The Birmingham Public Library is partnering with the
Japan America Society of Alabama (JASA) and the
Southeast Chapter of the Haiku Society of America (HSA) to sponsor a Twitter
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.
Official Definition of Haiku according to the Haiku Society of America
Definition: 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
Notes: 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
(Japanese rensï¿½). 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
For more information, see
- 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
- Library staff and immediate family members are ineligible.
- Haiku must follow the official Haiku Society of America definition as
- Contest begins 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.
- Week one: Sunday, February 21 to Friday, February 26
- Week two: Sunday February 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
The six weekly winners will be the top winners of the entire contest, and judges
would then decide who are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The winners' rankings will be
announced at the Sakura Festival main event at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
on Saturday, March 19, and they will receive cash prizes: $50, $30, and $20. The
two first place winners in each division will also receive a one-year membership
to the Haiku Society of America.
Need More Information?
Please contact Allie Graham at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-226-3677 for more information regarding
the Twitter Haiku Contest. Teachers interested in class participation please
email BPL at email@example.com.