Haiku Poetry Contest

In honor of National Poetry Month, the Perrot Memorial Library is sponsoring a haiku poetry contest open to students in grades 3 and up, as well as adults. We are seeking original haikus (3-line, 17-syllable poems) describing your experience with COVID-19–the pandemic, the closures, and their impact on your daily life.

What Is a Haiku?

A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression. [Academy of American Poets – Poets.org]

Here are three examples of haiku poems from Matsuo Basho (1644-1694),  considered the greatest haiku poet:

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight-
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.

How Is a Haiku Structured?

1.     There are only three lines, totaling 17 syllables.
2.     The first line is 5 syllables.
3.     The second line is 7 syllables.
4.     The third line is 5 syllables like the first.
5.     Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet, and need not follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.
6.     A haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact usually it does not rhyme at all.
7.     It can include the repetition of words or sounds.

Contest Rules and Regulations

How are you coping during this trying time? Create a Japanese-style poem called a haiku (a 3-line, 17-syllable poem: lines 1 and 3 have 5 syllables; line 2 has 7 syllables) to share your experiences.
The contest is open to students in grades 3 and up, as well as adults. Poems submitted by those in high school or older will be judged by members of the Greenwich Pen Women. The poems will be judged on originality and emotional resonance.


     •    All participants will receive a Certificate of Participation.
• The writer of the top poem in each age/grade category will receive a $25 gift card to Diane’s Books.
     • Your poem must describe how you feel about the COVID-19 pandemic.
     • Poems will be accepted beginning Monday, April 13, through Monday, June 1. Winners will be announced on Monday, June 15.
     • Poems must follow the haiku style.
     • Poem content should be either G or PG.
     • Only one poem per email, but you can enter up to three poems.
     • You do not have to be from Greenwich to submit a poem.

How to Submit Your Poem

Step 1: E-mail the poem to: poem@perrotlibrary.org using the Subject Line: “POETRY CONTEST (YOUR NAME)” Note: It’s best if your poem is part of the email itself, and not included as a separate attachment.
Step 2: To qualify for a prize, the text of your e-mail must contain all the following information:
     a: Your full name, street mailing address, your phone number, your email address;
     b: Your age – or (if shy) an approximate age – those under 18 years old must have the consent of a parent or guardian to submit a contest poem for possible publication;
     c. Your grade level, if a student.
     d. Title of your poem. (Does not count toward your 17 syllables.)
Note: The library will let you know when your email has been received. No more than ONE poem per email, but you may submit up to three poems. Submissions that do not follow all steps are not eligible for prize consideration.

Additional Information for Contestants

Usage: Contestants agree that the Library may publish their poems and name(s) in a booklet created after the contest.
Copyright: Your poem must be your original content.
License: You retain rights to your poem, but also, upon submitting a poem in this contest, you grant the Library a non-exclusive, royalty free, irrevocable license to reproduce your poem in a booklet created after the contest and to distribute the finished booklet to Library patrons at our public service desks.
Winners: The Library has no obligation to use submitted poems for any purpose whatsoever. The Library reserves the right not to choose a winner or winners (but that’s highly unlikely).
Good luck!

For more information, please email: poem@perrotlibrary.org

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