Friday, September 27, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Ants Haiku by Fay Aoyagi

English Original

ants in a single file      tokyo      once home    

Modern Haiku, 28.1, Winter/Spring 1997

Fay Aoyagi

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

一排螞蟻   東京   曾經是我的家

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

一排蚂蚁   东京   曾经是我的家 

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. in the third one the ants haiku[] and perhaps lurking in all three we sense nostalgia for a Japan that the poet left behind....

    The haiku follows a linear trajectory exactly like the file of the ants. This image of their marching leads in a straight mental line to the marching of crowds in
    Tokyo, suggesting the poet’s sense of alienation from the city that was “once home.”

    -- excerpted from Something with Wings: Fay Aoyagi's Haiku of Inner Landscape by David G. Lanoue, which can be accessed at

  2. The image of diligent ants is constantly associated with East Asian countries, such as the Japan of 1970s, the Taiwan and South Korean of 1980s, and the China of 1990s.

    Adopting a biographical approach, I think this poem is mainly about the politics and poetics of 'Re-homing,' especially about the process of identification.

    Here is my response haiku:

    Shenzhen workers lining up ants hurry westwards

    Note: Shenzhen (Chinese: 深圳) is a major city in the south of Southern China's Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China's first—and one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones (SEZs). It currently also holds sub-provincial administrative status, with powers slightly less than a province.....Being southern mainland China's major financial centre, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also one of the busiest container ports in China. -- excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, 'Shenzhen.'