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In advance of the 2017 Haiku Invitational, the Festival and Joy Kogawa House will be presenting “How to Haiku” workshops with Michael Dylan Welch and Jacquie Pearce! Check the Community Calendar for times and event details.

Canada celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017. Vancouver will contribute to this anniversary by celebrating the country’s strength, pride, and freedom. Accordingly, the theme for the 2017 VCBF Haiku Invitational will be freedom. Please write your cherry blossom haiku in a context of freedom in all its manifestations. We will begin accepting submissions on March 1, 2017. In the meanwhile, enjoy reading the 2016 Haiku Invitational winners selected by judges: Emiko Miyashita, George Swede & Deborah P. Kolodji.

Top poems in six main categories (Vancouver, BC, Canada, United States, International and Youth) will receive celebrity readings and be featured in creative ways during the 2017 festival including publication in The Bulletin magazine, Haiku Canada newsletter, online publication in Ripples, the newsletter of the Haiku Society of America, printing in a chapbook hand-folded and bound by Victoria-based Leaf Press and publication on the VCBF website. Winning poems will be read by Christopher Gaze at the VSO’s Tea & Trumpets Concert, at our media-kickoff event, Cherry Jam Downtown concert by media celebrity emcee (past years have been CTV’s Norma Reid) and celebrated at Sakura Days Japan Fair  Leith Wheeler Haiku House and Koinobori Installation in partnership with the Powell Street Festival.

Vancouver loves its flowering cherry trees – all 40,000 of them! While they bloom from March through May, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival invites you to celebrate their beauty with your haiku. The ephemeral nature of the blossoming of cherry trees teaches us all to celebrate life now. Similarly, haiku captures a fleeting moment in time with deep awareness and subtle appreciation. We encourage both budding and seasoned poets to join other poets from around the world (past submissions have arrived from as faraway as Australia, Bangladesh, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom) in honouring our awe-inspiring cherry trees. The festival welcomes haiku submissions that capture the essence of cherry blossoms while honouring our relationships to each other and the natural world.

Some Suggestions for Writing Haiku They may look simple, but writing outstanding haiku requires much dedication and craft.  Here are a few pointers that may help.

  • Be clear. The best haiku present clear images that everyone can understand. Of course, deeper meanings may take many readings to fathom, but you’ll make a great start by focusing on sensory images – things you can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste.
  • Be suggestive. A haiku should hint at some sort of emotion or point of view rather than naming or analyzing it. Usually a haiku will have two parts, and deeper meanings or emotions often arise out of the unstated relationship between the two parts.
  • Read widely. Reading published haiku will help you learn new techniques, spot what works and what doesn’t, and deepen your understanding of the genre. As a start, the VCBF website presents all the top haiku from previous years, and we have provided additional information and links for you on our About Haikuand Teaching Haiku
  • Seek feedback. Sharing your poems with friends and family or other poets can help you spot weak lines and unclear writing that you may not see yourself.  Both Haiku Canada and the Haiku Society of America have regional chapters through which you can meet or correspond with experienced poets in your area, many of whom are happy to help others improve their work. For the Haiku Canada regional coordinator for British Columbia & the Territories, contact Vicki McCullough at pacifi-kana@haikucanada.org. In the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Haiku Group (VHG) meets most third Sundays of the month at the Britannia Community Services Centre. For more information, please contact VHG facilitator Angela J. Naccarato at angelan@telus.net.
  • No poet has ever written a top-notch haiku without writing dozens of forgettable ones first. Keep a notebook where you can jot down haiku as the inspiration hits and then review them at your leisure.
  • Most of all: have fun!

For more information, please visit our About Haiku and Teaching Haiku pages.Click here for additional notes on capitalization and punctuation.Programs subject to change.