Katikati Haiku Contest

Yes, folks, the Katikati Haiku Contest is back on this year – and you have to be in it to win it! (I’m sure there’s a rugby analogy I should be using as per our Prime Minister’s example but, no.)

Kings Seeds, a great Katikati company that has recently gained BioGro certification and stocks New Zealand’s largest range of organic seed, sponsors the cash prizes – $175 for the senior section (18 and over) and $85 for the junior section (17 and under).

To enter:

  • Send two copies of each haiku, with one only including your name, address, phone number (not mobile), e-mail address and age, if entering the junior section.
  • Poems should be typewritten or clearly handwritten. Junior entrants should avoid decorating or illustrating their entry.
  • Entry fees are: Senior: $5 for every 3 haiku or $2 for 1. Junior: $1 for every 2 haiku.
  • Post haiku to Katikati Haiku Contest, PO Box 183, Katikati 3166, New Zealand. If you are entering from overseas, email the competition secretary for details on using PayPal for the entry fee.

Entries close on September 26. The judge for the senior section is … me!

Proceeds from the contest go towards the pathway project so please do think about entering.

If you haven’t tackled a haiku before, maybe these notes will be helpful.

An Introduction to Haiku

  • Haiku are one to three lines long; three is a good place for beginners to start
  • Haiku are written in the present tense – a haiku is what is happening now, it captures this moment
  • They contain at least one of the five senses – haiku that include more than just a visual picture, think about taste, sound, feel and smell, are often stronger
  • Try to write about a real moment, something you have experienced
  • Haiku should focus on the particular, not the general (ie, not the wide, sandy beach but a shell on the beach) – be a camera zooming in
  • Haiku are about nature, at least partly (including human nature)
  • They should be able to be said in one breath (about 20 syllables)*
  • They are written in two parts (see next note) with a pause between the ideas/images
  • They can contrast 2 images; surprise readers with the link (don’t write a “list” of 3 images, this is not a haiku)
  • Show, don’t tell – write just enough to make the reader want to know more; haiku are not an explanation
  • Avoid descriptions of emotion
  • Use everyday language, but avoid cliché or “poetic” words (ie, tranquil, o’er)
  •  Avoid simile or metaphor; use few, if any, adjectives and adverbs
  • Haiku are unrhymed
  • There is no need to use punctuation or capital letters; keep articles to a minimum.

*The 5-7-5 construction of haiku is now generally not used in English.

Further reading:

Ask at your local library for books on haiku, especially the taste of nashi, the 2008 anthology of New Zealand haiku.

Visit the Katikati Haiku Pathway. Buy a copy of the pathway guidebook (available at Katikati Information Centre, Katikati Craft Shop, and Books A Plenty, Tauranga).

Visit Haiku NewZ and read the archived articles (left-hand menu), especially Guidelines for Editing Haiku by Lee Gurga (May 2006), The Secret of Writing Haiku by Paul Miller (February 2014), although there are many useful essays there.