Students in grades 3rd through 8th (ages 8 to 14) are eligible for Haiku Fest. High school students, please click on What’s New.

Haiku Fest Poetry competitions are open to poets ages 8 to 14, and essayists ages 13-18. Winners must read her/his winning entry ONLINE at the Virtual April Awards Program hosted by Harold Washington Library.

Haiku is a brief poetry form with 13th-century Japanese roots. Haiku were originally called “hokku,” which means “starting verse.” Early haiku poets were called “haijin.”

For the Haiku Festival, each haiku must be three (3) printed lines, totaling 17 syllables: 5-7-5 (line 1: 5 syllables, line 2: 7 syllables, line 3: 5 syllables).

Poets must submit original, family-friendly haiku in English to win a Haiku Festival cash award. If poets submit haiku in other languages, haiku must be sent with the 5-7-5, U.S. English translation. Only English-language haiku will be adjudicated for all competitions.

There are no topic restrictions. Poets may submit haiku on any subject as long as the poem meets official guidelines.

3rd – 4th graders: 1st prize = $100

5th – 6th graders: 1st prize = $100

7th – 8th graders: 1st prize = $100

Gwendolyn Brook Award: $50 to a CPS student

Founders Award: $50 to one Poet ages 8-14

Essay Award: (100-200 words), $100 prize, ages 13-18

Winners read their poems ONLINE at the public Haiku Festival 2022 Awards Program hosted virtually by Harold Washington Library in Chicago

Haiku Festival’s Gwendolyn Brooks Award is made possible by a generous donation from Valerie Wallace, in honor of the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who attended Chicago public schools and won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The prize is $50.00. All Haiku Fest participants who attend Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will automatically be considered. All Haiku Festival rules, deadlines, et cetera, apply. Winner must be enrolled in a CPS during the consideration process; and must attend the virtual ONLINE Haiku 2022 Festival Awards Program hosted by Harold Washington Library to read her or his poem.

Yes, each participating poet receives a Certificate of Achievement and the opportunity to read her/his poem at the Haiku Festival Awards Program.

The DEADLINE for poetry submission is Tuesday, 1 March 2022 @ midnight CST.

Finalists will be announced mid-March, 2022. Please check our website, your email, and with your teacher.

Poets ages 8 to 14 must enter ONE original poem online at IF you have questions, please email us at or call us at: 312-253-7453 .

Your poem is compiled anonymously with all other entries and sent to a Panel of Judges. Each Judge reads all entries and nominates poems to receive a cash award, prize, etc. The Judges collectively vote to bestow commendations upon the top poems. The Judges’ decision is final. All Haiku Fest participants agree to have their poems appear on/in the Haiku Fest website, advertisements and annals. Haiku Fest Annals are stored at Tulane University’s Amistad Research Center and Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Black Music Research.

Each Annual Awards Program includes all Prize Winners and an Open Microphone. All poets who submit a poem are invited to read during the open mike segment of the program. However, for virtual, online Awards Programs, the ability for all entrants to read online may vary due to technical constraints. In the interest of time, Prize Winners and the first 10-15 students to sign in comprise the one-hour awards program.

Our Essay Program/Award is open for 13 to 18 year olds. Write a 100 to 200-word essay titled: “To Zoom or Not to Zoom” Email your essay to with “2022 Essay” in the subject line by Tuesday 1, March 2022. Writer of the best essay wins $100 and will read her/his original essay online at the 18th Annual Haiku Festival Virtual Awards Program, Saturday, 9 April 2022, 10 AM CST hosted by Harold Washington Library, Chicago, IL. If you have any questions, please email us at or call us at 312-253-7453

Our Haiku Fest logo consists of two (2) Japanese characters. 俳 is the symbol for “actor.” 句 is the symbol for “sentence.” These two represent the haiku poet and poetry respectively.

Click here for info on the Founder.

Click here for Honor Roll of Donors.

Haiku Fest is a 501c3, non-profit organization. Donations are tax- deductible. Donors can make gifts payable to “Haiku Festival” and mail to “Haiku Festival, Post Office Box 457, Chicago, IL 60690” or donate online using Square, PayPal, or Google Wallet.

Haiku Fest can always use a helping hand. Wish list items include first-class postage stamps; #10 and 9×12 envelopes and paper for a laser jet printer; paper for certificates; card stock paper for Awards Program booklets; underwriters for printing; underwriters for Judges’ lunch meeting; underwriters for Awards Program reception; underwriters for database management. Donations are tax-deductible since Haiku Festival is a nonprofit 501c3.

“Renga” is linked verse that is related to haiku. Renga uses three-lines stanzas, followed by two-line stanzas. Each three-line stanza consists of 5-7-5 syllables; each two-line stanza consists of 7-7 syllables. Three-line haiku stanzas are linked by two-line stanzas. Haiku Festival’s Renga poets contribute lines from as far away as Ireland, Michigan, California, Ohio, North Carolina, throughout Illinois and points in between.

Photos were taken by Joe Amos, Richard Duncan, Paul Foszcz, Amina Hanan, Scott Hoye, Katriél, Sidney Simmons, Lester Smith, Johnetta O’Conner, Dorothy Perry, Marc Monaghan, and Greg Baiocchi.

Videos for Haiku Festival’s 12th, 14th and 15th Annual Awards Programs appear courtesy of CAN-TV. Thanks to Rob Geletta, Chris Wilkinson, Joseph Grogos, Aidai Abakirova, and Juan Carlos Hernández.

Video for Haiku Festival’s 10th Annual Awards Program was produced by Bob Solomon for Skyline Productions.

Thanks to Harold Washington Library Staff: Michael O’Connor, Leland Mosley, Corey Brown (audio and lighting); Special events dept.: Gerry Keane, Craig Davis, Karlena Cameron; Chicago Poetry Committee: Maureen Kennedy, Mark Kaplan, Robert Conrad, Sarah Alexander, Barbara Bruin, Amanda Eaves, Alexa Hamilton, Kyleen Kenney, Stephanie Kitchen, Laurel Sher, Jennifer Steele, and Robin Willard.