Gracie receiving her award

British Schoolgirl First Non-Japanese Haiku Winner

Have you ever written a haiku?

 

Even if you have, you’d be hard pressed to beat 14-year-old Gracie Starkey from Gloucestershire, who has been chosen from 80,000 entrants as the first non-Japanese winner of a prestigious haiku competition.

 

Gracie Starkey with her winning poem

Image Courtesy of The Guardian

 

Starkey was assigned the task of writing a haiku after a poet led a Saturday morning workshop at her school, Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, where she had been learning Japanese.

 

Freshly mown grass
clinging to my shoes
 my muddled thoughts

 

Her poem is non-traditional and does not follow the classic five-seven-five syllable pattern.

 

Two million people take part in the competition annually and this year 18,248 entries in English were received. The English category was judged by the haiku poet Tsunehiko Hoshino and Adrian Pinnington, an expert in Japanese literature based at Waseda University in Tokyo.

 

Pinnington said:

 

This is a very unique and fresh poem. The author is walking across a freshly cut lawn and some grass gets on to the bottom of their shoes.The subtly differently coloured blades of grass create a random pattern. Thinking about life while walking across the lawn, the author comes to think of it as reflecting their own complicated thinking. The expression ‘muddled thoughts’ is especially skilfully used.

 

Gracie receiving her award

Image Courtesy of The Japan Times

 

Starkey was invited to Tokyo to accept the award and was mobbed by press when she arrived at the Imperial Palace Hotel for the ceremony, “Everyone was taking pictures and there were at least 20 camera crews and photographers. It was amazing,” she said. 

 

As well as winning the trip, Starkey received a cash prize and her poem is being reproduced on thousands of bottles of green tea.

 

Starkey addressed the ceremony through both Japanese and English. 

 

Featured Image Courtesy of The Japan Times