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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

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Interview with Michael Dylan Welch


Aubrie: Was there anything different in 2014 compared with previous years? What plans do you have for future Seabeck getaways?

Michael: In 2014 I bought dozens of paper lanterns and small electric tea lights for everyone, and we had our first-ever night ginko (haiku walk). We walked silently, in single file, from our meeting room out to the waterfront, then back over the wooden bridge that spans the lagoon, through the labyrinth, and up into what’s called the Cathedral in the Woods, where we talked quietly about what we had heard and felt while walking, and also read a few haiku. Then we shared chocolate truffles before heading back inside. It was one of the most magical activities we’ve ever had at Seabeck.

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(Photos by Aubrie Cox)



Something we did for the first time, in addition to the night ginko, was to focus on the sense of sound. Because the retreat takes place next to the waters of Puget Sound, it was fun to have “Sound Haiku” written at the top of the retreat schedule, with every meaning that heading implies. Not every presentation echoed this theme, but we had several workshops that did, such as Susan Constable’s inventive workshop on writing haiku in response to sound prompts, or Richard Tice’s overview of the use of sound in Japanese haiku, and your own presentation on musicality in haibun prose. For the next few years, we’ll be exploring each of our other primary senses, one at a time.

For 2015, with Randy Brooks as our featured guest, we’ll be focusing on touch, and I hope to have a writing workshop where you reach into paper bags to feel different mystery objects (no slime, I promise). And we’ll see what else we can do with our focus on the sense of touch in haiku, hopefully hearing several creative presentations and readings that emphasize touch and texture in haiku, and how these poems touch us. I can see us even having an erotic haiku workshop, maybe late at night, or a panel discussion on “touching haiku” that risk being maudlin.

Something else I’d also like to do at the next retreat is to finally schedule time for us to enjoy the paddle boats available at the lagoon, and maybe to have a ping-pong tournament, or to play horseshoes. We might not use the tennis courts, but there are lots of other free amenities on the conference grounds that we’ve not taken advantage of, so that will definitely be something new for us to try in 2015. Our next retreat will be held on the first weekend of October, the earliest ever, to avoid a conflict with the Haiku North America conference later in the month, so our fall colours will only just be starting. That will make the retreat a little different, perhaps more “summery.” We’re also very open to new ideas, and any attendee, or anyone thinking about coming, is eagerly invited to propose workshop or presentation ideas. In 2013, Angela Terry took over from Tanya McDonald in helping me run the conference (also serving as registrar), and I know she has some fresh ideas too.



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