to the small poem and the quiet voice within

george swede


becoming a photograph                 winter afternoon


One by one to the floor                    all of her shadows


At the end of myself         pencil tip

–George Swede

[from THE HAIKU ANTHOLOGY, edited by Cor Van Den Heuvel, third edition, Norton]

George Swede (Latvian: Juris Švēde), (born as Juris Puriņš, November 20, 1940 in Riga, Latvia) is a Canadian psychologist, poet and children’s writer who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He is a major figure in English-language haiku, known for his wry, poignant observations.

In 1947, Swede arrived with his mother and stepfather from post-WW II Europe to live with his maternal grandparents on a fruit farm in Oyama, British Columbia and, when his stepfather died in 1952, Swede moved with his mother to Vancouver where he finished junior high and high school. Then he studied at the University of British Columbia, where he graduated with a B.A. in Psychology in 1964. After that, he briefly worked as a psychologist at B.C. Penitentiary in New Westminster. In 1965, he got an M.A. at Dalhousie University.

From 1966 to 1967, Swede was a psychology instructor at Vancouver City College, after which he worked as a school psychologist at the Scarborough Board of Education in Toronto until 1968.

He resumed his academic career at Ryerson University, where he stayed as member of the psychology department from 1968 to 2006 (as chair from 1998 to 2003). Also, from 1970 to 1975 he served as Director for Developmental Psychology at Ryerson Open College, a virtual university which broadcast lectures by radio (on CJRT-FM) and TV (CBC and CTV) from 1970 to 1975; and from 1993 to 2000 he was engaged in Ryerson University Now (RUN),[2] an initiative to get bright but disadvantaged students interested in going to university. This was achieved by enrolling Vaughan Road Academy students[3] in a university level introductory psychology course that Swede taught. Most graduated and many received scholarships to attend university.

In 2006, Swede retired and became an Emeritus and, in 2007, was awarded Honorary Life Membership by the Canadian Psychological Association.

Swede began writing poetry in the late 1960s and published in such journals as * Antigonish Review * Canadian Forum * Grain * New Quarterly * Open Letter * Piedmont Literary Review * Quarry Magazine * Rampike * Tamarack Review * Toronto Life

An interest in short form Japanese poetry began in 1976 when he was asked to review Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku (University of Toronto Press, 1976). Swede then began publishing in such journals such as * Acorn * American Tanka * Cicada * Frogpond * Inkstone * Mainichi Daily News, Haiku in English * Modern Haiku * Simply Haiku

In 1977, along with Betty Drevniok and Eric Amann, Swede co-founded Haiku Canada. At its 30th anniversary, held in Ottawa in May 2007, Haiku Canada awarded Swede an Honorary Life Membership.

A blending of his interests in poetry and psychology is illustrated by his refereed article in the International Handbook On Innovation, Poetic Innovation, which explores the psychological, sociological and cultural factors that determine whether someone becomes a professional poet.

Swede’s work has been reviewed in numerous literary magazines, such as * Canadian Literature; * Books in Canada; * Canadian Children’s Literature. Reviews and mentions have also appeared in non-literary publications such as * The Globe and Mail; * Halifax Herald; * The New York Times Book Review; * Ottawa Citizen; * The Sunday Times; * Toronto Star; * The Washington Post; * Wilson Quarterly. More in depth looks at Swede and his work have occurred in the following places: * Ryerson Magazine; * Poetry Toronto; * Origin; * CJRT-FM: Contemporary Poets; * What; * Canadian Author & Bookman; * TVOntario: In Conversation With . . .; * Blithe Spirit; * BBC Radio 3: Close To Silence; * Amanda Hill on George Swede * Haijinx; * Simply Haiku; * Simply Haiku; * Simply Haiku.

Since 2008 he has been editor of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America. Swede is married to Anita Krumins, who is a Professor Emerita at Ryerson University, and with whom he has two sons, Juris Krumins, an attorney and naturalist in Washington, D.C., and Andris Krumins, a teacher and musician in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.


  • * Unwinding (Toronto, ON, Canada: Missing Link, 1974)
  • * Tell-tale Feathers (Fredericton, N. B., Canada: Fiddlehead, 1978) ISBN 0-920110-56-8
  • * Endless Jigsaw (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1978) ISBN 0-88823-015-X
  • * A Snowman, Headless (Fredericton, N. B., Canada: Fiddlehead, 1979) ISBN 0-920110-84-3
  • * (ed.), Canadian Haiku Anthology (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1979) ISBN 0-88823-017-6
  • * Wingbeats (La Crosse, WI, USA: Juniper, 1979)
  • * As Far As The Sea Can Eye (Toronto, ON, Canada: York, 1979) ISBN 0-920424-16-3
  • * The Case of the Moonlit Goldust (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1979) ISBN 0-88823-038-9 Illustrated by Danielle Jones
  • * This Morning’s Mockingbird (Battle Ground, IN, USA: High/Coo, 1980) ISBN 0913719463; ISBN 978-0913719466
  • * The Case of the Missing Heirloom (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1980) ISBN 0888230273 Illustrated by Danielle Jones
  • * with Anita Krumins, Quillby, The Porcupine Who Lost His Quills (Toronto: Three Trees Press, 1980) ISBN 0-88823-019-2 Illustrated by Martin Lewis
  • * Eye to Eye with a Frog (La Crosse, WI, USA: Juniper, 1981)
  • * The Case of the Seaside Burglaries (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1981) ISBN 0-88823-044-3 Illustrated by Danielle Jones
  • * The Modern English Haiku (Toronto: Columbine Editions, 1981) ISBN 0-919561-00-4 Illustrated by Aiko Suzuki
  • * All of Her Shadows (Battle Ground, IN, USA: High/Coo, 1982) ISBN 0913719552; ISBN 978-0913719558
  • * The Case of the Downhill Theft (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1982) ISBN 0-88823-049-4 Illustrated by Paul Kantorek
  • * Binary Poem (Toronto, ON, Canada: Curvd H&Z, 1982)
  • * Undertow (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1982) ISBN 0-88823-050-8
  • * Biased Sample (Toronto: The League of Canadian Poets, 1982)
  • * Tick Bird: Poems for Children (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1983) ISBN 0-88823-064-8 Illustrated by Katherine Helmer
  • * Frozen Breaths (Glen Burnie, MD, USA: Wind Chimes, 1983)
  • * (ed.), Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 (Battle Ground, IN, USA: High/Coo, 1983) ISBN 0-913719-25-0
  • * Flaking Paint (Toronto, ON, Canada: Underwhich, 1983)
  • * Bifids (Toronto, ON Canada: CURVD H&Z, 1984)
  • * Night Tides (London, ON, Canada: South Western Ontario Poetry, 1984) ISBN 0919139191; ISBN 978-0919139190
  • * Time Is Flies: Poems for Children (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1984) ISBN 0-88823-090-7 Illustrated by Darcia Labrosse
  • * Dudley and the Birdman (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1985) ISBN 0-88823-102-4) Illustrated by Gary McLaughlin
  • * Dudley and the Christmas Thief (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1986) ISBN 0-88823-123-7 Illustrated by Allan and Deborah Drew-Brook-Cormack
  • * High Wire Spider: Poems for Children ((Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1986) ISBN 0-88823-111-3 Illustrated by Victor Gad
  • * with Eric Amann, LeRoy Gorman, The Space Between (Glen Burnie, MD, USA: Wind Chimes, 1986) ISBN 0-941190-16-1
  • * I Eat a Rose Petal (Aylmer, QC, Canada: Haiku Canada, 1987)
  • * Multiple Personality (North Vancouver, BC, Canada: Silver Birch, 1987)
  • * Leaping Lizard: Poems for Children (Stratford, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1988) ISBN 0-88823-136-9 Illustrated by Kimberley Hart
  • * with jwcurry, Where Even the Factories Have Lawns (Toronto, ON, Canada: Gesture, 1988) ISBN 0-920585-12-4
  • * I Throw Stones at the Mountain (Glen Burnie, MD, USA: Wind Chimes, 1988)
  • * Holes in My Cage: Poems for Young Adults (Toronto, ON, Canada: Three Trees, 1989) ISBN 0-88823-147-4
  • * (ed.),The Universe is One Poem: Four Poets Talk Poetry (Toronto, ON, Canada: Simon & Pierre, 1990) ISBN 0-88924-224-0
  • * I Want to Lasso Time (Toronto, ON, Canada: Simon & Pierre, 1991) ISBN 9780889242340
  • * Leaving My Loneliness (Pointe Claire, QC, Canada: King’s Road Press, 1992) ISBN 1-895557-03-8
  • * (ed.),There will Always be a Sky (Toronto, ON, Canada: Nelson Canada, 1993) ISBN 0-17-604273-3
  • * Creativity. A New Psychology (Toronto, ON, Canada: Wall & Emerson, 1993) ISBN 1-895131-11-1
  • * The Psychology of Art : An Experimental Approach (Toronto, ON, Canada: Canadian Scholar’s, 1994) ISBN 1-55130-036-2
  • * with George Amabile, Leonard Gasparini, Seymour Mayne, and Ted Plantos, Five O’Clock Shadows (Toronto, ON, Canada: Letters Bookshop, 1996) ISBN 0-921688-13-x
  • * My Shadow Doing Something (Enfield, CT, USA: Tiny Poems, 1997)
  • * bugs (Napanee, ON, Canada: pawEpress, 1998)
  • * (ed. with Randy Brooks, Global Haiku: Twenty-Five Poets World-Wide (New York, NY, USA: Mosaic, 2000) ISBN 0-88962-713-4
  • * (ed. with Eva Tomaszewska, trans, “Antologia Haiku Kanadyjskiego” /”Canadian Haiku Anthology” (Krakow, Poland: Wydawnictswo Krytiki Artsitycznej Miniatura, 2003) ISBN 83-7081-447-6
  • * Almost Unseen: Selected Haiku (Decatur, IL, USA: Brooks Books, 2000) ISBN 0-913719-99-4
  • * First Light, First Shadows (Liverpool, UK: Snapshot Press, 2006) ISBN 1-903543-19-3; ISBN 978-1-903543-19-1


  1. Jeffrey Winke

    It’s hard not to sing George’s praise. He IS a dynamic, contagiously strong force in contemporary haiku and haiku poetics. And to top it…he’s a genuinely nice guy.

  2. George Bisbee

    Just finished NEIGHBORHOOD. Great read! That, with CHI TOWN gave me a good tour of Chicago places and people. It also let me think about my growing up in my home town. Yours is more interesting.

  3. Mark Weber

    What a great title: I THROW STONES AT THE MOUNTAIN ( ! )

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