George Swede - Inteview
By Robert Wilson
Q) As an editor, what do you look for
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
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