Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2008, vol 6 no 1

Tracks in the Sand: A Rising Tide
A column by George Swede

On January 1st, 2008, I became the new editor of Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America. To me, it is a tremendous honor to be entrusted with such a responsibility and I am in the process of working hard to meet the obligations of this new role. While I have been the editor of a number of anthologies, I have never before been the editor of a magazine. The titles are the same, but the duties are quite different.

For an anthology, the editor invites established poets to submit work that has usually been published previously and thus has already been given a stamp of approval by other editors. For a periodical, the editor receives submissions of previously unpublished work from the raw amateur to the seasoned pro and must adjudicate it for the first time. For an anthology, the possible pool of contributors is small, while for the periodical it is theoretically infinite. For an anthology, the level of received work is high, while for the periodical it will range from low to high.

In addition, Frogpond poses challenges not faced by the editors of most other periodicals because it is the official organ of a society. Therefore, the editor is answerable to the membership and does not have the same level of autonomy as do the editors of independent journals. For instance, some HSA members might feel that too much work by non-members is being published at the expense of members, who, after all, pay annual dues. Their views might have formal repercussions if they advocated for a new editor during the yearly fall elections; in other words, politics also plays a role.

To help guide me in my new endeavor I have a number of admired role models. Foremost among them, are my immediate predecessors, John Stevenson and Jim Kacian, who have spent hours teaching me the intricacies of the job, from layout and design to submission evaluation. I have also received generous help from these other talented editors: John Barlow (The Haiku Calendar and Snapshot Press), Charles Trumbull (Modern Haiku), Randy Brooks (Mayfly and Brooks Books) and Dave Bacharach who had just finished his first issue of Ribbons: The Journal of the Tanka Society of America.

Last, but certainly not least, are Robert Wilson, Johnye Strickland, Carol Raisfeld and the rest of the team that runs the mammoth enterprise known as Simply Haiku: The Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry. The level of communication and organization spearheaded by Robert could serve as a model for governance.

I have very much enjoyed writing this column for the last three years. At this time, however, I must bid adieu to Simply Haiku because the workload required by Frogpond is like a rising tide erasing my tracks in the sand. Nevertheless, I hope that some readers have managed to follow them to interesting and perhaps even useful places.