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Call for Entries BHS Awards 2020

The competition is now CLOSED!!!

Many thanks for all your entries! 

When the judges’ reports are ready all winners, runners-up and honourable mentions will be announced on the BHS website, Facebook and in the May issue of Blithe Spirit. Good luck!


Comprising three categories: Haiku, Tanka and Haibun

The Competition is OPEN to both members and non-members of the society from all over the world.

Rules of the BHS Haiku, Tanka and Haibun Awards:

1. Submissions must be in English, unpublished and not concurrently entered for any other competition, and remain unpublished until the results are declared. Submissions should NOT appear in any print or online publication, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or forums as the competition is anonymous. There is no limit on the number of submissions per competitor.

2. Deadline: in the administrator’s e-mail by 31 January 2021.

3. Entry procedures:
Please note that all UK and non UK entries should be sent by e-mail to: bhsawardsadmin (a) fastmail . co . uk If you don’t have an e-mail, please contact the BHS Administrator Iliyana Stoyanova for more details.

For all three categories – send your entry in the body of the e-mail, no attachments. Remember to include your name, address and phone number. All appropriate fees to be paid via PayPal (through the BHS website). All PayPal transactions are subject to the PayPal Privacy Policy. Please include the PayPal payment Ref. No. with your submission.

Please note that the PayPal payment should be made in £ sterling. Same fees apply for all UK and non UK entries which include an extra 10% to cover the PayPal transfer fee. See the table below.

4. Fees:
Payments by PayPal. The minimum entry fee for up to 3 haiku is £5.50 and £1.10 per haiku thereafter (incl. the 10% fee). The fee for tanka or haibun works the same as for haiku. You will need to make a SEPARATE PAYMENT for each category you wish to enter (i.e. no mixing for one fee).

If you are uncertain about the payment options or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact the BHS Administrator at the e-mail above.

If you wish to submit haiku, tanka or haibun, please use the form below:

Entries BHS Awards 2020

5. No current trustee of the British Haiku Society or any of the current judges is eligible to enter.

6. Adjudication process:
BHS will appoint two judges for haiku, two for tanka and one for haibun. Each judge sees all entries submitted in the category assigned to him/her, and without consulting, makes his/her independent choice of best haiku, tanka or haibun – and also chooses one runner-up and up to 3 ‘honourable mentions’. Their choices will be final and no correspondence can be entered into about the results. It is possible for an entrant to win more than one prize.

The Judges for the 2020 British Haiku Society Awards are:

Haiku – Charles Trumbull and Sandra Simpson 
Tanka – Susan Lee Kerr and Michael McClintock 
Haibun – Tim Gardiner 

7. Prizes:
For haiku, prizes of £125 will be awarded to each of the two best and £50 to each of two runners-up.
For tanka, prizes of £125 will be awarded to each of the two best and £50 to each of two runners-up.
For haibun, prize of £125 will be awarded to one winner and £50 to one runner-up.

8. Publication of results:
As soon as results are known and the winners are notified, the results will be published on the BHS website at All haiku, tanka and haibun selected for awards, along with the judges’ reports, will be published in the May 2021 issue of the BHS journal, Blithe Spirit. All winners, runners-up and ‘honourable mentions’ will receive BHS Awards certificates.

9. For early notification of results, please provide a valid e-mail.

10. Copyright reverts to authors after publication in the BHS journal, Blithe Spirit, but entry for any category signifies agreement to your work being published digitally by the BHS or copied for archival purposes (for example, by the British Library or the Poetry Library, London).

Iliyana Stoyanova
BHS Awards Administrator

BHS Winter Gathering and AGM 2019


AGM WG 2019


BHS AGM/Winter Gathering

Conway Hall, London – 23 November 2019

The day started off with refreshments, where members reacquainted themselves with old friends and met new ones. In total, 39 members were in attendance on the day.

Long-standing BHS member Diana Webb led a haibun workshop entitled ‘Dialogues’, where we were asked to partner up to produce a haibun based on a dialogue between the prose and haiku writer. Art postcards were passed around by way of prompts. Several of the haibun were read out. Some very interesting pieces were produced.

After the AGM, which went routinely well, we had lunch, then we were treated to a workshop led by Lee Gurga, past president of the ‘Haiku Society of America’, former editor of the journal, ‘Modern Haiku’ and currently editor of ‘Modern Haiku Press. Lee started off with an interesting talk regarding ‘what’s next after you’ve had work published’. Lee explored the issues of personal mastery, group service, and genre vision as a way to challenge you up to your next game level. The second part of his presentation consisted of the workshopping of haiku that were emailed to him earlier by members. This produced a very lively discussion regarding haiku form, which words to take out etc. 

