May 14, 2015 in Celebration of Canadian Poetry

Week 20 – A History of Haiku in Canada (in Two Parts) by Terry Ann Carter

First published on May 14, 2015; revised on April 7, 2016 with assistance from Vicki McCullough, Michael Dylan Welch, Angela Leuck, and Joanne Morcom.

Part One: What is haiku?

Most North American haiku poets (writing in English) have established the definition of haiku as the following: a short unrhymed poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience. It is what is happening “now”. In Japanese, haiku consists of 17 morae or on, “sound beats” written vertically. English language haiku are written on three horizontal lines, or less – and are usually less than 17 syllables. These three lines are composed by juxtaposing two images together. Traditional haiku contain kigo, a seasonal reference, and kireji, the “cut” between the two images. A haiku attempts to capture the aha moment; the moment, not the syllables, is what matters most. Haiku (in the singular and plural) express awe or insight, often linking nature with human nature. (Jack Kerouac referred to “haikus” but most scholars feel that he used this form of the word to rhyme with blues.)

Another definition of haiku is “one breath poetry.”

Websites pertaining to information regarding Canadian haiku poets and venues:

Haiku Canada

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, held each year in Vancouver, early April. Lists haiku contests

More information concerning definitions, backgrounds of classical Japanese poets, contemporary North American poets writing in English, and examples of haiku can be found on the following websites:

Haiku Chronicles

The Haiku Foundation


AHA poetry


The Heron’s Nest

Haiku Society of America

Part Two: A History of Haiku in Canada

A) Historical Background

Vancouver was the heart of Japanese Canada. In the pre-war years the city was home to nearly 40% of the Japanese-Canadian population, of which the great majority was concentrated in the small area along Powell Street, forming an ethnic enclave known as Nihon-machi (Japantown), or “Little Tokyo.” Political, economic, educational, and religious institutions thrived here. Smaller communities were also formed throughout the province: Steveston and other fishing villages, sawmill towns along the Pacific coast and on Vancouver Island, and agricultural communities in the Fraser and Okanagan valleys.

Immediately after the Pearl Harbour attack on December 7, 1941, all persons of Japanese descent, even Canadian citizens, were identified as “enemy aliens.” Within hours, the entire fleet of 1,200 fishing vessels was impounded. Automobiles, radios, cameras were confiscated and a night-time curfew was imposed. All Japanese Canadians were required to register with the newly formed British Columbia Security Commission; relocation camps were established in the interior of British Columbia and elsewhere. Nearly 5,000 Issei (first-generation Japanese Canadians) and Nisei (second-generation) were sent to the Slocan Valley Internment Camp.

Stone Voices: Wartime Writings of Japanese Canadian Issei by Keibo Oiwa, published by Véhicule Press, Montréal in 1991, records the diaries, letters and poems of some of these “prisoners.” Haiku circles were formed to help normalize the conditions of extremity. In the chapter “Slocan Diary,” Kaoru Ikeda portrays a life of cooking, gathering food, being surrounded by nature, and looking after family health. This diary shows a way of collective living where friends and family members, young and old, gathered to exchange their knowledge, console one another, and put their feelings into traditional Japanese poetic forms. These haiku from Kaoru’s diary are perhaps some of the first examples of haiku (translated into English) to be found in Canada.

picking berries
I happen on a bear print
in the Slocan mountains

mountain life
gathering fallen wood
the right job for an old one

In her diary marked “March 5, 1941,” Kaoru writes: “Clear and sunny. Today is the day of sekku, Girls’ Day. A while ago I decided to make dolls for my grandchildren, to celebrate sekku. I used rags and anything else I could find. Here is my haiku I attached to a doll.”

a beaming newborn
peach blossom

On her 68th birthday, Kaoru wrote of her accumulating years: “I’m grateful that I’m not sick and therefore a burden on everybody.”

arranging chrysanthemums
I celebrate this day

Slocan Valley was also the internment camp of Canadian iconic educator, environmental activist, and author, David Suzuki, and his family.

