Daniel Flaszynski
Youth Winner, 2018 VCBF Haiku Invitational

Early morning
the cherry blossom
opens my hand

Daniel Flaszynski, age 10
Christchurch, New Zealand

Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the youth 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 am in year 5 at Fendalton Open-Air Primary School in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was lucky enough to be selected in the extension writing program. We spent some time studying poetry and writing haiku. Near where my grandparents live in Kakikati there are haiku engraved on large rocks along the river walk. I have always enjoyed climbing on the rocks and reading the haiku. My sisters and I often take turns making up haiku as we walk.

What was the inspiration for your winning poem?

At my house, we have three cherry trees in the backyard. Every year (in September) they turn our backyard pink. The petals fall like snowflakes onto the grass. I have always enjoyed playing amongst the petals as they fall from the trees.

Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.

I was at school finishing some work and I accidentally clicked on my emails. I saw that for once I had some messages. I did not really understand the long email that said I had won. I asked my teacher, Mr. Matthews, to tell me what this meant. Mr. Matthews was surprised and delighted for me. He rang his big trumpet bell and told my class about my success. That night I asked my Dad for some help with the emails. I didn’t tell him why I needed help so he was super surprised when he read the email telling me I had won the competition. My family has been very excited for me.

Do you have favourite books or websites relating to haiku that others might benefit from?

I have to be honest and say that my favourite book series is Harry Potter. I don’t think there are any haiku in these books!

Please tell us more about yourself.

I am ten years old and have two sisters, Bella (14 years) and Natasha (12 years). My mum is a lawyer and my dad is a computer consultant. We have a dog named Parker Jones and a rabbit named Ryan. I love playing soccer and am learning to play tennis. We ski in the winter holidays and ride mountain bikes in the summer. I scooter to and from school every day. We go on neat holidays around New Zealand—Queenstown, Wanaka, Blenheim, Katikati, Waiheki Island. My all-time favourite holiday was our trip to Universal Studios (Harry Potter World) and Disneyland in Los Angeles.

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

I enjoy writing as it makes me use my imagination. I like haiku as they don’t rhyme. They are fun to write and can capture moments in a simple way.