Sammamish poet invites community to learn about haiku in nature

April 4, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

For poets and readers alike, haiku can offer a heightened awareness of natural surroundings.

That’s what Sammamish resident Michael Dylan Welch, vice president of the Haiku Society of America, believes and that’s what he hopes to bring to participants of the upcoming “Haiku in the Woods,” event.

Michael Dylan Welch, a noted poet, will lead a discussion of haiku. Contributed

Co-sponsored by the Sammamish Arts Commission and Sammamish Walks, the free poetry event is set to take place April 14 when attendees will be taught about the art of writing haiku and be lead on a nature walk by Welch.

“Haiku helps us to notice our surroundings,” said Welch, who explained that it’s common for people to admire the trees that bloom in spring and said that haiku helps people go a step further to take in moments like when the buds first start expanding. “I hope people will gain a great appreciation for the spring season in general and use haiku as a way to record moments of personal experience.”

Welch has been writing haiku for more than two decades. That passion has since led him to many accomplishments, including publishing several poetry books; cofounding the largest public haiku archive outside of Japan at the California State Library in Sacramento; and having his co-translation of an ancient tanka poem printed on a cherry blossom stamp that was released by the United States in March to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cherry trees in Washington D.C.

In the midst of all this, he said, he also has taken every opportunity he could to get people outdoors so he can teach them about haiku, which is centrally tied to nature.

Traditionally a haiku poem has a “kigo,” which is a word or phrase that implies the season of the poem.

But Welch said he is not interested in teaching people a formula for writing haiku. Rather, he said, he teaches people to approach as many targets as they can and this is the same formula that he will be following on April 14.

The event will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Beaver Lake Lodge where Welch will give a presentation and hand out samples of haiku so that everyone can discuss the poems and identify characteristics and targets.

After a lunch break at noon the group will go on a guided walk that will hopefully spur the writing of individual haiku. After sharing and discussing each others’ poems the event is set to conclude at 2:30.

“What I love about these opportunities the most is when a smaller group gets together for a particular event…and gets a chance to meet each other in the community,” said Sammamish Arts volunteer Daphne Robinson. “They are dialoging.”

Register for the event at


Reach reporter Lillian Tucker at 392-6434, ext. 242, or

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