marlene mountain
letter essay


dear jane  2/6/90

My link off to you earlier today. The 'pages' I sent are typical of what I'm finding in boxes of some of my thoughts as a 'kid.' Glad I saved them. Looks to me that I've not changed. The content has, but the stewing/worrying/frustration is the same.

Since I've had this month-long cold hanging on, it was good just to sit and read, and try to date and sort what I could into notebooks. Got started trying to find the GA writings (69-71), but as yet I don't know if I've found anything in 1968.

It seems since Hal proposed a book in 81/82, I've put obstacles in the way. (It was made up of haiku, a few sequences and other poems, called 'a poem, woman' after a title of one.) POP tho came out of nowhere. All along 'tonight' was growing but I continued to be dissatisfied (not 'enough'). More obstacles (to me) by adding the POP to 'tonight,' then the 'rediscovered sequences,' and then the 'found seqs/gatherings.' It was finally enough, but maybe 'too much.' Just when I was getting somewhat used to the idea of it all, another obstacle. 'tonight' comes out of nowhere (why would I write 'this fucking heat sucked in twice by zen'? I called it 'punk haiku' in 84, other things 'women's punk haiku')----and I feel the need to put it in some sort of context. Here's what I've been thinking (groan): three volumes at the same time.

1) 'tonight i am mountain' sequences from (one in 75/76 abandoned) 1978 through now. Over 200 pages, double-spaced--lots tho just a few lines on a page. Also a few early seqs--1970+. Maybe a few other poems.

2) the essays, haibun, book reviews, etc. since (one in 1970) mid 70s. (Over 60 pages, single-spaced.) About midway a definite change in attitude from the early oneness, masters, etc. to women's, etc.

These two are sort of together, except double-spacing the essays and renumbering the pages (yuk, & of course cranking them out on the printer.)

3) a visual book including the one-line leading to and in 'roof,' and after. Some 1969 picture-poems, some c. 1974 tear outs and later ones, maybe some mouse-paint, the unaloud (over 70 from about 1974), other visual haiku, the dadaku (spoofing haiku), the few 1969 one-lines, minimal, 'romantic,' two or so unaloud/visual. Much of the later things came out of the stuff in 1969, including a note I found: 'social protest?'. Also, some sketches (for paintings) from 1963/4 before I knew of haiku & zen but which very much relate to how the windows developed into partially painted stripes (white space, suggestion, etc) and some later ones. A little discussion of this in my 65 painting thesis. The beginning of serial art (later sequences). [It would be fun to include some paintings, and the tons of color slides of minimalism from a ten or so year period, but impossible.]

Well, how's that for obstacles? In my head and heart, I think that's how it ought to be done. Some questions are can it be done? how? who? The visual book would be very difficult to gather and design and reproduce, but I think an interesting outcome.

I finally did read 'tonight' twice, sort of. Have to admit it's a powerful book. But it still spooks me. Still not comfortable with it, but better than I was--thanks to you. . . and Adele. She wants to write an intro about courage, honesty, etc. Maybe after I get more time, while I'm trying to date the early stuff, I'll try it again.

Have you gotten the copier?? That's what I need to see how the visual things would reproduce. No place to rent one locally, but called one store. Could a desk model of about $1100 ($900 Sharp on sale) be any good? They don't stock anything.

Got first copies of Lynx where Sato sent our renga. Maybe I'll send something. Like your page of words.

Got a good letter from Tom Clausen in appreciation of 'belly up/ pissed/pushy/mine' in Brussels. He asked about other essays.

Do you have all your 'early' work organized, dated, etc.? What a chore it is. My advice to anyone is to date everything. Even scraps of paper with jibberish on it. And save it.

I mentioned my link (in this morning's note):

all or nothing the courage it takes to face my own writing

i was loved understood praised and hung from a cross (jorges luis borges)

Meant to tell about your link: our mother who is the earth. Great. What I was implying in mine. I love the two together.

In case you can't read my handwriting: yellowed paper young serious ideas.

I have no idea what to write about myself for Mirrors. Would you be interested in seeing some iris ink drawings from 1970 (better than what's in MH) for a cover? Not sure they would reproduce. Or something not so tame?

Well, when I get my fighting spirit together in order to tackle the printing job, I'll get 'tonight' to you.
  back to 'letter essay contents'