Review of Seabeck Reunion

First published in Blithe Spirit 31:3, August 2021, pages 78–79. The review refers to members, but the Seabeck Haiku Getaway is open to anyone who wants to attend, whether they are Haiku Northwest members or not.

review by Maeve O’Sullivan

Seabeck Reunion: Tenth Anniversary Anthology, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, 2020. Haiku Northwest Press, 132 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-1-953092-00-7, from www.haikunorthwest.org [actually, available from Amazon].

The members of the Haiku Northwest group have convened every autumn since 2008 (bar 2020), in scenic Seabeck in Washington State, overlooked by the snowy Olympic Mountains. This member [attendee] anthology is a result of its tenth such getaway, held in October 2017, along with a summary of the ten years’ activities up to that date by its editor, Michael Dylan Welch, the cofounder of the group [not of the group, but of the retreat]. Appropriately, its cover depicts some beautiful multicoloured autumn leaves. Each year there is a featured speaker, and some of their work is included here, including this poignant haiku by Marco Fraticelli (2013):

vigil for the victims

my daughter’s swing

fills with snow

and this slow-burning offering from Scott Mason (2017):

how deer

materialize

twilight

In relation to the members’ work, this is a mixed bag. Here are some of my favourites of the haiku written on the 2017 getaway:

meditation . . .

the small chapel door opens

to the mountains

Lynne Jambor

jacks toss

how we remember

childhood

Terry Ann Carter

my children see

the face within

uncarved pumpkin

Michael Dylan Welch

pebble lodged

in a gnarled tree root

growing old together

Susan M. Kerr

I also enjoyed the humour in this monoku by Terran Campbell:

ferry dock rain or shine Jehovah’s Witnesses

Also featured are “Tango,” an erotic rengay, and work from the kukai winners. Overall, this anthology gives the reader a fantastic sense of place, along with the impression of a warm, talented, and committed community. It is dedicated to the memory of renowned U.S. haijin Johnny Baranski (1948–2018), so I’ll end with one of the seasonal haiku that he wrote on his last group getaway:

fermented apples

a taste of cider

in the air