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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.

2017 Haiku Invitational Winners presented by Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd.

Top Winners


the names
of children being called home
cherry blossoms
                      Ann Harreby
                      Coquitlam, British Columbia

British Columbia

cherry blossoms
a winter jacket
hangs from a branch
                      Beth Skala
                      Nanaimo, British Columbia


transience . . .
petal by petal
we let go
                      Debbie Strange
                      Winnipeg, Manitoba

United States

the gasp
before the sigh . . .
cherry blossoms
                      Terri L. French
                      Huntsville, Alabama



Falling cherry petals
how gently the world lets go
of light
                      Sanjuktaa Asopa
                     Belgaum, India 


blossoms float down
graduation hats fly up
a new beginning
                       Amy Wells, age 16
                      Christchurch, New Zealand

Click here for commentary on winning poems

Click here to enjoy all of the winning selections

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 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.

Bios for 2017 VCBF Haiku Invitational Judges

This year’s 2017 Haiku Invitational Judges:

Angelee Deodhar, an eye surgeon by profession as well as a haiku poet, translator, and artist, lives and works in Chandigarh, India. Her haiku, haibun, and haiga have been published internationally in various books and journals, and her work can be viewed online too. To promote haiku in India, she has translated six books of haiku from English to Hindi. She has also edited both Journeys and Journeys 2015, anthologies of international haibun (prose with haiku). She has just finished Journeys 2017, a third anthology of haibun from around the world.


  DeVar Dahl lives in Magrath, Alberta. He is a retired schoolteacher and a past president of Haiku Canada. He has been fortunate enough to have his haiku published in several haiku journals and have had some selected in different haiku contests. He has written haiku for more than twenty years and still looks to find a haiku or have one find him every day. DeVar and his wife have adopted a grandson and so at this stage of life they get to be mom and dad instead of grandma and grandpa.


  Billie Wilson spent her childhood in rural Indiana, moving in 1962 to Alaska where her first attempts at writing haiku began shortly thereafter. She is an associate editor for The Heron’s Nest, manages the Haiku Registry for The Haiku Foundation, and coordinates the annual haiku competition that honours her first mentor, Robert Spiess. Some of her haiku have been recognized with awards, including those for haiku and senryu by the Haiku Society of America. Her work has been selected for various anthologies, including Haiku in English: The First Hundred YearsWhere the River Goes, and several of the Red Moon Press best-of-year collections.


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 Haiku and 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 [email protected]. 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 [email protected].
  • 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.

Read past winning haiku here.

Programs subject to change.