Blurbs

Over the years I’ve written blurbs for books by many other writers. The following are ones I have a record of, arranged by year, most recent first. Most of these are for haiku or tanka books, except where indicated. I know I’m missing quite a few books, especially older ones. See also Press Here (my press) and my own Books.


“Maybe I am wrong, but I tend to the think of the back-of-book blurb as an advertisement.

The only one we [authors] will get free forever!”

—Dan LaBash

A Charm of Finches: Haiku Society of America Southwest Region 2022 Members Anthology, edited by Agnes Eva Savich, The Roadrunner Press, 2022

“This beautifully designed anthology celebrates haiku artistry in the Southwest region of the Haiku Society of America. This area is rich with haiku talent, and it’s on joyful display in this collection. The photographs, bios, and poems act as an invitation to visit and to make friends with each of the poets, including both new and seasoned voices.”
—Michael Dylan Welch

Not Your Kids’ Nursery Rhyme Haiku by Bona M. Santos and Susan Burch, Velvet Dusk Publishing, 2022

(used for publicity but not on the book itself)

Brilliant fun—and sometimes brilliant seriousness. Very well written. —Michael Dylan Welch

Earth from the Moon: Haiku and Senryu

by Judith E. P. Johnson, Ginninderra Press, 2022

“Judith E. P. Johnson’s haiku are a quiet seam of gold. Time and again she offers finely seen acclamations of the ordinary and everyday, in celebration of the quotidian. She sees the earth not just from the moon, with the distance of objectivity, but also intimately, with subjective touches, from close at hand. These are poems to roll on your tongue, to taste with the heart.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder of National Haiku Writing Month

Transported by Nicholas Klacsanzky, Red Moon Press, 2022

“Nicholas Klacsanzky is a saunterer, a word derived from the French term sans terre, ‘without land or home.’ Yet Nick finds a poetic home wherever he wanders, however he gets there. These poems of place, both inner and outer, explore nuances of travel, whether on foot or by machine. Prepare to be transported.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Against the Current: The Top 30 Contributors of #FemkuMag, Issues 1–30, edited by Lori A Minor (now known as Lithica Ann), Moth Orchid Press, 2022

“Who needs permission? Not these writers, flinging out what must be said—not with abandon but with clarity and poise. Expertly curated from thirty issues of #FemkuMag, these poems are often burrs under the saddle, sparks of conscience sprinkled with the darks and larks of feminist consciousness. This collection is an important gathering of young and old voices vitalized even further by the healing and bonding stage from which they whisper, sing, and shriek.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder of National Haiku Writing Month

A Splash from the Pond: Selected Haiku and Senryu, edited by Michael Smeer, The Netherlands: My Haiku Pond, 2021 [ebook]

“Michael Smeer can be proud of the worldwide community and haiku energy he’s created on Facebook with My Haiku Pond, and this anthology is further evidence of that accomplishment.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder of www.nahaiwrimo.com


Student Haiku & Senryu Anthology: The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Competition, edited by Randy M. Brooks, Haiku Society of America, 2021

“These poems celebrate instants of feeling and perceptions and share them with readers in momentary acts of vulnerability. As readers, we receive these moments and validate them by recognizing our own humanity in what they each offer. This is what every good haiku does.” —Elizabeth Crocket and Michael Dylan Welch, 2020 Judges

Water and Stone by Annette Makino, Makino Studios, 2021

“Annette Makino offers a rare combination of excellence in both art and haiku. Water and Stone celebrates selections of the best of her work over the past ten years, documenting an impressive flowering of her aesthetic commitment and deep, playful exploration of these arts.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder of National Haiku Writing Month

The Fragrance of Fog by Praniti Gulyani, Title IX Press (now Moth Orchid Press), 2021 [ebook]

The Fragrance of Fog deftly mixes objective images with subjective touches, employing bolded text in an innovative way, and opening a door to feeling and rumination. These poems present a remarkable start. With a great start comes great expectation, and I invite readers to join me in dwelling in these distinctive poems and in awaiting Praniti Gulyani’s future leaps with haiku.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder, National Haiku Writing Month

