Come Sit a Spell

First published as the introduction for Sitting in the Sun: 2019 Haiku North America Anthology, Sammamish, Washington: Press Here, 2019, with artwork by Kate MacQueen. The conference took place from August 7 to 11, 2019, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You can order this anthology from Amazon. Read selected poems and see the contributor list.

“The good ol’ American front porch seems to stand for positiv­ity and openness, a platform from which to welcome or wave farewell, a place where things of significance could happen.” —Dan Stevens, actor

Idleness can breed creativity. But it’s not laziness—it’s pausing to pay attention, stopping to notice, a way of slowing down so you can get yourself off the speed train. And when haiku poets pay attention, we are often led to write haiku. The front porch can be a place to in­vite our idleness, a breeding ground for creativity, whether in haiku or other forms of art. You can always take a walk in the woods or around a mountain lake to feel rejuvenated, but back on the porch, when you’re not thinking about anything under the sun, a poem or another fresh idea might just come to you. It could celebrate a breeze-brushed wildflower meadow or proclaim your witness to a wrenching incident of social injustice, or anything in between. And as you sit in the sun, you might share your idea or your poem with a friend or neighbor, and by sharing you build a bridge.
        It’s in this spirit that we offer Sitting in the Sun, the 2019 Haiku North America conference anthology, featuring haiku and senryu by conference attendees and presenters at our fifteenth biennial conference, held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. These HNA conferences provide an array of academic research and inspired readings and presentations, but they’re also a kind of “sitting on the porch a spell,” a gathering of friends to enjoy the day, to talk about a favorite poetic subject, and to ponder—or avoid—the ups and downs that life has to offer.
        In the very first Haiku North America anthology in 1991, the collection’s poems were arranged by each poet’s first name, and we’ve been doing that ever since. It’s a sort of front-porch familiar­ity that we continue to value—and seek to promote. So please sit a spell with these poems and poets—and remember Walt Whitman, who said, “Keep your face towards the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”

        Michael Dylan Welch
        Crystal Simone Smith