It’s events like this that make me believe, if only a few our politicians read haiku, then the world would be a happier, kinder place. It’s then, I think of the quote, and I paraphrase, “When all seems lost, remember there is always hope (and haiku).” I’m pleased to report that haiku is alive and well in the UK.

Write-up by Frank Williams
Photos by Maeve O’Sullivan and Frank Williams (Photo collage put together by Iliyana Stoyanova)

Essex Haiku Group


The Essex Haiku Group will bring together poets in the Chelmsford and surrounding areas on a monthly basis.
If you wish to join this new group, please contact Rob Kingston at  rob_kingston (a) yahoo . com

International Haiku Conference 2019

IHC St Albans

International Haiku Conference – St Albans, UK

(31 May – 2 June 2019)


The BHS was the sponsor and organizer of an International Haiku Conference which took place at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans, UK on the weekend of Friday, 31 May to Sunday – 2 June 2019. The overall theme of the conference was ‘Haiku Crossing Cultures, Harmony within Diversity’.

Friday Evening, May 31st

Colin Blundell
Colin Blundell

The conference began with a reception. Drinks were served on arrival and the proceedings started with a speech from the BHS President, Colin Blundell, in which he outlined the programme for the weekend.

This was followed by the launch of the conference anthology, ‘where silence becomes song’. Each contributor introduced themselves and read the haiku they had written for the anthology.

Mariko Kitakubo
Mariko Kitakubo



The evening concluded with a beautiful tanka recital in English and Japanese by Mariko Kitakubo. We will treasure the memory of her grace and elegance in this wonderful performance.


Saturday Morning, June 1st

In the morning there were three sessions:

Judy Kendall
Judy Kendall


Judy Kendall gave a thought-provoking lecture entitled “Haiku – The Whirlpools of Translation” in which she tackled the problems faced by translators of haiku into English from Japanese and other languages. Those who heard Judy won’t be taking translations of haiku into English for granted anymore; she has encouraged us to dig deeper!

Ralf Bröker
Ralf Bröker



Ralf Bröker’s lecture “Scibun or What Kind of Haiku They Don’t Read on Rigel IV?” took us to places we don’t normally visit with haiku; star systems millions of miles from our own. After his inspiring words several haibun writers have said they might try writing some ‘Scibun’ in the future (or about the future?).

Charles Trumbull
Charles Trumbull



Charles Trumbull’s presentation “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Haiku Aesthetic” was obviously a topic close to Charles’ heart. We were moved not only by the beauty of O’Keeffe’s paintings but also by the dedication Charles has for her as fellow traveller in the world of minimalist expression.



Saturday afternoon, June 1st

Ikuyo Yoshimura
Ikuyo Yoshimura

In the afternoon there were four sessions:

Ikuyo Yoshimura gave an enlightening lecture “RH Blyth’s Influence on the Modern Haiku World” which included her reminiscences of the occasions when she had met and discussed haiku with David Cobb and James Hackett in the early days of haiku being written in English.

David Lanoue
David Lanoue




David Lanoue’s lecture “Gendai Issa” was informative and stimulating. He showed us how Issa appeared ‘modern’ to his contemporaries and encouraged us to think as Issa might have done if he were alive today. His illustrative examples of traditional and modern haiku were brilliantly chosen. 

ginko walk in St Albans
ginko walk in St Albans



Ginko: Conference participants either went on a guided ginko led by Iliyana Stoyanova or were free to seek out their own inspiration for writing haiku. On returning to the conference venue the haiku written on the ginko (or previously in St Albans) were entered into a haiku competition. Then the conference participants shared the haiku they had written while the judging of the haiku took place. If people did not wish to take part in the ginko there was an opportunity to take part in a haiga workshop with the watercolour artist, Elisaveta Ilieva.

Watercolour artist Elisaveta Ilieva
Watercolour artist Elisaveta Ilieva


She demonstrated the process of creating haiga step-by-step and, as a result, several people have expressed their intention to try out some of the techniques she showed them. 

Green Wood Haiku Group
Green Wood Haiku Group




The Green Wood Haiku Group performed “The Scent of Ordinary Things” which included music, song, visuals and drama. Their presentation was divided into ten sections, each of which showed the audience a different way in which haiku, tanka or haibun may be performed.

At the end of the day the results of the haiku competition were announced:

Colin Blundell (UK) and Anna Maris (Sweden)

Colin Blundell and Anna Maris
Colin Blundell and Anna Maris

1 Prize – Debbi Antebi:

setting sun
I adjust
my canvas

2 Prize – Iliyana Stoyanova:

rough sleeper
his bench almost catches
the morning sun

IHC contest
IHC contest

3 Prize – Alan Maley:

at Marks and Spencer
an old lady lingering
by the lingerie …



Sunday morning, June 2nd

There were six sessions on the final day:

Ian Storr
Ian Storr


Ian Storr brought us up to date with the “Sense of Place: Haiku, Glass and the British Coast” project. The original proposal has expanded imaginatively to include experimental glass-making, artwork and a project website.

