Contest - 2022-ZenGarden-01 - Basho

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  • All selected stories were formatted and edited for publishing in our eBooks Collection.
  • Staff will select the Grand Winner from the shortlist.
  • Public voting will select 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners.
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Contest - 2022-ZenGarden-01 - Basho


a bee
staggers out
of the peony

~ Matsuo Basho 1644-1694


Our ZenGarden writing contests were the foundation for our current contests, and remain an important part of our legacy. The prompt for a ZenGarden contest is always a picture of a flower and a haiku. 
This year, for our first ZenGarden offering, we are honoring Basho, one of the most important of the haiku poets.
The Japanese Zen poet Matsuo Basho (Matsuo Munefusa) (1644-94) had earned the status of a samurai warrior, when he gave it all up to become a poet.  He is credited  with elevating haiku to a highly refined art that goes far beyond counting syllables.
His haiku of the bee and peony is one of the most famous and beloved haiku from the Edo period (1603-1868).  During this period, painters and poets were held in high regard and enjoyed the patronage of the wealthy elite. Tree peonies had an important role in classical Japanese art and aesthetics. As in China, when depicted in art, they often represented wealth and status. They could also be cast in a more sensual way, standing in paintings and poetry for female beauty and allure. However, peonies are not always used as metaphors; sometimes the flower itself is the muse.
The bee is also an important part of the haiku. What does the bee represent?  What does the “staggering” refer to?  We invite you to use your imagination to write a story that uses one or more of the key words – “bee”, “staggers”, or “peony”.  Your story should be 350 words or less.  
Here are some stories from last years ZenGarden contest that might inspire you!

Good luck in the contest!

Double-check your story against the rules, and make all corrections BEFORE you submit!  Multiple entries of the same story will be disqualified.

  • Grand Prize (Staff Pick) – $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • Free Google SignIn, and Free Contest Submission
Ensure your submission follows these rules:
  • Correct length (350 words or less)
  • Correct spelling and grammar
  • Family-friendly content
Be sure and include one or more of these words: "bee", "staggers" or "peony". You may use any form of the word(s) you choose. You do NOT have to use Basho's name!
We are committed to strict moderation and curation to ensure that all content adheres to our family-friendly policy.  In order to have the best chance for your content to be published, you should avoid the following topics:
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Arianna Randall
Arianna Randall(@arianna-randall)
1 year ago

Hello! This looks like an amazing contest and I can’t wait! I do have one question: can a finalist in public voting be selected by your team for the staff picks? Or does finalizing in public voting disqualify a story from being selected by the staff? Thanks so much!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
Reply to  Arianna Randall
1 year ago

That’s something that I’d wondered too.

Arianna Randall
Arianna Randall(@arianna-randall)
Reply to  Voice-Team
1 year ago

Sounds great, thanks so much!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
11 months ago

Voice-Team, hope you don’t mind me saying, but the new boxes around the comments makes it really difficult to read them, especially when there are a lot of different comments in one thread, especially when reading on a phone screen.

Last edited 11 months ago by Carrie OLeary

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Actually, this is a voting security feature. During public voting, only club members can read posts submitted for that contest. Since anyone reading the story is able to vote (click the Like button), we reserve these capabilities to members who SignIn. Before we implemented this security feature, people were voting multiple times and making the public voting process unfair and out of balance. To fix this, our staff finally decided to allow only members who SignIn to read the stories. Membership is free and easy, and ensures our club is safe, secure, and family-friendly!