Garry Gay talked about how when the conferences started, the world was different. A renga couldn’t be done by email, but by letter mail. You would see people’s names appear in journals but people didn’t meet face to face. The conference aimed to connect the disparate tribes of haiku. He, Paul Miller and Michael Dylan Welch in 2005 incorporated the organization so it is non-profit. Although there are organizers it belongs to the community. “A conference is a fragile thing and without support it will disappear”. It’s organized at grass roots level each time by a different group.
Michael Dylan Welch surveyed those present on which conferences each had attended. Only William Higginson had been to every one of the previous 9. There was a tribute reading of 9 of Higginson’s poems.
He also offered tips on how to make the most of your time. (I paraphrase.)
1) Get lots of sleep. It’s like drinking from a fire house. Water is sweet but you’re at risk of drowning. Pace yourself.
2) Be methodical. Look at the anthology and make a list of who you definitely want to speak with so you don’t come to the end and miss some people.
3) Pick a few things and do them well rather than rushing to and fro trying to catch half each of a couple sessions that run concurrently.
4) Support the book sellers. Publishing is often a loss or close to it. Look thru the book tables and bring some home.
5) Don’t be shy. Pick a few faces you don’t know. Take the initiative if you are new, or an old hand. Ask people to sign your anthology or invite people for lunch, introduce yourself. Get to know the community.
Michael Dylan Welch and Grant Savage led the anthology reading of “Into Our Words” where people if present, read their own. People travelled to this conference from across Canada and the U.S. and from overseas (India and Japan).
L_____* Station, same man
in the same spot
but new wheelchair
*[I missed the name of the station]
Another was by Tremblay,
no bag big enough
for the tutu
The last event on the evening’s bill was the talk of the walk…
Sibley gave his talk on walking the traditional Buddhist pilgrimage, 20-30 km/day, with a 14 kg pack, for 2 months, doing 88 temples over 870 miles as well as forging relationships with the quiet inner and rhythms of foot-speed and of those immediate 3 he walked with. He found that in responding to the outer world for an extended time he learned how to extract from experiences the essences. The uneventful stretches not the exciting highlights were the times that impacted most. Walking that much per day allows us to shift our relationships and hear another quieter self.