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
The Bellingham Haiku Group
The Bellingham Haiku Group (BHG) has gone through significant changes in the last couple years. Seren Fargo has returned to BHG after a medical hiatus, co-coordinating the group with John Green.
The group has grown steadily from about five or six members to fifteen members. We continue to meet monthly for sharing and critique, as well as monthly ginko to various locations in the area. The ginko are organized and led by one of our newest members, Victor Ortiz.
During one of our recent ginko, to our local Marine Life Center, we decided to collect members' haiku and haiga, which will be made into laminated cards to be donated to the center for visitors to enjoy, and hopefully learn about haiku as well.
We have also added periodic workshops for our group. This includes "pub parties" in which we prepare and send out submissions; and teaching/learning workshops on various short-form poetry: most recently, a two-part class on renku, taught and led by another new member, Patrick Gallagher. We also plan to do a spring class on tanka, which will be led by Seren Fargo.
Last but not least, we had fun last year having mugs made, displaying an Issa haiku, a design based on that haiku, and our group's name.
~ Seren Fargo
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