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Winona Louise Baker

Winona Louise Baker

March 18, 1924 - October 23, 2020

Born on March 18, 1924, in Southey, Saskatchewan, into a large family, Winona Louise Baker moved to B.C. in 1930. Living in Nanaimo, she raised four children with her husband Art.
She published her first poem when she was eleven years old. During a writing career that has spanned a lifetime, her poems have been published all over the world and translated into twenty-five languages.
In 1994 the Romanian Haiku Society gave her a Commemorative Medal and in 1997 an Award of Excellence for her paper presented at a Symposium on Basho in Bucharest. The Croatian Haiku Association also presented her with an award in 1997.
Winona Baker’s work is in more than seventy anthologies in North America, New Zealand, Japan and Europe, including The Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac (Kodanshu International 97: 621 poets from 52 countries writing in 25 languages). She has haiku in The Book of Hope, an international anthology published to raise funds for children in Afghanistan and is featured by Terry Ann Carter in the collection of personal essays on female haiku poets writing in the 60's. 70's and 80's - Moonflowers: Pioneering Women Haiku Poets in Canada (catkin press, Carleton Place, Canada, 2020).
Her work is archived in the Haiku Museum, Tokyo; the Basho Museum, Yamagata; the American Haiku Archives in California, and the Haiku Collection in the Fraser-Hickson Library Montreal.

Winona Baker died on 23 October, 2020 in Nanaimo BC. She was 96 years old.

Awards and Other Honors:

Shikishi, calligraphy by Akiro Mizuno of haiku by master haijin Toto Kaneko for her haiku in English, 1986; Expo 86 Japan Pavilion Book Prize from Japan Airlines, 1986; Japanese Foreign Minister’s Scroll haiku contest, Grand Prize World Haiku Festival World Haiku Contest, 1989; Trophy World Haiku Festival Oku no Hosomichi 300th Anniversary Committee haiku in English, 1989; Basho Trophy haiku in English, 1989; Featured on TAKESHI SAKURAI’s program Haiku Corner on NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai /Japan Broadcasting Corporation), 1990; Clouds Empty Themselves -Island Haiku recommended for adult new readers and literacy co-ordinators - International Literacy Year celebrations, 1990; Fundatia Nipponica Societatea Romana De Haiku Award of Excellence for a paper presented at the Symposium on Matsuo Basho Bucharest, 1997; Fundatia Nipponica Societatea Romana De Haiku Commemorative Medal for her book Moss Hung Trees, 1997; Croatian Haiku Association Award, 1997; Certificate of Merit for tanka Nihon Kajin Club (The Japan Tanka Poets' Society), 2000; World Haiku Festival 2000 Contest 3rd Prize, 2000; Hoshi-to-Mori International Tanka Contest, First Prize English Div. 2001.

Books Published:

Clouds Empty Themselves - Island haiku (Red Cedar Press,1987); Not So Scarlet A Woman (Red Cedar Press, 1987); Moss Hung Trees: Haiku of the West Coast (Reflections Press, 1992); Beyond The Lighthouse (Oolichan Books, 1992); Even a Stone Breathes (Oolichan Books, 2000); Flesh in the Inkwell: poems from a writer's life (Leaf Press, 2010); Nature Here Is Half Japanese (Trafford Publishing, 2010).
Selected Anthologies: Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku - Bruce Ross (Editor),Tuttle, 1993; Haiku World. An International Poetry Almanac - William J. Higginson, Editor, Kodansha International, 1996; The Haiku Anthology - Cor van den Heuvel (Editor), W.H. Norton & Co., 1999; Haiku: Poetry Ancient & Modern - Jackie Hardy (Editor), Tuttle, 2002; Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years - Jim Kacian, Allan Burns & Philip Rowland (Editors), W. W. Norton & Company, 2013; In Fine Form: A Contemporary Look at Form Poetry - Kate Braid & Sandy Shreve (Editors), Raincoast Books, 2005 (revised edition - Caitlin Books, 2016).

Selected Work
take the red-eye
home with his ashes―
he never liked flying
gone the summer rain
water-coloured rainbow
remnants in the sky
a fine September
even yellow jackets drunk
on late blackberries
moss-hung trees
a deer moves into
the hunter’s silence
ripening corn
whispers taffeta secrets
a warm moon
orthopedic clinic―
the skeleton watches
leaves fall
mare’s tail clouds
the engineer’s ashes
scattered between the rails
Christmas card list
so many names
crossed out
office party
all the happy faces
on the balloons
more casualties
in Afghanistan―
I deadhead roses


“take the red-eye” - The 3rd HIA Haiku Contest 2001, Special Prize; “gone the summer rain”, “a fine September” - Clouds Empty Themselves - Island haiku (Red Cedar Press, 1987); “moss-hung trees”, “ripening corn” - Moss Hung Trees: Haiku of the West Coast (Reflections Press, 1992); “orthopedic clinic”, “mare’s tail clouds”, “Christmas card list”, “office party”, “more casualties” - Nature Here Is Half Japanese (Trafford Publishing, 2010).

Additional Reading: an essay on Winona Baker written by Terry Ann Carter, from her book Moonflowers: Pioneering Women Haiku Poets in Canada.
The essay is reprinted courtesy of Terry Ann Carter and Catkin Press on Haiku Canada.

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