Haiku Invitational

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, celebrating the city’s 40,000 cherry trees. Festivities include the annual Haiku Invitational, a free contest that invites submissions of haiku on the theme of cherry blossoms, judged in the following six categories: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, United States, International, and Youth. It’s been my privilege to serve as a judge or consultant since the Haiku Invitational started in 2006. When I have not been a judge myself, I have proposed all the judges for 2009 and 2013 to the present. 
Winning poems were printed on placards that appeared on Vancouver city buses and SkyTrains each spring from 2006 to 2014, on the festival website, and in various poetry journals. Winning haiku have also been performed on radio and TV and at public events, including concerts of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and at the annual Japan Days festival. All winning haiku from the first three years have also been engraved on a haiku stone at VanDusen Gardens (see Vancouver Haiku Stone for photos). The following are each of the Haiku Invitational placards, showcasing the top winning poems (click to enlarge), plus a list of all judges. Since 2016, Ive also been conducting interviews with the six top winning poets each year. See also “Cherry Petal Mats.”       +

This video celebrates the 2018 Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden in Vancouver.
I make a short cameo appearance at the 1:18 mark (shown teaching haiku).

[bus placards not produced after 2014]

2020 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Gary Hotham, Agnes Eva Savich, and Beth Skala
Read my interviews with the 2020 winning poets

2019 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Alan S. Bridges, Susan Constable, and Julie Warther
Read my interviews with the 2019 winning poets

2018 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Paul Chambers, Tanya McDonald, and Jacquie Pearce
Read my interviews with the 2018 winning poets

2017 Haiku Invitational
Judges: DeVar Dahl, Angelee Deodhar, and Billie Wilson
Read my interviews with the 2017 winning poets

2016 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Deborah P Kolodji, Emiko Miyashita, and George Swede
Read my interviews with the 2016 winning poets
2015 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Michael Dylan Welch, Allan Burns, Katherine J. Munro

2014 Haiku Invitational
Judge: Marco Fraticelli
2013 Haiku Invitational
Judge: Terry Ann Carter
2012 Haiku Invitational
Judge: Beverley George


2011 Haiku Invitational
Judge: an’ya

2010 Haiku Invitational
Judge: Michael Dylan Welch (see results and commentary and
the “VCBF 2010 Haiku Canada Sheet” on the Trifold Downloads page)

2009 Haiku Invitational
Judge: LeRoy Gorman

2008 Haiku Invitational
Judges: Carole MacRury, Michael Dylan Welch, and Edward Zuk
2007 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Carole MacRury, Michael Dylan Welch, and Edward Zuk

2006 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Carole MacRury, Vicki McCullough, Michael Dylan Welch, and Edward Zuk

You may note above that the placard listed under the 2010 heading says 2011 in the placard itself, and that each placard for more recent years lists results from the prior year. The festival was not held in 2010 because of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, but the Haiku Invitational was still held, with results displayed the following year. This change allowed for submissions to be made during cherry blossom time itself. Before then, submissions were typically made in December through February. The change also allowed for a more relaxed judging period during the summer and fall, and more time to design the placards and arrange other promotions. The Haiku Invitational will continue to seek haiku about cherry blossoms each spring, with results appearing online in the fall, and elsewhere the following spring. Hope you can enter the next Haiku Invitational!