It’s Time to Enter Weelunk’s Haiku Contest

Editor’s note: April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. What better way to celebrate than by writing your own poetry! And for some inspiration, visit the Ohio County Public Library at noon, today, April 23, for the Wheeling Poetry Series. John Hodgen, writer-in-residence at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusettes, will read some of his work at the event hosted by Marc Harshman, poet laureate of West Virginia.

When you hear “Wheeling 250” as our city celebrates its Sestercentennial, what do you think of? Do you reflect on the city fathers and our city’s history? Or perhaps you contemplate Wheeling’s next 250 years?

Whatever comes to mind, why not let those thoughts flow into haiku form for the second annual Weelunk Haiku Contest?

A haiku is a Japanese poem of 17 syllables, in three phrases of five, seven and five syllables, traditionally evoking images of a natural world.

Final judging this year will be done by Earl Randal Keener, whose work has appeared in haiku publications throughout the world. His awards in the genre are too numerous to list but include: first place in the 2001 Shiki International Haiku Contest resulting in a month in Japan as the guest of the Ehime Cultural Center in Matsuyama, Japan; gold prize in Ito En Tea International Haiku Contest 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018; Kumamoto City of Artesian Waters Haiku Award 2012; and first place Haiku Canada 2011. Recent awards include British Haiku Society H.M.2018 and W.Va. Writer’s Competition prize for Short Poetry 2018. Keener also was the recipient of the Westmoreland Arts Festival Poetry Award for 2018.

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He has conducted workshops at Bethany College, Wheeling Jesuit University and the University of South Carolina, and was a guest lecturer at the Pearl S. Buck Foundation Cal Price Lecture Series, 2018.

Some of his publication credits include Wild Sweet Notes — Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry, Penumbra, Antietam Review, West Branch, Lyrical Passion, The Heron’s Nest, Genjuan Haibun Anthology, Sandberg-Livesay Anthology, Quarried, San Pedro Review and Shukan Seikasu (New York Japanese Weekly).

Winning haikus will be published on the Weelunk website. The first prize this year will be a $50 Amazon gift card.

Email your haiku to by midnight, May 24. Please put the word HAIKU in the subject line.


    • Haiku must be original and never before published.
    • Haiku must be related to theme.
    • Haiku must follow the traditional 17-syllable, 5-7-5 form.
    • Limit of 5 entries per poet. You may send all entries in one email.
    • Be sure to include your name.
    • Contest is open to all ages.
    • Please put the word HAIKU in subject line.
    • Decisions of judge are final.

Stay tuned for winning entries, which will be published a few weeks after the contest ends.

Check out last year’s winning haikus here.