B) Early Pioneers

In French Canada, Simone Routier was the author of a first poetry collection containing fourteen haiku. Published in 1928, L’immortel adolescent won Quebec’s Athanase-David prize.

mon coeur qui t’attend/   toujours le silence/     et l’immense effeuillement

my heart awaiting you/   silence still/   and the vast falling of leaves…

In the late 1950’s / early 60’s, Leonard Cohen published what is likely the first haiku by a leading Canadian poet. The haiku-like poem was titled and dedicated to Frank and Maria Scott. It appeared in his collection The Spice-Box of Earth (McClelland & Stewart, 1961).

Summer Haiku

and a deeper silence
when the crickets

In English Canada, Claire Pratt, daughter of eminent poet and educator E.J. Pratt, published Haiku in 1965, the first author of English haiku. Claire contracted poliomyelitis when she was four years old, and suffered with this disease her entire life. She had to give up her prominent position as editor-in-chief at McClelland & Stewart, Canada’s premier publishing house, to work freelance. Her articles and poems were published in several literary reviews, and her woodcuts were exhibited in various galleries. An artist of many talents, it was her interest in Japanese prints that brought her to haiku. She illustrated many of her own poems which also made her a haiga enthusiast. Two of her haiku sequences from The Music of Oberon (1975) inspired Canadian composer Euphrosyne Keefer to compose two works from these poems: first for soprano and flute, and eight years later for soprano and piano. Claire Pratt published a final small collection of haiku Black Heather in 1980. She died in 1995.

The following examples were reprinted from her landmark collection Haiku by the Haiku Society of Canada, later to be known as Haiku Canada.

the fog has settled
around us. A faint redness
where the maple was

green is the wet night
and fingers at my casement
linger crookedly

In 1969, Rod Wilmot published Canada’s second all-haiku collection also titled Haiku. As an undergraduate literature and music student, Rod’s devotion to haiku and the haiku community would allow his friends and followers to see a developing talent. Later he would publish The Ribs of Dragonfly (1984) and Sayings for the Invisible (1988).

suddenly nude
the lake shivers

now the spade
sinks by itself
the fireflies turning the dark

coffee grounds
wash up on my tongue
still I think of her

The publications of Pratt and Wilmot, Eric Amann’s critical essay The Wordless Poem, the published haiku of the celebrated Beat poets, Cor van den Heuval’s The Haiku Anthology (1974) which was the first collection of English-language haiku by a major publisher (Anchor Books/Doubleday) were influences which soon led to the formation of the Haiku Society of Canada. The group was founded on the night of October 21, 1977, at Nikko Gardens, a now defunct Japanese restaurant in Toronto’s Chinatown. Four persons were present: Eric Amann, a friend of his, George Swede, and Betty Drevniok. Eric Amman was given the duties of the first president and newsletter editor, and Betty volunteered to be the treasurer. During the fall of 1977, Eric Amann encouraged George Swede to edit a strictly Canadian anthology of haiku. George approached Three Trees in Toronto, a press already interested in his own work, and the Canadian Haiku Anthology was born (1979), featuring twenty poets from coast to coast with work ranging in style from 5-7-5 to visual haiku. The anthology received significant recognition for haiku; it was launched in May, 1980, at Toronto’s prestigious Harbourfront, Canada’s premiere literary festival and reading venue. After a day-long haiku festival with related art displays and calligraphy demonstrations, ten poets read to a sold-out audience.

