Duncan man takes top poetry honour

coastal fog —

the way mountains flow

into the mountains

— Devin Harrison

This small poem has netted a Cowichan Valley man a big honour.

Duncan’s Devin Harrison has written poetry all his life, and often enters his work in various competitions he hears about through an online network of poetry enthusiasts and organizations he’s connected with through the decades.

“I get the buzz,” he said.

Four months ago he put in his submission for the prestigious Japan-Russia International Haiku Contest, now in its third year, sponsored by the Akita International Haiku Network.

As the name suggests, entries may be in Japanese, Russian or English.

Harrison had forgotten about his submission when he got a notification this month that he had not only placed in the competition, but won over hundreds of other entries.

“It sort of came out of the blue, all these months later,” he said.

Harrison, who has a degree in Japanese studies, started writing tanka (five-line verse) first, then about two years ago he turned his talents to the even shorter form of haiku.

“It’s a much subtler form, than I think most people realize,” he said.

“For one thing, very few people are writing it five-seven-five anymore; it hasn’t been used for decades expect in the schools,” he said referring to the traditional haiku form of three metrical phrases written on three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively.

“Currently the majority of haiku are written in 11 short syllables in a three-five-three format,” concurs the AIHN website.

“True haiku is an observation of nature, right, but they also have other forms that are haiku-like that might have some sort of human overtone in it,” Harrison explained. “Where you actually put yourself in the poem.”

“I write in all these several forms, but I realized for this contest I should make it as ‘haiku-like’ as possible,” he said.

His strategy paid off.

But winning contests isn’t why Harrison writes poetry, including haiku.

“Poetry has sort of an essence to it, good poetry does,” he said. “There’s something significant in the centre of it. Sort of like a little ball of light that you get together and get a sense of. If it works. If the poetry works.

“Haiku takes that to the utmost degree,” Harrison said.

His prize for the win will be bragging rights, a certificate and a small Japanese artifact.

There is an award ceremony in Japan on Oct. 25, but the competition only offers airfare from a major Japanese airport to the event, not travel costs all the way from Canada, so Harrison will wait to get his prize in the post.

Just Posted

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read