The St. Johns Cultural Council celebrates National Poetry Month in April with an Annual Haiku Contest

The Fourth Annual St. Johns Cultural Council Haiku Contest is open through March 1, 2024.

A selection committee will choose four First Place haiku, one each in the following categories:

  • Students 5 -9
  • Students 10 – 12
  • Students 13 – 17
  • Adults 18 & over

Authors of the First Place haiku will each receive a $100 prize, and the winning Haiku will be published on, in our electronic newsletter, and in the AC PAPA Literary Journal.

The committee will select up to 8 Honorable Mentions (two in each category) that will also be published on our website and in our newsletter. The author of each honorable mention will receive a $25 gift certificate.

Past Winners:


  • Applicants must be residents of St. Johns County.
  • Each applicant may submit up to three haiku.
  • – The theme of this year’s contest is the 250th Anniversary of William Bartram’s Travels in St. Johns County. Haiku should be inspired by the natural landscapes, flora, fauna, and ecology of St. Johns County.
  • Although haiku are not usually titled, we ask that you provide titles to help us identify your work.
  • All haiku must be previously unpublished and original.
  • By submitting an application, you grant the St. Johns Cultural Council and Ancient City Poets non-exclusive electronic and print publication rights, including the right to publish on our website and in our newsletter and literary journal. A parent or guardian must provide their consent to publish student poems.

Winners will be selected and notified no later than March 29, 2024 and recognized during St. Augustine PoetFest at Flagler College on Saturday, April 13th.

Check out these websites to learn more about William Bartram:


A haiku is a type of short-form poetry that originated in Japan. These poems traditionally contain 17 total syllables in three lines. Line one is 5 syllables, line two is 7 syllables, and line three is 5 syllables. However, this contest does not require that authors strictly follow the traditional form. We do recommend that any poem submitted contain less than 20 syllables with a short/long/short arrangement.

Haiku are traditionally nature-based and often follow a seasonal theme. They do not rhyme. Juxtaposition is an essential element of this form of poetry: haiku may closely connect two contrasting images or compare unexpected similarities.

Haiku also employ a “cutting word,” known as a kireji in Japanese. This is a word that provides a verbal punctuation mark separating the juxtaposed images. There is no English equivalent to a kireji so English writers sometimes use a dash or another form of punctuation to create a break or pause that gives readers a chance to reflect on the connection between the two parts.

For examples of Haiku, click here. For reference on additional guidelines regarding the “art of haiku,” click here.