At the 1981 annual general meeting at Betty Drevniok’s home in Combermere, Ontario, on Thanksgiving weekend, the idea for another anthology was born. After a reading of exceptionally fine erotic haiku by Cor van den Heuval (up from Manhattan), George Swede, Rod Wilmot, André Duhaime, Marshall Hryciuk, and Margaret Saunders – George suggested to Rod that he edit a collection of erotic haiku. In two years, Black Moss Press in Windsor, Ontario, published this collection. Although two-thirds of the contributors were from the United States, the idea, the editor, and the publisher, were Canadian. It was also launched at Harbourfront in May, 1983. This anthology continues to be one of a kind in English-language haiku.

leaving my loneliness    inside her      George Swede

slowly, together
on the unmade bed
willow shadows                                  Ruby Spriggs

in the raw
she eats an apple
first                                                      LeRoy Gorman

Both with our feet
In this freezing river
Our eyes touch                                    Marco Fraticelli

In 1985, a third landmark collection appeared. It was the brainchild of Quebec poets Dorothy Howard and André Duhaime: Haiku Anthologie Canadienne/Canadian Anthology. An ambitious book, it included 65 poets from both English- and French-speaking Canada, as well as poets from the Japanese community. Every haiku was rendered in French and English, and in the case of the Japanese contributors, in Japanese as well. As if these innovations weren’t enough, the anthology also contained illuminating histories of the English-language haiku in North America by Elizabeth Searle Lamb, and the French-language haiku in Quebec and France by Bernadette Guilmette.

gammes interminables
de la flûte du voisin
ma mère repasse

endless scales
on the neighbour’s flute
my mother’s ironing                           Dorothy Howard

in every puddle
the after-storm-sky reflecting…
all the quiet                                         Betty Drevniok

shaded by the crisscross
of expressway overpasses
the sun tanned billboard girl               LeRoy Gorman

November nightfall
the shadow of the headstone
longer than the grave                          Nick Avis

the newly widowed woman
watering her lawn
in the rain                                            Marco Fraticelli

By this time, the Haiku Canada weekends had moved to an old monastery in Aylmer, Quebec, with provisions directed by Dorothy Howard and later Ruby Spriggs. Prominent poets from the monastery years also included Grant Savage, Hans Jongman, Marshall Hryciuk, and Marianne Bluger. Marianne was instrumental in bringing a constitution to Haiku Canada and labored for many years on the project; she worked closely with Muriel Ford (Toronto) on the writing and advocacy of this important documentation. With Betty Drevniok, Margaret Saunders, Muriel Ford, Dorothy Howard, anne mckay, and Sandra Fuhringer, Marianne was an important female voice in the development of English-language haiku in Canada, and by the 90’s was a strong influence on newer female poets. Karen Sohne added her brilliant voice to the Canadian chorus when she made a permanent move to Canada from the United States.

Other French-Canadian haiku voices include Jocelyne Villeneuve (1941-1998) who is honoured by Haiku Canada with the Jocelyne Villeneuve Prix for French-speaking haiku poets. Micheline Beaudry and Janick Belleau also publish in French with translations into English.

Haiku Canada is a well-run organization with a constitution, a list of officers, a publishing branch that first produced the Haiku Canada Newsletter and now the Haiku Canada Review edited by LeRoy Gorman which is produced twice a year (a winter/spring issue and a summer/fall issue). Since 2007, the Haiku Canada Review dedicates some of its pages to French haiku; this section is coordinated by Micheline Beaudry. The Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology, introduced at each Haiku Canada Weekend, has guest editors who usually serve for three years.

Perhaps the most influential figure in the formative years of the haiku movement in Canada was Toronto medical doctor/poet Eric Amann. He founded the magazine Haiku and was its editor for three years. Under Amann’s editorship Haiku rapidly became one of the most influential North American periodicals, publishing experimental as well as classical work. After a hiatus of seven years, during which he engaged in other kinds of writing, Amann returned to haiku with a new magazine Cicada which immediately achieved a similar status. In 1982, Amann curtailed his haiku activities once again. During this year, Toronto poets Keith Southward and Marshall Hryciuk inaugurated Inkstone which appeared over the next ten years. The periodical became known for its hard-hitting but well-reasoned reviews. Although Inkstone ceased publication in the early 90’s, Dorothy Howard’s RAW NerVZ HAIKU continued to provide a place for Canadian and international poets to publish their edgier poems. The graphic influences of both Dorothy and Ruby Spriggs enhanced early publications and newsletters. Ruby was well-known for her line drawings and small doodles; she also created large canvasses with acrylics to enhance her haiku. Both Marianne Bluger and Ruby Spriggs died of breast cancer, within two years of each other. It was a great sorrow for those in the Haiku Canada community.

