What is a Haiku?

A haiku is a type of short form poetry 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.

St. Johns Cultural Council 2nd Annual Haiku Contest ends on March 25, 2022

A selection committee will choose three winners, one each in the following categories:

  • Students ages 12 and younger
  • Students ages 13 to 17
  • Adults ages 18 and older

Three winners will each receive a $100 prize, and the winning Haiku will be published on stjohnsculture.com, in our electronic newsletter ,and in the AC PAPA literary journal.

We will select up to 6 honorable mentions (two in each category) that will also be published on our website and in our newsletter. Each honorable mention will receive a $25 gift certificate to a local book store.


  • Applicants must be residents of St. Johns County.
  • Each applicant may submit up to three haiku.
  • The theme of this year’s contest is Spring. You need not mention the word “spring,” but your work should be inspired by this season of the year.
  • Although haiku are not usually titled, we ask that you provide titles to help us identify your work.
  • Include all haiku in a single document.
  • All haiku must be previously unpublished and original.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.

Authors retain copyright and may republish following publication on stjohnsculture.com.


To apply, send an email to [email protected] on or before 3 PM on March 25, 2022 and attach a single document containing the following information:

  • Name
  • Postal Address
  • Email Address
  • Telephone Number
  • If you are applying in a Student category, you must include your date of birth and the school you attend.
  • Provide a brief statement explaining your writing background and how you became interested in writing poetry.
  • Up to three haiku.  Each haiku should have a title and follow the traditional haiku form.

Winners will be selected and notified no later than April 8, 2022.

Winners will be recognized during St. Augustine Poet Fest at Flagler College on April 9, 2022.

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

Post Date

February 25, 2022