marlene mountain
letter essay
april 1990

inhibiting, after

dear jane  4/16/90

Hello again, your letter arrived after I put mine in the purple box.

Goodness, your first draft honored me! this one even more!!! It's a bit difficult for me to accept such praise--yet, underneath those nice words is an understanding I've really been hoping to have happen; what I felt that Michael missed, what Cor and Rod I think have missed. Evanoff seems to understand but has not written for the Am. haiku magazines. He lives in Japan and is up to here with Japanese esthetic attitudes. I had to live there and then mull it all over for many years to understand that I could not go along with many of the attitudes. It's really simple now, I don't want to be involved with the Japanese myth of haiku--just because they invented it doesn't mean they get it 'right,' or realize its full potential, or understand that haiku can be the opposite of haiku. And I don't want to write what I think I can still write, i.e., the old stuff. (Well, sometimes it happens.) With the drawing, it was the process, the unknown, the exploration that caused me to draw. When I sort of knew, I quit. The early haiku of GA and TN were (for me) from the unknown. When I sort of knew, probably ready to quit, I was floored by the potential of women's haiku. Now this is really from the unknown--and I think I will never fully explore this content. You were able to see much of this (esp in the 2nd version), and I truly appreciate what you have said. Truly. For me, it is the perspective of artists, their intent within a perceived viewpoint that needs to be interpreted.

One thing, perhaps you put yourself down in the piece. Take a look. I loved that you changed 'I'll never write . . . I don't want to . . .' But, still, whether you get 'radical' or not, you write wonderful haiku. It isn't that I need others to change their intent (that's probably a lie--I crave to hear some deep shit in haiku), it's really the need to have why I changed understood. (I had no choice.) That means much to me. Eventually my haiku may not seem radical. I mainly think of them in that way when I get cold feet/paranoia, when I sense they will be misunderstood. It becomes inhibiting, after the fact. Really, my stuff is simple, we're just not used to women writing haiku in such a way. And I think they are haiku, but we're just not used to the content. Some are even very good. (But that's not the point.)

Some info about the herstory paragraph [can be changed to first person or whatever]:

Marlene came to many of the attitudes of Japanese haiku independently through her minimal paintings. In 1964 a colleague said they reminded him of the ideas in Alan Watts' THE WAY OF ZEN and gave her a copy. She discussed the relationship of 'emptiness' and space, the few strokes on a canvas and the few words in a haiku in her 1965 thesis. In 1967 she titled a large canvas of mainly white space, 'Big Haiku.' She and John Wills [professor and prick etc ] began writing haiku around 1968/69, although from very different directions. He from a background in literature, and she from minimal photography and painting.

Your opening paragraph is great, and funny too. It is a strong piece, powerful writing. I admire your ability. Jane, I did have trouble with 'lady'--I prefer woman.
I think this Dec 25th sequence says some of what I'm getting at:

not to write

not to write those easily publishable haiku
not to read them
the ghost of haiku past
boo(da) who

Alexis accepted it (and 'marija') then returned because she can't get one line into her format. I don't know why she hasn't sent to you. Probably, like everyone else, she believes one has to have an editor.

THE PAPER VIA UPS JUST CAME--but I get no toner until maybe tomorrow.

Yes, the two books are for you. Only found a few of each, so probably won't sell any. If I decide to sell 'roof' what do you think I can get by with? I'd like to try $15, even $20. Not many of them left.

Have you seen Weathervanes? I could send a copy if you return. And I could copy some of my early haiku from Haiku and Mod. Haiku if you don't have. Let me know.

I'm a bit worried about the Imagewriter type for the book. (I think the cheap Epson at one store looked better.) The 'i' when copied looks like an 'l.' I guess there will be a book. And I guess I'd better figure out how. But I don't know how to begin. Sometimes I think I might contact Simon & Schuster--other times think not. Do you think we could do it from my printer and your copier? And would the visual things do as second generation? I know this will be a long involved process. And here I am with this poster stuff, and frustrated that I can't write that dump Japan article so that at least some of the why I changed might make better sense. And still wanting to paint the 'beginning' of the womiverse.

Don't know if I was clear about anne's link. She put her name after the line and used an asterisk to say beneath that it was a quote.

I'm enjoying our renga! Interesting links. Here're mine:

another no from a haiku warden

as radical as nature unpredictability within her form

Glad you're feeling better. Maybe stress with you, too?

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