George Swede is another significant pioneer in the early days of haiku development in Canada. Born in Riga, Latvia, George came to Canada with his mother and stepfather after the Second World War. After earning degrees in psychology from UBC and Dalhousie, George settled in Toronto for an academic career at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, now Ryerson University. It is the numbers around George’s contribution to the development of haiku in Canada (and the world) that always astonish. He has published over 2,000 poems in over 7,000 places. His poems have been translated into 21 languages; he edited three anthologies: The Canadian Haiku Anthology (Three Trees Press, 1979); Cicada Voices, the Selected Haiku of Eric Amann (High/Coo Press, 1983); and with co-editor Randy Brooks, Global Haiku 25 Poets Worldwide (Iron Press, 2000). George was consulting editor for eight anthologies; he has written 94 articles on poetry and 17 on psychology; he has written 13 children’s books and two psychology texts; he has had five gallery shows for his haiga; and was the editor (with Anita Krumins, assistant editor) of Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America. The following examples give a glimpse into his humour and precise eye.

Paris pond
a frog Picassos
my face

again, the bald barber
cuts my hair
too short

thick fog lifts
unfortunately, I am where
I thought I was

Betty Drevniok, also a major contributor to the early development of haiku in Canada, was born in the United States, and relocated to Toronto as a nurse shortly after World War II. She discovered haiku in the late 60’s through her work with sumi-e brush painting. In 1976, under her haiku name Makato, she published Inland – Three Rivers from an Ocean. In 1980, she organized the first International Haiku Society of Canada meeting in Toronto. Several Festivals of the Falling Leaves followed in Combermere where she lived. Betty was the secretary of the society for the first two years, and president for the next three. In 1993, she published a final individual collection Thoughts of Spring (Hexagram Series, King’s Road Press, Montreal). Since 2002 (five years after her death), Haiku Canada honours her memory through the Betty Drevniok Annual Haiku Award.

brilliant sunshine   through autumn maples     a glimpse of the lake

harvest moon:
cutting the pie
into six pieces

Another early luminary, poet and musician, Marco Fraticelli, travelled from Montreal to join the like-minded poets at Combermere. Writing haiku for over thirty years, Marco has published poems in many anthologies and publications. In 1988, he founded the Hexagram Series and published outstanding haiku poets in North America. Marco was instrumental in the holographic (written by hand, as in holographic will) anthologies to commemorate anniversaries for Haiku Canada. The first Holographic Anthology appeared in 1987 (for the 10th anniversary), then 1992, 1997, 2004 (with Philomene Kocher), and 2007 (with Philomene Kocher). In 2012, for the 35th anniversary, he edited the sixth Holographic Anthology with Marshall Hryciuk. In 2008, he was English co-editor (with Terry Ann Carter) and Francine Chicoine (French editor) of Carpe Diem: Anthologie canadienne du haïku / Canadian Anthology of Haiku, a collaborative publication of Borealis Press and Les Éditions David. In 2013 he published Drifting (a haibun memoir of the journals [1910 – 1916] of Celesta Oakley), with Catkin Press, Ontario.

Dorothy Howard, illustrator, calligrapher, editor, translator, educator, book maker, and former co- president (1985-1988) and president (1988-1990) of Haiku Canada, was an active contributor to early Haiku Canada events and publications. She organized Haiku Canada Weekends at the monastery in Aylmer, and co-edited with André Duhaime, Anthologie canadienne HAIKU Canadian Anthology (Éditions Asticou). From 1994-2007 she edited RAW NerVZ HAIKU, and casse-pieds since 2006. In November 2006, she published Amann’s The Wordless Poem translated into French by Daniel Py. Dorothy is the memory of Haiku Canada as she remains its archivist to this day. Volumes of books, pamphlets, newsletters, broadsheets, art works, line the walls of her home in Aylmer, Quebec. Her collection the photographer’s shadow was published in the Hexagram Series (King’s Road Press, 1999).

