marlene mountain
september 1986


who am i?

Who am I? I am in my poems. In all of them put together. I say more about myself in my haiku than I do in reality to most friends. But even though I write about myself, I write much (and think more) about people I've never met. Even though I live a fairly isolated existence (and love it) on a 100 acres of mountain land, I feel my world to be that of The World.

If it is true that our brains tell us/allow us only to see what we can handle, mine screwed up. It snuck in some things I wasn't ready to see and, if I'd been asked, didn't want to see. I call it The Ton of Bricks Experience.

It was one of those rare one-second, one-of-a-kind, lucky/unlucky moments--some nine years ago--which caused me to see Everything differently. I became instantly--it seems now, though I am still discovering--aware of the myths and lies we have all been made to acknowledge as 'truths.' In effect, it made 'adjusting' to life as I had previously understood it difficult. More difficult, I should say. It took away much of my 'lightness,' and to paraphrase, it made a woman out of me.

Haiku is one way within which I try to sort out what it's all about. Life and living, anger, joy, hate, love, sex, freedom, oppression, madness, myth, reality. And, haiku itself.

I believe I would have been a lot farther along in sorting through these 'heavy breathing' topics if I had not been involved with haiku. Another form of poetry/philosophy or maybe none at all might have been a lot easier. Human nature being what it is, one gets stuck/trapped and plods along within whatever one is in.

Does this kind of Ton Of Bricks 'enlightenment' effect one's art? You bet. In fact, my own art spooks me now. I have a lot of trouble with it. While it's happening and just after it's done, I say, 'that's too much; you've gone too far.' Then, without any kind of breather, or period of comfortableness, my next reaction is, 'that ain't nothing; you didn't say enough.'

But, as artists, we have no choice but to go with our flow. My 'flow' in haiku has been in many directions. Visual, minimal, satirical, non-emotional and emotional, spiritual and political, objective and subjective, sexy and deliberate sexism. I have written 'nothing special' and have grumbled, ranted and raved about 'things important.' On reflection, perhaps I'm not trapped, after all.


Women and Language 10:1 Winter 1986 (Univ. of Illinois/Urbana); Hiroaki Sato, HAIKU IN ENGLISH: A POETIC FORM EXPANDS, Simul Press, Tokyo, 1987; Brussels Sprout 5:3 1988

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