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So, what is an Ant Poem, anyway?

Here at AntPoems.com, we are dedicated to bringing you “the very best of formic verse.” But what does that mean, exactly?

Well, there are a few possibilities1. For starters, we could consider poetry actually written by ants. This sounds like a fascinating topic, but it presents us with some difficulties. For starters, ants communicate primarily through pheromones (though some species do make sounds through stridulation), and poetry composed in this medium would be hard to transmit over the internet, at least until scent-synthesizers become a widespread technology.

Perhaps, then, we could translate poems by ants into English. This is a fine idea, but sadly infeasible. Academic funding being what it is, no one has ever attempted a serious study of ant (or indeed any insectoid) literature, so there is simply a lack of available material to work with. Until a modern-day Grimm or Lomax tackles the project of collecting and preserving formic literature, we will be unable to bring you much in the way of actual ant poems, whether in the original or in translation.

OK, so for now we’ll have to stick to poems written by humans. In this interpretation, an “ant poem” could simply be a poem about ants. Consider, for instance, this delightful limerick:

The bullet ant’s bite packs a wallop.

The pain is so bad that you’ll ball up.

You’ll feel ready to die,

So if they’re nearby,

Don’t be brave: turn and run at a gallop.

Ant poetry of this type is sadly neglected in the universe of human verse. The illustrious Ogden Nash did produce a little masterpiece about The Ant, and good for him, but few have followed his example. This will not do. We at AntPoems will work diligently (formicly, dare we say?) to unearth as many of these ant poems as we can and share them with you—and we’ll do our best to promote the subject, to encourage contemporary poets to add to the trove.

Finally, we could (ab)use the power of metaphor and consider an ant poem to be any poem that has qualities associated with ants. Ants are social insects, known for their dedicated work ethic and for their extreme strength relative to their tiny size. Poetically, then, this suggests (to us, at least) short, powerful poems that put every word to work—haikus, for instance:

Ants at our picnic:

Tiny marvels of nature.

Hey, where’s my sandwich?

That one’s an ant poem in two senses, of course. Extra anty! Another example, of a different species:

I plucked a book of poetry

from off the lib’ry shelf.

I sought a verse of levity,

to entertain myself.

But as I read, I shuddered,

and my teeth began to gnash.

Oh, the oaths and swears I uttered—

Someone’d torn out Ogden Nash!

Harrowing stuff—and only eight lines long! Quite antlike, indeed.

As for the social aspect of the poems, well that comes from sharing them! So, do you have a favorite ant poem?

1. There are some poor, deluded fools who claim that “ant poems” is merely a bit of permutative trickery. Best ignore them.