Winter crane fly (Diptera: Trichoceridae: Trichocera forcipula) standing in snow. Photo by Ombrosoparacloucycle.
It’s a dismal, cold, rainy day here in Raleigh, and yet the apricot blossoms on the brickyard are primed to explode into an festival of white. I also collected eight fall cankerworm moths (Geometridae: Alsophila pometaria) at my porch light last night, including a female ready to lay eggs on our maples! Could it be that spring is just around the corner? Time then to announce this year’s Hexapod Haiku Challenge!
The goal of this contest is to encourage people to think about the myriad ways in which insects and other terrestrial arthropods interact with their environments and other organisms (including humans!) and to express these thoughts through short poems. Despite the name of this contest we actually encourage any short poems you’re inspired to write, including (but not limited to!):
- Haiku (of course): An elegant medium, traditionally focusing on seasonal changes and nature and with a relatively standard format and objective.
- Senryū: Similar in structure to haiku but focused on the foibles of of humans and, in our case, insects, rather than seasons and nature.
- Haiga: A haiku that is accompanied by an illustration. Include a photo or draw a picture!
- Any other short poem you want to write!
We offer four awards with (small) prizes: 1) best in show, 2) runner-up, 3) best entry from poet under the age of 13, 4) runner-up from poet under the age of 13. Poems from any of the categories listed above are eligible to win any of the awards and therefore are judged together. We also have honorable mention categories that change every year depending on the submissions we get (most traditional, funniest, best IPM-themed poem, etc.)
Information We Need
Your poems(!), your name, your contact info (include city, state, country), and your age if <13 years old. We also need to know if you are not comfortable with your full name being linked to your poems if they get published on the Web or in NCSU materials.
The following resources might be useful as inspiration or simply as information:
- American Haiku Society definitions of haiku and senryū.
- Wikipedia pages for haiku, including pseudohaiku, haiga, and senryū.
- Haiku Chronicles podcast (especially episode 3 about senryū, episode 8 about how to write a haiku, and episode 9 about what is a haiku).
Anyone is eligible to submit poems except for our judges. We’ll accept up to three (3) original, short, entomological poems per poet. Friends of the Museum (minimum $10 donation if you’re a student, $25 if you’re not) are eligible to submit an unlimited number of poems. Your haiku should be submitted by 11:59pm, March 20th (first day of spring!) either…
- as an email to firstname.lastname@example.org OR
- as tweets (be sure to add @ncsuinsects #HexapodHaiku) OR
- on 3×5 cards (one per haiku; cards will not be returned) mailed to the following address:
NCSU Insect Museum
Department of Entomology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695 USA
How Poems Are Judged
Three to five judges, appointed by the director of the Insect Museum, evaluate entries based on literary and artistic merit, as well as accuracy with respect to arthropod biology. Winning entries will be announced on our Insect Museum blog; see the 2008, 2009, and 2010 winning entries for examples.
The Fine Print
You retain the copyrights to your poems. By submitting your poems to us you grant NC State University, the NCSU Insect Museum, and the NCSU Department of Entomology permission to use, reproduce, or distribute the poem(s) in any manner, without payment of fee, in perpetuity.
A Final Word
The word Hexapoda refers to all insects and their six-legged arthropod relatives (springtails, diplurans, and proturans). We’re calling this contest the Hexapod Haiku Challenge only for alliterative purposes. We would love to have haiku, senryū, haiga, and pseudohaiku that feature any familiar arthropod associated with the field of entomology, including those arthropods without six legs (e.g., spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and scorpions).