Tore Sverredal

One of the previous guests at this site, Tom Rogers, recommended a haiku poet and I like his work on Facebook. So, please welcome the one and only (literally, you will not find anyone else with this name on the internet) Tore Sverredal.

1. Please share a haiku you have written.

Tore Sverredal

Tore Sverredal

flapping gulls
a sudden wind tugs
my folding fan

2. Why did you pick this one?

Because it can provide clues both about my view of haiku and my general world-view. For me, a good haiku always starts with a clear, concrete image based on what we can perceive with our eyes, ears, nose, tongue or body. You shouldn’t need to struggle to “get” the superficial level, but after that it should also leave room for the reader to dig deeper into possible meanings.

Generally, it’s the reader who makes the reading, not the writer, but just to give an example of how you might read my haiku, I will make an exception. This particular haiku could be used to illustrate at least three such deeper levels, out of many possible:

a) the comparative level (similarities, parallels, contrasts): the fan looks like a wing, the flapping of the fan like the flapping of the wings, the wings move the wind but the fan is moved by the wind, or the fan first moves the wind but is later moved by the wind.

b) the “fantastic” level (free associations and possibly absurd interpretations): is it the flapping of the wings of the gull that causes the tugging at my fan?

c) the philosophical level (what can we learn about the world?): on the first line, I’m watching the gulls as a detached, distant observer, a little like watching them on TV. Next, the wind physically wakes me up through tugging at something I hold in my hand, and reminds me that I’m actually part of nature, part of the scene myself.

It is like an awakening that I am a part of the same cosmos as everything I observe, I’m not separated from it, living in my own bubble.

Apart from that, there might be metaphorical or symbolic levels, didactic or moral levels, and so forth.

3. How many have you written? How often do you write? What inspires you?

I don’t know, maybe 2000. Last year I wrote at least one every day, responding to the daily prompts at the NaHaiWriMo site on Facebook. Anything might inspire me – my garden, my daughter, the birds on my way to work, travels, memories, books. It might be simply what I see as I sit down to drink a cup of coffee:

garden café
my daughter comes running
in a cloud of crows

4. Why do you write haiku? How did you get started?

Haiku is a way of seeing. It makes you see things you normally wouldn’t notice, and it makes you see things in a different way. Haiku is not just the words you write, but also the experiences you make, and thus in a way, writing haiku transforms anything you encounter into poetry, which is also profoundly therapeutic, and related to what is usually called mindfulness.

I started about 15 years ago, when I chanced upon it on the Internet, on a wonderful site called the Shiki Internet Haiku Salon. Unfortunately, the site is largely dormant today.

5. Do you work with other forms related to haiku, like renga, senryu, haiga, tanka, etc.?

Not much. Many people would probably say some of my haiku are actually senryu. For example, is this a haiku or a senryu?

her little umbrella
under mine

I honestly don’t know, since there are no generally agreed upon definitions for Western haiku, and I also don’t think the answer is very important. Besides that, I have written a few haibun and an occasional tanka, but my main focus is definitely on haiku.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring haiku writers?

Keep the surface of the haiku clear, direct and concrete (see above). Don’t make it look deep on the surface – let the readers find the depth themselves!  Keep it simple, don’t describe or tell too much, and don’t try to seem clever.

Never think you know too little to get started, never think you know too much to keep studying and improving your art and craft.

7. Where can people read your haiku?

Use Google search or find me on Facebook! I’m the only one on Earth with this name. And if you want, you can read one more here:

summer calm
the oars rhythmically meet
their reflections



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