Judged by Carole MacRury, Vicki McCullough, Michael Dylan Welch, and Edward Zuk

 Best Haiku

Best Canadian Poem

the long road
boughs of white blossoms
light the way

                      Helen Baker
                      North Vancouver, British Columbia
Best U.S Poem

cherry blossoms
I fold my résumé
into a crane

                      Barry Goodmann
                      Hackensack, New Jersey
Best Youth Poem

stopped in traffic—
on my window
cherry blossom

                      Sophia Frentz (age 13)
                      Tauranga, New Zealand
Best International Poem

cherry tree
even the blind woman
picks blossoms

                      Rosa Clement
                      Manaus, Brazil

Sakura Award Winners

a new son born—
from the hospital window
cherry blossoms and rain

                      Cheryl Ashley
                      Nanaimo, British Columbia

my sad ride
to the hospital—then this street
with cherry blossoms

                      Winona Baker
                      Nanaimo, British Columbia

after the rain
the cherry blossoms

                      Peter Brady
                      Gatineau, Quebec

hospital watch—
we open her window shade
to cherry blossoms

                      Ellen Compton
                      Washington, D.C.

first light
once more the pink
of cherry blossoms

                      Wanda Cook
                      Hadley, Massachusetts

pink paving-stones—
the cherry trees are again
common trees

                      Ferre Denis
                      Antwerp, Belgium

morning light—
the cherry tree shadows
also blossom

                      Stanford M. Forrester
                      Wethersfield, Connecticut

blossoms . . .
I dust off the last
jar of cherries

                      Alice Frampton
                      Wynndel, British Columbia

rap music
the cherry blossom

                      Sophia Frentz (age 13)
                      Tauranga, New Zealand

buds on the cherry—
I wrap new chiffon
around my hat

                      D. Claire Gallagher
                      Sunnyvale, California

Her new puppy
already chasing
cherry blossoms

                      Garry Gay
                      Santa Rosa, California

late winter dusk . . .
from the music classroom
a sakura song

                      Keiko Izawa
                      Yokohama, Japan

under a shower
of cherry blossom petals—
wish I were naked

                      Helen Kyle
                      Thunder Bay, Ontario

early spring
under the cherry blossoms
deaf lovers sign

                      Denise Lizarraga
                      El Centro, California

cherry blossoms
a street vendor hums
the Ode to Joy

                      Peggy Lyles
                      Tucker, Georgia

the guests are coming—
are the petals to be swept
away from the paths?

                      Tomislav Maretic
                      Zagreb, Croatia

distant thunder
a few cherry blossoms
float to earth

                      W. f. Owen
                      Antelope, California

childhood home—
with knobbly fingers she picks
the fallen blossoms

                      Kala Ramesh
                      Maharashtra, India

a shortcut
to the sanitarium—
cherry blossoms

                      Andrew Riutta
                      Traverse City, Michigan

cherry blossoms
a breeze carries them
to an unmarked grave

                      Gabriel Rosenstock
                      Dublin, Ireland

cold morning
amongst the blossoms
our pink fingers

                      Sandra Simpson
                      Tauranga, New Zealand

cherry blossoms!
today I’ll brush on
a pinker blush

                      Ebba Story
                      San Francisco, California

waiting for my pills—
the old cherry tree’s blossoms
about to open

                      Eduard Tara
                      Iasi, Romania

as if there were
no other blossoms—
a cherry in bloom

                      Sanja Varga (age 17)
                      Varazdin, Croatia

cherry blossoms—
i wear my silk scarf
from Japan

                      Angelika Wienert
                      Oberhausen, Germany

popcorn in the park
the cherry blossoms
free of charge

                      Oleg Yurov
                      Donetsk, Ukraine


Adult Honourable Mentions

cherry blossoms
the tug tug tug
of baby’s hand

                      Roberta Beary
                      Bethesda, Maryland

morning mist
a bent back sweeps
yesterday’s blossoms

                      Roberta Beary
                      Bethesda, Maryland

on her kimono
glistening in the moonlight
a scented blossom

                      Ernest J. Berry
                      Picton, New Zealand

mother’s wedding day
vases of pink
cherry blossoms

                      Jeannine Bertoia
                      Surrey, British Columbia

spring zephyr
cherry blossoms settled
on the Buddha’s hand

                      Daniel Brady
                      San Francisco, California

in the envelope—
cherry petals

                      Jason Sanford Brown
                      Vail, Arizona

fragrant morning—
cherry blossoms fill
my cupped hands

                      Natalie Buckland
                      Nimbin, Australia

I close my eyes
still cherry blossoms
against the sky

                      Natalie Buckland
                      Nimbin, Australia

one pink blossom

                      Susan Constable
                      Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

spring moon—
under the cherry tree
an open umbrella

                      Susan Constable
                      Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

cherry blossoms
still pink
in the moonlight

                      Wanda Cook
                      Hadley, Massachusetts

Vancouver spring:
wet cherry blossoms landing
on umbrellas

                      Jeff Crawford
                      Surrey, British Columbia

hidden in blossoms
just one sparrow
singing loudly in the rain

                      Elehna de Sousa
                      Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

sudden gust—
the softness
of falling blossoms

                      Elehna de Sousa
                      Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

