marlene mountain
review of mm
bill higginson
april 6 2001


Delivered-To: [email protected]
Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2001 19:05:56 -0600
From: wordfield
To: Marlene Mountain
CC: John J Polozzolo
Subject: Teapot--Re: today (OFF LIST)

Dear Marlene,
I began this thinking I would post it on the list. Now I don't think so, but would rather simply send it to you personally. (I'm sending Zolo a copy, so he knows that I personally support his position, but I don't need to say so publicly, I don't think.) You may do with it what you wish, within reason.

Marlene, none among us here, I'm sure, has anything but horror as a response to the goings on in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan has been there a long long time, and I doubt that the present crisis--yes, it is that--is much different from others of the past. (We probably cannot know whether such a statement is true, or has any 'meaning', other than to say, as Zolo has said, that horrors abound.)

Yes, the poor will always be with us . . .

But in the mix of it all, it is for us each to live our own lives as best as can, to make what hopefully useful protest we can where we must, to stand until only the enemy is left standing (and then to sit, lie down, or just die as a last, irreducible reply to evil), and so on.

In the meantime, our cries of pain, or horror, and 'Why?' and 'Death to the Infidels!' must all have their places too.

However, these are neither haiku nor senryu, in simple point of historical fact. So why not send this list, which seems to be composed of good people who would like to spend some of their time reading and discussing haiku and senryu and haiga and the things that pertain thereto, things that at least a common plurality of those on the list will recognize, or at least be willing to discuss, as such?

The fact of the matter is, Marlene, much as we love you--and we do, or at least I do, for many of the things you have brought to the haiku table--we do not, generally, it seems to me, appreciate being told that any one person has the right to say that cubic chess is checkers, and the hell with the rest of you that think checkers is a board game in two dimensions.

Call our view (or my view, if you like) limited, but what you really need to be doing, and have needed to be doing for decades, seems to me, is to find outlets for your non-haiku/non-senryu work that are at least as personally exciting and rewarding to you as are those which you already have for your haiku and senryu work.

You have gained some entrance into the world of haiku on the basis of the excellence of your haiku. Some of your haiku will stand the test of time and be lauded as long as people read haiku in English.

But for most of two-plus decades, you have been sending poems that are not related to haiku, not related to Japanese-style linked poetry, not related in fact to any part of any related genre, to haiku venues. In some cases, I think, because of your views expressed in the content, not your views about haiku, in the main, you have had some success in getting this work, or some of it, published in places that are nominally 'haiku' venues. But you've been kidding yourself, as well as some of your fans, if you think this work has been haiku. It never was and still isn't.

And I for one am glad to see someone willing to stand up and say so. Perhaps it's time you listened a while, Marlene, instead of coming back with a stock response against 'your accusers', and let those of us who see haiku (and senryu) as a special variety of poetry have our little corner of the literary universe, and try to raise its standards within that small world we inhabit. When you write haiku (or senryu), please do join us. When you write other stuff, send it elsewhere.

That's a simple request, seems to me.

It'd be respectful. It'd be appreciated. It'd be a simple step you could take to join forces with some of your literary comrades, rather than always seeing yourself on the outside, angry, and unappreciated. You are not unappreciated. I'm quite sure there are plenty of haiku venues that would gladly publish your haiku--I mean what I would call your 'haiku'--and plenty of others that would take pride in publishing some of your other work.

But get off the pose of the 'bad girl of haiku'--you're no girl, anymore. In short, grow up and get on with writing whatever you like. And do the work that each of the rest of us does with our work which we value: find the best places to publish each piece of that work where it will be appreciated for what it is, not for what it is against or in conflict with.

I considered sending this to the list, but I don't think so. I'm not interested in getting involved in long-term debates with you about something where--yes--'my mind's made up'.

In very short: Take Zolo's message 'Re: today/Taliban' (Thu, 5 Apr 2001) to heart, and get on with living your life, instead of dragging any one within earshot through nothing much more than your rant.


If you feel the need, you may post this to the list, Marlene. (If you do so, please post my entire message, then reply to it if you wish.) But don't expect me to further engage you on this point. I've thought deeply about this since your exciting haiku--what I think of as your exciting haiku--first appeared and so obviously broke away from what John was doing. My ideas on your work haven't changed, over these many years, though my ideas about haiku have changed considerably.

Bless, and move as you're able toward personal peace.--my prayer for you.



['You may do with it what you wish, within reason.']
mm note: bill i feel this to be a significant comment re content in haiku and this a reasonable place for it.

see responses:
back to 'reviews of mm contents'