Woodnotes — #31

Autumn 1997

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

Pages 56

Haiku/Senryu 102

Tanka 28

Haibun 2

Rengay 2

Essays 6

Mini-Reviews 27

Editorials 1


  • “A Farewell to Woodnotes

  • “In Memory” (Pat Shelley)

  • Tanka

  • Haiku and Senryu

  • “Uncle” haibun by Jerry Kilbride

  • “Turning New Yorker” haibun by Fay Aoyagi

  • “Beginner’s Mind” contributions by George Ralph, William M. Ramsey, Cherie Hunter Day, Gary Hotham, Matthew Louvière, and David Elliott

  • “Summer Garden” rengay by Harsangeet Kaur Bhullar and Sue Stanford

  • Woodnotes (news, including two Woodnotes Awards, won by Keiko Imaoka and Gary Hotham)

  • Of Books and Things, with notes by Michael Dylan Welch

  • “Uh-Huh” rengay by Lee Gurga and Michael Dylan Welch

Woodnotes Award

Chosen by Larry Kimmel from issue #30

love lost

pulling crabgrass

in the fading light

Keiko Imaoka

Woodnotes Award

Chosen by Michael Dylan Welch from issue #31

with the numbers

my daughter knows—

the stars counted

Gary Hotham

Selected Poems

just a minnow

the granite mountain wobbles

on the lake

Christopher Herold

Old retriever;

he opens one eye

at the tossed stick

Garry Gay


John Sheirer

old lab licks my hand

after watching me

dig her grave

Diane Tomczak

last bale of hay—

we sit down on it

and watch the moon

Lee Gurga