Antoaneta Nikolova and Yordan Georgiev
Antoaneta Nikolova and Yordan Georgiev




Antoaneta Nikolova and Yordan M. Georgiev explored the nature of ‘minimalism’ in their presentation “Nano-haiku: A Possible Meeting Point between East and West” and by the end of their presentation we were thinking about ‘minimalism’ in a completely new and exciting way.

Anna Maris
Anna Maris


Anna Maris, in her lecture “Haiku in Scandinavia – Language and Cultural Reference” led us away from the limited view we often have of haiku and brilliantly introduced us to a more international perspective.

Yutaka Matsubayashi and his students
Yutaka Matsubayashi and his students








Yutaka Matsubayashi presented a magnificent group display of precision and athleticism in a demonstration of kendo sword-play. This was greatly appreciated by everyone.

The final event of the morning was a concert of folk songs and dances from Okinawa and Akita led by David Hughes. Their performance was so good the audience took to the dance floor to join the dancers and drummers on stage. We could not contain our enthusiasm; we all loved it!

folk songs and dances from Okinawa and Akita led by David Hughes
folk songs and dances from Okinawa and Akita led by David Hughes

group dance CaritaPaul Chambers was unable to attend the conference. However, he kindly provided us with his presentation, “The Trembling of the Moment – The Haiku of Federico Garcia Lorca” which Debbi Antebi stepped in and introduced. 

Throughout the conference, participants were able to buy a wide range of haiku publications from the bookstall, which was manned by Frank Williams.

Sunday afternoon, June 2nd

There was a farewell meal in a local Turkish restaurant for anyone who was able to stay for the afternoon.2


Write-up by David Bingham and Iliyana Stoyanova
(International Haiku Conference Organising Committee – UK, 2019)

Photos by IHC participants: Frank Williams, Carita Forslund, Ralf Bröker, Mariko Kitakubo, Mark Gilfillan, Elisaveta Ilieva, Mike Kevile, Ikuyo Yoshimura and Robert Moyer

Haiga by Elisaveta Ilieva inspired by selected haiku from the IHC anthology

‘Beyond Words’ anthology launch


Launch of the Bulgarian/English collaborative haiku anthology
‘Beyond Words/Отвъд думите’ in Sofia, Bulgaria – 18 December 2018


David Bingham and I spent two wonderful days in Sofia with our good friend and guide Iliyana Stoyanova. After a two hour and forty-five-minute flight from Gatwick, we arrived in snowy Sofia at midday on 17 December 2018. Iliyana was there to welcome us. After settling in our hotel, we had lunch, and started a tour of this beautiful city. Over the next two days we visited The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world) and the The Museum of Christian Art, housed in its crypt; the National Ethnographic Museum; Sofia City Art Gallery and many other places of interest.

On the evening of 18 December, we attended the launch of the Bulgarian/English collaborative haiku anthology, ‘Beyond Words/Отвъд думите’. We were warmly welcomed at the American Center at the Sofia City Library by our Bulgarian haiku hosts and were kindly given, much to my surprise, many gifts. About forty-five people attended this event. The evening started at 6pm and was split in two halves. The first half of the proceedings consisted of our hosts voicing a welcome to those present. Then there was a 4-part recital from the anthology; and two singers Alexandra Ivoylova and Dilyana Georgieva entertained us with their fine voices.

The second half consisted of David thanking our hosts in Bulgarian and subsequently giving a commentary on some of his favourite Bulgarian haiku. I then read out my haiku, and those of Diana Webb, and to finish a haiku by Iliyana. Throughout this part, Iliyana was very busy translating. She also shared with the audience Keith Coleman’s wonderful letter with comments on almost every Bulgarian poet included in ‘Beyond Words’ and David Jacobs’ review of the anthology in the latest issue of Blithe Spirit. The haiku that I read of Iliyana was:

raindrops strike

дъждовни капки отмерват

which to me summed up the effort she had put into this project over a long period. Overall, a wonderful evening, which I will never forget. A big thank you to our hosts, the Bulgarian Haiku Union, the Haiku Club – Plovdiv and the other poets, their representatives Sofia Philipova, Zornitza Harizanova, Ivanka Yankova and Vessislava Savova for their splendid welcome and kind words. I truly believe that haiku can bring people together in the most amazing and positive way.

