Introduction to Close to the Wind

This is the introduction, cowritten with William Hart, to the 2013 Haiku North America conference anthology, titled Close to the Wind (Sammamish, Washington: Press Here, 2013). The conference took place from August 14 to 18, 2013, aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. You can order this anthology from Amazon. See the Press Here page for this book. You can also read selected poems from this book.

Haiku, as Marlene Mountain once said, is not a port in a storm. And as seafarers know, sailing close to the wind means traveling into the wind as directly as one possibly can. This makes for difficult and even dangerous sailing, but facing the wind is sometimes absolutely necessary. As the English-language haiku community navigates various swells and sea changes, including the influence of gendai haiku and reactions for and against it, perhaps we might all be sailing close to the wind. The good news is that, at least for the long weekend of the 2013 Haiku North America conference in Long Beach, California, our crew is all safely docked in the harbor, sharing its poems and viewpoints. But who knows which way we’ll each be sailing next?

         The location of this year’s conference aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner naturally lends itself to a nautical theme. Naia’s illustrations for this collection of haiku and senryu by conference attendees have extended this theme to explore seaside subjects. Some say the old ship that hosts our conference is haunted. Even if not, the Queen Mary’s wooden decks and elegant staterooms carry much history and tradition. It’s from such a solid grounding in the past that we can set sail into the future. The HNA conference is indeed all about looking back as well as forward.

        We hope you enjoy reading the poems in this anthology, our second largest in more than twenty years of biennial HNA conferences. As with all previous anthologies, we’ve arranged the poems by each poet’s first name. Even when gales are lashing and we’re sailing close to the wind, here’s hoping we can maintain our close-knit spirit of community and always remain on a first-name basis.

        Michael Dylan Welch

        and William Hart, Editors

Haiku by the editors from this anthology:

        a hand sticking out

        from the balcony below . . .

        small rain

                Michael Dylan Welch

        fall twilight

        in the bungalow for rent

        a vacuum sings

                William Hart