Galactiku: Introduction to Seeing Stars

First published as the introduction to Seeing Stars, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, published by Haiku Northwest to commemorate the 2009 Seabeck Haiku Getaway at which the anthology’s poems were written. The book won the “Best Anthology” award in the 2010 Kanterman Book Awards (for books published in 2009), sponsored by the Haiku Society of America. See comments on the book by the judge, Mike Dillon. Below, too, are two of my poems from the book.

“Ye stars! Which are the poetry of heaven!” —Lord Byron


The Haiku Northwest group held its second annual haiku retreat on the weekend of October 16–19, 2009 at the Seabeck Conference Center in Seabeck, Washington. Fall colors raged outside, and when we weren’t writing about woolly bear caterpillars or rust-colored cedar flashing, we wrote about the rain and rainbows. Then, on the Sunday morning, Penny Harter led us in a workshop by sharing images of outer space taken by the Hubble telescope. We each picked one or more photographs and in response wrote literal or interpretive haiku or senryu—plus tanka, sequences, and haibun. We immediately started calling them “galactiku.” The following contributions represent at least one poem or haibun per person, in alphabetical order by last name, by those who submitted poems written for this exercise. To see some of the striking photos that inspired these poems, please visit and click the Gallery option.

        If it might add a valuable perspective for haiku poets, this collection begins with an excerpt from Rachel Carson’s essay titled “The Sense of Wonder,” which has also been published in book form with photographs. I had handed out this quotation at the beginning of our retreat, and it fit serendipitously well with the workshop. To me, Carson’s words catch the essence of the haiku poet’s curiosity and wonder at the universe—as do, I trust, all the poems written at our retreat during Penny Harter’s inspiring workshop.

—Michael Dylan Welch


                                                                                a shell in my pocket

                                                                                from the night beach—

                                                                                a whirl of constellations

                a box full of buttons

                the constellations

                of memory