One poem or another within this book’s pages will likely stop you with a spark of recognition. That’s how a good haiku works—it captures the essence of a particular moment in such a way that you see what the poet saw, and feel what the poet felt. In its steadfast focus on the particular, a haiku moves us by its clear report of suchness. We see the way sunlight glances off a watch crystal, and we are fascinated like a cat that tries to catch the light.
In response to a successful haiku we laugh, we cry, we nod our heads. The best part is that the words don’t get in the way. In a good haiku we see what caused the poet’s emotional response, not the response itself. Thus we can have the same intuitive reaction ourselves. We trust that’s the case with the poems you read here.
This anthology celebrates the fifth of the biennial Haiku North America conferences. The poems were chosen from submissions by the poets and scholars attending, and they represent attendees and speakers from England, Japan, Guan, two Canadian provinces, and twenty-eight American states, as well as Washington, D.C.
Haiku North America started in 1991 in Livermore, California, and was held there again in 1993. It traveled to Toronto, Ontario, in 1995, and to Portland, Oregon, in 1997. The 1999 conference finds itself in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, in the heart of the continent. As English-language haiku poets look East and look West in the process of making their own path, they may find that the American heartland provides a rewarding perspective.
This collection is a group portrait of haiku in North America, and the conference itself is a sort of family reunion for writers of haiku. New faces arrive, and we see old faces in a new light. We are delighted to discover interesting cousins we never even knew existed. We are born and sometimes die to our habit of haiku. But the family goes on, welcoming the new and honoring the old.
In the spirit of family, the poems in this anthology are arranged by each poet’s first name. Leaves turn to brown, rain turns to snow. And we as a family are here to catch these moments
Michael Dylan Welch
Haiku by the editors from this anthology:
a rack full of hats
at the barbershop
Michael Dylan Welch
rumble of thunder—
boy still searching for the ball
in the tall grass