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The 2023 Haiku Contest Winner

The 2023 Haiku Contest Winner

Every year, this small haiku competition receives entries from all over the world. This year was no exception, as we received over 300 entries by mail and an additional 600 online. The idea of having a haiku published on a bar of soap is a unique and appealing element that attracts writers of all skill levels. I believe that the notion of seeing one's writing wash off the body and down the drain is a conceit that very few people will experience over time, but that writers, nonetheless, strive for. It's good, clean fun.

As I do every year, regardless of the quality of the writing, I choose entries that adhere to the theme of the contest. Remember that this year’s theme presented a question: how does nature reflect aging and the cycle of life?

Regardless of the theme, there are always entries that do not address the thematic element, instead focusing on witty connections to soap or to some personal question the writer wishes to explore. Although many of these are entertaining, they ultimately end up in the rejection pile.

Below are my selections for the top 20 poems from this year’s contest. Numbers twenty through eleven are in no particular order of preference and simply reflect my desire to recognize strong attempts to address the theme. Even if they did not win, I enjoyed them. I believe good writing should be recognized, so please read them all.

Numbers ten through one are in a specific order: for adhering to the theme, for using interesting language choices and creative imagery, and for creating a successful emotional turn in the haiku. These are my favorite, in order, with number one being this year’s winner.

I have included the name of each author and their poem. Any titles have been omitted.

Without any further ado, please enjoy these selections from this year’s contest.

20. Joylanda Jamison

Hawks swoop

down for prey—

funerals and inheritances.


19. Rachel Linton





The oak tree is

decayed, rotting,

but does not fall.


18. B.P. Otto

Among the brown dead,

spring's first fall--a still-green bud,

too early unwombed.


17. Doreen Beyer

last year's lemon

a ghost

clutching the tree


16. Jeffrey Ferrera

ageless woods

a lifespan is measured

in tree rings


15. Erica Reid

dim gap

between stone toes

& mausoleum

paper wasp nest


14. Cindy Guentherman

80 years old

she walks through dandelions

all those white heads


13. Fiona Ritchie Walker

Those with old hands

plant pear trees for heirs —

sweet harvest for all.


12. J.B.Pename

The florist rinses

Her soiled hands.

The storm durian blossoms.


11. Kate Marsh

Small child come and gone

Butterflies shed a cocoon

Who is the wiser?


10. Satoko Higashino

A breeze of warm pine

When did I start to treasure

The memories from childhood


9. Frank Kelly

gnarled oak

Your splayed branches – 

grandma’s hands


8. Suzanne Haas-Cunningham

Wondrous spring morning

Blossoms stalking summer dew.

Fall into compost.


7. Victor Hernandez

empty cocoons

dangle from ancient redwoods-

breeze-dried wings ascending


6. Diane Oesau

from the compost heap

behind the old shed

come melon vines


5. Laura Miller

Summer leans heavy

Through children’s clover crowns

Monarchs fly southward


4. Matt Dove

On the cherry's branch

One leaf clings, wrinkled and dry

Beside tight-closed buds


3. Christine Kohler

Spring orange buds

Fruit ages sweetly

Winter juice


2. Richard Matta

cascading stream…

a weed clot gaining on

the sakura petal


1. Eavonka Ettinger

shedding its skin

a snake slithers away

growing pains


Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s contest. It is a privilege and honor to read words from so many wonderful writers. If you did not win this year, please try again in 2024. The custom winner’s soap will be manufactured in the next couple of weeks, and will be available for sale from September through the end of the year. 

The 2024 contest will open in late January.

And, as always, keep writing. 


Bill McConnell

Owner, Whole Life Soaps

Wrightwood, CA

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2023 Whole Life Soaps Haiku Contest

2023 Whole Life Soaps Haiku Contest

2022 Soap Haiku Winner

2022 Soap Haiku Winner


Richardson dughan

Rightly deserved
All poems are well written .

Kshipra Hada

Wow, this is so beautiful! Love the scaly texture of the soap, the haiku fits perfectly!


A wonderful collection of poems – thank you for sharing all twenty, there are some beautiful images.

I love the idea of poetry on soap!

Eavonka Ettinger

I am elated to have my haiku chosen as the 2023 winner! It is such an honor, and I am eager to see how the soap will come out. I’m sure it’ll be awhile before this will sink in.