|2006 Winning Haiku|
2006 Best Haiku
2006 Sakura Award Winners
2006 Adult Honourable Mentions
2006 Youth Honourable Mentions
2006 Judges' Comments
Cherry blossoms are one of the oldest topics in Japanese literature. They are the subject of thirty-one-syllable waka poems and Nōh plays as well as haiku. The greatest haiku poet, Matsuo Bashō, once wrote:
The cherry blossom, Bashō seems to say, invokes so many associations that it can inspire a limitless amount of poetry.
We are delighted to report that poets from twenty-nine countries submitted roughly one thousand haiku to the Haiku Invitational for the 2006 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. As if to confirm Bashō’s insight, their work showed a remarkable variety and inventiveness on the subject of cherry blossoms. More than one third of the haiku came from Canada, and another eighty-five came from poets from throughout the United States. We were pleased to receive nearly fifty haiku from Croatia as well as a handful from Japan, the country that gave us both the haiku and the tradition of cherry-blossom viewing. Poets from South America, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Western and Eastern Europe also graced the festival with their poems, and we enjoyed reading them all. On behalf of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, we would like to thank every poet who submitted poems.
The haiku came from poets with ages ranging from eight to over eighty. Some well-known authors submitted haiku, but many of the best poems arrived from writers whom we did not know but whom we would like to read again. We received a large number of haiku from poets eighteen and under, and we are very pleased to recognize and encourage their talent by selecting our favourites. We have chosen a number of honourable mention haiku by both adults and youth for publication on this site.
From the thousand or so haiku submitted, we also selected what we believed to be the very best, based on freshness of imagery, sensitivity to haiku aesthetics, and power of expression. These thirty poems will be printed on silk banners and displayed in an art installation in Vancouver during the month of March, 2006. From these thirty poems, we chose what we believed to be the strongest poem in each of the following categories: Canadian Poem, U.S. Poem, International Poem (from outside North America), and Youth Poem (age eighteen and under). These haiku will be displayed inside Vancouver city buses throughout March.
Each of the top poems has taught us a new way to appreciate cherry blossoms. Our top Canadian poem places the viewer on a long road lined with cherry trees, so that the weariness of travel is overcome by their beauty. Our top U.S. poem is a whimsical reminder that cherry blossoms can make us neglect the responsibilities of the world. Our top International poem shows how an enthusiasm for cherry blossoms can inspire anyone. Our top Youth poem reveals how a blossom’s beauty can penetrate our lives at any moment.
We encourage every poet who submitted a poem to keep writing and enjoying haiku. The Pacifi-kana haiku group meets periodically in and around Vancouver and welcomes new members. Poets elsewhere in Canada or in the United States can turn to Haiku Canada and the Haiku Society of America for information about local haiku groups, contests, and readings in their area. We would also like to remind poets about the festival’s haiku workshop at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library on March 20, 2006, led by Michael Dylan Welch.
We trust that you will derive as much pleasure as we did from reading the haiku selected for the 2006 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival while feeling, as did Bashō, that cherry blossoms can indeed bring many things to mind.
—Carole MacRury, Vicki McCullough, Michael Dylan Welch, and Edward Zuk, Judges