Canada Winner, 2018 VCBF Haiku Invitational

riding my bike
a new way home
cherry blossoms

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the Canada category in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s 2018 Haiku Invitational contest. How did you first learn about haiku, and how much writing of haiku or other poetry have you done?

I have written poetry all my adult life, and I learned about haiku when I decided to start sending work out for publication—around 2010. People had often said my work was “haiku-like,” but I doubt they really knew much about haiku—my work tends to be short and condensed, with layers of meaning. The more I read about haiku, the more interested I have become.

What was the inspiration for your winning poem?

I wrote this poem specifically for this contest. There are very few blossoming trees in the Yukon, but I grew up in Vancouver, so I rely on my many memories to bring me back into that glorious world full of blossoms. I imagined what it would be like to have a regular bike route transformed by blossoms, or someone actually changing their bike route to enjoy more of the blossoms.

Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.

I was sitting in the Bean North Café, where I go to read and write with other writers every Wednesday, and I had just sent a congratulatory email to a local writing acquaintance who had just won a major national prize ($1000!). The next email I received was the one telling me I had won! It is an honour, and it made me very happy, but I’ve only told my immediate family so far.

Do you have favourite books or websites relating to haiku that others might benefit from in order to learn haiku as a literary art and to share one’s haiku?

I enjoy attending conferences and connecting with other poets, such as at Haiku Canada (http://haikucanada.org/), Haiku North America (http://www.haikunorthamerica.com/), and the Seabeck Haiku Getaway (https://sites.google.com/site/haikunorthwest/seabeck-haiku-getaway-2018). I recommend reading everything you can get your hands on. As for websites, I would have to mention the Haiku Foundation (https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/) and Graceguts (www.graceguts.com).

Please tell us more about yourself.

I enjoy living in the Yukon, camping in the summer, and travelling anytime. I am active in organizing events in the local writing community (Yukon Writers’ Collective Ink—see https://yukonink.wordpress.com/) and serve as membership secretary for Haiku Canada.

How does where you live and what you enjoy doing affect the way you write haiku?

Haiku has become such a part of my life that I can’t imagine my life without it. Being aware enough to live in the moment, paying attention to all my senses, and writing about it, is something I strive for wherever I am. In fact, I would turn the question around and say that writing haiku helps me to appreciate where I am, and to enjoy whatever I am doing even more.