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Give me your funky / Your impudent Tokyo / Hot nightlife haiku.

I am a sassy-pants, no doubt, but when it comes to my funny, I am a serious lady.

When it comes to haiku, I am not a fan of the “Oh, fleet, flying crane” variety. The world needs those haiku. Take heart: there are waaaaaay more outlets for your work than there are Not-Nearly-Annual Frozen Fish Head contests.

For our purposes, you are required to knock my socks off with your hai-larity. However, while I am all for “just” being funny, haiku works best for me when:

  • each of the poem’s three phrases presents a stand-alone image that, in context of the poem’s story, evokes what haiku poet Alexey Andreyev calls “certain bright moments of life”—quixotic, troubling, deeply tender, or simply a flash of time whose specificity caught your attention; and
  • the juxtaposition of images in the first and second phrases create friction that sets up a big-bang finish. The idea is to initiate a circular pattern, drawing reader back to the beginning of the poem.

If you can be funny while doing this, you can do anything.

I'm ot of yellowLet’s Talk 5-7-5

The 5-7-5 rhyme scheme is a big debate in the haiku universe. Do the constraints provide a certain freedom, or are they just constraints?  We at Frozen Fish Head will play Switzerland on the issue. Focus more on letting the writing prompt unfurl your funny flag. However, for the record:

Japanese haiku doesn’t count syllables. The three phrases are more like: short-ish, longer, short-ish. The syllable thing is an American construct. Brian P. Cleary’s classic, “Report Card” is the go-to example:

Four days of the year,
One tiny piece of paper
Turns my stomach sour.

Funny. Would it win? I think you could do better. Let’s examine a few more.

A few years back, an Austin writer-mama named Kari Anne Roy came out with her book, Haiku Mama. Check out this gem:

Red leaves on tree
poop in the diaper.
It’s the holidays!

Boom. Each line here presents a single image; in the case of the second line, a striking and original one (if you go for that sort of thing). Without inserting herself into the poem, Roy conveys a mama-specific perspective. She even slips in a “season word,” the word that traditionally created a backdrop (often from nature) for the “haiku event.” (Contemporary haiku has moved toward an urban aesthetic; THANK GOD. Flying cranes: boo.)

Unfortunately, the majority of Roy’s work settles for what I am absolutely uninterested in: mere thoughts wrestled into the requisite five-seven-five:

Tennis ball in sock
sad yet apt description of
post-nursing boobies.

If a poet has but 17 syllables, “sad yet apt description of” wastes seven. Give me a second image to equal “Tennis ball in sock,” driving to “post-nursing boobies.” I want one of the same caliber as one Roy uses elsewhere, and smashingly so, to describe her tush: “Small, like fresh ham steak.”

So, do that, and you win. Good hunting.

About Writing Calls, News, & Reviews The Glam

Win This Contest: Be Funny for Me.

Dear God. Why could I not have written this? You are dead to me. Heart, Alle.
My God, you give this gem to another? You are dead to me. Heart, Alle.
  1. The best funny includes a sense of humor.*
  2. Funny can be Stephen Colbert; funny can be Breaking Bad. Haiku-funny is evocative, not vulgar. Funny can be the guy who stays up all night sharing posts from The Onion. Funny can be that episode from the first season of the new Battlestar, where they mock themselves—which obviously went over like one of the bombs that decimated Earth, because the meme never resurfaced as if it were a Cylon in the Goo-bath. Do I sound as if I am at a convention?
  3. Funny can be you.
  4. Look at what I want in haiku. Look at the previous winning haiku. Kerri Buckley walked the line between hilarious and something else, something of meaning.

Read the Rules.

Follow this blog or follow Alle C. Hall on Facebook.

*The phrase “sense of humor” was coined by my funny-writing teacher, Brangien Davis, currently the Arts & Culture Editor at Seattle Magazine; also the founder of Swivel Magazine, a labor of love devoted to smart, funny writing by women.

