Full of excitement and poetic inspiration, Naia, Genie, and I had talked for hours in our room at "The Firs," long after the anonymous haiku workshop ended.
rustle of dry leaves
the coffee mug
“The Firs” at Seabeck Christian Conference Center, Seabeck, Washington
But we managed to eat a few bites before reconvening for the “Haiku Show and Tell” session led by Tanya McDonald. I shared Indian Haiku, a bilingual book of contemporary haiku poetry from India in English and Hindi. It was a gift from Angelee Deodhar who I met in Ottawa last summer. Alice Frampton shared Michael McClintock’s winning chapbook from Turtle Light Press. Penny Harter shared a wonderful hand-carved chop of her first name. There were many wonderful sharings, but the highlight for me was when Genie Nakano, who taught dance for years at El Camino college, danced a Middle Eastern style dance.
After a short break, Christopher Herold led a session called “Feathering the Moment Again,” an exercise designed to, as he puts it “convey the power and importance of disjunction in haiku (juxtaposing images between which the electricity of recognition flows)”
Angela Terry, Christopher Herold, Vicki McCullough, Joshua Beach, Ida Freilinger
We started with a “phrase/fragment” kukai of sorts. Christopher asked us to look around us and write down what we saw, not as haiku, but as either phrases or fragments. We were then supposed to put our two favorites on index cards. I wrote “jingle jangle of a belly dancers scarf” and “my rain soaked toes”. The cards were shuffled and then put on our chairs. We voted for our favorites. (Mine didn’t make it). We then made a list of high group votes:
the scent of cedar
the redness of red-soaked apples
fading into the sound of rain
a yellow leaf falls from the eaves
an empty basket
the scent of wet clothes
the widow shakes her wet umbrella
We were then asked to try to write a haiku combining two of these elements in a way that worked for us. Christopher then passed a feather around the room. We took turns holding the feather and reading what we’d written. I synthesized the following, a combination that a couple of other poets also came up with:
an empty basket
the widow shakes
her wet umbrella
We ended up with several group-written haiku. It was interesting to see the varied combinations and how the juxtaposition of two images from our shared experiences in that room worked together.
After a short break, I did my workshop in the spot originally scheduled for Ce Rosenow’s HSA question and answer session. Because my workshop was on season words, I think it actually worked out better in that time slot than it would have in its originally scheduled time on Sunday because we were able to use the kigo generated from that session for the rest of the weekend.
My session was called “Rose Parades and Shore Birds: How the Southern California Haiku Study Group Uses Kigo in its Monthly Workshops.” I started off with a brief introduction about our haiku group and the format of our meetings. Naia, Billie Dee, Genie, and I then did a brief reading of Southern California haiku, a collection written by 17 of our group members. I read a brief reflection on each season as it related to Southern California and we read six haiku for each season.
Billie Dee, Deborah P Kolodji
Genie Nakano, Naia (photo taken by Michael Dylan Welch)
After the reading, I asked everyone to think of something season-related that they saw or experienced last week. As we went around the room, I wrote them all down:
woolly bears (a type of caterpillar)
fire orange maple leaves
fir needles flying in the wind
geranium pots indoors
thinning salmon run
wet leaves underfoot
eagles return form the river mouth
returning snow geese
dark morning walks
warm cider donuts
leaves turning golden delicious
smell of wood smoke
crows partying in walnut trees
frost bitten squash
bronze viburnum leaves
piles of wet leaves
flashing of cedars
rust in the cedars
I then asked everyone to close their eyes as I read the list back to them. Then, we all wrote for ten minutes and then shared the haiku we had written.
so much fun
we almost forget to eat…
crows in walnut trees
After lunch, several of us explored until it was time for the afternoon sessions.
Richard Tice started off with an academic-style talk called “What Might Have Happened When Socho and Basho Wrote Linked Verse?” Penny Harter followed with a haibun workshop called “Shifting the Focus: To the Pine and Beyond with Longer Poetry and Haibun.”
Joshua Beach, Penny Harter, Michael Dylan Welch, Tanya McDonald
Penny showed us examples of a couple of her longer poems and a prose piece that she had re-written into haibun. She asked us to try it and I ended up re-writing my poem “Infidelity” from unfinished book into a very different poem as a haibun. My transformation of “Infidelity” was more radical than Penny’s examples, but I think it was because her original pieces were more narrative and my poem is built around an extended metaphor that I stripped out for the haibun. I found this to be a very interesting exercise.
Penny was followed by a rainbow as the sun conveniently decided to come out in time for our ginko walk. Michael Evans, Penny Harter, Michael Dylan Welch, and I started walking towards the beach for stone-skipping.
Deborah P Kolodji, Penny Harter, Michael L. Evans (photo taken by Michael Dylan Welch)
On the way, a great blue heron made a loud fuss, and Ce Rosenow ended up meeting us at the water’s edge. I didn’t actually write any haiku on the ginko walk, but I did write some haiku fragments which are still being formed into poems.
Next we had tea, cookies, and a scheduled renku session led by Christopher Herold, assisted by Karma Tenzing Wangchuk and Penny Harter. Due to the size of our group (34 poets) and the size of the room, they decided to make it a tan renga session instead. We all wrote starting hokku on index cards and they selected two. We then all tried to write two-liners for those verses and Christopher, Tenzing, and Penny selected what they thought were the best two-liners for those hokku. Then, they gave us four more hokku and we repeated the exercise.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.
Christopher Herold, Billie Dee, Michael Dylan Welch, Tanya McDonald
(this photo was actually taken at lunch)
After dinner Margaret McGee gave a reading from her upcoming book Haiku, the Sacred Art. She was followed by Ce Rosenow who read from her chapbook North Lake and upcoming book Pacific and Michael Dylan Welch who gave a talk on “Learning from Shugyo Takaha.”
Then, it was time for the kukai. It was fun to see how many of the kukai haiku used season words from the morning list we generated. Michael gave a slide show and reading of Open Window his online collection at Brooks Books.
By this time, people were getting tired but a couple of us die-hards continued on until 1 a.m. or so, with another anonymous workshop.
I've posted more photos of the Seabeck Conference on Flickr: