Winners of the Fifth Annual SHRM 'HRaiku' Contest

Celebrate National Poetry Month with our creative contributors

By the Editors of the SHRM Certification Update April 15, 2021

​The editors of the SHRM Certification Update are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 SHRM HR Haiku Contest, celebrating National Poetry Month. Art in any form helps people seek connection and common ground, and poetry in particular is a great facilitator of communication. (HR professionals, take note: Poetry readings or contests are an appealing way to build employee engagement and can be done in person or remotely.)

Winners were chosen in four categories: HR & the COVID-19 Crisis (still relevant this year, unfortunately), The HR Profession, SHRM & Certification, and HR Comics & Cynics.

For the first time, we are also awarding the No-Tell Prize for Literature to the most-worthy pseudonymous contributor. The inaugural winner is Jae Candid, SHRM-CP, who submitted under this pen name some standalone verses and one multistanzaed, epic poem—we are impressed!

Thanks to everyone who sent in their "HRaiku" poems, giving life to creative expression. Congratulations to all, especially the winning poets.


Grand Prize

Keeping perspective:

A cornerstone in the life

Of true HR pros.

—Ciara Torres, SHRM-CP, Ocala, Fla.


Category: HR & the COVID-19 Crisis


1st Place

2020 came

HR will not be the same

Corona be gone!

—Jeff Palkowski, SHRM-SCP, Madison, Wis.


2nd Place

During this shutdown,

videochat with your staff;

they need to see you.

—Ramona Poole, SHRM-CP, Tallahassee, Fla.


3rd Place

What a crazy year!

COVID, masks, 6 feet, and fear.

Know what I need? Beer!

—Denny Ristow, SHRM-CP, Plymouth, Wis.


Honorable Mention

2020 sucked.

HR's here to save the day.

At least trying to.

—Leeza Klimetz, SHRM-CP, Atlanta


Category: The HR Profession


1st Place

When a crisis strikes,

HR heroes arise to

Make employees safe.

—Ciara Torres, SHRM-CP, Ocala, Fla.


2nd Place

Trust HR. You'll see

It's more than it used to be—

Better, purposely.

—Jae Candid, SHRM-CP, Baton Rouge, La.


3rd Place

Workplaces have changed

The HR landscape is new

Embrace the future

—Sherri Bagnall, SHRM-CP, Wauchula, Fla.


Honorable Mention

Motivate, coach, teach,

Inform, listen, empower,

Improve daily life.

—Shari Newcomb, McAlester, Okla.


Category: SHRM & Certification


1st Place

"Emotions and the Certification Exam"


Entered and sat down

All noises suddenly stopped

The countdown began


Deep breaths through my mask

Foggy glasses blocked my view

Like mist in my mind


Questions waved at me

Others cross-examined me

Palms were all sweaty


Quietly clicking

Swiftly choosing what I knew

Just to hurry through


Sometimes it was tough

Picking out the best of two

The one that's most true


Then it all ended

My heart knocking on my chest

And thoughts in my head


I'm still so nervous 

Far too late to turn back now

The results are near


One word popped up

I can go celebrate now

I did it, I passed!

—Jae Candid, SHRM-CP, Baton Rouge, La.


2nd Place

When you are in doubt,

you can always ask for help.

That's what SHRM is for.

—Ramona Poole, SHRM-CP, Tallahassee, Fla.


3rd Place

Incentives come with

my SHRM certification.

I love my new role.

—Ramona Poole, SHRM-CP, Tallahassee, Fla.


Honorable Mention

Better workplaces:

Our mission and goals are clear.

With SHRM, let's do it!

—Jeff Palkowski, SHRM-SCP, Madison, Wis.


Category: HR Comics & Cynics


1st Place

How can I be late

for back-to-back Zoom meetings

sitting in my chair?

—Michelle Aronson, SHRM-SCP, Chicago


2nd Place

Interview confirmed:

Today at 3 via Zoom.

3:30. Ghosted.

—Stephanie Thune, Central Point, Ore.


3rd Place

Today's my last day

Sorry for the short notice

—HR Director

—Stephanie Thune, Central Point, Ore.


Honorable Mention

HR is remote.

Face to face in Zoom meetings.

Yes, I'm wearing pants!

—Lori Wolford, SHRM-SCP, White Salmon, Wash.


Our readers' participation in this contest is a testament to the goals of National Poetry Month, a worldwide literary event observed each April, founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. Link to the website, download the official logo, use the #nationalpoetrymonth hashtag and follow @POETSorg on Twitter. E-mail to share photos and feedback.



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