Global Correspondent Report for Canada




Alegria Imperial, CA

Vancouver Poetry Reading: Bright Future for haiku


first reading—
by the lamplight
oak leaves in the rain

—Angela J. Naccarato

A bright future for haiku in Vancouver is certain

A spark of it shone at the two-year old Vancouver Haiku Group’s (VHG) first Poetry Reading dubbed “Under the Cherry Tree, an evening of haiku, free verse and music” at Chapters Bookstore on Robson St., Vancouver, BC, Canada on May 31. Sharing their haiku and other Japanese short poetry forms like tanka and haibun, exploratory forms and free verse were VHG members with grade four and five students from Panorama Heights Elementary School in Coquitlam, BC.

In her introduction, VHG member and teacher, Brenda Larsen proudly announced that her students have broken through the “5-7-5 headlock” in writing their haiku, which Juliana Nunes and Matthew Zhao read—their own and their classmates’—for the opening number. Most were on cherry blossoms, some take off on their favorite poetry, and a few on Jessica Tremblay’s ‘Old Pond Comics, with a couple of free verse poems.

Cherry blossoms in haiku

Sustaining the theme, Jessica Tremblay, originally from Montreal, first read her Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational (VCBF HI) winning haiku, her first in English. She followed it up with a delightful presentation of selected frames from her “Old Pond” comics, a take off from a Basho classic, on a frog trying to learn haiku, and her explorations of this unique form using works of other Japanese masters like Issa on a split frame.

Alegria Imperial, formerly of Manila, also included her VCBF HI winning and first published haiku, a VHG exercise voted favorite, as well as some of her other winning and recently published haiku, tanka and experimental haibun diary.

Vicki McCullough, who has won several VCBF awards, read her cherry blossom haiku from across the HI years, as well as those of Haiku Canada members Alice Frampton, elehna de sousa, Naomi Beth Wakan and Susan Constable—and a few more favorites showing the international diversity of VCBF HI submissions. She concluded with a six blossom-themed tanka by Haiku Canada Review editor LeRoy Gorman, from his new tanka collection, fast enough to leave this world. Vicki is coordinator of the BC region for Haiku Canada, also known as pacifi-kana.

Brenda started her reading with a VHG cherry blossom haiku exercise inspired by a cherry tree at Joy Kogawa’s Vancouver Heritage House in Vancouver’s Marpole area, which she ended with a touching free verse on her battle with a chronic allergy that affects her breathing.

VHG organizer and facilitator, Angela J. Naccarato, during the first part of the program picked a few of Amelia Fielding’s tanka who had sent a written permission from her online series, sakura, sakura accompanied on the clarinet by Nik Stimpson. Amelia is a professional translator of Japanese literature. Angela, later in the second part of the program, read her cherry blossom haiku and a series inspired by her trip to the British Isles, accompanied by James Mullin on a Javanese gamelan.

Other highlights

Other highlights of the evening were Rachel Enomoto’s reading in the original Japanese selected works of Japanese women haiku poets from the 18th to the 20th century with English translation and interesting background notes—Chiyo-ni, being her favorite, while James Mullin read picks from his own free verse collection. Declaring his transformation by haiku, which according to him had taught him the humility the discipline asked of haiku poetry, he then recited from memory his most memorable haiku inspired by a ginko walk at Burnaby’s heritage memorial park.

Guest poet, Ruona Asplund also read Nature poems, one a paean to “Mother Earth”, from two of her three published books. For the musical break, Nik performed a Quebecois piece, “Isabeau s’y promene” and Mozart’s “Sonatina No. 1”.



Jared Korb played an acoustic guitar number to conclude the program. Taking advantage of the “open mic”, guest Hadley Mielke read poems from her journals.

An enthusiastic audience filled the reading room on the third floor of Chapters. Sprigs of crepe paper cherry blossoms on tall vases made by Brenda’s students adorned the wall. Crane origami with haiku written on them also by Brenda’s students, graced a table, where haiku book selections, which Cameron Russell of Chapters, who also helped facilitate the event, had set up. Cameron also took video and pictures, now up at the Chapters on Robson Facebook page.

Up soon, a second poetry reading

VHG meets every third Sunday of the month at the Britannia Community Services Centre on Commercial Drive, Vancouver. Facilitator Angela J. Naccarato, whose intuitive exercises aims at tapping the subconscious, also organizes the group’s ginko walks such as those at Strathcona Gardens in Vancouver, the Chinese Buddhist Temple in Richmond and the Heritage Cemetery in Burnaby.

Already, the group’s second poetry reading has been scheduled in partnership with Britannia at its annual summer event, “Artful Sundays”, held at the center’s premises for four consecutive Sundays from Aug. 12 to Sept. 12. VHG members will present their poems at the performer’s tent on Aug. 26. They will also conduct haiku writing and crane origami making workshops.

~Alegria Imperial, Canada









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