International Women’s Haiku Festival

      by Jennifer Hambrick

The following poems appeared on Jennifer Hambrick’s “Inner Voices” blog on 10 March 2017 as part of her online International Women’s Haiku Festival celebration featuring haiku about or by women. I especially appreciate her perceptive commentary.

Michael Dylan Welch writes of cedars and doilies in today’s feature in the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

                rust in the cedars—
                we gather again
                at her favourite spot

Whose favorite spot? A grandmother’s? A sister’s? A friend’s? We don’t know, but the “rust in the cedars” and the ritual gathering (“again”) suggest the remembrance of someone now gone. This poem rings with music: The musical sibilants in the first line—“rust in the cedars”—open the poem with a reverential whispering. The assonance of the hard G’s on both accented syllables in the second line—“we gather again”—is a gently percussive counterbalance to the hushed first line. There seems to be a stillness at this gathering, a moment in which to contemplate the imponderable realities of interconnection and the cycle of life.

                lazy day at granny’s

                the doily imprint
                on my daughter’s cheek

There’s an entire world in the eleven words of this senryu. This granny with her doilies—you can see her furniture, you can hear the creak of her floors. And the filigreed imprint of the doily on the girl’s cheek connects the girl with that family home, a sanctuary of complete and total safety. The assonance and swung rhythm of “lazy day” intertwines seamlessly with the alliteration of “day,” “doily,” and “daughter,” uniting musically the people, time, place, and mood of a moment of simple yet profound family joy.

Michael Dylan Welch recently served two terms as poet laureate for Redmond, Washington, where he also curates two poetry reading series and directs the annual Poets in the Park festival. He runs National Haiku Writing Month (www.nahaiwrimo.com), and is a director of the biennial Haiku North America conference. Michael’s haiku, tanka, longer poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, and one of his translations appeared on the back of 150,000,000 U.S. postage stamps. His personal website is www.graceguts.com. Michael lives with his wife and two children in Sammamish, Washington.