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Michael Dylan Welch

I've always had a sense of poetry. Being named after Dylan Thomas may have had something to do with that! I was born in 1962 in Watford, England, and grew up there and in Ghana, Australia, and the Canada prairies. In college I majored in communications/media and English, and I received an M.A. in English in 1989. I focused my graduate studies on twentieth-century poetry and fiction, and wrote a thesis on Anthony Burgess and his sense of play with words--something akin, I think, to the sense of play that pervades haiku. I delight in the fact that "haiku," literally translated, means "playful verse."

My path to haiku began in a high school English class, where George Goodburn introduced haiku as a seventeen-syllable nature poem. I've long preferred short, poetry, so I immediately gravitated towards this form. For years all of my "haiku" were rather ill-formed and ill-informed. About a decade later I bought my first haiku book at a Japanese bookstore near St. Paul's Cathedral in London, a collection of Basho's haiku translated by Lucien Stryk. Shortly thereafter I started buying every haiku book I could find (I now have some 3,000 haiku books and magazines). When I encountered Cor van den Heuvel's The Haiku Anthology, however, my perception of haiku shifted radically, thanks most particularly to the work of Marlene Mountain. No longer did I see "haiku" as whatever words I could squeeze into an arbitrary cookie-cutter shape. Rather, the poems in Cor's collection showed the value of content over the so-called form.

Haiku and photography have much in common. Just as haiku are often objective, image-based, and record an instant in time, so too are photographs. Many of the best photographs succeed because of contrast, juxtaposition, colour, subtle shades, or through various compositional techniques. So too of haiku. I first learned photography by seeing my dad's photographs from his travels around the world. Often, when the whole family went along on trips, as we often did, my brother and I got called into service to carry a tripod or extra lenses--or to contort our arms and bodies to create shadows around a perfect flower so my dad could photograph it against a high-contrast background. I worked on several yearbooks in high school, and was lucky to have a camera of my dad's to use at that time. I discovered after a few years that black-and-white darkroom work wasn't my cup of tea, and decided to focus on taking colour slides. I mostly shoot Kodachrome 64, and use a Nikon F3, primarily with a 35-105 and 75-300 Nikon zoom lenses. My photographs have appeared in a few calendars, on the covers of a few books published by Press Here, as well as on a couple of magazine covers. I'm a member of the Peninsula Colorslide Club (, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It's a pleasure for me to bring my two favourite forms of artistic expression together here, and I'm grateful to Randy Brooks for this opportunity.

I have now enjoyed writing haiku poetry for nearly twenty-five years. The genre continues to reveal its many hidden faces and I find myself always learning. As I discover more of its Japanese origin, history, and current developments, as well as its worldwide changes and adaptations, I learn the heart of humanity itself, for haiku shows and celebrates the world. Haiku is a window into ourselves. I'm grateful that being named after Dylan Thomas has led me, in a roundabout way, to this window's vista. It's a window I look forward to keeping wide open for many years to come.

--Michael Dylan Welch
Foster City, CA

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Brooks Books © 2000 Michael Dylan Welch

An Online Edition Published by Brooks Books
© 2000 Michael Dylan Welch