Ukiah Haiku festival

Haiku has long been my favorite type of poem. I write them all the time, and for my 30th birthday I asked people to write a haiku for me. Imagine my delight when I discovered that Ukiah is home to an international festival of this Japanese style of poetry!

The Ukiah Haiku festival was held this afternoon at SPACE, which Carson and I attended. I entered a few haiku but didn’t win, which I was actually sort of excited about. I liked my entries but if they weren’t selected, that must mean there were some really stellar haiku!

I had high hopes, but I left disappointed. According to the program, there were 1,023 haiku entered across all categories and age groups. I loved a lot of the haiku that were chosen and I’m glad I purchased the booklet with all the winning poems.  However, the same woman won in both adult categories, and one man was chosen three times – including as the grand prize winner in the international category. I actually liked two of his haiku, but his international win was suspicious. What are the odds that with entries coming in as far as New Zealand, a Ukian would win? I could see it happening (I assume the majority of entrants were from the area), except that the winning haiku wasn’t particularly compelling.

Also, there is a Spanish language category, which is awesome and appropriate considering the area’s population. However, the winning Spanish poem for kids under 18 was identical to the winning poem for grades K-3, just a translated version of it. That struck me as both unfair and contrary to the point of a separate Spanish category.

I’ll enter again next year and I’m sure I’ll attend as well, but some of the romance of this little festival has definitely worn off.

Here’s one I wrote for the “About Ukiah” category. Although I know it doesn’t fit the typical nature theme of haiku, it sweetly and simply expresses how I ended up in this area of the world:

little valley town
I found you on a road trip
never drove away

p.s. Did you notice that haiku is Ukiah spelled backwards?


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