hope that’s what you’re writing. Many haiku groups promote free-verse haiku with minimal words in no precise shape. I have recently found another excellent model for writers of haiku in English, namely, Richard Wright’s “Haiku: The Last Poems.” Wright discovered haiku as he was dying, and wrote about 4000 in a year and a half. He selected 817 as good enough for publication. They might be worth reading for a haiku enthusiast like yourself!

      • Larry Coltin

        Hi Margaret. Thank you for your quick reply, information and recommendation. I will read Richard Wright’s book. I am intrigued. I do not think all of my (5, 7, 5) syllable writings qualify as Traditional-Form. The precise format required might be too subtle for me to understand competely. Some of them read like political commentary, Ads, and social critique. Some of them are about nature, and I think they qualify. Would it be inappropriate or an imposition for me to post a couple here for your opinion?

        I appreciate what your are doing and enjoy reading your comments.

        Yours truly,


      • Margaret Coats

        Hello again, Larry. As for what you are writing, and how to judge it for yourself, first please re-read my “Comments from the Judge” above. There I go into the difference between haiku and senryu, and point out that we have an in-between category as well. If you read the online “Japanese Haiku” classics translated by Peter Beilenson (and the title above will link you with the complete book itself), you will find some in-betweens written by the great Japanese masters.

        The more reading you do, the more you will be able to tell how good your haiku are. I suggest clicking on the “Haiku and Senryu” category at the bottom of the right-hand column. That will give you a list of all posts containing poems Evan Mantyk has considered worthy of publication. It is not appropriate for me to comment on your work here, as I may be the judge of next year’s contest, for which you might submit the very poems you present here. That gives you an advantage others would not have. You are right to consider traditional form a rather subtle thing to master, but please just work on that mastery! Don’t try to restrict yourself to nature poems, since the Japanese masters did not restrict themselves, but wherever you submit poems for contests or publication, take account of what is required and become familiar with other haiku that get published or win contests. Your haiku notebook is mostly for you, and I find writing the haiku I am best pleased with is frequently a matter of momentary inspiration. Doesn’t happen every time, but keep the process moving!

    • Traci

      Hi. I am writing from a children’s museum/science center in NC. We like to request permission to use a few of these poems in an exhibit about Nature we are creating. I’m having a hard time finding contact information on line for some of the authors to request permission. Is that something you might be able to help with?

      Many thanks!

      • Mike Bryant

        Margaret, Traci Cooper has contacted me and I will send out emails to the poets in the morning. Thank you, Margaret!

  5. Endurance ogbefun

    Congratulations to all the winners but I haven’t seen my work I have been searching for it since I posted it. It was there and the next thing it wasn’t. Pls I only have that poem stored here. I would be glad if I could find it. Thanks. Congratulations once more to the poets of wonders

    • Margaret Coats

      Hello, Endurance. I am very sorry your poem is missing! Did you post it with a different name? I wrote down on paper all the names to keep an accurate count of poets–and I don’t find yours. If you used another name, please let me know.

      If not, maybe you wrote down the poem and your name and e-mail address, but did not press the SUBMIT button. Or you did press it, but it failed to record your poem and name.
      This can happen when another person is trying to submit at the same time. It could also happen if you wrote down the poem but pressed SUBMIT just after contest closing time.

      I will ask the moderator to check what we can do!

  6. Endurance Enorunose Ogbefun

    Please Mrs Margaret I would love for nothing but to see my haikus. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to be judged like everyone else but that isn’t my plight
    I had written that poem spontaneously as I was inspired by the many great works on the platform
    I submitted it
    Which I saw it was accepted on the 15th of August
    But I couldn’t find my piece
    So that I could archive it for future use.
    At first I thought maybe it was kept from being seen by the admins for the obvious reason of “it may be winning piece”but not finding it here or anywhere else I am now curious as to whether it was deleted but by whom
    Pls your rapt response would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  7. Joshua C. Frank

    Hats off to winners!
    You write haiku very well.
    How do you do it?

  8. Toshiji Kawagoe

    Congratulations to the winner, Ngo Binh Anh Khoa, and other runners-up! I’m very glad to see many interesting haikus all over the world in this contest. I also enjoyed reading the comment by Margaret. Thank you for everyone!

    Then, as for the haiku mentioned in Margaret’s comment, “Matsushima-ya…,” it is once attributed to Basho, but now it is considered that its genuine author is Sagami no Tawarabo (相模の田原坊).
    Another example of the haiku that rhymes all three lines is the following by Tatsuko Hoshino (星野立子), a daughter of Kyoshi Takahama (高浜虚子),

    Japanese: 美しき緑走れり夏料理
    “Utsukushiki midori hashireri natsu ryouri”

    English: Like a beautiful green garden (美しき緑走れり), a dish is full of summer vegetables (夏料理).