transferring the rent
raking real leaves

divorce papers
i put a new battery
in my clock

Making his mark as an outstanding editor of national as well as international fame, LeRoy Gorman contributed to the growth and interest of haiku in Canada with his own haiku moving into the aesthetics of the experimental, the concrete, the visual poem. His minimalist poems have been appearing in print for over thirty years. LeRoy has published poetry with Guernica Press, Éditions Asticou, Nietzsche’s Brolly, Proof Press, King’s Road Press, and Timberline. Over the years he has assumed or written under at least 50 pseudonyms. Since 1996 he has been editor of the Haiku Canada publications: Haiku Canada newsletter 1996-2006, the Haiku Canada Review beginning in 2007, as well as annual broadsheets for Haiku Canada members. In 1998 he began to publish poetry leaflets and postcards under his pawEprint imprint.

first haircut of the year
the barber and I have snow shoveled
before it falls

appointment calendar
a coffee ring joins
one day to the other

could sell you anything
his coffin has a shine
not even snow sticks to

For twenty years, Toronto poet and book marketer, Marshall Hryciuk, has been writing haiku and winning international awards. At the Haiku International Association symposium in Tokyo (2009) he presented his collection Arizona to Crete (Imago Press, 2008). The poems were translated into Japanese and posted on the HIA website. Other publications, among many, include Singed Leaves: A Book of Haiku Poetry (Dundurn Press, 1990) and Persimmon Moons (Imago Press, 1998). His partner Karen Sohne operates Red Iron Press which publishes haiku in small handmade, folded broadsheets. Together they organize the annual “Late Night Renku Parties” at all Haiku Canada weekends, with Marshall serving as renku master.

in moon light
a brown pine needle
spinning above the ferns

(first place in the Third Annual Croatian International Contest)

C) Regions

Haiku in Canada began to grow regionally in the late 1990s, and by early 2000 poetry groups were springing up across the country. On the Pacific coast, Naomi Beth Wakan hosted haiku gatherings at her home on Gabriola Island for twelve years, starting in 2002. In 2011, Michael Dylan Welch edited Tidepools: Haiku On Gabriola chronicling ten years of these Gabriola retreats. Alice Frampton was also significant in building a haiku community in British Columbia, which, at Anna Vakar’s suggestion, became known as Pacifi-kana.  Members include Anna Vakar, Winona Baker, Michael Dylan Welch, Vicki McCullough, Carole MacRury, elehna de sousa, Susan Constable and Edward Zuk. By 2006 – the inaugural year of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival – Michael, Vicki, Carol and Ed served as judges for the Haiku Invitational, an international haiku contest which still runs today.  Best poems are now selected in six categories: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, United States, International and Youth. Guidelines and archives of past winners are listed on the VCBF website.

A few years later, the Vancouver Haiku Group was founded by Angela Naccarato. This group meets monthly at the Britannia Community Services Centre  in East Vancouver.  Members include Jacqueline Pearce, Lynne Jambor, and Jessica Tremblay, who also composes comical cartoon strips with a haiku theme, usually featuring the adventures of Master Kawazu and his young apprentice Kaeru – both frogs. (Learn more at

Haiku poet and editor Michael Dylan Welch was, and is, instrumental in the development and growth of haiku in this region. His tireless efforts, on both sides of the border, are chronicled in  hundreds of essays and reports on his website (, and his  workshops on aesthetics  have been appreciated by many poets. Today Michael is a director for Haiku North America, and provides key leadership for yearly gatherings at Seabeck, Washington, which are hosted by Haiku Northwest, a Haiku Society of America regional group. This fall haiku getaway is widely attended by Canadian poets and features award-winning speakers, panels, readings, gingko walks, and workshops.

