Thursday, July 4, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Independence Day Haiku by Fay Aoyagi

English Original

Independence Day --
I let him touch
a little bit of me

Beyond the Reach of My Chopsticks , 2011

Fay Aoyagi

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

獨立紀念日 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

独立纪念日 --

Bio Sketch

Fay Aoyagi (青柳飛)was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. She is currently a member of Haiku Society of America and Haiku Poets of Northern California. She serves as an associate editor of The Heron's Nest.  She also writes in Japanese and belongs to two Japanese haiku groups; Ten'I (天為) and "Aki"(秋), and  she is a member of Haijin Kyokai (俳人協会).


  1. When this haiku was first published in Frogpond, I was very much surprised to hear some people say it was erotic. I use metaphor in haiku rather often. My haiku includes a lot of ‘I,’ ‘my,’ and ‘me.’ Haiku is a window for the reader to explore my world. Independence Day is my adopted holiday. I rely on the concept of ‘reading between the lines.’

    -- excerpted from Dissection of the Haiku Tradition (1), which can be accessed at

    The shift, from the sociopolitical to the relational, from the public to the interpersonal, is thematically and emotionally effective. it stirs the reader's emotion and reflection on what "Independence" means in the personal/sociopolitical context.

    In Fay's book, "Beyond the Reach of My Chopsticks," there is another haiku about Independence Day:

    July 4th
    he criticizes my graceless use
    of chopsticks

    This haiku makes the reader ponder what "independence" means in the ethno-cultural context.

  2. One of the highlights of the HNA conference, for me, was witnessing Fay’s creative process at work. During one session an audience member from Quebec used the French expression, perdre le nord: to lose one’s north, literally—an idiom for losing one’s bearings, physical or spiritual. Sitting in the row in front of me, Fay’s face lit up. She turned and looked at me. “What a nice phrase!” her expression said. She started scribbling in her notebook:

    losing my east
    with a new passport
    Independence Day

    -- excerpted from Periplum #4: Fay Aoyagi by David G. Lanoue, which can be accessed at

    Read in the context of immigrant literature, this haiku reveals a assimilationist version of the realization of the American Dream.