By Jim Kacian


If seeing the daily routine with new eyes is the inspiration for haiku, then surely travel is its antithesis. In a foreign setting, everything is new, and even when we hew to our personal routines, we are beset by unaccustomed images every moment. Hence the challenge of writing cogently to the theme of this contest: much of the reason we travel abroad is just for such new stimulation, and most of us will take months, not to say years, to process this newness into something like understanding, where it might become available for our haiku.


It will come as no surprise, then, that the best of the poems on this topic seem not to dwell on the new sights, but rather the old routine that insists upon itself even in new surroundings. Another strategy is to imagine our new experience through the eyes of another to whom it is not new. However we arrive at it, travel haiku need some combination of old and new to come home to us. The very best of these do exactly that.



My top prize winner is this modern conundrum:


home of my ancestors
I download an app
that speaks their language

[Ann Magyar, MA, USA]



The travel here is virtual: whether the poet makes an actual trip to his homeland is indeterminate, but s/he recognizes that the journey will be foreign. The fact that it is “their” language suggests the felt distance between heritage and present circumstance. And the fact that the intermediary is equally foreign — a machine that will do the “interpreting” — recognizes the true strangeness of the situation. Sounding out the way people speak their language is an important physical clue to the way people are, but that won’t even be attempted here. And so the contemporary traveler remains “other,” even if it were possible to go home again . . .


My second choice is this bit of historical reminiscence:


the mountains
Santōka never saw again —
closed saké shop

[Engin Gülez, Turkey]


Those mountains never again seen are certainly the physical barriers that the poet crossed to arrive at his final abode on the Inland Sea, but they also possess a spiritual dimension. The fact that Santoka did not see them again testifies not to his unwillingness to rove, for which he never lost his taste, but to the total dissipation of his life brought on by advanced alcoholism that precluded further wandering. The fact that the saké shop is closed in this poem is perhaps fortuitous for the present poet, removing as it does the enticement to follow in the older poet’s footsteps too closely, thus perhaps providing the saving grace that permits this nostalgic recollection.

My third place selection combines different kinds of journeys:


a piece of ticket
left in a library book
destination missing

[Angel Dyulgerov, Bulgaria]



Here we are made aware not only of the imaginary journey someone has made (we presume) through the reading of a book, but of an actual journey as proven by a torn ticket stub. The uncertainty of just where that actual travel might have been is a delicious detail. And since both actual and virtual travel here are vicarious to the poet, they provide a stimulation that is bounded in both dimensions only by his, and our, imaginations. A wonderful use of under-reporting for effect.



In addition to these excellent poems, there were many others, with a variety of strategies and topics, worthy of consideration:



my Nile Valley swallows
could be yours
this coming Spring

[Ingrid Baluch, Uganda]



seat belt sign off
a last glimpse
of the Great Wall

[Marina Bellini, Italy]



… island in the sun
the cleaner in the plane hums
a golden oldie

[Pitt Büerken,Germany]



slow waves
my Spanish is also
not so good

[Rosa Clement, Brazil]




sunrise in Doha
on flight to Zagreb
we catch up with the night

[Nina Kovačić, Croatia]




Pyramid of Cheops –
the tourists trample on
an anthill

[Dan Iulian, Romania]



return from travel
in the luggage
one more suitcase

[Slobodan Pupovac, Croatia]




palmyra … camels unfold a red-sky morning

[Sandra Simpson, New Zealand]



deep winter –
i study maps of basho’s
journey north

[Stephen Toft, UK]


a warm on the other side
of an apple

[Marinko Kovačević, Croatia]




Congratulations to all poets and poetessess from Haiku Association „Three Rivers“, Ivanić-Grad, Croatia.


Our next IRIS LITTLE HAIKU CONTEST has no theme, so you are free to write on any topic you choose. You may send up to three unpublished haiku in English, to:, Subject: Little IRIS contest

The deadline is December 31, 2018.


Wishing you a good and prosperous year and many quality haiku,

D.V.Rozic, coordinator and editor