Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Pet Store Haiku by Michael Dylan Welch

English Original

spring breeze --
the pull of her hand
as we near the pet store

Into the Open: Poems from Poets of the Sixth Skagit River Poetry Festival

Michael Dylan Welch

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

春風起 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

春风起 --

Bio Sketch

Michael Dylan Welch is vice president of the Haiku Society of America, founder of the Tanka Society of America (2000), and cofounder of Haiku North America conference (1991) and the American Haiku Archives (1996). In 2010 he also started National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), which takes place every February, with an active Facebook page. His personal website is www.graceguts.com, which features hundreds of essays, reviews, reports, and other content, including examples of his published poetry.


  1. Below is an excerpt from Michael's A Moment in the Sun: When Is a Haiku?, which can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/graceguts/essays/a-moment-in-the-sun-when-is-a-haiku

    I share this poem in my haiku workshops, and nearly everyone responds by saying that they picture a child. No child is mentioned in this poem, yet a child is just what I want readers to imagine. I think that happens because of specific edits to elements of the experience. What “really” happened was that it was my girlfriend, in November, and she was eager to get to a coffee shop (in Palo Alto, California) because it was cold out. And so she pulled a little ahead of me, and it was the pull of her hand that arrested me, especially when it was usually me who walked faster than she did. She always used to call my fast walking a “Disneyland walk,” as if I were always in a hurry to get to the next ride or attraction, which made it unusual for her to be walking faster than me. In that small motion, I felt her eagerness, her urgency, and I wanted to record that. It felt more right to me to make it spring, which seemed closer to youthful enthusiasm. And to match the exuberance of spring, I made the destination a pet store instead of a coffee shop. These revisions all came quickly and intuitively.

    So I changed the “now” of my poem, or at least parts of it. But what I changed was selected facts of the original experience, in this case staying true to the core inspiration, the pull of the hand. What remains strong, I hope, is that moment when the persona in the poem (presumably me, the author, though not necessarily) feels the pull of “her” hand. As readers comprehend this, they presumably recognize the experience from their own lives, and resonate with it. And hopefully the emotion of eagerness and perhaps even joy is heightened by its association with spring and the pet store. Even the breeze has a lightness to it that aids the feeling (I don’t remember if that “really” happened, but the point is that what really happened does not necessarily matter).

  2. L1 successfully sets the scenic context for the poem while Ls 2&3 reveal an emotional undercurrent.