Introduction to Northern Lights

First published in Northern Lights, the 1995 Haiku North America conference anthology, which I published with my press, Press Here. Unlike previous HNA conference anthologies, which featured one poem per person, this anthology also included a second selection for many poets. This anthology was different from the previous two anthologies, too, because it was produced after the conference instead of before. See the Press Here page for this book. You can also read selected poems from Northern Lights.

Haiku North America was first conceived as a celebration of North American haiku. We celebrate haiku still. With the third biennial Haiku North America conference held at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, Ontario in July of 1995 [the 13th to the 15th], the conference visits Canadian soil for the first time, as well it should. With the success of this gathering, and with future conferences certain to happen around the continent, haiku is surely a benefactor. Not only do we share our knowledge and experience, it’s a social festival also, a balance of our intellectual, spiritual, and emotional faculties. We are brought together by Haiku North America, unified by our common interest, bonded by friendship and poetry. And yet, as the first conference anthology suggested, our community is still small enough for us to be on a first-name bases. Accordingly, the poems in this book are again arranged by each poet’s first name.

        In a departure from the two previous conference anthologies, Northern Lights offers poems in two sections. In the first half, everyone who chose to contribute poems is represented by one selection. The second half shares a few more haiku and senryu from most contributors. Quite a few were written about the conference itself. These poems land on the lighter side, or may be experimental, visual, playful, or satirical. You decide.

        Meanwhile, the future for haiku looks strong in North America. The energy of various groups and many individuals shows itself well in the poems, publications, readings, and presentations that happen more and more frequently across the continent. Whether you are the lone haiku voice in an isolated town, or one of many talented poets in a single city enjoying much camaraderie, haiku is its own reward. The sky, after all, is filled with many stars. But on special nights, we thrill to experience the northern lights.


        Michael Dylan Welch