2018 Haiku Invitational

Over 1,500 haiku were entered in this year’s VCBF Haiku Invitational and judging these poems has been an enriching experience. The range of styles and approaches utilized by poets in celebration of the cherry blossom has deepened our appreciation and admiration of these beautiful flowers. The winning poems are of an incredibly high standard, and each of them displays a refreshing approach to the subject. Often the poems revealed new depths and dimensions with each new reading. We are each profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have experienced the creative efforts of so many gifted haiku poets from around the world.

The following comments on each poem are by 2018 Haiku Invitational judges, Paul Chambers, Tanya McDonald, and Jacquie Pearce



Playing tag
under the cherry blossoms—
the streetlights come on

                      Vicky Rizzardo
                      Vancouver, British Columbia

This is a wonderfully experiential poem, one which is easy to relate to, and which has a deep feeling of nostalgia without feeling contrived. The last line provides a sudden sense of realization of the passage of time, which has gone unnoticed while in the immersion of playing tag. In an era when nature-deficit disorder is becoming more common, this poem celebrates the carefree joy of playing outside with friends.

British Columbia

in a dark cupboard
full of coats
cherry blossom petals

Cheryl Ashley
Nanaimo, British Columbia

This haiku demonstrates a skillful contrast—both visually and emotionally—between the dark cupboard and the light cherry blossoms. Perhaps it was a particularly hard winter, or a period of emotional darkness, but now, spring has arrived. There is an unexpected delight in discovering these petals among the coats, suggesting that the owners of said coats have been out walking among the cherry blossoms.


riding my bike
a new way home
cherry blossoms

                      Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

So often, we get stuck in our routines and fail to notice our surroundings, so there is a delightful sense of freshness and spontaneity in this poem. The cyclist has chosen to enjoy the beauty of the blossoms, and in that way, harmonize with nature, at least for the duration of the ride home. It’s easy to share the joy of this experience.

United States

yaezakura petals
a child learns to count
beyond 5

                      Christine L. Villa
                      North Highlands, California

A yaezakura is a type of double-blossomed cherry with more than the usual five petals. This haiku illustrates the sense of discovery that comes from both closely examining such an exquisite blossom, and in the delight of learning to count. Both the child and whoever is teaching the child are sharing the wonder of that moment with the blossom.


blossom by blossom—
the old cherry tree
gathers light

                     Eduard Tara
                     Iași, Romania

This is a beautiful, yet understated image that speaks to the time of day and the quality of light, when cherry blossoms seem to glow with a light of their own. It also contains a sense of wabi sabi, (beauty in something imperfect and transient), and a metaphorical sense of recognizing and celebrating inner beauty, such that an older person might have to offer. There is a quietly beautiful sense of time passing in this haiku that makes it understatedly powerful.


Early morning
the cherry blossom
opens my hand

                     Daniel Flaszynski, age 10
                      Christchurch, New Zealand

With this poem, the poet subtly captures the feeling of attuning oneself to nature. The poet is so immersed in the experience of the falling blossom that their hand seems to open to the blossom of its own accord. The language is so light and simple that it resonates with the experience itself. A beautifully crafted poem.

2018 Haiku Invitational Judge Bios:

Paul Chambers is an award-winning haiku poet and the founder and editor of the Wales Haiku Journal. He has published more than 200 poems in a range of international journals and anthologies. His first collection, This Single Thread, was shortlisted for the Haiku Foundation’s Distinguished Book Award in 2015, and in 2017 he published a landmark translation of haiku by the Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, in the Times Literary Supplement. His latest collection, Latitudes was published by Alba in November 2017. Paul lives in Newport, Wales.
  Tanya McDonald has coedited several haiku anthologies, including No Longer Strangers, Haiku Northwest’s 25th anniversary anthology. In 2014, she cojudged the Haiku Society of America’s Henderson Haiku Contest. She is the moon half of Seven Suns/ Seven Moons, a quirky, haiku-esque collaboration with Michael Dylan Welch, published in 2016. Her haiku have appeared in numerous haiku journals, several Red Moon anthologies, and A New Resonance 7 in 2011. She was a featured reader at the 25th annual Two Autumns reading in San Francisco. An active member of Haiku Northwest since 2008, she is currently the group’s vice-president. She resides in Woodinville, Washington.
  Jacquie Pearce is a Vancouver-based author of novels for children as well as poetry. Her haiku have won awards, including the 2018 League of Canadian Poets inaugural haiku contest and Best Vancouver Haiku in the 2015 Cherry Blossom Haiku Invitational. Her haiku have also appeared in a variety of publications, including the Haiku Canada Review, Frogpond, and The Red Moon Anthology. Jacquie recently shared and taught haiku as writer-in-residence at Joy Kogawa House and coedited The Jade Pond, an anthology of haiku written by the Vancouver Haiku Group. Visit her at http://jacquelinepearce.ca/ and www.wildink.wordpress.com.