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micro haiku: three to nine syllaables


The 101 haiku in this book range from three to nine syllables. They were culled from decades of Swede’s published work to show how the world’s most brief poetic form can succeed when shorter than the typical English-language haiku which ranges from 10 to 14 syllables. It is Swede’s hope that this knowledge will help to dispel the popular notion that a haiku should have 17 syllables written in three lines.

:)  A Touchstone Distinguished Book for 2014 by The Haiku Foundation

:) An Honorable Mention, Kanterman Merit Book Awards, The Haiku Society of America, 2014

micro haiku: three to nine syllables is now in its second edition for the same price.


Swede gives the haiku a new dimension

By Gertrude Nowlan on March 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase on Amazon

As a writer of haiku, I have long appreciated George Swede's work. Micro Haiku: three to nine syllables is a significant title in that it takes this ages old Japanese poetic form to a new dimension. The restrictions of the traditional 17-syllable-poem are gone. This fresh approach is welcome. This is a superb, exciting title for my haiku library.

Note to Amazon people: My wife, Gertrude ordered this title for me, so I told her I would look after the submission. Cheers.
Michael O. Nowlan


By Harry Gordon on May 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase on Amazon

I'm sure that Gertrude or Michael (above/below?) meant to give this volume a five rather than a one star rating unless in some sly way the reviewer was practicing the principal implicit in Mr. Swede's poetry that less is more.

Let me proclaim immediately that I do NOT write haiku of any length and seldom read it with the exception of George Swede's whose poems have always impressed me with their charm, wit, humor, and wisdom. To achieve all of this with such economy brings to mind an aesthetic approach that Hemingway celebrated as (and I can only paraphrase) a maximum amount of emotion with a minimum amount of display.

In as few as three and no more than nine syllables, Mr. Swede can make us see things anew as in "from where the leaf fell a star" or as in "willow/conducting/the storm." He can make us relive with humor and regret mornings I suspect we've all had as in "dawn/remembering her/bad grammar."

He's very good at juxtaposing seemingly disparate images that evoke painful ironies as in "spring morning gravedigger whistling" or "divorce papers falling leaves" (Think for a minute how that last word reverberates with multiple meanings.). How about a little Zen-like wonder with "blazing heat/my long shadow/useless" and "eyes closed/open to what's/inside" (Stanley Kubrick alert)?

On one page Mr. Swede can make us stop, think, and wonder ("half-dug grave lunch hour") and (literally) on the next page make us laugh ("training bra/on the clothesline/half moon"). He can even make a vacuum convey meaning. Consider, for instance, how different this haiku would be without the space: "i call myself [...] someone else answers."

These poems take a lot longer to forget than they do to read.

"Students and connoisseurs of haiku would do extremely well to own and share this tour de force collection."- Allan Briesmaster, Verse Afire , 2014, 11:3.

"Although these poems are micro on the page, off it they just as, if not more, full as any haiku." Aubrie Cox, A Hundred Gourds, 2014, 3:4.

His micro haiku is a splendid source for anyone making the case for tighter craftsmanship, smaller poems. Lin Geary, Haiku Canada Review, 2014, 8:2.

One truly gets the sense that, in whatever way language opens up disjunctive space, Swede has been there, done that and masterfully so. Michele Root-Bernstein, Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America , 2014, 37:3, p. 121.

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