ukiaHaiku Festival Tomorrow, Sunday, April 18, Ukiah Civic Center, 1:30-4 p.m.


early spring–
ukiah sprouts
haiku and taiko

Suspense is building with the approach of the Eighth Annual ukiaHaiku Festival and Awards Ceremony. The poems have been written and submitted, the judges have made their decisions, and the best is yet to come: the opportunity for the community to spend an afternoon basking in the haiku form of poetry. The ukiaHaiku festival and Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 18, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue. The thunderous sounds of Yokayo Taiko will drum the festival to life beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard by the fountain; the indoor ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Taiko drumming is a poetically perfect way to usher in a haiku festival because both haiku and taiko are art forms that originated in Japan. “Taiko” is actually the Japanese word for drum, but in North America it also refers to ensemble drumming using Japanese drums. The eleven members of the Yokayo Taiko ensemble, directed by Jennifer Ung, will perform “Taiko Train”, “Renshu” (Practice), “Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi and Isamigoma” (Leaping Dragon and Brave Horse), and “Iwai” (Celebration), written by Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan. Poets and audience members are encouraged to arrive early to experience the spine-tingling drumbeats of Yokayo Taiko. (Rain will cancel the drumming because it would damage the drums).

The indoor portion of the program will begin at 2 p.m. with brief remarks by Mayor Benj Thomas and Poet Laureate Theresa Whitehill. Winning poets from age 6 to 66+ will then read their poems aloud to an appreciative audience and receive their awards. A reception with refreshments will follow, during which audience members will have the opportunity to scan many of the fine poems that did not make the final cut and learn more about the Japanese art of origami, or paper folding. A booklet of winning poems will be on sale before and after the ceremony.

The 2,362 entries to the competition set an all-time record this year, up from 1,581 entries in 2009. The Poet Laureate Committee’s new emphasis on local poets meant that the majority of the entries came from Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma Counties. A significant number of poems were submitted in Spanish, and students from twenty Mendocino and Sonoma County schools participated. Submissions to the Jane Reichhold International Prize Category arrived from ten states, ten countries, and four continents. Poets from Australia, Denmark, Ghana, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, and England entered the competition. Ukiah’s little haiku festival is on the map!

The 2010 ukiaHaiku festival wishes to thank the sponsors who have made it all possible. Sponsorship for 2010 includes a grant from the Measure X Transient Occupancy Tax Funds, City of Ukiah, along with: Haiku Vineyards; Susan Sparrow and Hal Zina Bennett of Tenacity Press; OCO Time Restaurant; Mendocino Book Company; Mulligan Books; Leaves of Grass Bookstore; Taka Japanese Grill; Copperfield’s Books, Healdsburg; CGC Website Designs; Yokayo Taiko; and UFO (Ukiah Folding Organization). The 8th Annual festival has been produced by The Poet Laureate Committee of Ukiah, Grace Hudson Museum, City of Ukiah, Ukiah Branch Library, Nine Trees Design, Ukiah High School, Writers Read, Colored Horse Studios, and Marianchild Writing & Publicity.

Please note that the venue for the festival has changed from previous years. To reach the Ukiah Civic Center take the Perkins Street off-ramp from Hwy 101. Go west to State Street and turn left. Seminary Avenue is the third street on the right. The festival is free to the public. For more information about the haiku festival please go to For more information about Yokayo Taiko please go to