2019 Martin Lucas Haiku Award

Martin Lucas established and edited the haiku journal, Presence, from 1996 until his death in 2014. He held a PhD for his study of haiku in Britain and is well known for his essay, Haiku as poetic spell, which is available on the Presence website. Since 2015, the Presence journal has conducted the Martin Lucas Haiku Award in his memory.

Entries for the 2019 award closed in January 2020 and the results were announced recently. English poet, Matthew Paul, judged the competition and awarded First, Second and two equal Third prizes in addition to three haiku being Highly Commended.

The winning entry was the following haiku by Australian poet, Leonie Bingham:


single note

of a banjo frog . . .

starlit night


This hauntingly beautiful haiku offers just enough words to convey the scene. Just enough to encourage the reader to stop, and share the experience.

Two further poems by southern hemisphere writers were Highly Commended. Those being, this haiku by Sandra Simpson from New Zealand:


harvest moon ‒

the kitchen table laid

with pieces of gun


and the following haiku of mine:


spring melt

the neck of a swan

from the mountains


The third line of Sandra’s haiku truly offers the reader an ‘aha’ moment with a bang. Her first two lines have a pastoral charm which contrasts with the introduction of the gun in the final line.

With regard to my haiku, Matthew Paul said in his Judge’s Report:


I noticed ‘spring melt’ firstly because it draws one’s attention not to the swan per se but to its (long) neck: I see the swan in flight, but other readings are certainly possible – it’s just a lovely nature haiku, which again sounds as good on the ear as it reads on the page.


You can read all the awarded poems and Matthew’s complete Report on the Presence website here.