Mukai Haiku Festival – Contest Winners 2020

202005-haiku display in the gardenThe Mukai Farm & Garden offered its first annual Haiku Festival and Contest in early April to inspire people of Vashon Island with the beauty of haiku, an ancient form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems are three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. In lieu of the usual meetings and celebrations at the Mukai Farm, the haiku contest offered a socially distanced, meditative way to connect and share. A community of poets responded with an avalanche of creative haiku that spanned all age groups and several nations.

As of the April 30 deadline, contestants submitted 280 haiku in seven categories, including People’s Choice and the newly created Pre-K/Toddler category. Most are from Vashon Island residents, but also Zagreb, Croatia; Jalisco, Mexico; Brooklyn, New York; and Santa Barbara, California. The contest winners range in age from three to 99 years old.

The winners are:

Jennifer Gogarten, Vashon, First Place202005-haiku display in the garden

Brit Myers, Vashon, Honorable Mention

Yvonne Belshaw, Seattle, First Place

Ann Spiers, Vashon, Honorable Mention

Mel Goldberg, Jalisco, Mexico, First Place

Melissa Urushidani, Port Orchard, and Shirley Ferris, Vashon, Honorable Mentions

Funny Bone:
Ronald Simons, Vashon, First Place

Pat Minier, Vashon, and Chris Bollweg, Vashon, Honorable Mentions

John Okamoto, Seattle, First Place

Debbie Butler, Vashon, Honorable Mention

First Place winners are Wilfred Gogarten, Vashon (Pre-K – in the new Toddler category),

Ella Odegard, Vashon (grade K-6),
Jolyon Gogarten, Vashon (grade 7-12)
Honorable Mention: Regina May Obnial, Vashon

People’s Choice:
Ariel Koering (grade K-6) First Place,

Sadie R (grade K-6) Honorable Mention

202005-haiku display at MukaiThe panel of jurists included social activist and poet Dr. Lawrence Matsuda, poet and philosopher Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma, writer/editor Michael Feinstein, a member of Vashon’s Mondays at Three Haiku Collective, and Mukai Board President Rita Brogan.

“We were all blown away by the beauty and brilliance of so many of the entries,” said Michael Feinstein, writer and member of Vashon’s Mondays at Three Haiku Collective.

Click here to view all haiku entries. They are also on outdoor display on the Mukai Farm & Garden grounds. Visitors may stroll the grounds at a social distance from other haiku fans and enjoy spring foliage, the last of the cherry blossoms and beautiful poetry.

From First Place Awardees:




Scouts carry our flag

           –Jennifer Gogarten


Winter comes. Under

A soft blanket of clouds the

Mountain sleeps til noon

           –Yvonne Belshaw


The funeral home    

She bends to straighten his tie     

For the final time                

           –Mel   Goldberg

Funny Bone

Daylight savings ends

The clock that hadn’t been changed

Accurate again

           –Ronald Simons


Asian physician

Battles virus at clinic

Battles hate on street

           –John Okamoto


Garbage trucks have hands

They have forks and one arm yeah

That’s how much they have

           –Wildfred Gogarten


The simple beauties

Make my heart sing with the joy

Of this blue green world

           –Ella Odegard

Young Adult

A lonely bird sits

In a tree made of sorrow

Waiting for its mate   

           –Jolyon Gogarten

People’s Choice

Tulips bloom unseen

The walls are in front of me

My wandering mind

           –Ariel Koering

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