A Comparison: Michael Dylan Welch and Lee Gurga
Lee Gurga and Michael Dylan Welch are similar haiku poets but both have subtle differences. Both poets have strong nature connection in all of their poetry. Gurga has a stronger, more specific image. While Welch offers a broader, interpretational image, closer to that of a photograph without a caption. You assume the givens yourself and base what you feel the story is on that. While Gurga has a prominent voice of direction. He often lays out a specific interpretational path for you to take. Each author occasionally pursues the same subject for their haiku and both are successful in their own manner of writing.
I appreciate the image of Welchs haiku more than Gurgas in this comparison. Both are star gazing night scenes. Welchs in the summer, Gurgas in the spring or fall. Welchs haiku is more complete to me only because the location and season are defined clearer than Gurgas. I prefer the silence and and quiet lapping of the water in Welchs to the voice of the father in Gurgas. Both are special moments, and I enjoy each of them.
Of these two TV haiku between Welch and Gurga, I prefer Gurgas haiku. I see the rich red sun setting on the horizon out the window behind his children. Meanwhile his children are hypnotized by the television, not concerned with the beautiful vista outside- pure nature and beauty vs. electric buzz and flickering materialized images. Welchs is more observational to me. And it is missing the connection to nature that is vital to the contrast of Gurgas. There is little emotional effect for me from Welchs.
Michael Welchs haiku seems more powerful to me of the two. They are both along the same theme. Both appear that the human subjects have abandoned indoor activities to go outside and enjoy the beautiful spring/summer days. But Welchs image seems stronger to me because it is a picture of a woman/wife/mother/all of the above who has given up her duties temporarily to go outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Whereas Gurgas seems as though it is someone who is not abandoning any duties per say, (perhaps homework of a student if it said "textbook") but abandoning a less appealing pastime compared to all of the possible outdoor pastimes to be had.
Gurgas "Afternoon sun" is more appealing
to me comparatively. Both haiku are images of small animals
trying to live in our built up industrialized/constructed
world. They illustrate the animals effect on this world.
However, Gurgas is a frantic comical image of a little
squirrel sledding down a rooftop. The squirrel has either
upset the avalanche or the sun has been melting the snow and
it is just shifting as the squirrel is on it. Welchs
haiku is a calmer, simpler image. A weather reference is missing
from this haiku, though I imagine an overcast still day- it
is not suggested. Welchs haiku doesnt really have
an emotional effect on me like Gurgas funny little squirrel
Gurga often uses humor more frequently than Welch does in his haiku. There are few of Welchs haiku that are obviously humorous. Unlike Gurga in these couple examples;
Both of these haiku, though they can be serious subjects, are dealt with in a quiet tongue-and-cheek manner. Observant opposed to intrusive, but still maintaining the lighter side, Gurga uses humor in some of his work.
Lee Gurga and Michael Dylan Welch have similar writing styles. Their differences are subtle, but there. I personally enjoy both styles equally. I feel that at times, one should be able to enjoy a somewhat neutral illustrative image that invokes a vast array of emotion, like Welchs, or one should be able to enjoy a more specified response, maybe with humor, or irony, like Gurga. Both Gurga and Welch are highly valued poets in the contemporary haiku community.
©2001 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors