marlene mountain
review of mm

foreword by Randy Brooks

one-line linked haiku

Marlene Mountain and Francine Porad


The Haiku Exchange Rate

by Randy Brooks

Cur*rent begs us to consider the ambiguous questions of exchange: how one instant leads to another, how one person's innerscape is transformed by another's, how one historical moment dissolves from our consciousness as another rises into prominence, how the value of one poem is enriched by its proximity to the next, and how art is always transforming itself as well as its participants.

Haiku has always, by its very nature, been an incomplete expression of being. This deliberate refusal to 'tell all' confounds the haiku reader, thus inviting that other reader to step in where the haiku leaves off and to add another association, a response, often in the form of another haiku. This new link, of course, triggers the ongoing process of exchange.

Although haiku may appear to be one of the shortest genres of poetry, it can also be seen as the longest since it assumes an ongoing, never-ending process of linking, of adding currency to the existing haiku.

All collections of haiku can be viewed as a temporary stay against this continuous flow. Cur*rent lets us enter into the exchange of linked haiku between two of our best contemporary American haiku writers.

The first few series were written over extended months, flowing at the rate of snail mail. These linked haiku move through the seasons and political events with a fresh shifting of attention from the immediately local (sometimes biologically personal) to the global current events in their lives.

The more recent series are obviously written at a much quicker rate of exchange, over two or three days at the pace of email. While these links do not capture a movement through the seasons in same way as the earlier letter-writing, they do achieve a spontaneous playfulness, a flow of current emotions, identities, concerns, questions, and declarations to consider the
unbound leashes of haiku art.

The rate of flow changes, but the value of haiku currency remains: to live, to feel, to respond, to engender, to make new, to flow, to leave the fussy definitions and limitations behind. This is the Cur*rent exchange offered in this collection.

Randy Brooks
Editor, Mayfly
October 29, 1998

Randy Brooks, Ph.D.
Director of Writing Major
Millikin University
Decatur, IL 62522

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