May 2015
UHTS Contests


The UHTS sponsors three Annual Contests:
aha           Fleeting Words           Samurai

2015 aha Haiku/Senryu Contest Results

1st Place

filtered sunlight
a butterfly's nap
on my arm

Gin Suan Tung

Opening with this moment of filtered sunlight, one immediately knows they will be seeing sunlight in a unique way. Then in a delicate stillness, the presence of a butterfly resting, brings us the image of glowing stained-glass. A myriad of spring colors, open to the reader to decide which butterfly they see. And finally, we hold our breath so as to not disturb this gift of a butterfly's touch.

As if a portal has come to gaze in meditation, to let go of worries, filtering out the impurities of this world, or perhaps filled with warm thoughts of a loved one. The author has brought together these juxtaposed images beautifully. In English, we might translate 'rest' with 'nap'. And through the senses of warmth, light, touch, and color, this lovely haiku gives a wabi-sabi silence, a narrowing of focus straight down from the sun to a peaceful deep-feeling or yugen.

—UHTS aha Contest Judge b'oki, USA

2nd Place

blackbird song
my sumi-e bamboo grows
beyond the sheet

Maria Tomczak

The song of the blackbird is one of the most familiar and loved songs heard in any garden; liquid and rounded, as in the ink in a brush. Perhaps the artist is sitting in their garden just caught up in the melodious notes meditating or in the moment the blackbird takes flight with a loud flushing call, the artist's brush also flies off the page! In this light-hearted scene we see the contrast of the blackbird and ink to the white of the paper. We hear the contrast of song to the silence of sumi-e painting.

Altogether the elements flow nicely between a rhythm of the "b" alliteration. I especially appreciate this haiku for its tone of classical Japanese haiku. It can take us back as early as the 12th century with traditional Japanese ink painting. Zen masters have used ink painting on the path to enlightenment expressing hidden messages of great depth.

—UHTS aha Contest Judge b'oki, USA

3rd Place

the toddler discovers
his superpower

Peter Newton

With such an effective first line that immediately positions us in the middle of a puddle, we get the impression this isn't about an average puddle. Whether this puddle is from a recent downpour or a long night of loud thunderstorms, we quickly learn that the toddler in this scene can bring a variety of interesting events! And the aha moment opens up in the powerful last line like the sun bursts through the clouds after a rainfall.

Do you see colorful rain boots or Superman character boots? We see the facial expressions change from fearful to a devilish grin of temptation, to big smiles and giggles. I also enjoy the association of a splashing rhythm from the words ending in 'er'. This verse has excellent composition and balance. And it doesn't matter what age you are to experience the power that nature has to transform, strengthen, and empower us.

—UHTS aha Contest Judge b'oki, USA

Honorable Mention

with care he pencils in
his wife's eyebrows

André Surridge
New Zealand

Straightaway we know exactly the core subject of this senryu. What a perfect place to have a long pause or kireji in this verse then between the first and second lines. Knowing the seriousness of this health challenge, we're then reminded that most daily tasks are taken with care. Again, we have another amazing aha in line three that brings the depth of love and devotion.

I also enjoy this verse for its effectiveness of how it can impact the reader from first time reading to the next. What could happen if she tremors and the eyebrow pencil makes a turn for the worse causing them to break out in laughter or in frustration? The eyebrows express a lot of emotion so she must trust him to not only draw them identical but to know her enough to mirror her essence. Well done!

—UHTS aha Contest Judge b'oki, USA

Congratulations to all winners. It was a pleasure to offer my comments. Thank you to everyone who sent in submissions for which we had many of this year. We offer them in honor and memory of Hortensia Anderson. I know she would have enjoyed them as much as we have.

—UHTS aha Contest Judge b'oki, USA

Note: For future reference in the year 2015, our three contests are:

aha (Annual Hortensia Anderson) Awards for Haiku/Senryu, Judge: b'oki, USA
The Fleeting Words Tanka Competition, Judge: an'ya, USA
Samurai Haibun Contest, Judge: Sonam Chhoki, Bhutan