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Rockport International Poetry Festival 2024

Haiku & Haibun Contests

  1st Prize $100 | 2nd Prize $50 | 3rd Prize $25 

in each category

Many thanks to all the entrants. Know it was difficult to choose winners from such excellent submissions.

The contests were blind judged by Sean O’Connor, Editor of The Haibun Journal.



filling the space
between the train window’s scratches
autumn dusk

Judge's Remarks: Scratches on the train window provide an intriguing and unusual line. In this haiku there is a suggestion of a decayed infrastructure and a perhaps long familiar journey. It is through the blur of these scratches that we experience the 'Autumn dusk', a fine choice of kigo that evokes a sense of loss and aging which delivers a strong emotional resonance.



U-pick farm...
twilight settles
in the blueberry nets

Judge's Remarks: The end of a day’s work is presented here with the kigo blueberry net. A feeling suggesting satisfaction is reinforced with the line twilight settles.



February night

letting the unknown number

go to voice mail

Judge's Remarks: Opening with the kigo 'February', the month that sees out winter, sets the strong emotional tone of longing, so wonderfully captured in the very contemporary second and third lines of this haiku.


1st Place - TIM CREMIN


Seafoam and Carefree Wonder

When she went into surgery, I stepped outside for a walk. I wandered into a park and found a rose garden. Roses in November—who knew? Out of the wind, though not out of earshot when sirens passed, I strolled through Whisper and Moonstone, Sea Foam and Carefree Wonder. All new to me—I had always thought a rose was a rose. I lost track of time, then had to hurry back: I had promised her I would be there when she came to.



a flurry of winter moths

in high beams

Judge's Remarks: In this prose followed by one haiku, we have the poignant, and underused kigo ‘Thanksgiving’ so loaded with a range of emotion including implied warmth, togetherness, and also loss and loneliness. In addition, the haibun is laden with an anxiety for a loved one, a vulnerable situation, a discovery of a previously ignored beauty, and a wonderfully open ending that is amplified by the haiku



Studio Tour

“One last thing... tucked away in this closet is a Navajo-style rug that we’ve always thought was the blanket Fitzgerald used as a backdrop for posing nudes here, like behind Julia, who’s in the catalogue. Funny story, the actual Julia visited a few years ago, at the age of 85. She didn’t call ahead, she just walked in and said, I’m Julia, and pointed out the nude pictures of herself in the catalogue. And then I let her hang out here after the tour, by herself with her wife, and they found this blanket, they were thrilled to see the blanket she remembered. I haven’t seen the photo, but apparently she did another pose just like the one in the book, at 85. She was a trip.

“So that’s the blanket story.”

winter sky
some of the paintbrushes
still damp


Judge's Remarks: In this haibun of prose and a single haiku we have the Kigo ‘winter’ suggesting a tone of quiet vitality at the end of the year – or life. The prose presents an unexpected visitor who, at 85 years old, brings some reinvigoration to the past.



One of the few things I still possess from my paternal great-grandmother, Nana Philip, is a miniature carved elephant. It’s probably made of plastic, but when I was a kid I liked to believe it was real ivory, an amulet like the kind Nancy Drew was given in The Mystery of the Ivory Charm. When she twisted off its trunk, it dispensed drops of a life-restoring fluid that saved a friend. Perhaps my elephant holds some secret power, something I’ll discover when I need it most.


borrowed luck
the striped stones I’ve saved
since childhood


Another thing I’ve inherited from my Nana Philip is her sweet tooth. My grandmother said it was because we’re Scottish, that Scots love sugar. When we traveled to Scotland together, we noted a confectioner’s shop in every village no matter how small. She took five spoonsful of sugar in her tea, would eat an entire pan of homemade fudge on her own. Even now I can put away a whole pint of ice cream. 

saying grace
the moon face smiles
on the kitchen clock

In high school for that retro look I often wore an orange Fair Isle cardigan, passed down from Nana Philip, over baggy t-shirts. There’s a photo of her in that sweater holding me as an infant, alongside my dad and grandmother: four generations. I bought a similar sweater on that visit to Scotland—they called it a jumper—but it wasn’t the same.

how many pairs of lips
on this teacup

My dad doesn’t talk to me anymore, so what I know of my great-grandmother’s life is only remembered fragments: from Aberdeen, with a Scottish burr to her voice. A portrait of Queen Victoria hung on the wall of her longtime home on Cape Cod, yet she often berated “the bloody English.” She liked cats. She let my ten-year-old grandmother wait a whole day before taking her to the doctor for what turned out to be a broken arm. She died of breast cancer, as did my grandmother—a useful fact for my medical history, and for trying to understand the deaths of those who came before me.

the time it takes a story
to cross the Atlantic

Judge's Remarks: With four paragraphs reinforced by haiku that follow each of them, we are given a sense of the family's recent history and dynamics. With no clear Kigo in the four haiku, an opportunity to develop emotional resonance has been missed in this very enjoyable read.

THANK YOU to all who entered and congrats to the winners of the 2024 Haiku & Haibun Contests!

Next year will be our 7th annual International Poetry Fest!

Until then, join our monthly Open Mic for poets, lyric lovers, listeners, dreamers, seekers: all are welcome.

Keep writing and sharing: YOUR VOICE MATTERS

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