marlene mountain
review of mm
yomiuri journal
december 24 2000

Worldwide haiku and Japanese haiku (6)

Ryu Yotsuya

rush hour a woman in the median picking wildflowers

Marlene Mountain

Marlene Mountain is one of the most talented haikuists the USA has produced after the World War II. When I read her haiku, I always receive new hints helpful for creation.

In the top cited haiku, 'rush hours' mean, not jammed trains as in Tokyo, but a traffic jam of cars in the morning. Commuter rush hour when many people in the world hurry having their own aims. But right in the middle of this hour, a woman goes into the median, completely disregarding cars, and picks up wildflowers. While the contemporary civilization is taking a mechanical and rational direction that is opposite to human nature, she is absorbed in looking for dear flowers, as if she has no interest in world trends.

The haiku of Mountain try to present stinging satire on the modern society mixing there fantastic wit. By the power of irony, her poems prove that, how inhuman this world become, each man is endowed with the instinct and the capacity to fight against the inhumanity. I ask myself if I can find in Japan a haikuist who writes poems with such a critical mind on the society as hers, mind that seems us even tragic.

arrested in knoxville two women holding hands

dead cat pointing
to each car that passes

Marlene Mountain

By Ryu Yotsuya (haikuist)
[Used by permission.]


Japanese original
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