Haiku in western Canada also includes two newer groups: Haiku Arbutus recently formed in Victoria, facilitated by Terry Ann Carter, and Haiku North of Sixty, formed by Kathy Munro with poets meeting seasonally in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Examples of haiku from the Pacific Northwest include:

we part                     the moon follows us both               Ana Vakar

wild pears –
yellow jackets push
under the skin                                     Carole MacRury

a length of rope
knotted with seaweed –
pull of the tide                                    Susan Constable

the heron
striking its own reflection
shallow water                                     Naomi Beth Wakan

in the fog
a dog noses maple leaves
winter election                                    Vicki McCullough

first snow…
the children’s hangers
clatter in the closet                              Michael Dylan Welch

spring memorial
the dampness
in a handful of soil                              Alice Frampton

moss-hung trees
a deer moves into
the hunter’s silence                             Winona Baker

dawn stars
still twinkling …
the whiteness of daisies                      elehna de sousa

northern lights
just beyond the reach
of my walking stick                            kjmunro

late for work –
cherry petals
in her hair                                            Jessica Tremblay

sparrows shelter
under the 7 – 11 sign
October wind                                      Jacqueline Pearce

through the hollow reed –
oil of myrrh                                         Angela Naccarato

Haiku in western Canada also includes Haiku Arbutus, founded in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2013, by Terry Ann Carter. For the Haiku Canada conference held in that city in 2015, the group published one hundred umbrellas (edited by Terry Ann Carter and Dan Curtis). Some haiku from this small anthology include:

leaving Tokyo subway
one hundred umbrellas
rise in unison                                       Sidney Bending

evening tide
sand castles
becoming sand                                    Nika

scattered ashes
the lilacs bow down
with rain                                              Dan Curtis

swallow swoop
under the moon
the shooting star                                  Margaret Rutley

Ichimaru’s kimono
silver wave                                          Ulrike Narwani

wild roses
the way she ties back
her hair                                                Terry Ann Carter

closing hours
stone lantern in the garden
unlit                                                     Lyle Rumple

The newest west coast haiku group is Solstice Haiku, formed by Kathy Munro, with poets meeting seasonally in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

A prairie group of haiku poets, calling themselves the Magpie Poets (the birds’ black and white plumage has yin/yang associations) meets regularly in Calgary, Alberta, to share and promote haiku. The group was formed in 2001, when Bruce Ross and his wife Astrid were living in Red Deer, Alberta.  Bruce contacted DeVar Dahl and Joanne Morcom and arranged to meet at Annie’s Bookstore in Calgary.  Lesley Dahl, Pat Benedict, and Jean Jorgenson joined later, followed by Lucille Raizada. In the early days, poets met in each other’s homes to discuss haiku and promote writing and sharing.

Their first collection, A Piece of Egg Shell: An Anthology of Haiku and Related Work (2004), includes poets Patricia Benedict, DeVar Dahl, Jean Jorgensen, Joanne Morcom, and Tim Sampson. Here is a sampling:

prairie wind
snow fills the mouth
of the badger hole                               DeVar Dahl

after rain
two magpies take turns
preening themselves                            Patricia Benedict

they seem to drift
out of waning moonlight
snow clouds                                        Jean Jorgensen

the quiet bungalow

yellow crime scene tape                      Joanne Morcom

The group is now called the Magpie Haiku & Tanka Poets, meeting monthly (except for July, August and September) at Fish Creek Library in southwest Calgary. There are usually between five and eight poets at any given meeting, and a theme is pre-selected for each session. Each August Joanne Morcom participates in a local literary conference called “When Words Collide”. A few years ago, a second anthology called Weathered Wings, was published, with a third in the works for the future.

