George Swede

New Works

Previously Published


George Swede - Inteview By Robert Wilson

Q) As an editor, what do you look for in haiku?

A) Freshness of perception is the key. If the haiku opens a new door on an everyday event, I feel that the rest of the world should see it.

Q) How can haiku poets improve their craft?

A) We can improve our craft by reading and re-reading works by the
masters, both Japanese and non-Japanese. At first, we tend to imitate; then as we grow in experience, we start to find our own voice.

Q) Why should a haiku reflect a sense of awe or insight?

A) All good poetry creates a sense of awe and insight. Because of the haiku's brevity, we must focus on what's most important, i.e., these two goals, and not on other aspects found in longer poetry, such as metaphor and simile, rhyme and rhythm, alliteration and assonance, etc.

Q) What haiku poet has had the greatest influence on your poetry and why?

A) Not one, but a number of haiku poets have had the strongest influence: the old masters, Basho, Buson and Issa, and all twenty modern Japanese masters in Makoto Ueda's Modern Japanese Haiku (University of Toronto Press, 1976). The reason had more to do with chance than intention. I was sent a review copy of Ueda's anthology while a poetry review editor for Writers' Quarterly. Its four hundred haiku opened my eyes to a world of writing I had never before experienced, but for which I felt a strong kinship. I decided to review the anthology instead of sending it to someone else, but this demanded some prior research. After a few weeks studying the Japanese and non-Japanese haiku holdings at the University of Toronto Library, I felt ready to do not only a review, but also to start writing haiku.


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