The Years that Went Missing by Susan Antolin, Backbone Press, 2020

(text used in announcing the book contests first place winner, for which I was the judge, but not appearing on the book)

“With The Years that Went Missing, Susan Antolin digs deeply into herself and her experience to carry readers through life’s seasons. Each poem contributes its own narrative tension as the book explores an undercurrent of medical and personal challenges—years that seemingly interrupted a professional career. The poems are consistently engaging while being honest and forthright, reaching, at last, for a reset button. We may be relieved to be done with the missing years, but value them also.” —Michael Dylan Welch, book contest judge

This One Life by Renée Owen, Backbone Press, 2020

(text used in announcing the book contests second place winner, for which I was the judge, but not appearing on the book)

In This One Life, Renée Owen offers four courses of poems that mark life’s ups and downs. The poet employs a palette of word spices to flavor a sometimes challenging poetic meal, ranging from celebrations of nature to the devastation of the California wild fires—but ending with hope.—Michael Dylan Welch, book contest judge

White Out by Michael Henry Lee, Analog Submission Press, 2020

(written for the book but not used)

“If you’ve ever been in a whiteout, a true blizzard of snow and fog that makes it as impossible to see as if it’s pitch black, you know what it’s like to feel lost and disoriented. It’s at moments like these where we can find potential, as ‘whiteout / all that remains / to be seen.’ Whiteouts are where haiku begin, and in this book Michael Henry Lee begins to show us everything that remains.” —Michael Dylan Welch

In the Curves by Alan S. Bridges, Red Moon Press, 2020

“This is haiku at its finest, coalescing all that we do in life. Indeed, what can we ask of haiku but that they put us more deeply in touch with ourselves and each other? Bridges’ haiku do exactly that by stranding together his own moments of experience, a sharing of vulnerability that breeds empathy in the reader.” —Michael Dylan Welch

On the book itself the blurb was shortened as follows:

What can we ask of haiku but that they put us more deeply in touch with ourselves and each other? Bridges’ haiku do exactly that . . .” —Michael Dylan Welch

Between Two Dates by Kwaku Feni Adow, Mamba Africa Press, 2020

“In this garland of poems presented in English, Twi, and French, unspoken grief provides an additional layer, the language of loss.”
—Michael Dylan Welch, Founder, Seabeck Haiku Getaway

How to Read a Japanese Poem by Stephen D. Carter, Columbia University Press, 2019 [academic criticism]

“In this thorough and wide-ranging book, Stephen D. Carter explores what to look for and what’s not obvious in each of Japan’s distinct genres of poetry. How to Read a Japanese Poem offers detailed analyses of specific poems in each era, exploring the textual and cultural context, social occasion, and the location and timing of composition. This book takes readers below the surface to understand the nuances of context.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder and president, Tanka Society of America

For comparison, here are two drafts of the preceding blurb, not used:

“In this thorough and wide-ranging book, Dr. Carter explores what to look for and what’s not obvious in each of Japan’s distinct genres of poetry. In a chronological progression over more than a millennium, he explores kodai kayō (ancient song), chōka (long poem), waka (short poem), kayō (popular song), renga (linked verse), haikai (unorthodox poems, including what we know today as haiku), kyōka (comic waka), senryū (comic haikai), and Chinese poems by Japanese poets (kanshi). Along the way, he provides insights into such techniques as kakekotoba (pivot words), honkadori (allusive variation), and more. Carter offers detailed analysis of specific poems in each era, exploring the textual and cultural context, social occasion, and the location and timing of composition. One of Carter’s central thrusts, which guides his poem-by-poem analysis, is the contention that, historically, Japanese poems are often occasional—which is exactly why it can be harder to read a Japanese poem than it might seem on the surface. This book takes readers below the surface to understand the nuances of context.”

How to Read a Japanese Poem offers a poem-by-poem analysis of a rich and diverse poetry colossus, covering not just the better-known genres of waka and haikai (including what we know today as tanka and haiku), but many lesser-known genres over more than a millennium. One of Dr. Carter’s central contentions is that, historically, Japanese poems are often occasional—which is exactly why they can be harder to read and appreciate than they might seem on the surface. This wide-ranging and thorough book takes readers below the surface to understand the nuances of context.”

