When Butterflies Come

In the early 1990s, inspired by the fact that Haiku Canada had published member anthologies for as long as I could remember, I lobbied the Haiku Society of America to do the same. As a result, in 1993, I did the layout and design for the first HSA members’ anthology, When Butterflies Come (New York: Haiku Society of America, 1993), edited by Jerry Kilbride and Marlina Rinzen. I supplied the book’s cover photograph and also wrote the following introduction, which begins with a Ryōkan translation by Dennis Maloney (editor of White Pine Press) and Hide Oshiro, from Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryōkan (Buffalo, New York: Springhouse Editions, 1992). You can also read my poems contributed to this and all subsequent HSA anthologies.

 

 

The flower does not invite the butterfly

and the butterfly has no intention of visiting the flower.

But when flowers bloom the butterfly comes

and when the butterfly comes flowers bloom.

I don’t know these others,

and they don’t know me, either,

but we are all followers of the Way.

 

            —Ryōkan

 

The Ryōkan poem that inspired this anthology’s title may say more about the way of haiku than many long-winded lectures. Perhaps we don’t all know each other, and perhaps others don’t know us, but we all write haiku to the best of our understanding. We share our experiences, our moments of clarity. And perhaps someone else on the other side of the country—or just next door—is moved by what we see deeply and choose to convey. But the poem does not invite us. In our truest selves, we also may have no intention of visiting the poem. Yet here we are.

        This is the first anthology by members of the Haiku Society of America. It is partly inspired by the anthology traditions of Haiku Canada, the Haiku Poets of Northern California, and the haiku societies in North Carolina and Boston. In 1993, as HSA completes its twenty-fifth year, the editors are pleased to dedicate this book to all of our society’s presidents for their selfless service.

        Our hope is that this anthology will continue annually, and that HSA members will enjoy reading and sharing each other’s poems for years to come. The work of producing successive collections will hopefully move around the country, with different regions taking turns to add their unique touches to this new tradition.

        For this first book, California poets Marlina Rinzen and Jerry Kilbride selected one of five poems submitted by each HSA member who chose to participate. As you saunter through this garden of haiku verses, we remind you that these blooms do not invite the butterfly. The blooms are here because you have come.

 

        Michael Dylan Welch

        Foster City, California

 

 

Note: The book’s back cover blurb included the following poem and said “Welcome to the Haiku Society of America’s first members’ anthology. With 143 poems, this collection offers a bountiful garden of haiku verses. Editors Marlina Rinzen and Jerry Kilbride appreciatively dedicate this anthology to all of the society’s presidents for their selfless service during the society’s first twenty-five years.”

 

moored to the pilings

the rusting ferryboat

rides the morning tide

 

Leroy Kanterman

HSA cofounder and first president

 

Postscript

In reviewing When Butterflies Come in Modern Haiku (XXV:1, Winter–Spring 1994, pages 96–97), Randy M. Brooks wrote that “Michael Dylan Welch continues to provide valuable service to the haiku community by producing well-designed books, such as When Butterflies Come. The careful typesetting, interesting paper choices, and overall quality design establish an excellent precedent for anticipated future anthologies from the Haiku Society of America.” I may not have been the first person to think that the Haiku Society of America needed to have an annual membership anthology, but I was the one who, in 1993, finally made it happen. It’s a tradition that I’m proud to have started with the organization. Since that first anthology, I have consulted with most of the anthology’s subsequent editors, and have written a 25-page guidebook for editing and publishing this much-anticipated annual collection.