Haiku Anyone?

My Eastside Writing Room colleagues and other writer friends are an eclectic bunch as far as genre preference. Regardless of our genre expertise a few of us stepped outside our comfort zone and entered the Haiku Hike Contest in February, presented by The Downtown Tucson Partnership and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. The prize for this fifth annual Haiku Hike literary competition was 20 winning haiku poems printed on signs along Congress Street and Stone Avenue for all Tucson to see. TC Tolbert, Tucson’s poet laureate, selected this year’s winning haiku. It was a visual and springtime event lasting to June 1.

Following the haiku format of three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, off we went to muse and create. Some of us even did research about the traditional theme of haiku from 17th Japanese literature: “insight into natural phenomena,” seamlessly merged with the theme of this year’s contest, Serenity.

We submitted. We waited. We lost. Not one of us won. More than 2000 poems were submitted, but only 20 chosen as winners. 

Five of us entered, plus one intending to but… well, you know how that goes. A bit of a disappointment; but we united in our rejection. OK, so we’re losers. We slumped for a bit – maybe half a day, and hummed the Beatles song “I’m a Loser.” (John Lennon 1964).

Revise, Refashion, Reuse

“No” means next in my book. “Losers, we can join our losing forces for a trek along Congress to view the winning entries. As a finale, we can gather to read our non-winner haikus.” A chorus of YES YES!

But I never planned it. Oh dear, I guess I am a loser🤣

Then a fallback save. Submit somewhere else- which some of us did.

Next idea: Send me your loser Haiku poems. I’ll share them with our online world.  Losers Unite!

Here They Are- Our Haiku “Winners”

They’re pure haiku and brilliant!

Haiku Hike Losers / Serenity 2024

Three by Veda Kowalski – Serenity Theme 

No longer alone

 Aging hands clasped together

 Is what brings me peace

 Sitting in my car

 My space for creative thought

 Now where are my keys?

We who speak her name

Invite her essence within

She’s serenity

Three by Eileen – Serenity Theme

“Finding Serenity”

Ach, I feel soooo stressed

The garden wind-whispers: come 

Hello, my roses


Hear that low soft voice

Slammed by nostalgic scents

Returned to childhood

“My Own Serenity”

Kid cries, car’s broken

What is this to me right now

Having my cuppa

Two by Ethel Lee-Miller – Serenity Theme

“Serenity Abyss”

Hopscotch on concrete

Children playing in the street

Longing for nature

“Tucson Spring”

Early morning rain

Surprise! A double rainbow

Thunder, rain, then sun

We kept our eye on the prize to get started. Who hasn’t responded to that carrot on the stick? The carrot became the writing, reading, and appreciating our results. They are good. 

OK,  you’ve read them. Did you tap your fingers to count those syllables?

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She retired after 30 years of teaching, and semi-retired from coaching, and professional editing. Founder of the Eastside Writing Room based in Tucson AZ, she’s posted 100s of blogs, and is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, teaching about the power of words, gather writers together, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys speaking and storytelling at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, Center for Spiritual Living Tucson, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.