marlene mountain
reviews of mm

Rod Willmot:

pig and i spring rain

'I think this is my favourite haiku of all time. It expresses profound contentment with material existence. But there is more to this haiku than contentment, for thousands of haiku are about just that without having the power to draw me back to them year after year. Marlene Mountain is indisputably the earthiest haiku poet in North America, and in recent years has also become the most political. Her change of name from Wills to Mountain was an expression of her feminist identification with one of the symbols of the Goddess, the mountain. In this haiku her earthiness and political commitment are discernible as an inextricable commitment to the world she lives in. 'Just think of the difference between a man saying 'axe and I,' which carries an element of masculine bravado, and a woman saying 'pig and I.' The latter is devoid of pretense, not to mention the aesthetic self-indulgence that characterizes so many haiku east and west. Looking at it analytically, I see a depiction of harmony in a three-level universe: the lower level of animals and instinct, the middle level of humans and waking consciousness, and the upper level of the heavens. Notice that the animal world is 'elevated' through being represented by a pig, a creature known for its intelligence and sensitivity. The human world is 'lowered' by the simple fact of being with a pig. And the heavens gently descend to be a kind of solvent between them. Instead of the egocentric statement 'I am at one with the world,' this haiku says, 'we are all together.' {Used by permission.} [mm: pig is also a Neolithic goddess/woman symbol.]

from HAIKU IN ENGLISH, Hiroaki Sato, 1987

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