morning shower
a wattlebird scatters
cherry blossoms

                      Lorin Ford
                      Brunswick, Australia

grizzled poet—
a sprig of cherry blossoms
in his knapsack

                      Laryalee Fraser
                      Salmon Arm, British Columbia

pink pavement
the softness of fallen petals
in each step

                      Keiko Izawa
                      Yokohama, Japan

Warm breeze
under the cherry in bloom
a child plays the flute

                      Sonja Koranter
                      Hrusica, Slovenia

cherry in bloom—
the child tries her mum’s veil
by the window

                      Nataly Levi
                      Moscow, Russia

carefully strolling
with the newest hip implant,
with cherry blossoms

                      Horst Ludwig
                      St. Peter, Minnesota

the moon now this
now that side of the bus—
blossoms everywhere

                      Tomislav Maretic
                      Zagreb, Croatia

cherry blossoms free fall
into the pond . . .
baby’s first steps

                      Ed Markowski
                      Auburn Hills, Michigan

cherry blossoms
the one that falls
on mother’s headstone

                      Ed Markowski
                      Auburn Hills, Michigan

cherry blossoms—
our laughter takes its time
through night air

                      Kosuke Miyata
                      New York, New York

just blossoming
we meet under
the cherry tree

                      W. f. Owen
                      Antelope, California

yesterday’s paper
the park bench littered
with cherry petals

                      Linda Papanicolaou
                      Stanford, California

cherry tree
a withered crown has
two boughs in blossom

                      Zvonko Petrovic
                      Varazdin, Croatia

blossoming cherry
one bough hiding
the whole town

                      Darko Plazanin
                      Samobor, Croatia

beneath the city cherry tree
and sniffing dogs

                      Sharon Priest-Nagata
                      Vancouver, British Columbia

Cherry blossoms
out of nowhere
a cardinal’s song

                      Carol Purington
                      Colrain, Massachusetts

cherry blossoms
about to fall
without a thought

                      Gabriel Rosenstock
                      Dublin, Ireland

housebound . . . now
she celebrates spring
with silk cherry blossoms

                      Rose Marie Stutts
                      Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Morning breeze—
his hair full
of cherry blossoms

                      Deborah Russell
                      Fort Collins, Colorado

his pregnant wife—
buds swell
on the cherry tree

                      Andre Surridge
                      Hamilton, New Zealand

blossoms sway with the breeze
my flash
two seconds too late

                      Angela Terry
                      Seattle, Washington

falling blossoms—
the pregnancy test

                      Theresa Thompson
                      Lufkin, Texas

flowering cherry
children somersault
under the blossom

                      Naomi Beth Wakan
                      Gabriola Island, British Columbia

cherry blossoms—
knowing the last line
of my letter

                      Angelika Wienert
                      Oberhausen, Germany


Youth Honourable Mentions

Cherry Blossom—
It’s spring

                      Daniel Ahmed (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

Windows are open
The blossoms are singing
a beautiful song.

                      Shantelle Bartido (9)
                      Vancouver, British Columbia

Windy day
of cherry blossoms
pink marker

                      Gregory Béland (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

cherry trees in bloom—
drifting petals cover
the distant mountains

                      Sonia Coman (17)
                      Constanta, Romania

how to put them
in a row of words . . .
cherry blossoms

                      Sonia Coman (17)
                      Constanta, Romania

In old-time Japan
Cherry blossoms cover the graves
Of the Samurai

                      Marisa Dorling (8)
                      North Vancouver, British Columbia

The full moon is out
Sweet pink sakura petals
Blow in the night breeze

                      Marisa Dorling (8)
                      North Vancouver, British Columbia

cherry tree

                      Eric Filiatrault (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

Cherry blossoms
pink and white
falling into my hair.

                      Gemine Gok (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

cherry blossoms
open in the spring—
pink and white sneezes

                      Christopher Hemmings (13)
                      Brossard, Quebec

Petals in my hair
The place where you said
we’d meet
Flowers bloom, I wait

                      Adriana Lademann (17)
                      Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Cherry blossoms—
from a tap

                      Michael Lawrie (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

pale pink blossoms blink
in the early morning light
sunrise of the spring

                      Ida Mayer (16)
                      Austin, Texas

Pink and soft
cherry tree
Leaning gently ove

                      Teiji Miyashita (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

A flower in the air
when is it going
to come down?

                      Catherine Mooney (10)
                      Brossard, Quebec

Under cherry blossoms
Windy day
I’m cotton candy

                      Steven Mota (12)
                      Brossard, Quebec

cherry blossoms
can’t tell the difference
with the snow

                      Costa Panzarino (12)
                      Brossard, Quebec

Over the mountains
comes the sun’s great golden light
spring cherry blossoms

                      Haley Patassini (12)
                      Maple Ridge, British Columbia

pink petals fly
spring in the rainy city

                      Kaitlyn Placsko (16)
                      Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Cherry blossom tree
Stands tall, proud and green
In the village mall

                      Claire Podmore (13)
                      Maple Ridge, British Columbia

field of trees
overflowing with cherry blossoms
kids tossing blossoms

                      Tara S. Provost (12)
                      Brossard, Quebec

a colourful bird
on top of a leafless tree,
humming with the wind

                      Loren Soriano (12)
                      Winnipeg, Manitoba

Beautiful blossom
Swaying so high in the tree
Please descend on me

                      Megan Stanton (12)
                      North Vancouver, British Columbia

Swept through the air
Dancing fast, free, everywhere
Blossom on the wind

                      Ryan Thom (14)
                      Vancouver, British Columbia

a child staring at
the fallen cherry blossoms

                      Sanja Varga (17)
                      Varazdin, Croatia

Cherry blossoms fall
pink leaves
on my head

                      Tommy Zacchia (11)
                      Brossard, Quebec

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:

cherry blossoms—
so many things
are brought to mind

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

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