Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2002

Gia Drouzas

Michael Dylan Welch: Haiku & Photography

Gia Drouzas

Gia's Haiku



Michael Dylan Welch is a great writer creating works through his integration of photography and haiku. Michael Dylan Welch was born in 1962 in Watford, England. Welch also lived in Ghana, Australia, and Canada while he was growing up. He discovered a liking for haiku in high school where his English teacher taught him about haiku. At that time this form of poetry was in introduced to him as a seven-teen syllable nature poem, simple and strict. Welch graduated from college with a communications/media and English major. He then received an M.A in English in 1989 where his focus was on twentieth-century poetry and fiction. After graduate school Welch was a technical writer, publications manager, and mainly a freelance book editor.

A few years after he received his Masters degree, he bought his first haiku book at a Japanese bookstore. This book was a collection of Basho’s haiku in English. He truly enjoyed it and continued buying haiku literature. Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology extremely expanded his understanding and freedom of contemporary haiku.

Michael Dylan Welch feels that haiku and photography have much in common. He feels that haiku are often objective and image-based that are recorded at an instant time; he uses photography to capture the same moment. Welch has been writing haiku for about 26 years. Throughout the years, his work has grown and the importance of the art of haiku has increased. He has made and continues to make wonderful contributions to the growth of haiku appreciation in out society today through all of his achievements.

The haiku of Michael Dylan Welch intrigues me because it is so complex. He is so amazing in the aspect that he can take everyday experiences, that everyone can relate to and put these images into such powerful haikus. His use of language is so simple but yet so meaningful and powerful. By reading the first word of any of his haikus an image automatically comes to mind then as I continue reading, sometimes the image will change and sometimes it will not. I truly find Michael Dylan Welch a stunning author, the fact that you can relate so vividly to the actual experience and capture your self in the moment makes the haiku experience so meaningful.

grocery shopping
pushing my cart faster
through feminine protection                  Haiku Anthology, 271

When I first read this haiku, all I could do was laugh. This haiku is so true for many women, who find it embarrassing to have to purchase feminine products in front of others in a store. The absolute worst is when a male is behind you at the check out lane. Sometimes I wish there was a certain check out for women. When reading this haiku you can completely sense the nervousness when going down the "feminine protection" aisle- so scared that some one is going to see you take it off the shelf. I liked how Welch was very straightforward and told it exactly how it is. He used a strong image: the fast pushing cart. This helped the reader get a sense of nervousness and uneasiness. I truly liked this haiku because its not like most of the other haiku I have read where the focus is nature. This haiku is more about the everyday experience that every female goes through. Some people might not like this haiku because it is to simple; I feel that Welch’s imagery paints a picture in the reader’s mind, which makes the haiku more vivid. By the simple style of this haiku it lets the reader draw from their own life experience and lets them relate to their own personal life.

the comb’s broken tooth
disappears down the drain
first morning light                                Reflections

In this haiku Welch picks such simple but expressive images to make the haiku come alive. I feel this haiku leaves open a lot of interpretation for the reader. Welch makes clear the two contrasting images through the broken comb’s tooth and the first morning light. When I first read this haiku I definitely had to think about it for a few minutes, and collect what I was thinking at that very second. I felt as if I was in the bathroom and a peak of light was shining down on the drain. The feeling was almost as if I had lost my diamond ring because I had just woke up and was still not awake and in the moment. I’m sure everyone knows the feeling when you don’t even want to open your eyes yet as your brushing your teeth, and all you can think about is going back to bed. In this haiku the relation of the comb’s broken tooth falling down the drain made me feel that it could have been something much more precious then an old comb’s tooth.

spring breeze through the window . . .
stains on an apron
left at the counter                              Haiku Anthology, 266

This simple image of a used apron lying on the kitchen counter as the spring breeze comes in from the window is so strong and powerful. I could almost see the curtains flying back and fourth in the wind, as the apron rests upon the counter. It gives me the feeling that some one had died and the apron has never been moved. Maybe this haiku is a reflection of some ones life a wife, mother or grandmother. Welch leaves interpretation up to the reader in this haiku, and lets your mind take you wherever you are thinking. I found such beauty and simple ness from this haiku.

toll booth lit for Christmas—
from my hand to hers
warm change                              Haiku Anthology, 269

This haiku reminds me a of a newlywed couple driving home to be with their families on Christmas. Welch uses warm and expressive thought to paint a picture in the readers mind. I can relate to this haiku because I just recently got engaged and after I graduate were planning to move to Nashville, so I am sure there will be a lot of road trips during the holiday season. I feel so awful for the people that have to work on Christmas and Christmas Eve. The warm change being passed from one hand to another, paints a clear picture in the readers mind. This haiku gave me a warm feeling; the expression Welch used is so passionate.

record high
this heat
even in my toothpaste                 Open Window (online at Brooks Books)

This haiku I am sure everyone can relate to. Welch does a wonderful job at making the picture very clear. This reminds me of last week when we had a warm spell. The temperature was very humid and so was everything else. There’s nothing like heat in your toothpaste, when you wake up in the morning. I cannot stand when my toothpaste is not cold and my toothbrush is not wet. The words this heat is used to describe the frustration of being hot and not to mention even the toothpaste. We all know how frustrating and exhausting heat can be and how uncomfortable it makes us!

home or Christmas:
my childhood desk drawer
empty                                         Haiku Anthology, 273

This haiku was one of my favorites from the very beginning of this semester when we had to pick favorites from the Haiku Anthology. Welch uses expression from the past that makes the reader remember childhood memories. Now time has passed and looking back in their childhood they can vision their bedroom and a dresser drawer that they put maybe letters from friends, or any memorabilia that meant something special to them. Welch uses home for Christmas as an opener because Christmas automatically draws wonderful family memories. This haiku made me feel very in the moment and brought back wonderful childhood memories.

Michael Dylan Welch is by far one of the most talented authors I have had the opportunity to study. I have gained so much by reading his work and have been so amazed with his talent and unique artistic ability. I have found that through Welch’s work an abundant of his haiku are photography based. He stated, that both haiku and photography are a window to the amazing world around us. Michael Dylan Welch has many talents and strengths; he is most definitely one of the most talented haiku poets. He will only continue to grow more successful through his own photography, poetry, publishing company and haiku associations. He truly has made an establishment in the appreciation of haiku today!

—Gia Drouzas

©2002 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors