International Photo-Haiku Contest

The 9th Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo-Haiku Contest of Haiku in English on a set theme

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  2. The 9th Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo-Haiku Contest of Haiku in English on a set theme

Contest Comments by David McMurray

The number of contest entries keeps increasing each year, reaching a record 4,181 for this 9th round. 1,748 contestants wrote in English, 542 of whom took photos too. Using one of 12 photos supplied by the organizers as a prompt, haiku in English were submitted to create 1,206 photo-haiku combinations. Contestants shied from matching a haiku to photos of shipyards and museums, but rallied to compose on travel and religious themes. The winning and honorably mentioned works celebrated the beauty of nature and experiences such as pilgrimage, climbing, bamboo craft, and gold joinery.

Grand Prix

U.S.AMarita Gargiulo

ah, but
smell what the roses
have to offer

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

The haiku speaks out to the photo. Together they resonate superbly as an ekphrastic photo-haiku. The haikuist narrated action caught by the photographer to evoke the choice of war or peace. Spotting the man’s gaze at the warship, like an angel the poet veered our line of view toward the roses by writing a rhetorical suggestion. This triangulated a flowing line to the man to the ship to the roses in Verny Park. And what gorgeous roses they are. The photographer placed large creamy-colored flowers edged with crimson-pink right under our noses. These are peace roses, the same species presented at an inaugural meeting of the United Nations with a note that read: "We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace." The gifted poet is deserving of such a prize.

Maborikaigan promenade(Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Verny Park (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Award for Excellence

U.S.ADarrell Lindsey

a girl with ruby lips
whispers in the night

A clear stream in Kurakake Village(Higashimatsuyama,Saitama Prefecture)

Kabuki-cho (Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo)

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

The haikuist teased us to enter an iconic gate with red lights and a sign by pointing out how they resemble lips with shining white teeth. Kabukicho Ichiban-gai is the entrance to a lively red-light district in Tokyo with cafes, bars and clubs decorated in colorful neon street signs that enticingly invite customers to come face-to-face with entertainers who speak in soothing tones and wear makeup in a rainbow of colors. This photo inspired contestants to write about smiles or kohled eyes, wine or poison, neon or light pollution, crowds or loneliness, rock ’n roll or noise, stars or darkness, summer or winter.

Award for Excellence

AustraliaMadhuri Pillai

village storyteller...
the stretch
of her imagination

Reigando Cave(Kumamoto,Kumamoto Prefecture)

Sakamotoya Pilgrim's Lodge (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)

Comment from the Judge: David McMurray

The haikuist sensed there might be a good story underlying this photo. The haiku guides our eyes toward the garden being actively described through the gestures of a romancer. The poet combined with the narrator who knows how to share mysteries, folklore and gossip so that we can sense the photo-haiku with our ears and hearts too. To preserve the 19th century two-story lodge and its window ledge with a view, as shown in the photo, modern tour guides work hard to make its garden come alive for tourists in Matsuyama.

Honorable Mentions

  • Seaside Train (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)


    Rolling wheels and waves
    Will it be that I find rest
    In Matsuyama?

  • Under the Sun (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)

    PolandHenryk Czempiel

    her face hidden from the sun
    or from me

  • Bamboo Beauty (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)

    RomaniaAna Drobot

    bamboo sticks -
    what I could never
    do by myself

  • Kure Shipyard (Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture)

    ItalyPasquale Asprea

    A rainbow -
    the welder takes off
    his protective glasses

  • Imperial Hotel replica in Museum Meijimura (Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture)

    PolandJolanta Kajzer

    a noisy
    in the shadow of history

  • Midsummer dream (Ikaruga Town, Nara Prefecture)

    GermanyMonica Wang

    a climber basks in warmth
    on the peak

  • Iwadono Kannon at Shōbō-ji temple (Higashimatsuyama City, Saitama Prefecture)

    GermanyBeate Conrad

    golden leaves
    the temple's whispers
    up to the tree

  • Atomic Bomb Dome in Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture)

    JapanJay Ercanbrack

    The cooling river
    into which they plunged
    souls ablaze

  • Restoration of Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture)

    IndiaSrinivasa Rao Sambangi

    kintsugi . . .
    we are
    together again