Ann Harreby
Vancouver Winner, 2017 VCBF Haiku Invitational

the names
of children being called home
cherry blossoms

                Ann Harreby
                Coquitlam, British Columbia

Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the Vancouver category in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s 2017 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 when I chanced upon a discarded library book in 1992: The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to explore it further. Haiku has been a work in progress for me ever since. I have not written other forms of poetry. Recently I’ve become interested in haibun [prose with haiku]—a perfect way to combine my love of haiku with keeping a journal.

What was the inspiration for your winning poem?

The inspiration for this poem took place in my own neighbourhood. It was a beautiful spring day. My cherry tree was in full bloom. Children were playing road hockey in the cul-de-sac. My front patio door was open to let in the breeze. I heard a mother calling her children home—unusual today, but quite common in years past. Later that day, when I was jotting down some notes in my journal, I thought about the many times I had called my own children home. I was reminded of my own childhood and the sound of my mother’s voice calling me home.

Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.

I was very surprised when I received the email telling me I had won in the Vancouver category of the VCBF Haiku Invitational. I did not expect that at all. I had several versions of the poem, and had a hard time deciding which one to submit. I was not confident that I had made the right choice. I’m pleased the judges liked this version and chose it as one of the winners.

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?

Favourite books:

  • The Way of Haiku by James Hackett
  • The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson
  • Haiku: One Breath Poetry by Naomi Wakan (catalogued as juvenile literature, but a good starting point for all ages)


To share one’s haiku I would recommend joining a group of haiku poets. I’m a member of Haiku Canada. And last, but not least, read the poems of the four great haiku masters of Japanese poetry: Bashō, Buson, Issa, and Shiki.

Please tell us more about yourself.

I retired a few years ago from a life of working with books. I’m an avid reader—fiction and nonfiction. When travelling, I find myself browsing through bookstores. I delight in finding a beautifully illustrated children’s book. Each summer my granddaughter and I work on a journal together that reflects our love of the outdoors. Next summer we will add haiku to our journal. Another favourite activity is strumming a tune on my ukulele with family and friends.

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

I live in the Metro Vancouver area and I’m a daily walker. Much of my time is spent on the trails of our local parks. The changing seasons and wildlife I encounter are endlessly fascinating as are people and snippets of their conversations. My interest in haiku has made me much more observant and aware of my surroundings no matter where I find myself.