2023 Haiku Contest

10 Poets • 10 Haiku • 10 Beautiful Posters

We gratefully acknowledge The Writer’s Place for its great help in promoting
this h
aiku contest.

Congratulations to our selected Haiku writers for 2023!

Look for their Haiku on display via eye-catching posters at the 2023 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival on October 7th!

  • Steve Brisendine
  • Angela Carole Brown
  • Melanie Byrd
  • Derrick Grass
  • Erica Jackson
  • Mary-Lane Kamberg
  • Barbara Leonhard
  • Al Ortolani
  • John Peterson
  • Robert Stewart
Haiku Example

Meet the Judges

Maryfrances Wagner

Maryfrances Wagner

Maryfrances Wagner co-edits I-70 Review, is president of The Writers Place, was 2020 Missouri Individual Artist of the Year, and Missouri Poet Laureate 2021-2023. Maryfrances’s newest books are The Immigrants’ New Camera, and Solving for X.  Her reissued Red Silk won the Thorpe Menn Book Award.  Visit Maryfrances Wagner’s website.

Maryfrances Wagner

Elizabeth Gracen

Elizabeth Gracen is a filmmaker, writer, actress, and the owner of  Flapper FilmsFlapper PressThe Gen Z Collective, and the nonprofit Flapper House. Inc.

Maryfrances Wagner

Renee Franklin

Besides valuing poems, Renee Franklin created a medical device company sales magazine and an entrepreneur newsletter. Presently she is a Johnson County Library creative writing judge and a Columbia Art League ‘Interpretations’ selection. The Box Gallery Ekphrasis exhibit included her interpretive poem in March, 2023.

Questions & Answers

1.Who may enter?

All residents of Kansas and Missouri.

2. If I have purchased a ticket to the 2023 KC Japanese Festival and do not reside in Kansas or Missouri, may I enter?

Yes, you may. Contact Annie Newcomer at newcomeriv@aol.com — in the subject line place non-resident haiku entry— and she will get back with you with instructions.

3. How many haiku may I enter?

You may enter up to 3 haiku.

4. May I collaborate with a child, grandchild, or friend?

Yes. We hope to bring people of all ages to haiku. Because of their ability to see their surroundings purely, children are able to write beautiful haiku. If your work is selected, you will have the option to provide the collaborator’s name.

5. Is judging anonymous?

Yes, your personal information will be withheld from the judges during the selection process to ensure an unbiased process.

6. Are there prizes for the poets of selected haiku?

Yes. In addition to having their haiku displayed at the festival, the poets who submit the 10 selected haiku will receive a book on haiku by Frank Higgins.

7. How will I learn if I am selected?

We will post the names of the selections on September 20th, 2023 on the Japanese Festival website, and inform the selected entrants by email.

8. What should the poet keep in mind when writing haiku?

a. There is a seasonal reference in traditional haiku. This often involves using specific words that represent the seasons.

b. The lines in a haiku do not rhyme or use simile or metaphor, nor do you title haiku.

c. Please keep in mind, while often presented in three 5-7-5 syllabic lines, this format is not a strict rule. This competition will follow guidelines for modern haiku, which do 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.

9. What are some examples of what the Japanese Festival considers to be fine haiku?


Spring is passing.
The birds cry, and the fishes’ eyes are
With tears.
The summer grasses.
All that remains
Of warriors’ dreams.
fireflies forgotten
in the jelly jar.
(Frank Higgins)
A wolf’s long howl
the dog by the campfire
growls at its masters.
(Frank Higgins)

10. Can you give us some good tips on writing haiku?

Frank Higgins, who will present a Haiku Workshop at the 2023 Festival, shares this advice: “Try to make your audience SEE the subject of the poem.

11. If you have any questions about this contest:

Please send an email to newcomeriv@aol.com. In the subject line, place your name and “Question on Japanese Festival Haiku Contest”.

Haiku submissions ended on September 1st, 2023.