This was the final issue of Woodnotes—31 issues of some of the finest poems and essays being published in North America in the 1990s, a record of the impressive rise of the Haiku Poets of Northern California and its many talented poets. This issue was delayed by some personal matters of my own, but those matters helped bring clarity to my decision to end Woodnotes in favour of a new journal to be called Tundra: The Journal of the Short Poem. My new publication would have a larger scope, focusing on short poems of 13 or fewer lines, but heavily favouring haiku—seeking to integrate haiku more broadly into mainstream poetry. This new direction seemed like a natural outgrowth of where Woodnotes had come. I chose the new name because I saw the tundra itself as a place of small strengths, and because of the famous poem by Cor van den Heuvel. But Tundra was to come later. This final issue of Woodnotes offered a “Farewell to Woodnotes” as my last message from the editor, in which I said that I thought Woodnotes had “earned an important place in the history of English-language haiku journals.” This was followed by a memorial page for the journal’s tanka editor, Pat Shelley, who had died at the age of 86 a few months after the previous issue, but not before compiling the record-tying number of 28 tanka that would appear in her last assemblage of these poems for Woodnotes. The haiku and senryu numbered just over a hundred and was its usual who’s who of leading poets writing in English—although it continued to slant towards West Coast poets. Two haibun and two rengay brightened these last pages, and one of the haibun was by Jerry Kilbride, who had had a haibun in the very first issue of Woodnotes in 1989. Also, six “Beginner’s Mind” contributions brought this series of mini-essays to a close (we had 22 of these in total, over the last five issues). In addition, two Woodnotes Awards were announced, one for Keiko Imaoka from issue #30, chosen by the previous winner, and one for Gary Hotham from issue #31, chosen by me. Announcements of Woodnotes Award winners that ran from issue #11 through #31 also included three runners-up each time, amounting to 85 selections in total, all of them excellent. The winners of the world’s first-ever English-language haibun contest were also announced, with first prize going to Anita Virgil for “Outer Banks,” with this and other contest winners and additional selections appearing in Wedge of Light, which my press would publish in 1999. Toward the end of this issue, the book section wound up with a bumper crop of 27 mini-reviews, catching up with a year of books after this issue had been delayed. Regarding the cover (and one interior image), Cherie Hunter Day, who provided such wonderful artwork for Woodnotes over the years, said the two mice were reminiscent of a particular Zen parable (one of my favourites). Indeed, how sweet each issue of Woodnotes tasted. The entire enterprise ended with one of the two rengay already mentioned, bringing the last word of all 1,116 pages of Woodnotes over nine years to one protracted word of mine: “uh . . . huh.” And with that, after many years of help from hundreds of talented HPNC members, donors, and contributors, Woodnotes sailed off into the haiku sunset. I’m profoundly grateful to have been able to steer the ship for most of its groundbreaking voyage.
Editor: Michael Dylan Welch
Tanka Editor: Pat Shelley
Art Editor: Cherie Hunter Day
Typesetting and layout: Michael Dylan Welch
Cover and interior art: Cherie Hunter Day