H Gene Murtha Senryu Contest

Mike Rehling, editor of Failed Haiku, and Steve Hodge, editor of Prune Juice, recently conducted the 2017 H Gene Murtha Memorial Senryu Contest. The results of the contest can be found here.

As many of you are aware, haiku are short poems that generally relate to nature, often refer to a particular season and usually involve a ‘break’ between two images or ideas, thereby leaving space for the reader to respond to the poem in their own way.

Fewer people are familiar with senryu which is another Japanese poetic form that has a similar structure to haiku. However, senryu generally don’t refer to nature or the seasons, preferring to reference human activity, most often in a humorous way. Of course, where a poem makes reference both to nature and human endeavour it can be difficult to classify as purely a haiku or senryu. Failed Haiku and Prune Juice both specialise in publishing senryu.

Congratulations to Gregory Longenecker for gaining first prize in this year’s contest with his winning senryu:


moving day

we take apart the bed

our parents dreamed on


Australian poets also featured prominently in the Contest with Marilyn Humbert being awarded second prize for her poem:


job interview –

dodging puddles

in my best shoes


Several other Australians appeared among the shortlisted poets (my apologies to anyone I may have missed):


a note in the Wall

then, surrounded by friends

he gropes for a cliche

(Marietta Jane McGregor)


winter’s night

in the finished scarf

a dropped stitch

(Mark Miller)



my toddler’s pink balloon

keeps bobbing

(Cynthia Rowe)


new waitress

her smile seems big enough

for something more

(Gregory Piko)