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5TH Not-Exactly-Annual Haiku Death Match

Saturday, April 8, 2017  at 7 p.m.

Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights

5th Haiku death matchHeights Arts marks National Poetry Month with the presentation of its fifth Haiku Death Match at Dobama Theater on Saturday, April 8.

This “fun”raiser for literary arts programming will pit eight of the region’s best and bravest writers of the ancient, Japanese 17-syllable form against each other in a fierce competition for audience approval. Pairs of poets read their original Haiku aloud, and the audience votes for the poem they like best. Low-scoring contestants are eliminated, and the last poet standing is declared Haiku Death Match Master.

“This is a contest where your vote really counts,” said Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Christine Howey, who will be on hand at the event, although not competing. “The audience decides who deserves to be the 2017 Haiku Death Match Master, and believe me, every syllable matters, and every vote counts!”

Why “Not Exactly Annual?” The last Haiku Death Match was held in October 2015, and there was no Match in 2016 because Heights Arts decided to hold it in April of this year, to celebrate National Poetry Month and to raise funds for Heights Arts literary activities.

DEATHMATCH05-310x230-2017Who will be the next Haiku Master?

Mark Zeale, the dark horse winner of the 2015 Haiku Death Match, is not competing this year, which levels the field somewhat.  Returning champions and contestants include Dianne Borsenik, poet and founder of Night Ballet Press; Michael Ceraolo, retired firefighter/paramedic and writer; Celeste McCarty, artist, writer, and performer; Ray McNiece, actor, poet, and former Haiku Death Match champion; Mary Turzillo, poet, science fiction writer, and fencing champion; and Geoffrey Landis, NASA physicist, poet, and science fiction writer. A few Death Match “virgins” have entered the fray, as well, including Christine Donofrio,  artist, writer, poet and filmaker; and Cordelia Eddy, ‘zine writer and East Coast ex-pat.

The eight poets in the ring will have to fight hard for the trophy. In the first half of the Death Match, poets will read their contemporary Haiku on the subjects: personal relationships, politics, animals in our life, the daily grind, and all things Cleveland. Poets with the highest scores advance to the second half, in which they will read only classical, nature-oriented Haiku. The winner of the classical round is declared the 2017 Haiku Death Match Master.

Order tickets and support literary arts programming!

Haiku Death Match tickets will be available for purchase at the Heights Arts gallery, 2175 Lee Road, via phone at 216-371-3457, or online below.

$15 General public  | $10 Heights Arts members  | $15 at the door



Sponsor a haiku warrior team

Want to support one of the eight haiku contestants in their quest for fame and glory?  You can be part of the action by donating to one of the literary-warrior teams (which is also a fundraiser for Heights Arts literary programs), and by coming to the Match and voting for their success: the audience decides the winner.

  1. Gail Bellamy, 2009-2011 Cleveland Heights Poets Laureate, and haiku warrior Ray McNiece

  2. Harriet Logan of Loganberry Books and haiku warrior Celeste McCarty

  3. Kathleen Cerveny, 2013-15 Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, and haiku warrior Cordelia Eddy

  4. Susan DeGaetano of Macs Backs and haiku warrior Geoffrey Landis

  5. Meredith Holmes, 2015-2016 Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, and haiku warrior Dianne Borsenik

  6. Christine Howey, 2016-18 Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, and haiku warrior Christine Donofrio

  7. Peggy Latkovich of Macs Back Books and haiku warrior Mary Turzillo

  8. Josh Werling, Heights Arts Board Presidents, and haiku warrior Michael Ceraolo


Additional sponsorship perks

  • Contribute $10 or more for warrior support and automatically qualify for the Heights Arts member ticket fee ($5 savings).
  • Contribute $25 or more and receive a copy of the winning haiku poem suitable for framing. 
  • Contribute $100 or more and receive that winning poem personalized and signed by the 2017 Death Match Champion. 
  • Contributors of $200 or more will receive a chapbook of poems from each of four current and past Poets Laureate.

This year, with the help of Robert Conrad of radio station WCLV (104.9 FM), Heights Arts is reaching out to a broad audience of northeast Ohio culture hounds, cool Clevelanders, and Haiku hipsters. Conrad attended the 2015 Haiku Death Match and loved it. In fact, he was so taken with the event, he decided to feature it on his Weekend Radio show, an hour-long mix of music, humor, culture, and unclassifiable oddments that airs every Saturday night on radio station WCLV. Listen in April to Weekend Radio, Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WCLV – 104.9 FM to catch Haiku, written and read aloud by northeast Ohio poets.