marlene mountain
letter essay
december 1986

just invent

dear alice   12/14/86

Good to hear from you. I know you stay super busy. I'm sending books and mainly 'may I interest you in reviewing' letters. (Did send to the 2 librarians you mentioned--but haven't heard.) Long slow process. Lots of no response and some 'thanks for powerful book, but we don't review.' There will be however reviews in a few of the women's magazines. WOMEN AND LANGUAGE will have some CW & POP, the FBI ad, female alphabet, and Who Am I? essay. Some healing paintings in WOMAN OF POWER (Cambridge). Maybe other things later. Do you have those mags at ASU?

Thanks for sending Edelma's review. And thank her for it, and the time and energy and thoughts she put into it. It's a truly good one, I think. Where could it be sent?

The poem line, top of page 2, should read, '... and fucked it up.'

I only had trouble with one concept in the review--the cave man myth/stereotype. Perhaps that popular notion isn't the way it was. And certainly not in the later Neolithic era--which, given the huge quantity of female images, was at least egalitarian, if not female rule. My poems 'goddess tales 2' and 'if we make it' were meant to reflect the changing over to patriarchal rule, e.g. in the later Marduk myth, where he/they establish him/themselves by killing Tiamat, who was the original primary force.

She's right about the heaviness and relative obscurity of some of the words in 'late night' and 'god said.' Really though it was my intent for readers not only to go to the dictionary, but also to sources which explain the horrifying processes of infibulation, etc. Too often I see 'female circumcision' substituted for the procedure--it's such an innocuous and misleading term, often I think used on purpose to minimize the effect. I think it's long overdue that we find out what's happening to our sisters around the world. And, suttee, etc. needs to be part of our consciousness. From a poem, even. I wanted to load that latter poem--for us to 'feel' the weight of oppression so many women feel. (See enclosed self-interview where I discuss the idea of education in a haiku.)

'Litany of hate'--I like that. I see such terms as positive. These days I embrace stridency and shrillness as positive expressions in art. I can see them as an art form, no less. Like minimal, pop, expressionism, and so on. 'Lady-like' has been such an effective brainwash. I worry about nice feminism. Often equate women who have 'made it' (a relatively better job, pay, etc.) with the blacks who have. Great for a few, but what about those left holding the bag of oppression.

I figured at least one somebody had already used 'manunkind.' It's so obvious and such a wonderful word. Don't know e.e.'s poem. And to be honest, I've never read the angry poems of the 60s, 70s or for that matter the 80s. In my isolation I tend to reinvent the wheel. One has to reinvent--maybe just invent--in haiku. (Speaking of the dictionary, I couldn't find 'agitprop.' Does it mean agitation and propaganda?)

Well, some random thoughts. All in all I'm pleased with the review.

Do you think ASU library might want to order the book? Maybe, THE HAIKU ANTHOLOGY.

The 4 essays, plus another, will be in an upcoming haiku magazine. I'm to be 'featured.' Along with some other 'angry' poems, a few 'sexy' and some 'sexist' haiku. Here's one of the latter:

white sugar white flour white male

And here a recent haiku with a long winded one line title:

mm's croned-off rhyming bumper sticker/slogan haiku (why not?)

strident about trident

If I'm not already, some of the poems are sure to ruin me with some of the 'haiku lovers.'

What I'm hoping for now is a dry spell in writing. Want to get back to the Neolithic Goddess design painting series.

We are very poorly prepared for winter this year--freezing as I write this letter. I hope you stay warm and active and well.

from the mountain


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