It’s back!

May 29, 2021

The park may look a little more like your computer monitor than usual, but don’t let that fool you: Poets in the Park is back for a rollicking weekend of readings, performances, workshops, and open mics. It’s all happening on Zoom next weekend, Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, 2021, and it’s all FREE as long as you register.

Michael Dylan Welch has lined up an impressive schedule, with a pretty dazzling array of events and participants.

Have a look, sign up now, then prep your picnic and your poems and enjoy Poets in the Park right in your own back yard.

NaHaiWriMo

February 6, 2021

It’s already February 6, but if you haven’t started your haiku-a-day for National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), it’s not too late to catch up!

First, go to NaHaiWriMo and have a look at the mind-bending number of options Michael Dylan Welch has provided there. If you’re overwhelmed, and not already a haiku pro, the Haiku Checklist offers a good introduction.

If you’re looking for prompts, Michael provides this month’s daily prompts on this Facebook page and you’re encouraged to share your haiku on the main NaHaiWriMo Facebook page (simply Create Post, type in your haiku, and click Post). (By the way, daily prompts are a year-round thing, with guest prompters each month. Many of the prompts from previous years have been archived on the Daily Prompts page and the remainder will be added, Michael assures us, eventually.)

Also note that there will be two global NaHaiWriMo poetry readings: Saturday, February 27, 2021, 6:00pm Pacific, and Sunday, February 28, 9:00am Pacific.

For more inspiration, listen in to Tom Maxedon’s NaHaiWriMo radio interview with Natalie Goldberg and Michael Dylan Welch talking about haiku.

Happy haiku-ing!

Haiku Northwest’s Seabeck Haiku Getaway celebrates its thirteenth annual retreat Friday, October 30, to Sunday, November 1, 2020, this year via Zoom, all free. More than 200 attendees have already registered, but it’s still possible to sign up and participate. (No previous haiku experience required!)

Activities include multimedia readings, workshops, and presentations by Kelly Sauvage Angel, Susan Antolin, Chandra Bales, Roberta Beary (Ireland), Brad Bennett, David Berger, Maxianne Berger (Quebec), Melinda Brottem, Nicholas Klacsanzky, Yvette Nicole Kolodji, Annette Makino, Dorothy Matthews, Tanya McDonald, Tom Painting, Sally Penley, Kala Ramesh (India), Bob Redmond, Mike Rehling, Ron Swanson, Cathy Tashiro, Julie Warther, and Lew Watts. Michael Dylan Welch is serving as retreat director.

For more information, including the schedule, registration link, and list of attendees, visit the Haiku Northwest Seabeck Haiku Getaway page.

. . . . .
Thanks to Michael Dylan Welch for the info!

and meanwhile in L.A.

September 30, 2020

Whatever you may think of the 5-7-5 rule of haiku, it’s nonetheless gratifying to see that poetry is getting marquee treatment at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Read the story in Variety, including the list of featured poets through the end of 2020, and, while you’re at it, read Michael Dylan Welch’s essay on the urban myth of 5-7-5.

(Here’s a postscript courtesy of Michael Dylan Welch: a similar project was done some years ago in New York City and a book of postcards with photos of the marquees was published in 2008, Haiku on 42nd St.: A Celebration of Urban Poetry and Art.)

SoulFood streams

July 14, 2020

SoulFood Poetry Night (Redmond, Washington) has been on hiatus for altogether too long, but this Thursday, July 16, 2020, 7:00pm Pacific, SoulFood will celebrate their 14th anniversary with a live streaming reading by Dayna Patterson (If Mother Braids a Waterfall) and Jory Mickelson (Wilderness / / Kingdom). There will also be an open mic, so bring your poems.

You can find the poets’ bios and Zoom link on the SoulFood page and on Facebook.

Have you written a pandemic poem you’re willing to share? Join host Michael Dylan Welch at 7:00pm on Thursday, May 14, 2020, for a free Zoom poetry reading. Take a turn reading your poem, or just listen if you’d prefer. Advance registration is required. Register on the King County Library System event page before 10:00am on May 14. You will be emailed a Zoom link on the day of the event.

if it’s February…

February 1, 2020

This is a guest post by Michael Dylan Welch.

If it’s February 1, it must be time for National Haiku Writing Month. This year is NaHaiWriMo’s tenth anniversary, and it’s hard to believe it’s been thriving for a decade.

NaHaiWriMo was inspired by National Novel Writing Month. I first did NaNoWriMo in November of 2010, and thought at the time that there ought to be a national month for haiku and that February would be perfect — the shortest month for the shortest genre of poetry. The goal was to write at least one haiku a day for the entire month. And so I set up a website and a Facebook page and started spreading the word that we’d begin on February 1, 2011.

On that very first day, someone asked if there was a prompt they could follow, so I came up with “hands” as the first prompt, and we were off. Following the daily prompts was optional, but they provided inspiration for hundreds of people that first month.

At the end of February 2011, participants said they didn’t want to stop, so I’ve arranged for guest prompters each month since then. The NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook immediately became a year-round place for haiku inspiration — and of course you could also use the prompts to write any kind of poetry. The Facebook page now has more than 3,100 likes, with poets participating in many countries around the world. The #nahaiwrimo hashtag is also popular on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media channels.

Since 2020 is our tenth anniversary year, I’d like to celebrate some highlights from our history.

The first thing that many people notice is our logo, with the numbers 5-7-5 with a red slash through them. Clicking that logo on the website leads to an essay on why counting 5-7-5 syllables is a myth for English-language haiku, despite how widespread that belief is. The logo is deliberately polemical, to make people think about how there are more important targets for haiku than just counting syllables — targets that are nearly never taught in schools and that are unknown to the general public. Counting syllables is the most trivial of haiku’s disciplines. I hope the logo (and the ensuing conversation) has done some good shaking up haiku misperceptions, though it has also had the effect of offending some people who remain attached to syllable counting.

In addition to the daily prompts, I started creating haiku-related memes. These sought to poke a bit of fun at haiku (and misperceptions thereof), with the intention that we not take haiku too seriously (and yet seriously enough). Many people shared these memes on Facebook, which helped to promote NaHaiWriMo. Here, for example, is a set of memes with a Simpsons theme.

In March of 2012, NaHaiWriMo was the subject of a “group interview” of sorts, about how NaHaiWriMo worked. The results, from many voices, appeared in the online journal Notes from the Gean. This interview serves as a snapshot of the way things were in those early days.

Later the same year, NaHaiWriMo published a free ebook, With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors of NaHaiWriMo, featuring selected poems inspired by 31 different daily writing prompters for the month of August 2012. The book also features dozens of my fireworks photos. Follow this link for more details, including links for free downloads.

In 2014, a new feature of the NaHaiWriMo community was short interviews with each of the daily writing prompters. The interviews show the broad international support that NaHaiWriMo receives. Prompters are always reminded to make sure their daily prompts are posted to the Facebook page before the day begins in New Zealand! This international aspect of the community is emphasized in many of the comments about NaHaiWriMo.

In September of 2017, NaHaiWriMo published its first printed anthology, Jumble Box (from Press Here), with artwork by Ron C. Moss. The collection presents poems inspired by each of the daily prompts from February 2017. The book was shortlisted for a Touchstone book award from The Haiku Foundation.

One of NaHaiWriMo’s most ardent supporters from the beginning was Johnny Baranski. After he died, in January 2018, NaHaiWriMo held the one-time Johnny Baranski Memorial Haiku Contest, complete with cash prizes.

Of course the biggest highlight is the sharing of hundreds of thousands of haiku by a growing community of poets. Many poems have followed the prompts, but it’s also fine when they don’t. And not everyone who participates even posts online, which is also fine.

NaHaiWriMo eagerly celebrates its tenth anniversary in February 2020, and invites your participation, whether you’re on social media or not. Just pledge to write at least one haiku a day for each day of the month. And since 2020 is a leap year, that means 29 haiku. Are you up for the challenge?

Learn more at www.nahaiwrimo.com. Follow this link for more about haiku and some of its misunderstandings (start with “Becoming a Haiku Poet”).

Personal Aside: For those who might live near Kirkland, Washington, I’m the writer-in-residence at the Kirkland Library this year. Starting on Thursday, March 26, 2020, I’ll be leading a monthly writing critique group on the fourth Thursday of most months. Please bring writing to share. I’ll also be giving a presentation on Mary Oliver and her theme of attention on Earth Day, April 22, and a presentation on “forest bathing” and haiku in July. See my other events here. One of those events is another iteration of Poets in the Park in Redmond, with poetry performances on July 25, and workshops on July 26, with a theme of travel. Watch for more details soon.

HNA sizzles

August 24, 2019

This is a guest post by Michael Dylan Welch.
Photo by Garry Gay.

I’ve just returned from the 15th biennial Haiku North America conference, which took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from August 7 to 11, 2019. A huge bow of thanks to Bob Moyer who led the local organizing committee.

