Per Diem begins the new year with an appreciation of the under-appreciated: bugs. Bugs have a long and storied history in haiku, and this month’s editor Cherie Hunter Day, a biologist by training, shares some of haiku’s best attention pertaining to these often unnoticed fellow travelers. Here’s her take, titled Insects and Arachnids, the humble and splendid creatures that take us by surprise:
“Almost every young child is captivated by insects and spiders . . . those little dramas that go on around us. Then usually by the end of grade school most of us lose interest and these creatures are no longer our playmates.
borrowing my hut
from fleas and mosquitoes
I sleep (1814)
Issa (1763-1827) translated by David G. Lanoue
“Issa never lost his fascination with insects. Out of the 10,000 haiku translations by David G. Lanoue uploaded to the Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, 52 are about fleas. And like Issa the following poets have written about all sorts of insects and spiders. This Per Diem is a chance to rediscover: click of a deathwatch beetle, the taste of hive in the honey, and the architecture of a just spun web. We again visit with water striders, praying mantises, dragonflies, crickets, and maybe even a lowly flea.”
Let me take this opportunity to thank all our editors for 2012 for their outstanding offerings, and to invite you all to submit your ideas for Per Diem for 2014. We will be accepting 12 new guest editors, one for each month of next year, and will judge entries on the basis of their originality and appeal. Send your proposals to us here. We look forward to seeing the collection you’d like to share via Per Diem, our poem each day.
Without further delay, have a look at what Cherie has found. Enjoy!