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: What was your favorite part of the weekend in 2014?

Michael: Definitely the night ginko. It far exceeded my expectations, despite the rain—or perhaps even because of the rain. I was determined to have the walk even if it was raining, and was nervously watching the weather all weekend. But something about the rain, and our focus on sound while we walked, and all the paper lanterns in a row, each one tinged blue by its light, was something to behold—a procession. There were many other highlights, too, such as walking the labyrinth, hearing Alan Pizzarelli and Donna Beaver talk about their “Haiku Chronicles” podcasts, Susan Callan’s “flag book” craft workshop (where we all made exquisite handmade books), RaNae Merrill’s “Haiquilts” talk and display, all the poetry readings, and a special guest presentation by the Seabeck Conference Center director, Chuck Kraining, on the history of the retreat center, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014 (in its early lumber days, Seabeck was once more populous than Seattle!).


ReNae Merrill discusess “haiquilts.”
Two of her quilt haiga can be seen in this issue's haiga section.

(Photo by Aubrie Cox)

Aubrie: In 2014 you were roasted by a handful of poets (me included), led by the infamous Joey Clifton (played by Alan Pizzarelli)—what are your thoughts after?

Michael: It was a blast. I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know about myself and all my foibles, but I was very grateful for the good-natured ribbing. All the roasters had clearly done their homework and had a lot of fun, even though it was at my expense. When Alan first proposed the idea, I was reluctant, since it meant a focus on me (and I already have a large presence at the weekend), but Alan seemed keen on doing it, and it was also an opportunity for him to dress up as Joey Clifton (you had to be there) and ham it up. It was a great way to end our Saturday-night festivities, and definitely something different to do. However, I have to confess that I’m a little relieved that the video-recording of the event didn’t turn out. Ahem.

Aubrie: Where can folks find out more about the Seabeck Haiku Getaway and get news about future retreats?

Michael: Haiku Northwest’s website is . A subpage focuses on the Seabeck retreat, with general information, directions, and summaries of common activities—and a display of all our group photos. The site is updated with information about each year’s retreat some months before registration opens in the summer, and we aim to have the complete schedule online at least a month beforehand. This year we plan to have at least a skeleton schedule online much sooner. We also have a new Facebook page for the Seabeck Haiku Getaway . We know we have to raise rates slightly for 2015 (after not raising them for our attendees for three years, even though the retreat center had raised what they charged us). But it will still be a superb deal. Seabeck will continue to be a place for enjoying and developing a few prized rituals and traditions, but more importantly a place for friendships and always a place to share haiku passion. I wish that every haiku poet could join us at a celebration that we are fortunate to enjoy every year.


2014 annual group photo

(Photo courtesy  of Michael Dylan Welch)

Michael Dylan Welch is a cofounder of the Haiku North America conference (1991) and the American Haiku Archives (1996); founder of the Tanka Society of America (2000); editor of Woodnotes (1989-1997); editor of Tundra (1997-2002); editor/publisher of Press Here haiku and tanka books (1989-); and founder/director of the Seabeck Haiku Getaway (2008-). He is a longtime officer of the Haiku Society of America and is currently serving as poet laureate of Redmond, Washington, where he also curates two poetry reading series. His latest book is True Colour, a collection of solo rengay. Thousands of his haiku have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies in at least twenty languages.