Isabella Slattery Shannon
light the way
Isabella Slattery Shannon, Age 11
Christchurch, New Zealand
Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the Youth category in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s 2023 Haiku Invitational contest. How did you first learn about haiku, and how much writing of haiku or other poetry have you done?
I first started doing creative writing classes in year five and was introduced to haiku by my creative writing teacher. I haven’t just been writing haiku but other types of poetry such as cinquains, sonnets, etc. I was also published in the 2023 Rattle Young Poets Anthology with a poem I wrote about a bellbird.
What was the inspiration for your winning poem?
The inspiration was minimal, revolving solely around the idea of driving home on a late, foggy night, passing by the cherry blossom trees planted along the footpath lighting the way home.
Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.
I was in school at the time the email was sent, just before home time. When I opened the email, I couldn’t believe that I had been chosen as the winner for the youth category. I quickly forwarded the email to my mum to share the amazing news with her, and then told my close friends about it. In my creative writing lesson six days after the email was sent, I told my teacher about it and she congratulated me.
Do you have favourite books or websites relating to haiku that others might benefit from to learn haiku as a literary art and to share one’s haiku?
I don’t read many books, but when I do they tend to be nonfiction or based on true stories. I’m not sure if that helps me with poetry, but it does introduce me to new words, which I can use to make my poems more interesting and exciting.
Please tell us more about yourself.
I am now a 12-year-old student who was born in Christchurch, New Zealand three months after the earthquakes. I love to play sports (specifically hockey), which in winter I play four times a week. I also play tennis every Saturday morning during summer. I am half Kiwi, half Irish, and as well as sports I enjoy visiting my family in Ireland, where I recently went to in April 2023 and will be going to in June 2024.
How does where you live and what you enjoy doing affect the way you write haiku?
I live in Christchurch, which is often known as the Garden City. Because Christchurch is such a green and colourful place, it gives me lots of inspiration for my poems. Within my neighbourhood, numerous cherry blossom trees line the footpath, and when spring comes, they burst into full bloom, painting a stunning landscape.
Return to the main page of the Haiku Invitational.
Meet our 2023 Haiku Invitational winners.
Read the judges’ 2023 commentary for inspiration for your own haiku.
Celebrate winning haiku with commissioned pieces by Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh artists.
View additional categories of 2023 Sakura Awards and Honourable Mentions.
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