The Washington region of the HSA has several active groups that meet on a regular basis. The first and largest group, Haiku Northwest, was founded by Francine Porad in 1988, and is synonymous with the Washington region of the HSA. The group meets monthly, usually in Lake Forest Park, but occasionally elsewhere in the Seattle area. In 2000, the group won the first place Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America with its hand-sewn anthology, To Find the Words, and its Seeing Stars collection won “Best Anthology” award in the 2010 Kanterman Book Awards (for books published in 2009). In 2014, Haiku Northwest also published No Longer Strangers, an anthology in celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary.
The second group, the Port Townsend Haiku Group, for many years met monthly in Port Townsend, and also had a regular renku gathering. The group was founded in 1992 by Mimi Call and Doris Thurston. Port Townsend members played an integral part in hosting the 2005 Haiku North America conference, and Port Townsend was also the longtime home of the widely respected journal, The Heron’s Nest, edited by Christopher Herold. The Port Townsend group has been quiet recently, but its members continue to be active with haiku.
A smaller, more independent group meets on Vashon Island, and is known as Mondays at Three, named for the time they meet, founded by Helen Russell. They are noted for “publishing” their haiku on prominent roadside signs by the ferry terminal on the north end of the island. They persist in this endeavor even though people keep stealing the haiku signs, which they take as a sort of compliment.
A fourth group, the Bellingham Haiku Group, meets monthly in Bellingham, founded by Seren Fargo, taking inspiration from its close proximity to sea and mountains.
The fifth and most recently formed group meets monthly in Tacoma. The Commencement Bay Haiku group was formed in 2011 in Tacoma, and is led by Carmen Sterba.
In addition to its monthly meetings, the Seattle, Port Townsend, Bellingham, and Tacoma groups occasionally meet up with each other for haiku outings and camaraderie. Seattle and nearby Bainbridge Island are also home to many haiku stones (in English and Japanese), and the city of Yakima, east of Seattle, is documented as being the first place in the United States where senryu poetry was ever written (in 1910 or 1912).
Every fall, Haiku Northwest has its annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway weekend retreat at the Seabeck Conference Center in Seabeck, Washington, the highlight of the year. Haiku Northwest has also participated in Seattle’s Folklife and Bumbershoot festivals, the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival, and has appeared at the Japanese Garden, Sakura-Con, and the annual Aki Matsuri (Japanese Fall Festival) held at Bellevue College, among other events. Members of Haiku Northwest organized two Haiku North America conferences, first in Port Townsend in 2005, and then in 2011 in Seattle, and Haiku Northwest has hosted national quarterly meetings of the Haiku Society of America numerous times.
Washington State is also home to National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), celebrated every February (the shortest month for the shortest genre of poetry) by writing at least one haiku a day throughout the month. NaHaiWriMo also has an active Facebook page.
Please visit the Haiku Northwest Web site for details on our ongoing events. If you want to attend one of our events, learn more about us, or join our mailing list, please contact the Washington State regional coordinator.
—Michael Dylan Welch
Washington Region News
From Haiku Northwest
In August several members of Haiku Northwest and the Commencement Bay (Tacoma) Haiku Group attended the Haiku Society of America meeting hosted by the Portland Haiku Group. We read from our 25th year anthology, No Longer Strangers, and enjoyed the activities planned from the welcome water to the final night dinner at Shigeao, a lovely Japanese restaurant.
September saw us once again at Aki Matsuri, although this time just as observers, as the venue and structure of the event has changed. We are hopeful that next year, we will once again be part of the event; we did have copies of our Haiku Northwest brochure to hand out. Our September meeting was held at 3rd Place commons in the Lake Forest Park Town Center on September 22. Since it was the first day of autumn, Angie Terry brought copies of Keats' To Autumn, for a found haiku session. Some interesting haiku resulted, although we all found the language perhaps a bit too poetical, forcing us out of our comfort level.
During October, all of our efforts were focused on planning for our annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway. Since Seabeck started on October 27th, we did not hold our regular monthly meeting, which would have been the same night. This year (our 9th) we had a record number of registrants, 58, most full time attendees, although we did have some people come only for the weekend and some for only a day. As always, the event was jam-packed with activities, including lectures and readings by our featured speaker Sonja Arntzen and her husband Richard John Lynn on Japanese and Chinese poetry.
Our theme for this year's getaway was the sense of Smell, and something new this year included quick Write Now sessions on the scents of: music, politics, the season, cooking, childhood, ghosts and goblins, the day of the dead, and memory. Each was led by a different participant, and gave us lots of extemporaneous writing practice. And there was time for sharing after each session. Everyone agreed they enjoyed these. We also had workshops and presentations led by Maggie Chula, Jay Friedenberg, Hisao Mori, Jacquie Pearce, Richard Tice, Angie Terry and Michael Dylan Welch.
In addition, there were haiku readings by Portland Haiku Group attendees (Shelley Baker-Gard, Johnny Baranski, Jim Rodriguez, and Carolyn Winkler), and by Dianne Garcia, Chandra Bales, Barbara Snow, Chrissi Villa, Tanya McDonald and Michael Dylan Welch, Maggie Chula and Leanne Mumford We had a memorial reading for Marilyn Sandall led by Terran Campbell, a tea ceremony led by Ellen Ankenbrock, a renku session "Four Sheets to the Seabeck Wind" led by Sonja Arntzen, a mushroom presentation and walk led by David Berger. We painted haiku rocks and made masks. We walked to the historic cemetery in the dark, and had a visit from a ghost (aka Michelle Schaefer), and returned to dance our masks alive with the help of Carolyn Winkler at the start of our amazing talent show and Halloween party orchestrated by Katharine Grubb. And in the midst of all this activity there still was time to chat with old friends and get to know people here for the first time.
As is a tradition at Seabeck, we also announced the winners of the Francine Porad Haiku Award. These results will be posted on the HNW website: www.haikunorthwest.org
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Group photo from the 2014 Seabeck Haiku Getaway held in Seabeck, Washington, October 16-19, 2014. The retreat, sponsored by Haiku Northwest (the Washington region of the HSA), was directed by Michael Dylan Welch, and had a record number of attendees (about 55 people). Alan Pizzarelli was the featured guest. See complete schedule. <https://sites.google.com/site/haikunorthwest/seabeck-haiku-getaway-2014/seabeck-haiku-getaway-2014-schedule>. Our next retreat will take place October 1-4, 2015, featuring Randy Brooks.