Paul Miller, editor. San Francisco: Two Autumns Press, 2010, 32 pages, with poems by Garry Gay, David Grayson, Carolyn Hall, and Michael Dylan Welch.
This book was the twentieth in the annual Two Autumns reading series sponsored by the Haiku Poets of Northern California. Each year, four readers are selected for a featured reading, usually in San Francisco, and the reading is commemorated by the publication of a chapbook with twelve haiku and senryu by each of the selected poets. This reading took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco on 13 September 2009, and you can see photos of my trip online. It was my privilege to participate in the very first reading, in 1990, and to be asked to read again twenty years later.
An excerpt from the book’s introduction, by Paul Miller:
Michael Dylan Welch has been writing haiku for many years, and his skill at relating an emotional scene is easily evident. In the following poem the future ups and downs of a relationship are tempered by an optimistic seasonal marker:
at the top of the roller coaster
she says yes
Lately, Welch has been experimenting with what he calls “created mythologies,” sets of poems similar to Ban’ya Natsuishi’s Flying Pope series in which the poems’ consistent subject is used in avant garde and surreal ways to question viewpoints, and even traditions. Such experiments help keep the genre fresh. A few are included in this volume from Welch’s Neon Buddha series. In particular, I enjoyed:
the dentist’s chair
could hold a hundred
This is an interesting poem to parse: from the anxiety of a dentist’s chair in the first line, to an implied genocide in the second, to a third line that has the power to possibly vanquish both. It is a poem that keeps the reader on their toes, shifting perspective and understanding.
A selection of poems from the book (or see all poems):
crackling beach fire—
we hum in place of words
we can’t recall
the inning ends
with nobody on
just the edges done
on the daffodil puzzle
praying on the counter
scent of wisteria—
she finishes translating
the birth certificate
the neon buddha
eats the rainbow
the neon buddha
has nothing to declare
The 2009 Two Autumns book, titled My Neighbor, with cover art by Naia. Linda Papanicolaou did the layout and production. Paul Miller served as editor.