This year’s conference featured many dozens of presentations, readings, workshops, a conference anthology titled Sitting in the Sun (which I coedited with Crystal Simone Smith, with artwork by Kate MacQueen), a banquet with honky-tonk music and dancing, a memorial reading for haiku poets who had died in the last two years, dance performances, tours of nearby historical sites (Reynolda House and Old Salem), an insect walk, letterpress printing workshops, writing sessions, my own haiku workshop for beginners, a book fair that sold more than $8,000 worth of haiku books, a silent auction, HNA-branded T-shirts and tote bags, a contest for haiku printed on a custom artisan chocolate bar (won by Terri L. French with “slowly melting / a square of chocolate / on my lover’s tongue”), and more. You can view the complete schedule on the Haiku North America website. And in case you might think haiku poets are a stodgy and conservative bunch, a dozen of them even went skinny-dipping in the hotel pool on the Saturday night. We have pictures.

Standout events included readings by haiku poets with recently published haiku books, Kala Ramesh visiting from India and sharing haiku activities in India (including dance charades where we tried to guess which haiku was being performed), a renku performance led by Issa translator David G. Lanoue, late-night collaborative renku writing, a panel about Haiku Society of America activities, an academic presentation by Richard Gilbert on philopoetics (poetic-philosophical exploration) and diversity in haiku, my celebration of National Haiku Writing Month, and the official “Higginson Memorial Lecture” by Jay Friedenberg on “Presence and Absence in Evocative Japanese Haiku.”

We had a haibun slam, a stirring reading by African American haiku poets, a jazz poetry reading by Lenard D. Moore (with the band staying on stage for an hour after that for improvised music during an open-mic reading — mostly not haiku). Other highlights included a discussion and reading of senryu poetry by Alan Pizzarelli, Alexis Rotella, and Michael Rehling, an editing presentation by Susan Antolin, and a panel on the upcoming “Haikupedia” website project coordinated by Charles Trumbull, Jim Kacian, and Dave Russo for the Haiku Foundation.

So much more, such as two workshops on effectively reading your haiku aloud (by Kala Ramesh and Jerome Cushman), presentations on meditation and the moon and their influence on haiku writing, a presentation on copyright and fair use, a workshop on writing “death haiku” led by Terri L. French, qigong sessions, lectures on community building by Makoto Nakanishi from Japan and on allusion in Japanese haiku by Shinko Fushimi also from Japan, a reading of haiku written by nearly 200 contributors to the Red Moon Press New Resonance anthologies, a reading of the conference anthology, a group photo by Garry Gay, a regional reading, an origami session, my own presentation on haiku and tea ceremony, a haiga workshop by Patricia J. Machmiller, and Lori A. Minor’s remarkable presentation on social awareness in haiku, about mental illness, gender equality, and the #MeToo movement in haiku.

We also had a hospitality suite all week with free snacks, wine, and beer. And we managed to brave the 90-degree temperatures and high humidity outside to enjoy nearby restaurants for lunches and dinners. As thick as all the presentations and activities were, the chief benefit to attending, as always, was to meet fellow haiku aficionados and to socialize as much as possible.

All of this was followed on Sunday evening and all day on Monday with readings, workshops, and presentations for Tanka Monday, sponsored by the Tanka Society of America.

I’m on the board of directors of the nonprofit foundation that runs these HNA conferences every two years (starting in 1991). The event moves around the continent, and the previous one, in 2017, was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was my pleasure at the banquet to announce that the next Haiku North America conference in 2021, for our 30th anniversary, will be in Victoria, British Columbia.

Poets in the Park

July 15, 2019

In a perfect storm of too-many-wonderful-things-going-on, here’s another option for Saturday, July 20, 2019: Poets in the Park returns to Anderson Park in Redmond, this year with an environmental theme, Celebrating the Land.

Events begin at 11:00am and continue non-stop (well, 5 minutes between performances) until 6:00pm on the park’s two stages and the cabin. With scores of poets participating, there will be a wide array of readings, workshops, exhibits, a book fair, and activities for one and all. Bring your own lunch. All events and activities are free.

Poets in the Park is sponsored by the Redmond Arts & Culture Commission, the Redmond Association of Spokenword, and 4Culture, directed by Michael Dylan Welch, and supported by loads of volunteers. Read all about it.

spring in D.C.

March 13, 2019

Spring has sprung in Washington, D.C.’s Golden Triangle Business Improvement District as haiku appear in tree boxes along some of the city’s busiest sidewalks. The sixth annual Golden Haiku contest received nearly 2,000 entries from 50 countries and the judges have selected more than 300 to be printed and posted now through the month of April, including that of Sheila Sondik, above, and Michael Dylan Welch, below.

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