Introduction to the Shortest Distance

First published in The Shortest Distance, the 1993 Haiku North America conference anthology, which I edited with Ebba Story, and which I published with my press, Press Here. Ebba came up with the book’s title, suggesting that the shortest distance between haiku poets lies in our poems, “the moment where hearts and minds open and rejoice.” Haiku from this volume by Ebba and me appear after the introduction. See the Press Here page for this book. You can also read selected poems from The Shortest Distance.

Two poets sit on a bench together to share a favorite poem. Nearby, another poet touches the delicate edge of a newly fallen leaf. Inside a classroom, more poets listen attentively to an impassioned talk on the art of haiku . . .

        This is the essence of Haiku North America, a literary, educational, and social celebration of haiku and related forms of poetry, held at Las Positas College in Livermore, California. First in August of 1991, and again July 15–18, 1993, beginning and experienced haiku poets have traveled great and small distances from the United States, Canada, and Japan to build a deeper connection in haiku. In each other’s company, we share poetry, exchange books, attend lectures and readings, put faces with names we have long seen in the haiku journals, and enthusiastically develop lasting friendships.

        The work in this anthology serves as a record of the poetry by many conference attendees. From the five or more unpublished poems requested from each poet responding by the conference’s early registration deadline, one haiku or senryu was chosen. The strength of individual poems was the prime criteria, but care was also taken to represent the flavor of the poet’s region. As in Harvest, the previous anthology, poems appear in the order of the writer’s first names.

        We are normally separated by spatial and temporal distance. As we gather to share and celebrate our involvement with haiku, that distance dissolves. We are drawn together over the shortest distance—shorter even than the written forms we cherish. We meet in the moment where hearts and minds open and rejoice. There is no distance here.

        For all who attend Haiku North America, and for all who come to hold this anthology, may we be open to the wonder in each moment. And may we continue to connect—through the shortest distance—to each other and the world around us.


        Ebba Story

        Michael Dylan Welch



Haiku by the editors from this anthology:


and this eclipse

      circled on my calendar . . .

rain dots the window

        Ebba Story


low summer sun—

the shadow of an earring

on your cheek

        Michael Dylan Welch