Twelve Weathergrams

The following weathergram images and introductory text were first published on HaigaOnline [see Wayback Machine for archive] 19:1, Spring 2018 (thank you to Linda Papanicolaou). Click each thumbnail image to view a larger image and the poem. Introductory text originally written in January of 2017. Artwork is by Jacqueline Calladine (she also has this artwork on her website). Six of these images were also made into greeting cards in 2014. See the decaying weathergrams.

a crab apple

from the highest branch rattles down the rain spout

a sweet gum tree tips

toward the pond—

distant thunder

dawn redwood roots

the tangle of dendrites

where I love you

first cold night—

the click of your domino

as we play by the fire

Japanese barberry

for dinner

you suggest sushi

meteor shower . . .

a gentle wave

wets our sandals

red birches—

the sunset mellows

as we amble

roots of the river birch—

a salmon’s carcass

still a bit red

scattered petals . . .

the thud of my books

in the book drop

shore pines

creek in the wind—

your offshore love

still water—

the blue heron

steps in the moon

the gull’s cry—

the shape of the wave

before it curls

Weathergrams were invented by Lloyd Reynolds, a master calligrapher at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, who published a book titled Weathergrams in 1972. Reynolds said that weathergrams are “poems of about ten words or less,” and that they are “generally seasonal.” These poems are calligraphed onto strips of biodegradable paper, often grocery bag paper, with a string added so they can be tied onto something for display in public places. He said they should be “hung on bushes or trees in gardens or along mountain trails” for “three months or longer,” where they can “weather & wither like old leaves.”

Weathergrams were directly influenced by haiku poetry, and continue to interest haiku poets. In 2011, Barbara Snow gave a weathergram workshop at that year’s Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington State (see photo of her weathergrams below). Attendees made numerous weathergrams and hung them on the bushes and trees around the conference center, where many visitors enjoyed them over the following months. Some survived until the following year, and the conference center staff said they delighted in discovering our haiku weathergrams throughout the year. Making weathergrams immediately became an annual Seabeck tradition, and the practice has spread to other parts of the haiku community, such as at the Haiku North America conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in September of 2017.

Weathergram poems and their calligraphy are often spontaneous and ephemeral. The collection presented here, though, uses previously published haiku by Michael Dylan Welch, with artwork by Jacqueline Calladine, integrating the poems into weathergram haiga. Jacqueline worked with recycled, found, and foraged materials, created her inks using locally sourced materials, and employed sewing, fabrics, gold and silver flecks, and dyeing in her collage process. We produced these weathergrams as part of the “Moonshine Series,” an autumn 2014 exhibition and public art project in the historical downtown core of Redmond, Washington, funded by a grant from 4Culture while Michael was the city’s poet laureate. These weathergrams were also made into a set of greeting cards, which are available from both Michael Dylan Welch and Jacqueline Calladine.

Weathergrams are intended to weather away outdoors. See photographs by Jacqueline Calladine of these decaying weathergrams. Also see these weathergrams made into haiku greeting cards.

Weathergrams by Barbara Snow, at a weathergram workshop at the 2011 Seabeck Haiku Getaway.