The Cultural Council’s fourth annual Haiku Contest was a great success with dozens of individual entries and over 100 poems. Antoinette Libro and Michael Henry Lee chose one winner from two categories as well as honorable mentions to fit this year’s theme of William Bartram’s travels in East Florida from 1774-1778

Learn more about our annual Haiku Contest.


Winner: ELSIE Hayes

St. Johns River

Rippling water
Inspiring history
The St. Johns River


Elsie Hayes is a 5th grade homeschool student in Nocatee, and her favorite subject is math. She is a ballet dancer at Jax City Ballet and is now preparing for Swan Lake.

Michael Henry Lee: A compact unpretentious description of an iconic Florida landmark.

Antoinette Libro: The imagery of the St. Johns River, both rippling and also, inspiring history, is neatly evoked in this haiku, pointing to
the rich heritage of the river and its place in St. Johns County.

Honorable Mentions:

Emma Hayes


Light rain is falling
I walk through St. AugusHne
Enjoying the breeze

MHL: I’ve experienced this poetic moment many times. Great haiku should always resonate with its readers.

AL: This haiku speaks to us through the senses, particularly appealing to the sense of touch, with the tactile experience of the rain, which we can also see, hear, and sometimes smell, coupled with the caressing breezewe are in the moment.

Maria Isabel Villadoniga

The Nature Guy

Bartram the botanist
Recorded trees and natives
Breathtaking gardens

MHL: Great use of the contest theme.

AL: With specific thematic reference to ‘Bartram the botanist,’ as he was known, the haiku acknowledges Bartram’s life’s work and the awe of his botanical discoveries.


Winner: Jane Altenhofen

River Passing

The river flowing
Timeless though time is passing
Bartram in its water

MHL: Great use of imagery using the river to depict the passing and yet the preservation of time.

AL: The juxtaposition of the river, time, and Bartram is artfully arranged so that the haiku achieves a depth of expression and shows how central Bartram is to nature.

Honorable Mentions:

William Shek


Iridescent in the sun—
A jewel in flight

MHL: A lovely visual image. I can see the bird in my mind’s eye and it makes me smile.

AL: One of the marvels of nature caught here with vivid description that captures the moment with striking visual imagery of the amazing hummingbird in flight.

Zoe Komaransky

The River Muse

Cairn at water’s edge
sand and craggy oyster shells
thoughts stacked one by one

MHL: A great natural scene interpreted in human terms.

AL: A stack of stones by the water’s edge, alongside the accumulation of oyster shells creates an arresting picture, one creatively juxtaposed with the way our thoughts stack up in our minds.

Michael Stice

Saintly August Scene

Branches form a cave

cascading dappled sunlight
oaken cathedral

MHL: This poem reminds me of at least two actual locations in Saint Augustine where you may experience this phenomenon.
AL: A striking visual image that evokes a spiritual feeling, with a clever title that artfully plays with the name of St. Augustine.

John Stinson

Taking Flight

sandhill cranes raucous
high flying spiral caucus
circling north for spring

MHL: A succinct moment concisely captured. A rare example of rhyme succeeding in haiku.

AL: Here we not only see sandhill cranes in flight, but also hear them, making use of onomatopoeia with words like ‘raucous’ and ‘caucus’ especially when read aloud, words that also happen to rhyme, which is not encouraged in haiku but can sometimes work.

Russell E. Thomas

John Bartram’s Tree

Traveling, searching
John canoed on the St. Johns
found – the Franklin tree *

MHL & AL: This haiku captures the the travels of John Bartram and his son William who discovered the elusive “Franklin tree.”

Nicole Carney

The Flower Hunter

Bartram’s trails unfold
the ‘flower hunter’ he’s called
Seminole Chief named

MHL: A great example of artistry in interpretation of the contest theme.

AL: This haiku makes good use of specific language to convey a concentrated picture of the Bartram travels and findings.