Meet Our Winners

The following interviews were conducted by Michael Dylan Welch in the fall of 2023 with the winners in each of the six categories in Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s Haiku Invitational contest: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, United States, International, and Youth. We invite you to get to know each winner a little better through his or her responses and to learn their influences and recommendations regarding haiku poetry.

Judges: Hannah Mahoney, Lorraine A Padden, and John Stevenson

Interviews conducted by Michael Dylan Welch

To read the poet’s interview, click on their name or picture:


Antoinette Cheung

Vancouver, British Columbia

Antoinette Cheung is a haiku poet whose work has been published in international journals and anthologies. In 2021, she received first place in Haiku Canada’s Betty Drevniok Contest. She is a current coeditor of Prune Juice and coordinator of the Haiku Society of America’s under 40s social club.

British Columbia

C. Jean Downer

White Rock, British Columbia

C. Jean Downer attributes living near the Pacific Ocean on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples to an abiding wealth of creativity. The English-language haiku form is by far her favourite poetry to compose. Her pieces have appeared in national and international print and online journals and anthologies. She is a member of Haiku Canada and the Haiku Society of America.


LeRoy Gorman

Napanee, Ontario

LeRoy Gorman lives in Napanee, Ontario. His poetry, much of it minimalist and visual, has appeared in publications and exhibitions worldwide. He is the author of two dozen poetry books and chapbooks. For many years LeRoy edited Haiku Canada Review. From 2012 to 2013, he served as honourary curator of the American Haiku Archives.


John Pappas

Brighton, Massachusetts

John Pappas is a poet and teacher whose work has appeared in many journals and his poetry has twice been selected for the Mayor of Boston’s Poetry Contest. He is a 2023 Trailblazer Award winner and has been nominated for a Touchstone Award from the Haiku Foundation. As drummer and lyricist of the punk rock band Heather Hates You, he has recorded two albums and toured extensively. He lives in Boston with his family.


Polona Oblak

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Polona Oblak is a Slovenian haiku poet. Her work has been widely published, appearing in several anthologies and winning awards, including the Touchstone individual poem award from the Haiku Foundation. She was one of the featured poets in A New Resonance 9 and currently serves as assistant editor at Tinywords.


Isabella Slattery Shannon

Christchurch, New Zealand

Isabella Slattery Shannon is a 12-year-old student who was born in Christchurch, New Zealand three months after the earthquakes. She loves to play sports (specifically hockey), which in winter she plays four times a week. She also plays tennis every Saturday morning during summer. She is half Kiwi, half Irish, and as well as sports she enjoys visiting her family in Ireland, where she recently went to in April 2023 and will be going to in June 2024.

Haiku Invitational ↗

Return to the main page of the Haiku Invitational.

Meet Our 2022 Winners ↗

Meet our 2022 Haiku Invitational winners.

2022 Commentary ↗

Read the judges’ 2022 commentary for inspiration for your own haiku.

2023 Haiku Exhibition↗

Celebrate winning haiku with commissioned pieces by Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh artists.

More Haiku ↗

View additional categories of 2022 Sakura Awards and Honourable Mentions.

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