In the metropolis of Toronto, the birthplace of Haiku Canada, it is no surprise to find an elite group of poets gathering for monthly meetings to discuss, share, and promote haiku. The group was called Haiku Deer Park; their first meeting was February, 28, 1998. Poets met until its last workshop September 27, 2008. They met 96 times at the Deer Park branch of the Toronto Public Library. The group never exceeded fifty, and sometimes only three or four would show up for a January meeting. Besides five annual broadsheets of members’ haiku, the group composed six renku in various lengths and published two newsletters. Although Deer Park has disbanded, Toronto (and vicinity) poets include George Swede, Anita Krumins, Marshall Hryciuk, Karen Sohne, Hans Jongman, Ann Goldring, Nancy Prasad, Frances Mary Bishop, Dina E. Cox, Arch Haslett, Sonja Dunn, Terra Martin, Vivian Wong, Marilyn Potter, and Muriel Ford among others.

Many of these examples are from  Into Our Words (editors Michael Dylan Welch and Grant Savage) an anthology from the 2009 Haiku North America conference held in Ottawa:

plum cake
the educated voices
of my guests                                        Anita Krumins

the moon
not quite full
but full enough                                    Dina Cox

no path goes there
wild orchid                                          Karen Sohne

on paper
the tree hugger’s
agenda                                                 LeRoy Gorman

shadow of a moth
past the blinds

oriole song                                           Marshall Hryciuk

old western
John Wayne does a great
John Wayne                                        Hans Jongman

clocks turned back
the cardinal’s still
arrive at dusk                                      Ann Goldring

Canada’s capital city of Ottawa was the birthplace of Ottawa KaDo founded by Marianne Bluger and Terry Ann Carter in 2001. Marianne, involved with Haiku Canada for many years, wanted to revive haiku meetings in the area and invited Terry Ann to join her in setting up a small gathering of like-minded poets. Poets from the “golden years” included Grant Savage, Dorothy Howard, who joined in from across the river, and Guy Simser, who had been writing and studying haiku during his years in Japan. Other haiku poets included Claudia Coutu Radmore, Philomene Kocher, Margot Gallant, Heather A. MacDonald, Sheila M Ross, Melanie Noll, Pearl Pirie, Luminita Suse, and Mike Montreuil (currently vice president of Haiku Canada) who brought his French translations to the primarily English group. Sandra Stephenson (writing under the name Czandra Mostly) often joins the KaDo group from Quebec. KaDo Ottawa meets seasonally and each spring launches a broadsheet at the Embassy of Japan. In 2011, the poets were invited to prepare an evening of poetry for the Embassy’s cultural program. Three small chapbooks were created for that occasion: Leaf Shadows (haiku of the seasons), Me and You (haiku of love and loss), and Smell of Coffee (urban haiku). The books were edited by Terry Ann Carter, Guy Simser, and Heather McDonald. Here are some poems that were read that evening:

from reed to reed
a blackbird follows
its song                                                Grant Savage

each lilac showing me
what I do not know
about lilacs                                          Claudia Coutu Radmore

in bed
your raisin cinnamon kiss                    Terry Ann Carter

using the mirror
my mother gave me
the other side magnified                     Philomene Kocher

another ping
from the empty pop can                      Mike Montreuil

a hazy face
in the sleet mirror
granite tombstone                               Guy Simser

widow for a year
now his hat missing
from the hook                                     Pearl Pirie

In 2012, Terry Ann moved to Victoria, and KaDo was governed by Claudia Coutu Radmore. In May of 2015, leadership was turned over to Pearl Pirie.

In Montreal, two haiku groups coexist: a collective of Haiku Canada poets including Marco Fraticelli, Angela Leuck, Maxianne Berger, Ellen Cooper, Pamela Cooper, and others; and a French-speaking collective, founded by Micheline Beaudry in May 2005, which includes Haiku Canada members Jeanne Painchaud, Janick Belleau, Huguette Ducharme, Diane Descôteaux, Liette Janelle, Luce Pelletier, and others.

The French-language poets are now organized  by Geneviève Fillion <>. They also have a Haiku Camp Camp littéraire de Baie-Comeau.