Will You Still Love Me? by Christine L. Villa, Purple Cotton Candy Arts, 2019

(my daughter wrote the introduction for this book; see also “Haiku Seeds”)

“Jump for joy, even if you’re not a puppy! Christine L. Villa’s puppy haiku book, inspired by her own sometimes mischievous dog, named Haiku, will warm the hearts of children and adults everywhere, and also introduce them to haiku poetry.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder of National Haiku Writing Month

Barking Mad, edited by Corine Timmer, Bicadeideias Press, 2018

“Once let off the leash, Corine’s imagination ran away with her. After a lot of digging and haiku-sniffing she found what she was looking for. A round of howls for Corine Timmer for this barking mad collection. These canine haiku will get your tail wagging!” —Michael Dylan Welch

The Silence Within by Juanito L. Escareal, Haikukuru Publishing, 2018

“A sneaker wave is one that catches you by surprise. Juanito L. Escareal’s The Silence Within is a wave that you want to have splash all over you. This book offers a haiku voice that you may not know, but one that sneaks up on you with a refreshing style and a new point of view. Commentary on the poems by Dhugal J. Lindsay and the author himself make this a unique collection of haiku and related poetry. Enjoy the wave!” —Michael Dylan Welch, haiku poet/advocate, publisher of Press Here haiku books, and founder of National Haiku Writing Month

On the Chicopee Spur by Al Ortolani, NYQ Books, 2018

“In a good haibun, a chemical reaction ricochets between the prose and the haiku, a synergy akin to mixing baking soda and vinegar. Al Ortolani finds this synergy repeatedly in his book’s rich, well-paced, and wide-ranging haibun. Whoosh!” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder, National Haiku Writing Month, former vice president, Haiku Society of America

Latitudes by Paul Chambers, Alba Publishing, 2017

“Paul Chambers’ sensitivity to latitudes means he pays attention to the distinctions of every living experience. We find exactly these sensitivities in this book, where a subtle seasonal progression underscores the sure hand behind each haiku. These poems deserve to be read repeatedly.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Your Hands Discover Me / Tes mains me découvrent by Claudia Coutu Radmore, Catkin Press, 2017

(I also wrote the introduction to this book’s third edition, “Alive and Urgent”)

“. . . this breathy and breathless tanka collection.”

“. . . ce recueil de tankas voilés et fébriles.”

—Michael Dylan Welch

Cosmic Egg by Brendan McBreen, MoonPath Press, 2017 [longer poems]

“See where Brendan McBreen’s humour, wit, and honest observation can take you in the cosmos—his and yours.” —Michael Dylan Welch, author of Becoming a Haiku Poet

Lit from Within by Ruth Yarrow, Red Moon Press 2016

(see my interview, “Piercing the Mountain: An Interview with Ruth Yarrow”)

“Few active poets in North America have shared their haiku in as sustained and distinctive a way as Ruth Yarrow. Her haiku offer a passionate environmental vision, reflecting her love and respect for the outdoors. She celebrates her family, her travels, and the milestones of life, while also advocating for social justice. These poems, innovatively organized by location through the four points of the compass, show how Ruth Yarrow is lit from within, and how haiku is one of her brightest lights.” —Michael Dylan Welch

The Bluebird’s Cry by Christine L. Villa, Velvet Dusk Publishing, 2016

“Such pain and loss in these unrelentingly honest poems. Even if closure is impossible, one aches to believe that these words will bring some measure of relief to the poet, even while readers will empathize and cry right along with each poem. Steel yourself before hearing the bluebird’s cry.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder of National Haiku Writing Month

Elemental by Jay Friedenberg, Red Moon Press, 2016

“Jay Friedenberg’s new book turns the ancient Greek notion of the four elements toward haiku. Elemental clusters poems in the categories of terra, aqua, aeris, and cosmos (instead of fire) while also giving us comic relief. These are poems that are elemental to the way of haiku.”
—Michael Dylan Welch, Director, Haiku North America

Bug-Eyed & Bird-Brained by Rick Clark, Red Moon Press, 2016 (read a PDF version)

