We present here the three 2020 Hexapod Haiku Laureates (ages 13 and over), listed in no particular order:
— Brad Bennett, Arlington, MA
This is such an efficient poem. In only four words this poet paints a complex picture, filled with emotion. Maybe the grasshopper aspires to be a butterfly but can’t sustain the look for more than a few seconds? Maybe the observer is excited to see a butterfly but is then disappointed to discover it’s just a grasshopper. The poem highlights an interesting biological phenomenon – the startle defense. A predator sees an explosion of color, often accompanied by clicking sounds, and is startled. By the time the predator recovers from the startle the grasshopper is back in camouflage mode (after hitting the ground with a smack), blending in with the gravel on the dirt road. As one of our judges remarked, “… a classic haiku in that it illustrates a fundamental characteristic of the medium, that of the transiency of life. I also take inspiration from it, while imagining I can be anything I wish.”
a waving fisherman
in a row boat
— Peter Caiello, Syracuse, NY
“Horsefly” embodies karumi, or light humor, in haiku, and it’s an insect that rarely gets the spotlight in poetry. There is a lovely element of ambiguity in this poem. For observers not in on the joke, the fisherman could be waving for any number of reasons. Is he in trouble? Does he know me? Oh, there must be a horse fly! For anyone who has been stalked by a horse fly, it is a maddening and worrisome experience. Waving is a common defense and thus something many people can relate to! In this haiku we see the power of insects to influence and affect our behavior. There’s also something fun about imagining yourself as the observer here, perhaps snickering a bit as you see someone else being harassed by the fly, especially in such a precarious setting as a row boat on the water. Don’t wave too hard, my friend!
the towering cloud
—Jeff Hoagland, Hopewell, NJ
We loved the echo or zoom effect of this haiku, from towering to tiny, from dangerous and foreboding to fragile and innocent. The hinge line, “the towering cloud”, transitions our focus from the meteorological to the entomological. One can imagine a hot summer day, with growing thunderstorms in the distance; the observer fixates instead on the gnats’ mating swarm in the foreground. Lost in the dawning realization that this cloud of flies is much larger than initially thought—a cumulonimbus itself—we imagine the observer patiently observing their behavior, perhaps contemplating the origin and evolution of halteres, while ignoring the growing threat in the distance.
Congratulations to our 2020 Hexapod Haiku Laureates in the Ages 13 and Older category!