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A Hundred Gourds 4:2 March 2015

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The Seabeck Haiku Getaway: an interview with Michael Dylan Welch

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |page 4 | page 5 | page 6 |page 7 | page 8


Interview with Michael Dylan Welch


Aubrie: How did the Seabeck Haiku Getaway start?

Michael: For about a dozen years I attended the annual long-weekend haiku retreat held by the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society at Asilomar, a beautiful conference facility by the ocean in Pacific Grove, California (near Monterey). We shared meals in the dining commons, walks along the beach at high and low tides, ambles through the dune grass, and there was much sharing and discussion of haiku. When I moved from California to the Seattle area in 2002, I became active in the Haiku Northwest group, but the group had never held a weekend retreat. I immediately missed Asilomar. Around 2004, maybe 2005, I remember doing some research online to look for retreat centers. My search then didn’t reveal Seabeck, and all of the retreat centers I found were rather expensive, too far away, too big, or too small.

Around this time, I became closer friends with Alice Frampton. She was from Seabeck, Washington, a small town on Hood Canal, a tidal, saltwater branch of Puget Sound, less than an hour from Seattle, via ferry. But at the time she was living in British Columbia, near Vancouver, close to where my parents lived. When I visited my parents, it was easy for me to visit Alice. In 2002, Naomi Beth Wakan invited British Columbia haiku poets to Gabriola Island for what became the annual Gabriola haiku weekend, run by Pacifi-kana, the west-coast region of Haiku Canada. When Alice became the Pacifi-kana regional coordinator for Haiku Canada, she also helped to coordinate this event. I attended many Gabriola weekends, and sometimes carpooled to the island with Alice. Seeds were being sown here!



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(Photo by Aubrie Cox)


In 2007, Alice moved back to Seabeck to care for her aging mother, and around then I mentioned to her that for two or three years I had been wanting to start a haiku retreat for Haiku Northwest. That, of course, is when Alice said, “How about Seabeck?” She said they were a nonprofit organization, and rented their facilities only to other nonprofits, thus making their prices remarkably inexpensive. They had a lovely campus nestled between wooded hills and a small lagoon right by Hood Canal and its aging marina. They had a mix of heritage buildings and purpose-built accommodations and dining facilities. No TVs anywhere! I knew I had found the right place at last—the door finally opened. Together we investigated the facilities and fees, booked a date, and started building a program. Emiko Miyashita was our first featured guest, from Japan, and we had more people in attendance (thirty) than I would have expected, even drawing a few attendees from outside the Northwest region. And we’ve been growing ever since, expanding from the original weekend to a long weekend. Attendance has increased every year, too, with a few people coming from across the continent. We’ve been fortunate to have guests such as Penny Harter, Charles Trumbull, John Stevenson, Paul Miller, Marco Fraticelli, and Alan Pizzarelli.


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