“With these bug and bird poems, Rick Clark seeks his inner Issa, finding it in such haiku as

a small bird chirps

out in the autumn rain—

what I meant to say”


—Michael Dylan Welch

A Constellation of Songs by Christina Sng, Allegra Press, 2016

“If only life was as organized and accessible as this refined collection of haiku. Engaging surprises on every page explore life’s richness and variety.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder of National Haiku Writing Month

Helices by George Swede, Red Moon Press, 2016

“A remarkable career as a haiku raconteur.” —M. D. Welch

Half Way Through by Jorgen Johansson, Red Moon Press, 2015

“As deliberately ‘unfinished’ poems, the best haiku ask much of readers to finish them, not because these poems are insufficient, but because of how much they often imply. The haiku and tanka in Half Way Through give readers much to complete, much to be taken all the way through.”
—Michael Dylan Welch

One Song, 25th anniversary anthology for the Two Autumns reading series, edited by Garry Gay, Haiku Poets of Northern California, 2014

(I was a featured reader at the very first reading in 1990)

“The Two Autumns reading series has featured a who’s who of leading haiku poets in the United States over 25 years. This book celebrates HPNC’s remarkable accomplishment—with ‘many voices, but one song.’ It also serves as a testament not only to the vision of Garry Gay, the series founder, but to the Haiku Poets of Northern California and its considerable influence on North American haiku poetry. Long may the series continue.”
—Michael Dylan Welch, Editor and Publisher, Woodnotes, Tundra, and Press Here

Sex After 70, and Other Poems by Naomi Beth Wakan, Bevalia Press, 2014

(the book was previously titled as Bent Arm for a Pillow, for which I provided an earlier blurb)

“This is a book that passes the ‘dip test.’ Go on, dip into it, wherever you like. See if you aren’t instantly engaged by a fresh and honest story, or the disarming directness of Naomi Wakan’s conversational tone and consistent immediacy. Over and over again, as I read these poems, I think ‘I wish I’d written that!’ Naomi’s work has diverse appeal, and draws you in. I love to share her writing with others, both poets and nonpoets alike.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Editor of Tundra

Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s by Esther Altshul Helfgott, Cave Moon Press, 2014

(my blurb was printed inside the book, not on the back cover)

“This bouquet of short poems, many in the spirit of tanka, radiates the sharp and sad fragrance of loss. Esther Altshul Helfgott’s words move in their own breezy yet telling way, reminiscent of Japanese forms, yet never limiting themselves. These are poems of a deep yet passing grief.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder of the Tanka Society of America

This Short Life: Minimalist Tanka by Sanford Goldstein, Keibooks, 2014

(my blurb was printed inside the book, not on the back cover)

“The poems in Sanford Goldstein’s latest book spring mostly from a rush of writing one particular year in a minimalist way, seemingly more by accident than intent. The results may not always seem minimalistic, but they are in Goldstein’s view, but more in comparison to the nonsyllabic short-long-short-long-long from, which he says he prefers, than to a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic form. The book’s title, This Short Life, is a reference not just to how short his long life seems, but how his life has been filled with short poetry. Goldstein, of course, is one of tanka’s greatest masters in English, and these minimalist tanka show one of the reasons why. Treat yourself to these revealing poems by reading them slowly.” —Michael Dylan Welch

In the Garden of Absence by Stella Pierides, Fruit Dove Press, 2013

(the following blurb was adapted from my afterword to the book, “Presence in Absence”)

“Readers of any book of poetry can assume that each poem has substantial personal meaning for the writer. The poems in this collection go one step further, offering personal meaning to the reader. Stella Pierides pays attention in simple ways (and sometimes vast ways) to her surrounding world, noticing the warmth of a hen’s eggs on Mother’s Day, that only a dog makes eye contact on a crowded train, or in observing the tiny dark holes in a pin cushion as she extracts its pins.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Feeding the Doves: A Collection of Short and Very Short Stories by Stella Pierides, Fruit Dove Press, 2013 [short stories]

(my blurb was used for publicity on the books website)

“Stories to surprise and entertain, to wake and calm, to wrench and elate, to tell the Greek story, past and present, and everyone’s story.” —Michael Dylan Welch, poet, writer, and editor/publisher of Press Here books

