2019 Vancouver Haiku Invitational

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is the city’s annual springtime event celebrating the Japanese tradition of flower viewing. Each April, Vancouver organises an extensive program of indoor and outdoor community events including concerts, cultural events and The Big Picnic in Queen Elizabeth Park.

As part of the Festival, Vancouver runs a Haiku Invitational inviting poets from around the world to submit haiku on the theme of cherry blossoms. Winning haiku from the 2019 Invitational will be featured during the April 2020 Festival.

The Top International Winner for 2019 is:

cherry blossoms
opening a rusty wicket
to a neighbor

(Henryk Czempiel, Poland)

In this poem, it seems the beauty of cherry blossoms has drawn two people who rarely speak to open a little used gate and admire the blooms together.

The following poem of mine received an International Sakura Award. Sakura being the Japanese word for cherry trees and their blossoms. Cherry blossoms are, of course, relatively short lived and in perfect bloom only briefly. In that sense, they remind us all life is transient.

white petals
she doesn’t notice
my flaws

(Gregory Piko, Australia)

In fact, Australian writers were well represented in this year’s competition, with six Aussies receiving an Honourable Mention. Among them was:

a bee deep inside
a double blossom

(Vanessa Proctor, Australia)

With hanami literally meaning flower viewing, and referring to the Japanese custom of holding large public picnics within view of the cherry blossoms, this haiku alludes to the deep appreciation of the blossoms by both the bees and by the people participating in the picnic.

If you are going to be around Vancouver in April, check out the program for the 2020 Cherry Blossom Festival. Meanwhile, all the awarded poems from the 2019 Haiku Invitational are available here for your enjoyment.