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Coming Soon: Hawkeye Haiku Contest

Mark your calendars to take part in our Hawkeye Haiku Contest—a free, online haiku writing competition for all ages. You don't have be an Iowa Writers' Workshop grad—or even have ever written a haiku prior—to take part. Just develop one traditional haiku (5-7-5 syllable pattern) that captures an aspect of a specific theme to be revealed on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Deadline to enter is Monday, Nov. 15, at noon (CT).

Here's How it Works:

The contest begins at 9 a.m. (CT) Wednesday, Nov. 3, and runs through noon (CT) Monday, Nov. 15. At the start of the contest, we'll provide you with a theme for your haiku. The rest is left up to your imagination. Submissions must be in a traditional haiku format and composed in their entirety before the deadline. All contestants will receive the same theme, which will be posted here at 9 a.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

We'll narrow down the entries to five winners (one from each age category), whose stories will be posted here on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

The contest is free and open to UI alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of all ages. One winner will be selected from the following categories:

  • Grades 3–4
  • Grades 5–6
  • Grades 7–8
  • Grades 9–12
  • Adult

History of Haiku:

The haiku first emerged in Japanese literature during the 17th century, as a terse reaction to elaborate poetic traditions, though it did not become known by the name haiku until the 19th century. (source:

Contest Guidelines:

Haiku has evolved in many forms over time. To keep everyone on the same page, we are asking contestants to follow the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern. The structure of a contestant's haiku should capture the following:

  • There are only three lines, totaling 17 syllables:
    • The first line is five (5) syllables
    • The second line is seven (7) syllables
    • The third line is five (5) syllables
  • Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet and need not follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.
  • A haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact usually it does not rhyme at all.
  • It can include the repetition of words or sounds

Contestants may only submit one haiku entry for this contest.

Examples of Haiku:

An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
-Matsuo Basho

The season gives way.
Winter lays down her mantle,
As spring bursts to life
-Kelly Roper

Win Fabulous Prizes

A winner in each of the four grade school categories will win an Iowa scribe pack that includes a writing journal, canvas bag, and $25 gift card.

Adult: A $25 gift card and copy of two books written by Robert Hass, Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus and the 2018 Truman Capote Award winner: "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa" and "A Little Book on Form: An Exploration into the Formal Imagination of Poetry."

The entry of the top winner in each category will also be featured in the live, online broadcast of Holidays with the Hawkeyes on Sunday, Dec. 5 (4 p.m. CT).

More Information

For the contest rules, click here. For further questions, email

Deadline and Submission Format

  • Deadline: Completed haikus must be received by Noon (CST) on Monday, Nov. 15. All entries not received by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement by that time will be ineligible.
  • How to submit: Haikus must be uploaded through the contest website or submitted via email to
  • File format: The haiku must be uploaded at as a Word Document (.doc), Text File (.txt), or in Rich Text Format (.rtf). Stories submitted in Apple's Pages format will not be accepted. The name of the file must be the first word of your haiku. For example, if the first word of your haiku is "Candy", then the name of your file must be "Candy.doc," "Candy.txt," or "Candy.rtf." Contestants will also have the option of submitting their story via email to
  • Font: Submissions must be typed in 12-point font
  • Anonymity: The author's name must not appear anywhere in the haiku document. The author's name will be submitted only on the web entry form.
  • Length: The maximum length for each haiku is three lines. Entries with more than three lines will be disqualified.

Before the contest begins, enjoy reading these amazing tales from your fellow Hawkeyes. If you are feeling inspired, read entries from past winners and explore some of the University of Iowa's writing resources.

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