    In this haiku, 美しき(utsukushi-ki), 走れり(hashire-ri), 料理(ryou-ri) rhymes with “i” sound at the end of each line. You can also identify 緑(mido-ri) joins the rhyme of “ri” sound.

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you very much, Toshiji. I am happy to learn the present attribution of the Matsushima haiku to Sagami no Tawarabo. And to learn about another rhymed haiku. I did not know the Showa era poets you mention, but I see both father and daughter are important and influential.

      The “midori” rhyme you point out in Tatsuko Hoshino’s poem is what we call “internal rhyme” in English. “Rhyme” as we commonly speak of it means rhyme at the end of the line. Internal rhyme happens when a word within a line rhymes with a word at the end. Internal rhyme adds musicality to a poem when it is well used.

      Thank you again for giving us the benefit of your knowledge of Japanese poetry. I appreciate your explaining points we English speakers might miss. Haiku has become a lyric form for the world just as English has become an international language. We do our best at the Society of Classical Poets to maintain a sense of beautiful haiku tradition, while creating new poems using the form.

  9. BeDoWin

    The desert-dwelling BeDoWin thinks Ms. Coats has done a very good job in light of the impossible. He would also like to thank 松尾 芭蕉.

    • Margaret Coats

      “Be you perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” It must be ultimately possible, considering who’s giving the counsel. I’m thankful for “very good” in the job just finished. Matsuo Basho achieved the ideal in a number of poems, and came close in sending haiku out to the world with an extremely energetic impetus. I join you in thanking him!

  10. Mia

    Dear Margaret, saying thank you to you just does not seem enough. I am in awe of your knowledge, generosity of spirit and patience. Here on SCP, the poems, the essays and the debates all have proven to me that darkness is not fought with darkness but with light. Congratulations to the winner of this really enjoyable contest and as for me, I am very happy to be runner up for the third year running. If it is some kind of record it is the only one I have in poetry and I have the SCP to thank for that. Sorting out my membership soon. Congratulations and best wishes to all.

    • Margaret Coats

      Mia, you have indeed set a record by being runner-up all three years of the SCP haiku contest. Oluwasegun Oluseyi Adesina is runner-up for 2020 and 2022. Both of you therefore have won recognition from the Bryants, who were judges in 2020, and from me. And Ravi Kiran, runner-up in 2021, wrote one haiku I chose for special mention in my remarks this year. We judges start fresh each year, looking for the best poems from absolutely anyone who enters. I think writing excellent haiku comes from both good fortune and experience. A beginner can come up with a striking concept that may well be a great poem. But that’s more likely to happen if the person keeps writing–and reads good work others have done. One of the attractions of this contest is that everyone can see all the entries. You have the opportunity to judge for yourselves, which helps you know a good haiku when you write one. Keep that haiku notebook near you!

      • Mia

        Thank you, you must be so busy but you always reply. I really appreciate your encouragement, also you are right it is great that we can all read the haiku submitted and not only that, are allowed to make corrections if we need to. Where else? Not of course forgetting the essays and guidance.
        Also just in case of any misunderstanding I know you do not have to be a member. I wasn’t to begin with. I now feel that I must give something back.

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    A huge CONGRATULATIONS! to all with the main focus on Ngo Binh Anh Khoa for the very worthy win… I love it! Also, a big THANK YOU! to Margaret for taking on this huge task (getter huger by the year) with her fine eye, patience, and skill. Margaret, your passion for haiku is a joy to behold!

    • Oluwasegun Oluseyi Adesina

      A great kudos to you, Margaret Coats, for the great job you did in judging the numerous haiku entries.

      It is thrilling to make the second runner-up in 2020 and, again, in 2022.

      Congratulations to the winner, for his beautiful haiku, and to the runner-ups.

  12. Cathy Bryant

    Huge thanks to Margaret for doing such a fine job of judging so many haiku. I didn’t have work placed, but I learned a lot from this competition. I now know much more about haiku – both the form and the history – and I’m very grateful. By the way, I am a Bryant but I’m not related to the Bryants who moderate the site (as far as I know)!
    I posted the competition link on my Comps and Calls website, so that as many writers as possible would see it and maybe have a go.
    Best wishes to all.

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Cathy! The more the merrier, especially because in this competition, everyone can see all the entries–and even comment as the contest progresses. I appreciate your joining the fun, and making that possible for others.


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