LAHS Humanities Classes Announce Winners of Haiku Faceoff

Horiz Haiku winnersWinners in the 2020 Haiku Faceoff sponsored by the LAHS Humanities classes are, seniors. from left, Anna Abeyta, Elise Olivas and Zoe Butler. Photos Courtesy LAPS


Los Alamos High School Seniors Anna Abeyta, Elise Olivas and Zoe Butler have been named this year’s haiku masters in the Haiku “Face-Off.” This event is sponsored by the Humanities classes at the high school to celebrate poetry month and have fun with words and poetry.

“We have been holding the Haiku ‘Death’ Match for the entire school for the past five years,” said Humanities teacher Michelle Holland. “This year, a very different kind of year, the Humanities students decided to call the ‘Death’ Match a ‘Face-Off,’ and we all decided to dive into the world of haiku and not break tradition.

Other classes were offered the opportunity to participate, as we do every year, but because of the tumult and tsunami-like force of preparing, then actually teaching and engaging with our students in an environment that very few of us have had any experience with, the Humanities classes ended up facing off against each other,” Holland explained.

There were two matches scheduled on Monday, April 20. The previous week students had learned about the history of classical haiku and the nature of performance/slam and contemporary haiku.  They practiced both kinds during online office hours and tried out all kinds of themes and topics, from sports to Covid-19, to the Kardashians, according to Holland.

“Humanities is a class of seniors, and their year has been turned on its head,” said Holland. “The students rose to the challenge and put their all into writing and reading and battling with a grand haiku spirit.”

Almost 60 students participated in the Face-Off over the three matches. A third match had to be held on Thursday, April 23, because the Wi-Fi was out in White Rock all day on Monday.  

The  three haiku masters are the three poets who made it through more than five rounds and were the last one’s standing. Abeyta won the first match, and Olivas won the second match. Butler won a hard fought battle with Beth Short to win the third match. The students rotated judges; Holland also judged a couple of rounds.  “The judging was completely subjective, and the whole thing is entirely in the moment,” she said.  

Two students, Cade Pimental and Mark Sanchez, video-taped a mini-battle between them which was more about their friendship and the effect of this crisis than a battle. 

“We all came away with a raucous memory of a great Humanities event, despite our distance, the community of students came together to make communicating our lives through poetry happen,” said Holland.

Here are some examples of the winning haiku:

Anna Abeyta:

The flower whispers

her secret to a full life

Love, loss, growth- content. 


Like a hermit crab 

Growing, forever changing

Searching for a shell


Ms. Holland, always 

in a savage mood. She likes

to roast you, daily. 


Elise Olivas:

Glass separates us 

As I look in to see you 

Staring back at me


Zoe Butler:

Fast and alluding

The sun’s phases dance on time 

fluorescent Mamba.


For my next trick, I

will write a lousy haiku. 



Beth Short:

Song of violins

The bow glides across the strings

The orchestra’s heart


Mark Sanchez:

The sky breaks open

And the world slows as I feel

You take your last breath


Alexis Garcia:

Different heartbreak

Last year of our childhood gone

No friends, no goodbye


Cade Pimentel:

Introverts exposed

Screens light our way forward

Artificial light


Seth Heatherly:

A stone in a pond

Can cause many ripples

The pond will settle


Carlos Chacon Cuesta:

The mist and the fog

Like the veil of the mountain

Hiding its wonders


Felisha Martinez:

Look into my eyes

Psychology teaches us

I understand you


Miguel Chacon Cuesta: 

I like to play hide

And seek with me, myself, and

I, but lost my mind


Sasha Dolin:

Late warm-up fountain

A wild, long lilac singing

beyond the tulips


Kevin Dors:

Locked in quarantine

But some just don’t care

They will be our death