In Three Crows Hunting, Szwed has selected poems he wrote about how he has felt and seen conflict. Biographical in many respects, this collection of poems cuts across his life, from the time the author left the U.S. Army after serving and being wounded in Viet Nam, until 2002. Through combat, recovery, divorces, marriages, substance abuse, a variety of jobs, raising a daughter, in sickness and in health, loving or fighting, Szwed's poems wrestle with how we get into and out of conflicts, and how we deal with it.
These poems demonstrate that we can not always say nice things in comfortably metered terms, nor need we always say hard things awkwardly or harshly. Through poignancy, wit, sarcasm, humor, plain speech, or mocking tirade, these poems challenge author and reader, alike, to look as squarely as possible at the real issues of personal responsibility and accountability; to take stock of the greater picture as well as common human sufferings. Szwed would have us remember that every power and entity is accountable.
The author refuses to be locked into a single style or form of poetic expression. Paraphrasing Joseph Grucci, the author's former poetry workshop instructor at The Pennsylvania State University, Szwed notes that all elements, including title, rhythms, color, and sentiment of a poem, should be organic and unique to the construction of the whole. At times there is an elemental shift within a poem that stops the reader to meditate on the mood change, or some clash of thoughts or feelings. This is part of how the author poetically recognizes natural struggles of our hearts and minds, in the best or worst of times or conflicts. Szwed's poems encourage readers to take heart that, in spite of our selves or circumstance, we can get through the trials of life; every soul matters.
The author's book "Pining from the Heat" is being concurrently published by 1stBooks Library.