2018 Seabeck Haiku Getaway Report

First published in the November 2018 issue of the Haiku Society of America newsletter (slightly adapted and updated here).

by Angela Terry

Haiku Northwest’s 11th annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway took place October 25–28, 2018, and celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of Haiku Northwest. It was also the official 50th anniversary retreat of the Haiku Society of America. We had a record number of 83 attendees and our featured speaker for the weekend was Abigail Friedman.

The retreat started Thursday afternoon with registration and an informal weathergram workshop led by Barbara Snow. Following dinner in the dining hall, Terry Ann Carter played the piano for our theme song, and then there was a welcome by Michael Dylan Welch and Angela Terry, introductions, and a round of haiku reading. Then Abigail read from her 2015 book, Street Chatter Fading. Following her reading, Debbie Kolodji led the first of several Write Now sessions, this one on “Memories of the Everyday.” After a break we celebrated the Haiku Society of America’s 50th Anniversary, with a panel discussion with John Stevenson and Garry Gay, both past HSA presidents, and Michael Dylan Welch discussing the history of the society and some memories they wanted to share. Then we held a reading by HSA members present who had haiku in the 2018 HSA membership anthology Four Hundred and Two Snails. Michael then shared a PowerPoint presentation on the “American Haiku Archives” and Garry led a rengay writing session for people still wide enough awake to participate. And that ended day one.

Friday morning started out with a breathing meditation session led by Jacob Salzer (he also led one on Saturday and Sunday mornings before breakfast), followed by breakfast and then a presentation by Richard Tice on “The Sense of Sight in Japanese Haiku,” sight being the theme for the weekend. Following Richard’s talk, Michael and Cara Izumi presented “Touching the Moon: Twenty-Four Shikishi” (the shikishi were also on display at the back of the room), and Abigail shared her experiences on her “Haiku Journey.” After a break, Margaret D. McGee explained some of the history of labyrinths and then led the group in making and walking a seven-circuit labyrinth on the lawn right outside our meeting hall. After lunch, the weather gods continued to shine, and we had readings at the campfire pit by the lagoon from the Jade Pond (the new anthology from the Vancouver Haiku Group from British Columbia), a reading by Michele Root-Bernstein, a “Foreign Travel” reading by members of the Commencement Bay Haiku Group in Tacoma, a reading by John Stevenson from his new book Emoji Moon, and a reading from the new anthology of women’s haiku, Wishbone Moon.

Tanya McDonald then led us on a bird walk. We saw wigeons, a belted kingfisher, geese, and even mudsharks in the lagoon! Then Michele led us in a workshop on “Whole Body Observing, or How to Heighten Attention,” Lynne Jambor and Carolyn Winkler gave us an insiders’ view of their six-week trip to Japan last November/December, and the afternoon finished with two bookmaking workshops led by Susan Callan.

After dinner, we enjoyed three separate anonymous workshops led by Susan Constable, Victor Ortiz, and Tanya McDonald, and then Linda Papanicolaou gave us a presentation on haiga, including many of her own pieces (she also had additional examples on display on a side table), followed by a slide show of haiga created by retreat attendees that she had put together. The evening ended with more rengay writing.

On Saturday the people who had arrived for Friday and Saturday were introduced, and then Bob Redmond gave a presentation on “Honey Bees and Haiku.” Following that we had two more Write Now sessions, one led by Ron Swanson on “Picture This” and the other by John Green on “I’ll Never Forget that Sight,” both adhering to the weekend theme. Then Abigail talked about “Haiku Beyond Borders,” exploring issues of cultural context and personal background and how that affects our understanding and appreciation of haiku poetry.

After lunch, Richard and Kathleen Tice announced the 2018 Porad Award winners, with flute music by Jim Rodriguez, and it was exciting to have two winners present—Margaret D. McGee took first place for “March gusts / I hold the baby’s foot / for ballast” and Deborah P Kolodji took an honorable mention for “pelican line up / the arrival horn / of a cruise ship.” Following the traditional group photo, we had free time to wander around, chat, pick up interesting objects or simply rest. Then after a tea and coffee service with cupcakes to celebrate Haiku Northwest’s 30th anniversary, Michael moderated an informative panel on “Moving from Sight to Insight” with Abigail Friedman, Debbie Kolodji, Michele Root-Bernstein, Ce Rosenow, John Stevenson, and Angela Terry.

Next came the 2018 Seabeck kukai, which was won by Amy Baranski. We then listened to touching memorials for Johnny Baranski and Doris Thurston. After dinner, the silent auction wrapped up, Seren Fargo led a Write Now session on “What’s That on Your Head?” and professional photographer Garry Gay presented a photo haiga slide show entitled “A Sense of Light,” showcasing his photos and haiku.

And then the Annual Seabeck Haiku Talent Show took center stage, retitled the “Haiku Tonight Show” with MCs Sylvia Able (Terry Ann Cater) and Captain Haiku (Michael Dylan Welch) and a cast of thousands (or at least it seemed that way!). Piano performances, drums and flute, poetry recitations, storytelling, our annual sing-off of poems by our guest poet, and much more.

On Sunday, Ce Rosenow talked about “When a Haiku Isn’t a Haiku,” Patrick Gallagher led a Write Now session having us look out the window at something, then zoom in, widen the screen, think about what might be just beyond what we can see, and then write.

The Portland Haiku Group read from their new anthology New Bridges, accompanied on drums by Jacob Salzer and on flute by Jim Rodriguez, and the last presentation of the weekend was Abigail talking about “Haiku Pleasures” and why she writes haiku, which was the springboard for a discussion among all those present. After lunch and cleanup, the getaway was over for another year.

And if you missed it, next year’s dates are October 24–27, 2019. Our featured guest will be Adam L. Kern, editor and translator of the recent publication, The Penguin Book of Haiku. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!