Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Five Questions for an Editor: George Swede

As an early Christmas (or fairly late Hanukkah) (or reeeally early Purim) present, we've got a great interview for you: George Swede, editor of the Haiku Society of America's flagship journal, Frogpond.  Let's see what he has to say....

1. What's your favorite translation of Matsuo Basho's famous "frog haiku"?

It's by Makoto Ueda in his book Bashō And His Interpreters, Stanford University Press, 1992, p. 140:

                      the old pond--
                      a frog jumps in,
                      water's sound

Professor Emeritus Ueda is fully bilingual and only such a translator could detect all the nuances in the original Japanese and put them into English.

2. What relationship do modern American haiku writers (haikuists? haikuers?) have to the old Japanese poets?  Are there ways we can learn from/expand on what they have done?  Do American writers move in new directions?

Most serious haiku poets do at some time study the classical Japanese masters. The work the old masters have produced is archetypal and is thus one reliable measure against which American poets can judge what they have written.

We certainly can learn from them the discipline needed to create lasting images.

As for moving in new directions, this is inevitable if a poetic form is to survive. Evolution is vital or extinction results. The modern Japanese haiku poets have evolved in various directions since the late 1800s and so have English-language haiku poets, starting in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

3. What role does the Haiku Society of America have in creating and/or fostering community in the United States?

Under the current President, Ce Rosenow, the HSA has become energized and created all kinds of outreach programs. Visit the HSA site and you'll see the wide range of its activities.

4. In the 2004 HSA definition of the haiku, a type of poetry called "zappai" ("miscellaneous amusements in doggerel verse (usually written in 5-7-5) with little or no literary value") is separated from senryu and haiku.  Do zappai have their place as well?

All poetic forms and sub-forms have their place in the constant evolution of poetry. Zappai are no exception.  High Coup Journal publishes a lot of zappai and thus ensures this form's survival. We have to protect all forms of poetic expression. The more there are, the better the chances for poetry to survive in its constant struggle against all the other art forms.

5. How can our readers get more involved, both with the HSA and Frogpond?

Readers can get more involved with HSA simply by joining. Members get the yearly three issues of Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America, as well as Ripples, the HSA Newsletter. Ripples informs members about all the haiku news in North America--regional meetings, workshops, special events, recently published collections, etc. As a member of HSA, one also gets the right to vote each year for who sits on the Executive Council, which includes the Frogpond editor.

Frogpond has an open submission policy, that is, someone does not have to be a member of HSA to get work published.  Usually, 40% to 45% of poems, reviews and articles come from non-members who then purchase the individual copy in which their work appears. For the full submission policy, go to the sample issue of Frogpond online.

GEORGE SWEDE has published 35 collections of poetry, 17 of them only haiku or tanka. He has been the editor of Frogpond since January 2008. His two latest collections were both published by Inkling Press in May 2010: Joy In Me Still (haiku) and White Thoughts, Blue Mind (tanka). For more information about these books go to George Swede.com. If you want to know more about Swede's life and work, go to Wikipedia and/or to his extensive George Swede web site.

1 comment:

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