Border Crossings by Ian Marshall, Hiraeth Press, 2012

(written for the book but not used; instead, I greatly expanded this blurb into the book’s foreword, “Fresh Seeing on the International Appalachian Trail”)

“Ian Marshall carries on the traditions of Bashō, Thoreau, and even Kerouac in Border Crossings as he travels along the International Appalachian Trail. This demanding but lesser-known über-trail stretches north some 500 miles from its highest point at Mt. Katahdin in Maine all the way down to sea level on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. This book serves as a tripartite introduction not only to the International Appalachian Trail and to the author’s day-to-day hiking challenges and rewards, but above all to haiku and its ecocentric attractions—all three paths more rich and varied than many readers might realize. This book’s exploration of place is both inner and outer, and an in-depth investigation of haiku aesthetics. The narrative unfolds using the haibun form—prose interspersed with haiku—and carries readers along in its curious and joyful melding of contemplation and revelation. These travels, mostly on foot, are ultimately a quest for beginner’s mind, a quest not just to hike this scenic and challenging trail, but to learn, as the author says, ‘to write a decent haiku.’ And learn he does, not just from his extensive reading in nature writing and haiku scholarship, which he refers to liberally, but from nature herself—always haiku’s finest teacher.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Hallelujah by Terry Ann Carter, BuschekBooks, 2012

(written for the book but not used)

“Terry Ann Carter’s Hallelujah contains the music of foghorns, kettles, wind chimes, the cries of gulls, the rhythm of rain on leaves. She observes a man in a wheelchair swaying to the tango, remembers dancing by the ocean, and listening to a hip-hop busker on Yonge Street. This book is an enervating glimpse into the world of the poet and musician.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Double Take: Response Tanka by Sonja Arntzen and Naomi Beth Wakan, Modern English Tanka Press, 2010

“These tanka are worthy of a double take. You will surely come back to these poems for a closer reading, returning to each collaborative pairing to dwell in their candor, their echoes, their surprising turns, their drinking in of all it means to be alive. These call-and-response poems by Sonja Arntzen and Naomi Beth Wakan offer a fluid and fulfilling tanka dance.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder of the Tanka Society of America

Bent Arm for a Pillow book by Naomi Beth Wakan, Pacific-Rim Publishers, 2009

(the book was later titled as Sex After 70, for which I provided a second blurb)

“I wish I could write like this! Fortunately, we can all read like this, and see what Naomi Wakan has been up to. These are poems I love to share with others, both poets and nonpoets alike, because of Naomi’s consistent immediacy, frankness, and freshly disarming tone.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Breaths by Joshua Gage, vanZeno Press, 2008

“Joshua Gage’s haiku celebrate the common with uncommon immediacy and honesty, with each poem—if you let it—being a fresh breath to save your life.” —Michael Dylan Welch

Scent of Jasmine and Brine by Linda Jeanette Ward, Inkling Press, 2007

“A self-assured tanka voice, at times wistful and yearning, subtle and voluptuous.” —Michael Dylan Welch, founder, Tanka Society of America

Amaze: The Cinquain Journal 2006 Annual, edited by Deborah P Kolodji, Mission Ghost Press, 2007

Amaze, named after a poem by the cinquain’s originator, Adelaide Crapsey, has done more than any other journal to explore the range of possibility in this brief and engaging poetic genre.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Editor, Tundra: The Journal of the Short Poem +

First Light, First Shadows by George Swede, Snapshot Press, 2006

“George Swede has done for tanka what he has done for haiku and senryu—made it his own and made it for everyone. These finely honed poems explore an uncommon psychological range, unafraid to be conscious of the self, fearless in expressing innermost thoughts about relationships, brave in probing the darkness of shadows.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Editor, Tundra

The Brief Lives of Stardust by Christina Sng

(awaiting publication)

“With Brief Lives, Singapore poet Christina Sng offers innovative clusters of themed haiku to engage and inspire. See if you can resist her pixie-stardust energy sprinkled on the realities of poetic experience. From a small country comes a big haiku heart.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Founder, National Haiku Writing Month