Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Wednesday, March 2, 2016
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams
Director of Public Relations
Birmingham Public Library
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067

Online Haiku contest under way at the Birmingham Public Library
BIRMINGHAM, AL-The Birmingham Public Library is partnering with the Japan America Society of Alabama (JASA) and the Southeast Chapter of Haiku Society of America (HSA) to sponsor an online haiku contest as part of the annual Sakura Festival, the primary event of which will take place at the Japanese Gardens at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Saturday, March 19, 2016. There are separate contests for adults aged 18 and older, and another for teens aged 13 to 17.
Official definition of haiku, according to the Haiku Society of America: A haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest, though today's poets use a variety of line lengths and arrangements.

In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen "sounds" (on) arranged five, seven, and five. (Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about twelve syllables in English approximates the duration of seventeen Japanese on.) Traditional Japanese haiku include a "season word" (kigo), a word or phrase that helps identify the season of the experience recorded in the poem, and a "cutting word" (kireji), a sort of spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem. In English, season words are sometimes omitted, but the original focus on experience captured in clear images continues.

The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas. Punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break may substitute for a cutting word. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. (Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently.

For more information, see and
  • Must be an Alabama resident.
  • Contestants must submit a registration form (below).
  • To enter the adult competition, must be over 18.
  • To enter the youth competition, must be 13-17 (13 by the registration date).
  • Birmingham Public Library staff and immediate family members are ineligible.
  • Haiku must follow the official Haiku Society of America definition as shown above.
  • Contest began on February 21 and runs through March 11.
  • A winner will be selected each week for the adult division and the youth division. Poems must be submitted by Friday at 11:59 p.m. to be considered for that week.
    • Winners for week one ( Feb. 21-26) were as follows – Ashley B. in the adult division; Maryn M. in the youth division.
    • Week two: Sunday, Feb. 28 to Friday, March 4
    • Week three: Sunday, March 6 to Friday, March 11
    • The winner in each division will be announced via the library Twitter @bpl early the following week.
  • Poets may only submit 3 poems per week. Any poems submitted after that will not be eligible to win.
  • Contestants may only win once.
  • All submissions must be in English.
  • Haiku via twitter must be tagged with #bplhaiku to be eligible.
  • Poets may submit haiku via email as well. Email your haiku to
For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 19 locations and serving the community for 129 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.
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