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Haiku competition

Golden temple Kyoto

Please note that this competition is now closed



Blowing from the west
Fallen leaves gather
In the east.

Yosa Buson


Traditionally the haiku is a poem of deceptive simplicity having just seventeen syllables arranged in three lines of five, seven and five. There are many examples of both traditional and modern haiku and an online search will offer you much inspiration.

In her book “Haiku: Asian Arts & Crafts”  Patricia Donegan writes of the seven keys to writing haiku: 

  1. Form: Your haiku should have three lines with or without a seventeen syllable count. It should be one breath long
  2. Image: Your haiku should have a descriptive image—for example, not 'a flower but instead 'a purple iris in the sun’
  3. Season word: Your haiku should refer to nature and hint at the day's season or weather
  4. Here and Now: You should write from real experience or memory, not imagination; record the present moment
  5. Feeling: Your haiku should not explain or tell, but instead show the feeling through your image.
  6. Surprise: Your haiku should have an 'ah!' moment that wakes us up
  7. Compassion: Your haiku should express open heartedness toward nature

These are great guidelines, but please feel free to accept or reject them!

Entrance is free by email to and/or by using this contact form or by posting on our Facebook page. 

Now for the rules:

  1. The competition is free, open to everyone of any age and you don’t need to be a member of the Lit & Phil to enter
    1. Each competitor may submit any number of entries
    2. The subject of the haiku is entirely your choice but please take into account the guidelines above
  2. A winning haiku will be chosen from those submitted
  3. The winning haiku and any others that the judge(s) consider worthy of publication will be announced shortly after the competition close date and published on the Lit & Phil website and in the next available issue of the Lit & Phil magazine.
  4. The judges are two excellent UK North East based poets: Ellen Phethean and Kathleen Kenny and our thanks to them. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  5. Entries will be accepted from anywhere in the world (but must be in English)
  6. There is one prize of a £20 National Book Token  which will be sent to the author of the winning haiku as soon after the close of the competition as possible. If the winning author is not in the UK then we will find a way of sending a prize of equivalent value
  7. Copyright in the haiku remains with the authors but entry into the competition signifies acceptance of these rules and agreement to your work being published by the Lit & Phil
  8. The closing date is midnight on Saturday 16th May UK time (GMT).


The west wind whispered,
And touched the eyelids of spring:
Her eyes, Primroses.

— R. M. Hansard

がんばろう (Good luck)!

(and thanks to Lorenzo Pellegrini for the photos)

About the author

The Lit & Phil

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