_heights arts_ Blog


5th Not-Exactly-Annual Haiku Death Match

Saturday, April 8, 2017  at 7 p.m.

Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights

5th Haiku death match

Heights Arts marks National Poetry Month with the presentation of its fifth Haiku Death Match at Dobama Theatre 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?

Marc 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 filmmaker; 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!

DAY OF EVENT: Haiku Death Match tickets are available for purchase at the door, Dobama Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.     $15




Support 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.

  • 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.


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

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

  3. Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac’s Backs-Books and haiku warrior Geoffrey Landis

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

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

  6. Peggy Latkovich of Mac’s Backs-Books and haiku warrior Mary Turzillo

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

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

Haiku on the Radio

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. 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 on Saturday, April 1 to Weekend Radio, 10 p.m. on WCLV – 104.9 FM to catch Haiku, written and read aloud by northeast Ohio poets.  Listen to a live interview with poets Ray McNiece and Christine Howey on WCLV on Wednesday, April 5, 2:30 p.m.


Facebook Comments