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


As a haiku poet in North America, I've had the Seabeck Haiku Getaway on my radar for several years now. This haiku retreat, roughly an hour outside Seattle, Washington via ferry, began in 2008 and has been growing in content and attendance ever since. Last year (2014), due to the nagging and generosity of others, I was able to finally fly halfway across the country to indulge in a four-day weekend saturated in haiku and good company. Alan Pizzarelli was the guest speaker and the theme for the weekend was sound.

Aside from a gorgeous view and remote location, the annual retreat has a lot to offer, almost too much to take in for one visit. There was no shortage of presentations and workshops, along with bookmaking tutorials, haiku history lectures, nature walks, hokey pokey breaks, and even a roast of organizer Michael Dylan Welch. All attendees ate together in the communal dining hall and the majority of us stayed on the retreat center grounds. I had the privilege of rooming with the cartoonist-in-residence Jessica Tremblay, the artist and author of Old Pond Comics. It was a treat to finally put faces and voices to names I had read in journals and communicated with online, including A Hundred Gourds’ own tanka editor, Susan Constable.

If the Seabeck Haiku Getaway resembles the Northwest North American haiku community at all, then it’s a group of passionate and energetic poets. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and I was delighted to see the amount of local talent from the Seabeck and surrounding area. Even more so, I felt it incredibly important and inspiring to see veteran haiku poets playing, conversing, and learning alongside people writing haiku for the very first time. Regardless of the experience level, everyone was excited, and everyone wanted to hear each others’ questions and answers. It may have been difficult to find time to actually reflect and write, but no one’s voice was left unheard.

Shortly after the retreat, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Dylan Welch and asked him to reflect on the 2014 retreat as well as future plans. His answers not only highlighted the vibrant history of the Seabeck Haiku Getaway, but the careful consideration one must take when planning and organizing such a retreat. This interview has been edited for publication.

—Aubrie Cox, haiga editor


A handful of Seabeck’s conference center buildings.

(Photo by Aubrie Cox)