marlene mountain
march 1990

isay on essay

Dear Francine                                  March 4, 1990

Thanks for sending Dwyer's essay. Though I wasn't able to see it as complimentary, I always appreciate anyone who takes an interest in what I'm doing and tries to sort it out. Because he didn't seem to understand my poems/essay, I thought he was even more uncomplimentary to himself. Sure which he'd give it more thought.


[re: Michael Dwyer: 'haiku as crutch/the buck-naked empress: Marlene Mountain's revolution' Brussels Sprout 7:2 May 1990]

isay on essay
(comments by paragraph w/suggested title)

first admitted crone of haiku: M M's personal spiralution

Don't understand his title, prefer 'spiralution' (Brussels Sprout 5:2) which for me means around and out, rather than 'revolution' which for me means going around in circles.

1) Three years is plenty long to have read all the big books on haiku and to have soaked up the rhetoric and be able to rephrase it. 'Seriously' may not be the point. Some don't 'trust' me, perhaps because they don't trust themselves, their own instincts about the real world as it relates to haiku. I have not been the least interested in advancing/promoting haiku for well over a decade. Already/finally I know what and how I'm accomplishing, and that I'm doing OK within my personal vision.

2) That big ol' 'unoneness' (see other essays.)

3) His story once again; and The Four Bigs.

4) I don't see myself descended from Basho ('prefer descent from a female ape than from a male rib' unpublished renga). It has been a difficult internal struggle, but I no longer feel limited by haiku, and about to become unintimidated. I'd love to find fellow travelers who have unlimited themselves, but have diminished expectations. Earth has NOT been male-dominated, only since patriarchy (a speck of 'time'); the human male, as for the most part animals are matricentric. PLEASE read women archeologists, anthropologists, et al, who do not view the world through 'male-colored glasses'--then read or reread the men and women who still do.

5) Loyal readers of Wind Chimes (#20) would have noticed: 'why do i write what i write, not a three-hundred year old male Japanese, and so on. Japanese haiku does not have 'a history of expanding to include anything anybody has really wanted to call haiku' (nor does Western). I know what M. Mountain is talking about and it's not about whether the haiku are good. Save me from 'artistic standards'--of anyone's work ('everyone's got too damn much art & craft' 1983 unpublished). What are 'lesser standards'?--sounds interesting. Ideation. Uh oh, 'let's just tell the masses not to think.' What empress? of Japan? But buck is male; how about the empress of Japan is doe-naked--just kidding. 'commie plot'--goodness.

6) Like any kind of creative endeavor, the writer of a haiku must determine for herself if she has succeeded in what she is doing. Once she shares, all sorts of evaluations turn up, which may or may not have a bit to do with her intent. Other poetry luckily does not have the oneness/selflessness/egolessness/etc baggage to carry around. What a self-imposed weight. Kodansha? what's the address?

7) Sure don't remember proposing another phenomena. Haiku is a hindrance to many kinds of growth. Haiku 'is an exercise'??? I didn't say 'good' haiku--not the point. Limits 'however arbitrary'-- now he's getting somewhere.

8) MM's haiku could be (please, not 'must') evaluated within 'traditional poetic criteria,' but trust me that is totally missing the intent: my deliberate dumping of TPC. ('am i ever to be understood now dump japan from haiku from nature' Modern Haiku 21:1) One could compare/contrast Pollock with Gainsborough, or John Cage with Mozart. But it's not pertinent, because though the contemporary artists are no doubt a painter, a musician, they have chosen to separate themselves from the past (even if they love it) for their own inner lights. All of us, especially artists, are responsible for the our times.

9) 'hot night' doesn't imply desperation to me. 'pushy' presents the idea that women are not well-received. Not hard to be against a lot of people 'for something'--white and/or male supremacy, etc.

10) ''women' is too large a concept to be used in the middle of a haiku' (don't know whether to laugh or cry about this sentence). Women means women--all women, of the world; women is not a concept except in 'malescholarshit.' The haiku is not about voting rights, feminism, or limited to women of 'amerryca.'

11) He's right, unfortunately, about 'rights'--many still do not know what rights are. They are certainly more than 'things.' They are also feelings, attitudes about one's self. Women's innate knowledge that comes from the mind, the heart, the gut that women individually and world-wide are not only not treated right, but are treated horribly (in the name of religion, tradition, etc.)--and that we have much to offer. What does 'women our rights' mean? Could be a haiku. What am I pointing at?

12) Many women know 'our rites' and would not find this phrase at all vague (like rights, rites is also about feelings--and an understanding of pre-patriarchy). If it's vague to others, they have not bothered to find out the depth to which this tiny/shorthand word goes. Another haiku: 'women's right to riot.' Another, 'women [being righteously] pissed.' 'But at what!?' Surely he jests. Will 'most readers see the poem for what it is'? Too much to ask.

13) Basho's frog is already dead. Sorry, he doesn't know me. Maybe the haiku disappoints some, but for me it hasn't missed. One does not have to see to know. Knowing can be caring, knowing is the only way 'action' (even within a haiku) can happen. Trust me, the frog died.

14) Surely he jests again, wit can be poetry. How about 'i drink therefore i am drunk,' or 'i drink therefore i am horny' ('the booze goes right to my vagina' 1987 unpublished). 'derived and distant' anger?? Whether others do or not, I have self-validated my anger.

15) This haiku sounds just as 'abstract' as the others quoted. It doesn't say who 'theirs' is and how it got to be, or how haiku got to be 'mine,' why it took so long, or how long long is.

16) The content got worn out. I'm not installing any new rules, only content.

sequence 'why do i write what i write'
back to 'Dwyer's essay'
'next writing'
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