The Joy of Haiku

On May 20 to 22 haiku lovers from across Canada will descend upon the Gold Rush Inn for three days of all-things haiku.

The Haiku Canada society formed way back in 1977 and they are still going strong. The group celebrates the art with a conference, called Haiku Canada Weekend, with the event held in a different location each year. This month marks the first time the event will be held in the Yukon.

Whitehorse writer Katherine Munro who is organizing the conference in cooperation with Haiku Canada, says the conference dives into the depths of the art.

“We don’t show you how to write haiku,” she says. “Participants already know this.”

The haiku form of poetry originated in Japan, and contains three lines of an exact number of syllables – five, seven and five.

“But English-language haiku has evolved to be much shorter now,” Munro says.

Munro explains that syllables are counted differently in Japanese than in English.

“Haiku written in English are usually 10 to 12 syllables in total, now, and are often one line instead of three.”

But you don’t have to write poetry to attend the conference.

“We welcome anyone who is interested in haiku,” Munro says. “It’s a social event, it brings people together who live all over Canada, and that is the main thing for me about the conference.”

Munro is expecting up to 50 participants coming from across Canada and the United States.

The weekend event features readings and presentations. One of the highlights of the conference will be the presentation by Vancouver based cartoonist Jessica Tremblay. She will create cartoons during the conference and present them on Sunday.

“She writes Haiku for her comics and she will talk about the process of creating haiku-cartoons,” Munro says.

Tremblay created Old Pond Comics, featuring two frogs. One is teaching the other about haiku. Her comics are published in the monthly journal of Japanese Canadian community history and culture called The Bulletin,  a weekly blog called The Haiku Foundation and in the quarterly publications Haiku Canada Review and Gong.

The conference will also feature a ginko nature walk on Saturday afternoon. The group will walk from the Gold Rush Hotel to the SS Klondike. Afterwards, the poets will write a haiku about the walk and submit it to a competition.

The weekend also features a workshop on how haiku and photography can go together, sharing mood and other similarities.

The Haiku Conference takes place May 20 to 22 in the Gold Rush Inn. Participants can register online at

You Have to Read it to Believe it

May is National Crime Writing Month. In cooperation with the upcoming Haiku Conference, Yukon writer Jessica Simon set a display at the Whitehorse in celebration.

“I asked members of Haiku Canada to send me their different haiku on crime topics,” Simon says. “They are grouped around the topic of guns, bullets, and firearms.”

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