Victoria Vieira, age 17
Coquitlam, British Columbia
Beneath the blossoms
Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the Youth category in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s 2016 Haiku Invitational contest. How did you first learn about haiku, and how much writing of haiku or other poetry have you done?
I first learned about haiku through my writing teacher in high school, who encouraged us to pursue multiple medias of literature. I have very limited experience with haiku outside of this competition, and other types of poetry as well.
What was the inspiration for your winning poem?
I was inspired by the transitional period that the appearance of cherry blossoms conjures in my mind, and how life manages to pause when one walks beneath the trees and notices the blooms. It is easy to let go of what has been holding you back when you see something so beautiful and you realize you should be enjoying it instead of worrying.
Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.
When I first learned I had won, shock was my foremost emotion. I have very limited experience in poetry and I never believed entering this contest would come to fruition. The first people I told were my roommates, who were very excited for me, followed by my parents back home.
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?
Unfortunately I do not know of any books or websites dedicated to haiku that would help others. When I was writing my poem, I used the VCBF website to figure out what the judges had liked in the past.
Please tell us more about yourself.
Right now I am in my first year at the University of Victoria, and I intend to declare as an English major at the end of my second semester. I am originally from Coquitlam, where I lived with my parents and older brother, who now serves in the Canadian Armed Forces. My main interest is writing, especially short stories, although I also enjoy reading books of every genre as well as playing the piano.
How does where you live and what you enjoy doing affect the way you write haiku?
Living in Coquitlam, I rarely got to see the cherry blossoms unless I ventured into Vancouver at the right time of year, and now that I live in Victoria I have even fewer opportunities. This definitely affected the way I wrote my haiku, as for me the blossoms are a gift rather than a daily occurrence, so I hold them in higher accord than perhaps others who live near them.