About Writing Calls, News, & Reviews The Glam

About Childhood’s Nowhere-Near-Annual Frozen Fish Head Haiku Contest: Submission Info Part 1


A previous year’s photo prompt. What will this year’s hold? I CAN’T STAND THE TENSION.

Submission Fee: Zero. Zip. Nada.

  • All entrants are begged to subscribe to the excellent blog About Childhood: Answers for Writers, Parents, and Former Children, or
  • to “friend” Alle C. Hall on Facebook.
  • Or both. It’s good for your health.
  • Current subscribers to and Facebook followers of the above are exempt.

The Gates of Submission open February 28st, 2014.

  • February is National Haiku Month. Who knew?
  • On February 10th, 2014, the 2014 photo prompt will be posted on:
    • the excellent About Childhood: Answers for Writers, Parents, and Former Children; and
    • the Facebook page of Alle C. Hall.
  • If a poet can demonstrate that s/he forwarded, “Shared,” or re-posted the call, the poet may submit a second entry. More below, under Rules.

 All entries must be received by midnight, March 17th, 2014, PST.
Please don’t make me bust you for not following the rules. I spend enough time busting my children.

Winners will be announced on April 17th, 2014.
Because April is National Poetry Month.

The Rules.

  1. Submit original work. No cheating, you bastards.
  2. Each poet may enter only once.
  3. If you demonstrate that you forwarded or re-posted the call, you may submit a second entry.
  4. Each entry may consist of up to three haiku. Make ‘em funny.
  5. If you have a series that is more than three haiku but is not The Iliad, send it along.
  6. In such an instance, do your best to strong-arm one other person to subscribe as described above. To subscribe them is good for your parking Karma.
  7. All submission must be in English or Esperanto. I don’t understand Esperanto. You increase your chances of winning if you submit an English-language haiku.
  8. Too much swearing is fucking gross.
  9. Previously published work is permitted. (Al Gore-style sigh.)
  10. As are multiple submissions. Just the usual stuff about being polite if you win something more lucrative or luminous than About Childhood’s Nowhere-Near-Annual Frozen Fish Head Haiku Contest. (Should there be such a thing)
  11. Be as anonymous as possible, given that one submits by e-mail.
  12. You can bet I’ll check if you’re a subscriber or friend. Most journals do this; who are we kidding?

Send your hilarious haiku to
By March 17th, 2014. Or you’re busted.

Calls, News, & Reviews The Glam Writing Prompts

About Childhood’s Nowhere-Near-Annual Frozen Fish Head Haiku Contest Submission Info Part 2


Read previous winner:
Read previous winner:

Cash prize: $17.*

  • Not so generous, say you? Consider your rate per word.
  • Particularly in comparison to your entrance fee. (Zero. Zip. Nada.)

*The number of syllables in a haiku.



  1. The winner will receive $17. Don’t spend it all in once place—as if you could.
  2. Five to seven additional haiku will be selected—2nd Place, 3rd Place, and up to five honorable mentions.
  3. The winning and haiku and author will be feted on About Childhood: Answers for Writers, Parents, and Former Children, as well as on the Facebook page of the once and gentle Alle C. Hall.
  4. Runners up and honorable mentions will be honorably mentioned and … run up. Also on About Childhood and Facebook.
  5. About Childhood will alert all media, up to and including The New Yorker. Why not? We take comic haiku seriously around here.  

Who can enter:

Anyone other than Officers, Associates and Board Members of About Childhood and her immediate family. I wouldn’t want you the think I play favorites.


The Judge


Send your hilarious haiku to
By March 17th, 2014. Or you’re busted.

About Publishing Calls, News, & Reviews

Contest: 100 Words or Fewer – your entry can benefit Richard Hugo House

100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest

Mention you heard about the contest from Richard Hugo House, and part of your entrance fee goes back to RHH programming.

Remember: unpublished material only.

If you win, that 100-word section of a longer piece will count as previously published. Other contests and many a lit. mag. will not accept the longer piece if you included the previously published section.

Think wisely about your submissions. Good luck!