When Angela Leuck and Maxianne Berger edited Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today in 2003, they encouraged Rod Wilmot and André Duhaime to join the anthology. Here is a sampling:

at the antique store
deep in the empty dresser
the sun’s rays                                      Micheline Beaudry (translated by Maxianne Berger)

your beard
soft against my neck
sun through the blinds                        Maxianne Berger

us                                                         Marco Fraticelli

drifting over
the waterfall
sound of a gong                                  Angela Leuck

trottoir verglacé
à petits pas
sur d’autres pas

icy sidewalk
step by step
in another’s footsteps                        André Duhaime

André has completed four books of haiku for children published by Winnipeg’s Les Éditions des Plaines.

Angela Leuck  lives in the village of Hatley in the Townships, and has started a haiku group for the Townships region. She connects with Montreal and Townships poets through her monthly online haiku workshops which she conducts on the “3In/3Out” traditional model outlined by Abigail Friedman in her book The Haiku Apprentice. There are currently 25 members on the list which is growing. Angela also facilitates the “Hatley Haiku Weekends” in July.

Present on the international scene, Janick Belleau has presented papers at Haiku Canada, Haiku North America, and at conferences in Japan and France. She has won international awards for her writing. In 2006, Janick and Micheline Beaudry edited the first erotic haiku collection in French, L’Érotique poème court / haïku; half of the poets (many Haiku Canada members) originated in Canada; others were from Francophone countries, mainly France. Janick’s historical research into the lives and poetry of female haiku poets in Canada is renowned.

cold winter day
she phones her mother who says:
“who are you? ”

Founded by Abigail Friedman in 2005, Quebec City hosts HaikuQuébec, a group that meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the Morrin Centre or the Library and History Society. Poets write in French and English, however, most of the discussion is in French. Occasionally the group invites guest speakers for talks and workshops, but French is a must. (Translators are available.) Members include organizers Jeanne Grégoire and Jeannine St-Amand plus poets Geneviève Rey, Jean Deronzier, Hélène Leclerc, André Vézina and Donna MacEwen.

In eastern Canada, lawyer (QC) Nick Avis, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, is prominent on the haiku scene. Nick was present at some of the early meetings in Combermere, Ontario, and the monastery in Quebec, and served as President of Haiku Canada for six years. His poetry has been published nationally and internationally for thirty years; his chapbook footprints from the Hexagram Series (King’s Road Press, 1993) won a Haiku Society of America award.

blooming on both sides
of the rusted railway line
new dandelions

separating yolks    we talk of men and women

in and out of sleep
snow turns to rain

D): Conclusion

Haiku Canada continues to be the forum for haiku poetry in Canada. With over 240 members, conferences are held annually, on the Victoria Day long weekend, with lectures, panels, performances, book launches, readings and renku parties. In 2015, the annual Haiku Canada conference was held in Victoria, British Columbia, co-hosted by Terry Ann Carter and Carole MacRury. More information can be gathered at the Haiku Canada website. In 2016, the Haiku Canada weekend will be held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, hosted by Kathy Munro. In 2017, the fortieth anniversary of Haiku Canada, the annual conference will return to Toronto. There are haiku poets in Canada who do not belong to Haiku Canada; their stories are left for another essay.

Although the poets mentioned in this article do not write in Japanese, nor speak the language, (Abigail Friedman is an exception) we are all profoundly aware of the roots of the art form we honour. Most of us have read classical Japanese haiku; primarily, we are interested in writing from the Canadian landscape or mindscape in which we dwell. As writers, we are interested in all human endeavours: personal, political, cultural, historical. Some write about the stars in clover, some about tight shoes. We are moved by the natural beauty of our country, yet do not get caught in boundaries. We are mesmerized by the moment, caught in the transcendence of life, constantly trying, as Basho once said, “to learn pine from the pine, and bamboo from bamboo”. That “every day is a journey and the journey itself is home.”

Terry Ann Carter
President, Haiku Canada


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Excerpts from this essay were previously published in the Haiku Canada Review and Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America.

Permission has been granted by Véhicule Press for the use of haiku from Stone Voices: Wartime Writings of Japanese Canadian Issei. Keibo Oiwa, Editor.

Permission to use haiku in this article has been sought through Haiku Canada from the authors named.

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