Sawako Nakayasu: “Insect Orchestra,” Performance, June 6, 2014

ant teacup-2On Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m., Sawako Nakayasu presented “Insect Orchestra,” the latest installment in the Insect Country series.

Insect Country is an ongoing investigation and tutelage under the auspices of the universe as lived by insects, mostly that of the ant variety. Works produced, conducted, performed, committed, or documented thus far include texts, performances, a collaborative book defacement, an open poetry studio, several chapbooks, a podcast, the naming of a non-collective, and various other plans involving film, dance, and music. Collaboration proposals are also welcome.

“Insect Orchestra” will be a performance of the following instructions (excerpted from Nakayasu’s The Ants):


Improvisational Score

This performance may take place over any duration of time, from zero seconds to many many years.

A number of insects are placed in a clear container so that they are as comfortable as possible, given the circumstances. They are given oxygen and food and water, though they may not escape. The container of insects is placed on stage and a light is directed through the container and projected onto a large screen so that the audience may see the

Each musician chooses an insect, and plays accordingly.

If an insect dies, the corresponding musician should also die, musically or literally.


Sawako Nakayasu writes and translates poetry, and also occasionally creates performances and short films. Her most recent books are The Ants (Les Figues, 2014) and a translation of The Collected Poems of Sagawa Chika (Canarium Books, forthcoming 2014). Other books include Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions, 2010), Hurry Home Honey (Burning Deck, 2009), and Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals, which is a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. She has received fellowships from the NEA and PEN, and her poems have been translated into Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, Chinese, and Vietnamese. More information can be found here: