A Warm Welcome

The following is my introduction, signed by me and my coeditor Angela Terry, from the 2013 Seabeck Haiku Getaway attendee anthology, A Warm Welcome, published in 2015. Written in April of 2014. The book is available for purchase at Amazon.

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” —Henri Nouwen

There’s something about Seabeck. Maybe it’s the autumn foliage, or the hospitality and warmth of our retreat center, but more likely it’s the camaraderie of seeing friends and making new ones each year. We welcome many beautiful surprises at our Haiku Northwest retreat, an annual tradition that we call the Seabeck Haiku Getaway. And a getaway it is, too—a release from our day-to-day worries, a time to renew our spirits in nature, and a time for renewal with each other. It’s also a time when we gather to learn more about haiku poetry, shared through a long weekend of readings, presentations, workshops, and more. For us, as Goethe once said, “Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.”

         Our featured presenter for the 2013 retreat, held October 10–13, was Québec poet Marco Fraticelli, publisher of King’s Road Press haiku books and longtime leader in the Haiku Canada organization. One highlight of Marco’s visit was his showing of the documentary movie Celesta Found (Wildzone Films, 2003), about a woman’s diaries he discovered in an abandoned cabin in 1972. These diaries covered the years 1895 to 1916, and Marco had also just published Drifting (Catkin Press, 2013), an innovative book of haibun in which he’d written haiku for selected diary entries that told Celesta’s remarkable story. A second highlight of the weekend was Marco’s dramatic performance of these diary entries and haiku, with Terry Ann Carter playing the part of Celesta.

        We’ve divided the pages that follow into six sections, each with an illustration by Annette Makino. The first four sections are “Welcome” (miscellaneous poems), “Labyrinth” (about the inspiring haiku labyrinth we made together under the direction of Margaret D. McGee), “Autumn” (collecting seasonal poems from the time of our Seabeck visit), and “Cemetery” (celebrating our walk to the historic Seabeck cemetery, led by Alice Frampton). The next two sections feature the winners of our annual kukai competition, in which attendees voted for their favorite haiku, followed by one of several renku written for our “Renkurama” activity, this one titled “What Happens in Seabeck . . . Stays in Seabeck,” initiated by Jessica Tremblay (who was also our cartoonist in residence).

        We dedicate this anthology to the memory of our beloved Haiku Northwest member Jay Gelzer, who passed away shortly after attending our 2012 retreat, and who we remembered with a brief memorial during our 2013 weekend. In contrast to that sad moment, we also kicked up our heels for our entertaining and often funny Saturday-night talent show. Jay would have loved it.

        As Dutch-born theologian Henri Nouwen has reminded us, each day holds a surprise. At Seabeck, those surprises reach us in many ways, through sorrows and joys. Ultimately, that’s what the Seabeck Haiku Getaway is all about, to receive each day’s surprise with open arms, and to remind us to do so every day throughout the year. Together I think we’ve all learned to give that surprise—and each other—a warm welcome.

        Michael Dylan Welch and Angela Terry