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. From 2006 to 2014, winning haiku were printed on placards that appeared on Vancouver city buses and SkyTrains each spring. Poems also appeared 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, plus a list of all judges. Since 2016, I’ve 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).

My “Haiku Seeds” segment of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival “Bloom!” video, introduced by VCBF executive director Linda Poole, starts a little after the 27:20 mark.

Winners of the 2020 VCBF Haiku Invitational, read by Christopher Gaze, featuring poems by Genevieve Wynand, Ulrike E. Narwani, Chen-ou Liu, Jeffrey Ferrara, Marcellin Dallaire-Beaumont, and Andreea Buzuc.

[bus placards not produced after 2014]


2022 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Maxianne Berger, Randy M. Brooks, and Jennifer Hambrick

Interviews with the 2022 winning poets to come


2021 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Chuck Brickley, Terri L. French, and Claudia Coutu Radmore

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2021 winning poets

Winners: Ann Harreby, Susan Constable, Charlotte Hrenchuk, Chad Lee Robinson, Rita Odeh, and Sebastian Ciobica (age 9)


2020 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Gary Hotham, Agnes Eva Savich, and Beth Skala

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2020 winning poets

Winners: Genevieve Wynand, Ulrike E. Narwani, Chen-ou Liu, Jeffrey Ferrara, Marcellin Dallaire-Beaumont, and Andreea Buzuc (age 12)


2019 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Alan S. Bridges, Susan Constable, and Julie Warther

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2019 winning poets

Winners: Aaron Barry, Beth Skala, Harvey Jenkins, Neal Whitman, Henryk Czempiel, and Mia Lin (age 12)


2018 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Paul Chambers, Tanya McDonald, and Jacquie Pearce

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2018 winning poets

Winners: Vicky Rizzardo, Cheryl Ashley, kjmunro, Christine L. Villa, Eduard Tara, and Daniel Flaszynski (age 10)


2017 Haiku Invitational

Judges: DeVar Dahl, Angelee Deodhar, and Billie Wilson

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2017 winning poets

Winners: Ann Harreby, Beth Skala, Debbie Strange, Terri L. French, Sanjuktaa Asopa, and Amy Wells (age 16)


2016 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Deborah P Kolodji, Emiko Miyashita, and George Swede

Read the winning poems and my interviews with the 2016 winning poets

Winners: Rachel Enomoto, Beth Skala, Marianne Paul, dl mattila, Jan Dobb, and Victoria Vieira (age 17)


2015 Haiku Invitational

Judges: Michael Dylan Welch, Allan Burns, Katherine J. Munro

Read the 2015 winning poems (including our commentary)

Winners: Jacqueline Pearce, Dan Curtis, Marco Fraticelli, Joe McKeon, Brendon Kent, and Georgiana Cucu (age 12)

2014 Haiku Invitational

Judge: Marco Fraticelli

Read the 2014 winning poems (including commentary)

Winners: Garry Eaton, Cheryl Ashley, Harvey Jenkins, Julie Warther, Helen Davison, and Andreea Cirligeanu (age 12)

(placard displayed in 2015)

2013 Haiku Invitational

Judge: Terry Ann Carter

Read the 2013 winning poems (including commentary)

Winners: Julie Emerson, Marco Fraticelli, Robert Michael Drouilhet, Leah Ann Sullivan, and Iris Liu (age 12)

(placard displayed in 2014)

2012 Haiku Invitational

Judge: Beverley George

Read the 2012 winning poems (including commentary)

Winners: Marianne Baharustani, Lin Geary, Michele L. Harvey, David Terelinck, and Cristina Ailoaei (age 14)

(placard displayed in 2013)

2011 Haiku Invitational

Judge: an’ya

Read the 2011 winning poems (including commentary)

Winners: Beth Skala, Pamela Cooper, Anne LB Davidson, Quendryth Young, and Sherry Zhou (age 13)

(placard displayed in 2012)

2010 Haiku Invitational

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

Read the 2010 winning poems (including my commentary)

Winners: Laryalee Fraser, DeVar Dahl, Melissa Spurr, Lucas Garczewski, and Rukshila Dufault (age 17)

(placard displayed in 2011)

2009 Haiku Invitational

Judge: LeRoy Gorman

Read the 2009 winning poems

Winners: Jill Stanley, Aurora Antonovic, Tish Davis, Terry O’Connor, and Pearl Bird (age 11)

2008 Haiku Invitational

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

Read the 2008 winning poems (including our commentary)

Winners: Marilyn Potter, Jessica Tremblay, Ferris Gilli, Tito (Stephen Henry Gill), and Damian Margolak (age 16)

2007 Haiku Invitational

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

Read the 2007 winning poems (including our commentary)

Winners: Terry Ann Carter, Karen Cesar, Grzegorz Sionkowski, and Candis Rooker (age 15)

2006 Haiku Invitational

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

Read the 2006 winning poems (including our commentary)

Winners: Helen Baker, Barry Goodmann, Rosa Clement, and Sophia Frentz (age 13)

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 using the winning poems. The Haiku Invitational continues 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!