A Little Haiku Contest by the Croatian Haiku Magazine IRIS

“Oil Haiku and Senryu Contest in English”

THEME: Crude Oil, 2023

Judged by David McMurray

David McMurray’s Judging Comments for the “Oil Haiku and Senryu Contest in English”

Over 100 participants from 22 countries participated in the “Oil Haiku and Senryu Contest in English” for the Haiku Association Three Rivers and the Little Iris Haiku Contest. Contacting me from Ivanić-Grad, Djurdja Vukelic Rozic suggested the intriguing theme of “crude oil.” I was generously allowed to select three winning haiku, three winning senryu, and have a free hand in making ten honorary mentions from a numbered list of submitted haiku and senryu – neither identified by names nor addresses.

Many haiku associations, including the Haiku Foundation kindly encouraged their members to enter this contest and enjoy the “oil” prompt, noting it would be fun, interesting and lead haikuists to write about a topic they may not have tackled before. Julie Bloss Kelsey mentioned, the “A Little Iris Haiku Contest held recently with the theme of ‘crude oil.’ was not a topic about which I ever envisioned writing haiku!”

Crude oil affects our everyday lives–many of us use the energy source to keep warm and to generate electricity to power the lighting we use to read haiku books long into the night. Even master poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) relied on oil to write hokku, here’s one about his reading lamp (Japanese Haiku, Peter Pauper Press, 1956).


No oil to read by…
I am off to bed but ah!…
My moonlit pillow

In modern times, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 2011 to Tomas Transtromer, a member of the Swedish Haiku Society who wrote this haiku in his book, “The Sorrow Gondola.”

The orchid flowers.
Oil-tankers are gliding past.
The moon is full.

Most recently, the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo also ran a regular column on December 2, 2022 of the Asahi Haikuist Network containing many haiku composed about oil, including this open-ended one by Kiyoshi Fukuzawa (https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14780408)


Camels marching…
alongside the pipeline
no one knows where to!

Selected Winners of the “Oil Haiku and Senryu Contest in English”


Haiku Grand Prix

pumpjack moon
the flow
of midnight

Edward Cody Huddleston, USA


Haiku Excellence

oil field–
a steel dinosaur pulls
itself from the earth

Julie Bloss Kelsey, Germantown, Maryland, USA


Haiku Choice

under the stars
a city of lights
refines crude

Jeffrey Ferrara, Massachusetts, USA


Senryu Grand Prix

crude prices rise

Srini, India


Senryu Excellence

Where has the oil gone
into fast cars every drop
will they ever learn

Sarah Das Gupta, Manuden, Essex, UK


Senryu Choice

early dawn–
a pumpjack sets fire
to the sun

Dan Iulian, Romania


Honorary Mentions

town of Ivanic-Grad
on haiku picture card
the Naftalan hospital

Aljoša Vuković, Šibenik


petrol queue…
the passing pedestrian
sports a smile

Srini, India


oil spill
the watery eyes
of a sea turtle

Vladislav Hristov, Bulgaria


neighbor lubricates
horse drawn plow

Dragutin Hrženjak, Ludbreg


the pipeline
in the desert

Zdenka Mlinar, Croatia



the oil field
iron birds
pecking the ground

Grozdana Drašković, Croatia



h   i   s   s   i   n   g
where singing boreal forest used to stand
t   a   r   s   a   n   d   s

 Michael Dudley, Canada


winter sunset
the drill of an oil rig
breaks the reverie

Mona Bedi Delhi, India 



moonless sky
a prairie pumpjack
stitches twilight into night

Karin Hedetniemi, Victoria, BC, Canada



abandoned oil field—
among piles of rusted iron
black tulips in bloom

Cristina –Valeria Apetrei, Romania


Respectfully submitted from Japan on the first day I see cherry blossoms in 2023,


David McMurray

Asahi Haikuist Network