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Honorary Curator George Swede

George Swede
Honorary Curator, 2008–2009

Appointment Announcement

George SwedeThe American Haiku Archives advisory board is pleased to announce the appointment of George Swede as the 2008–2009 honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento. This honor is in recognition of his extraordinary service to the North American haiku community through his poetry, personal inspiration, and publications, which have included numerous books of poetry for adults and children as well as at least two seminal haiku anthologies (Canadian Haiku Anthology in 1979 and Global Haiku in 2000).

Almost no one else leading and inspiring haiku in North America can match the length and breadth of George’s achievement in haiku poetry. George is the first Canadian to receive this honor from the American Haiku Archives, which seeks to preserve and promote haiku and related poetry throughout the North American continent.


George Swede was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1940, and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1947. He graduated with a psychology degree from the University of British Columbia in 1964, and a year later got his Master’s degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After moving to Toronto, Ontario in 1967, he began a long career in the psychology department at Ryerson University, becoming department chair from 1998 to 2003. In 1970, he married Anita Krumins and together they raised two sons. Recently, both George and Anita retired from Ryerson as professors emeriti.

As part of his academic career, George published several books and a number of articles on creativity and the psychology of art. He has also published picture books and novels for children and poems of all kinds, especially haiku, in numerous periodicals and anthologies around the world, as well as in more than thirty books. Over the years, his work also has been featured and reviewed in newspapers, radio, and television in Canada, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

George wrote his first poem in 1968, and published his first book of poetry, Unwinding, in 1974. This was before he rediscovered haiku in 1976 upon writing a review of Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku, published by the University of Toronto Press. George quickly plunged into writing and researching haiku poetry, and in 1977 he cofounded Haiku Canada with Eric Amann and Betty Drevniok. His awards and honors since then, just for haiku, are legion, and include three Museum of Haiku Literature Awards, first prize in the 1990 Mainichi Daily News Haiku in English Contest, and grants from the Japan Foundation and Japan Air Lines. George has also distinguished himself with experimental poetry, tanka, and longer free-verse poetry. He has had editorial duties with Writers’ Quarterly and Poetry Toronto, been an officer of the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers as well as the Writers’ Union of Canada. In January of 2008, he became the first Canadian editor of Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America (with Anita as assistant editor).

Books by George Swede

Swede, George. All of Her Shadows. Battle Ground, IN: High/Coo Press, 1982.

Swede, George. Randy Brooks, Editor. Almost Unseen: Selected Haiku of George Swede. Decatur, IL: Brooks Books, 2000.

Swede, George, Editor. Canadian Haiku Anthology. Toronto, Ontario: Three Trees Press, 1979.

Swede, George. Endless Jigsaw. Toronto, Ontario: Three Trees Press, 1978.

Swede, George. Eye to Eye With a Frog. La Crosse, WI: Juniper Press, 1981.

Swede, George. Flaking Paint. Toronto, Ontario: Underwhich Editions, 1983.

Swede, George. Frozen Breaths. Glen Burnie, MD: Wind Chimes, 1983. Signed.

Swede, George and Randy Brooks, Editors. Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World Wide. Oakville, Ontario: Mosaic Press, 2000. [Iron Press edition in UK.]

Swede, George. High Wire Spider: Poems for Children. Toronto, Ontario: Three Trees Press, 1986. Signed.

Swede, George. I Eat a Rose Petal. Haiku Canada Sheet, 1987. Broadside.

Swede, George. Leaving My Loneliness. Claire Pointe, Quebec: King’s Road Press, 1992.

Swede, George. The Modern English Haiku. Toronto, Ontario: Columbine Editions, 1981.

Swede, George. My Shadow Doing Something. Enfield, CT: Tiny Poems Press, 1997.

Swede, George. A Snowman, Headless. Fredericton, N.B.: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1979.

Swede, George. Still here: collected haiku and senryu. Northfield, MA: Swamp Press, 2002.

Swede, George. This Morning’s Mockingbird. Battle Ground, IN: High/Coo Press, 1980. Mini-chapbook 10.

Swede, George. Tick Bird: Poems for Children. Toronto, Ontario: Three Trees Press, 1983.

Swede, George. Time is Flies: Poems for Children. Toronto, Ontario: Three Trees Press, 1984.

Swede, George. Wingbeats. La Crosse, WI: Juniper Press, 1979.

See the American Haiku Archives records of George Swede publications available in the American Haiku Archives: AHA-Holdings-GeorgeSwede.pdf.

Selected Haiku by George Swede

passport check
my shadow waits
across the border

                                                                   long train
                                                                   horizon sun flickers through
                                                                   the empty cattle cars

in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless

                                                                   sleet against the window
                                                                   at last mother threads
                                                                   the needle

alone at last
i wonder where
everyone is

Web Links

George Swede’s Personal Web Page

YouTube Reading

Biography and Selected Bibliography

Profile at Millikin University

The Writers’ Union of Canada

League of Canadian Poets

"Looking Back: A Conversation with George Swede" by Philomene Kocher
Haiku Canada Review 17:1, February 2023, pages 33-41

Essays available online:

Tracks in the Sand

Haiku in English in North America


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