Haiku Off: A Time-Honored Maya Tradition

Someone unfamiliar with the annual event may show up expecting a casual, laid-back night of 19-syllable poetry readings. However, should that person dare to attend one of our university-renowned Haiku Offs, they would find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of rapid thinking, whimsical enthusiasm and high-flying pens.

January 29th 2016 saw Maya Literary Magazine put on its 8th annual Haiku Off. Over the course of the event, participants were given four categories and five minutes to write a haiku about each one. This year’s categories were Magic, Space, Dinosaurs and Shenanigans. Three lovely judges evaluated the pieces after each round and chose the winners, which will be published in the 2016 edition of the magazine. Fortunately, you won’t have to wait until publication to read them – we’ve published them below.


Round 1: Magic


1st – Amy Suh7
I don’t want glass shoes
I don’t want magic pumpkins
Just want my Mom back.

2nd – Annie Haftl
[ 5:35pm ]
That deep golden glow,
Sinking into pink mountains –
I swear it’s Magic.

3rd – S James Parsons Jr
Eight Ball guide my choice
Should I study for exams
“Ask again later”

Honorable Mention – Elizabeth Ashley Higgins
Dear Harry Potter
Sir, you are not a wizard
We lied, love Hogwarts


Round 2: Outer Space


1st – Rachel Kangh6.jpg
[ Bowie ]
My dear Major Tom,
Do you still remember me?
I’m Ziggy Stardust.

2nd – Gina Vitale
[ The Final Frontier ]
Look up high, bright eyes –
Shadowed planets, white stars beckon.
Live. Dare. Boldly go.

3rd – Matthew Robinson
The only thing more
beautiful than what is out
there, is what’s in here

Honorable Mention – Elizabeth Ashley Higgins
Dark – mysterious
the Milky Way is okay
But I want snickers



Round 3: Dinosaurs


h3.jpg1st – Annie Haftl
[ My friend the stegosaurus ]
I bet you had spots,
my ancient friend. You’re extinct;
but not in my dreams.

2nd – Gina Vitale
[ the friend I never had ]
Brown-boned skeleton,
petrified for good. I wish
I could have saved you.

3rd – Matthew Napolillo
[ Ripples ]
thump, pause, thump, pause, Thump.
Breath from above. Something smells.
Teeth turn to panic.

Honorable Mention – S James Parsons Jr
Awesome – saurus – Rex
Works lizard lounge bartending
Little short handed



Round 4: Shenanigans

h21st – Bailey Kiersarsky
Setting lizards free,
Flaming hackey sack, ghost hikes:
Summer camp chaos

2nd – Matt Matthew Robinson
Pizza, Haiku, friends
My mom says, “Shenanigans!”
I say, “Study break…”

3rd – Gina Vitale
[ My best friend ]
Laughing ‘til we cried
I would do it all again
But always with you.

Honorable Mention – Matthew Napolillo
[ Batman ]
nananana, nanana


All in all, Haiku off is representative of everything Maya stands for – artistic innovation, spirited competition and meaningful connection. If nothing else, it’s a chance for bookworms and casual writers alike to share a night of utter silliness and flash creativity. Look for the next one to occur in early winter term of 2017. Can’t wait that long? Be sure to check out some of our other events in the meantime – like our Facebook page for updates on upcoming Open Mic Nights, the 2nd Annual Magazine Release Gala, and the Mayan Summer Olmpics.

-Gina Vitale