Some photos from our visit to Sofia and this special evening are attached below:

Sof 18 Dec

Write-up: Frank Williams
Photos: Frank Williams, Zornitza Harizanova and Iliyana Deleva

BHS Winter Gathering and AGM 2018

 17 Nov 2018

BHS Winter Gathering and AGM 2018
Conway Hall, London


At the BHS Annual General Meeting on 17th November 2018 in London results of the biennial election were announced. The Management Committee for 2019-21 is: President, Colin Blundell; General Secretary, Susan Lee Kerr; Treasurer, Paul Hickey; Membership Secretary, Frank Williams; Blithe Spirit Editor, Caroline Skanne; Editorthe brief : Debbi Antebi; Communications Officer, Iliyana Stoyanova; Members without Portfolio: David Bingham, Mark Gilfillan; Mentoring Service: Andrew Shimield

BHS is in very good financial shape and membership is the highest ever, 379 people. This is mainly due to social media and the BHS website. The BHS Facebook group has 1278 members and the BHS page has 2069 likes. The Society is now fully compliant with the new 2018 Data Protection legislation.

Outreach and links to other societies included: London/South East regional group meeting by The National Poetry Library as a regular venue and liaising with Andy Bungay of Wandsworth Radio to promote haiku and the BHS. Wagamama haiku workshops in Liverpool, Chelmsford and London. Collaboration with Bulgarian haiku societies, contact with the UHTS (United Haiku and Tanka Society) and Blithe Spirit articles featuring poets of the Polish Haiku Association and the African haiku network.








Music, trains and words were strands of the 2018 Winter Gathering at London’s Conway Hall on 17 November compered by David Bingham. In the first of four activities Colin Blundell challenged groups with Haiku for Musicalising. From given haiku, members created  musical moods using a range of simple percussion and voices: crinkling plastic cups, small drums, woo-woo sounds, stamping feet, thumb pianos, bells and whistles. Rain fell, winds blew, fireworks burst, loudspeakers crackled…

The Sound of Haiku, a guest presentation, provided a different musical mode. Marco Alessi played nine recordings of experimental electronic music inspired by traditional Japanese poetry. Naviar Records is a music community and label he leads which invites composers to participate online 

Marco Alessi from Naviar Records
Marco Alessi from Naviar Records

The sound of haiku in Bulgarian was introduced by Iliyana Stoyanova. Members read works which appeared in Beyond Words, a Bulgarian-English anthology published this year by the Bulgarian Haiku Union and Haiku Club Plovdiv with some sponsorship by BHS. Iliyana re-read the same pieces in Bulgarian, a demonstration of how one language can take more – or fewer – words and syllables to express the same poem. 

Sue Richards
Sue Richards

At the end of the day came a Haiku Train conducted by Iliyana. Haiku trains are a form of renshi – a modern development of renga and renku with participants in small groups writing collaborative poetry. From the starts of two different haiku many different ‘trains’ resulted. A word from the final line in each haiku – or several words or the whole line – must be in the first line of the next haiku.

Spot the links in this one from Team Squash: David Bingham, Kate B Hall, Sarah Lawson, Sprite.

a veil of snowflakes
covers the hedge
the cat flap opens

Frank Williams
Frank Williams

in a flap…
late for work, still searching
for lost car keys

a streetcar named desire –
all the movies I never saw
and never will

quote the raven ‘Nevermore’
and flew away
from the Tower

Outgoing President Kate B Hall was presented with a gift in appreciation of her service
Outgoing President Kate B Hall was presented with a gift in appreciation of her service

towering above the snowfield
a pine reaches
for the sky

watching sky-divers
I pine for my youth
in dare-devil mode

Write-up by Susan Lee Kerr
Photos: Frank Williams, Mike Keville


Interactive Workshop at Cork University

Art and Eastern Teachings
Interactive workshop

(27 September 2018, 3.30-6pm at Brookfield Science Building, Cork University)

Are Far Eastern teachings too far from us?
How can we use their practices in our everyday life?
How can they inspire our creativity?
Join us to learn some of the answers to these questions.
Join us to enjoy beautiful music, creative meditation, dance, pictures and poetry.

Enjoy musical improvisations on guitar and violin by Konstantin Kuchev, a distinguished young musician and composer.
Use the possibility to create your own unique song or melody. Beyond Words - cover Frank

What is haiku? What are some haiku ways and techniques? Learn this from Iliyana Stoyanova, a member of International, British and Bulgarian haiku societies.
Listen to haiku from modern authors, have a look “Beyond Words” through the pages of a bilingual haiku anthology.
Enjoy the freedom to create your own haiku or to rewrite some already existing.

What is meditation? Can meditation be dynamic?
Enter into a dance meditation of the five energies with Astrea Mira, an actress and spiritual seeker.

Can there be a relation between science and art? Learn how poetry transforms the deepest levels of reality from the pictures of nano-haiku presented by a scientist from the Tyndall National Institute.

Organisers: Prof Dr Antoaneta Nikolova, LU – Germany, SWU – Bulgaria; with the support of European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action and in collaboration with the Study of Religions Deapartment, UCC