9th PIHC 2019 – results

The 9th Polish International Haiku Competition 2019 

What is it about a haiku that serves both to capture a unique moment in time for the person wielding the pen and to create a space for the reader to pause and think sometimes way beyond the words on the page? A complex of things, most fitting when the haiku is done in the simplest possible way with no unnecessary words; when the observation is crafted in such a way that the words seem to be the experience itself. Of course that can never be the case: thought-experience and words occupy two different universes as Vygotsky points out; the knack in haiku-expression is to blend words & experience in a way that makes them seem to be a unity, in the truth of the moment and with no conscious cleverness.

For me, all three prize-winners have blended words and moment of experience in just such a way: there is no sense of stepping out of the experience to make a point; the words are the moment. Maybe they should each share First Prize!

Colin Blundell

First Prize

windy day
the old neighbor rakes
dead leaves

Marina Bellini, Italy

A vivid picture, perhaps heightened for me because it brings to mind a minor passing shot (but one which anticipates the end of the film) in Roman Polanski’s UK titled Ghost where a gardener is seen outside a window vainly trying to sweep up leaves with a besom only to have them blown back where they came from. That’s what I see here and, having been in a similar back-breaking situation myself, I feel the frustration. Maybe the old neighbour, in the autumn of life, has had long experience of raking its contents into some kind of order only to find everything being blown about uncontrollably. In spite of what one might suppose to be gusts of wind, the first five words of the haiku are calm and deliberate in tone, whereas rakes… dead… leaves, being relatively staccato, can seem to be portraying the repetitive effort of a rather frantic unnecessary endeavour.

Second Prize

winter sun…
just enough warmth
in your hug

Shloka Shankar, India

We are left with a question – why ‘just enough warmth’? Enough to make up for the shiveriness of a winter’s day? Or ‘just enough’ to make up for a wintery loss of affection? The long feel of the words in the first two lines culminates in the short vowel of ‘hug’ – or was it a long hug? Content with the indeterminacy, we don’t need an answer to any of these questions – there’s a nice mix of possibilities. It seems to me that life is very much like this, never quite knowing where you are!

Third Prize

silhouettes in fog
on the back of the photo
faded initials

Jerzy Małysz, Poland

It’s an old photo. In these days of digital snaps and throwaway ‘selfies’, when you don’t have to take a roll of exposed film into the chemists to be printed, such images seem to be two a penny. Maybe now such a snap, because of the fog, would not even be preserved, just deleted from the up-to-date camera as a failure. The figures in this photo, perhaps discovered in the back of an old drawer, have disappeared into the fog of time but once they were important enough for the photographer to put their initials on the reverse – or perhaps each of the silhouettes are represented by their faded initials. This skilful 5-7-5 haiku captures in the present moment a long ago faded snap-second, clearly once much valued even though it was already be-fogged.

(congratulations to all Commendations/ Honourable Mentions, which are arranged below in no particular order)

clear water
just a single
maple leaf

Vessislava Savova, Bulgaria


autumn evening –
your favorite tea
in my cup

Maria Teresa Sisti, Italy


winter evening
every snow flake adding
its share of silence

Nikola Duretic, Croatia


midsummer sky
the frogs croak
into the blue

Deborah Carl-Brandt, Germany


overnight frost
your whiskers glistening
in the morning sun

Barbara Strang (New Zealand)


autumn’s end
the last birdsong fades
to wind

Peter Jastremsky (USA)


retirement home –
mist smudges out
a mountain peak

Geethanjali Rajan (India)


winter moon
she adjusts his necktie
one last time

Tomislav Sjekloca (Montenegro)


Autumn sunset
my mother tells me
about heaven

Nazarena Rampini, Italy


Thanks to all 360 authors from 55 countries who have sent their haiku to the 9th Polish International Haiku Competition. Like in the previous year, haiku was received by Krzysztof Kokot. Then he sent anonymously to Robert Kania and Ernest Wit, who chose haiku and sent them to Colin Blundell, who made the final verdict.

Australia (13), Austria (3), Bangladesh (1), Belarus (1), Belgium (2), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2), Brazil (3), Bulgaria (13), Canada (11), Croatia (35), Cyprus (1), Finland (1), France (3), Germany (15), Ghana (3), Greece (1), Hungary (2), India (31), Indonesia (4), Iran (1), Ireland (3), Israel (1), Italy (14), Jamaica (1), Japan (2), Lithuania (6), Malaysia (2), Mexico (1), Montenegro (5), Nepal (1), Netherlands (4), New Zealand (6), Nigeria (4), North Macedonia (3), Norway (5), Pakistan (1), Philippines (3), Poland (29), Portugal (1), Romania (19), Russia (8), Serbia (7), Singapore (1), Slovakia (1), Slovenia (4), South Africa (1), Sri Lanka (3), Switzerland (2), Tajikistan (1), Tunisia (1), Turkey (3), Ukraine (2), United Kingdom (19), USA (49), Vietnam (1)

Colin Blundell (President of the British Haiku Society) – Final Judge
Robert Kania (Treasurer of the Polish Haiku Association) – Pre-selector
Ernest Wit (Member of the Polish Haiku Association) – Pre-selector
Krzysztof Kokot (Honorary Member of the Polish Haiku Association) – Coordinator