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Marlene Mountain

Marlene Mountain

December 11, 1939 - March 15, 2018

Marlene Mountain, formerly known as Marlene Morelock Wills, was a gifted poet, painter, and photographer -- and a haiku legend. She was born in Ada, Oklahoma, and earned a B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma and M.A. from the University of North Dakota in painting with a minor in literature. Her paintings have been included in many group and one-woman exhibitions, and she taught courses in drawing and design. Marlene began writing haiku in 1968 and was one of the first haiku poets to focus almost exclusively on the one-line approach to haiku. In his review of her first book, the old tin roof, considered one of the most innovative books of haiku ever published, Cor van den Heuvel wrote that some of the best poems in that collection "immediately placed [her] in the front rank of American haiku poets." She also published numerous "concrete" poems for which she coined the term "unaloud haiku." In her seminal essay, "One-Image Haiku" (first published in the Australian haiku journal Tweed and reprinted in A Haiku Path), she challenged the idea that haiku must consist of two juxtaposed images. With outspoken conviction, she wrote haiku that expressed her vision of the possibilities inherent in the genre. One such poem (here in its entirety) – free haiku – rather says it all. Her work reveals her deep passions regarding women's issues, environmental matters, and politics. She painted and wrote in the mountains of Tennessee, from which (in 1982) she took her name.
    See some of her image haiku in The Haiku Foundation's Galleries, "Image Haiku of Marlene Mountain".

Awards and Other Honors: Outstanding Senior in Art; Lew Wentz Service Scholarship; Special Commendation in Painting, Drawing, Graphics; Mothers' Association Scholarship; Alumni Development Fund Purchase Award; Delta Phi Delta National Art Fraternity. Her haiku have appeared in numerous collections and anthologies, including One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English (Hiroaki Sato, Weatherhill, NY, 1983); Erotic Haiku (ed., Rod Willmot, Black Moss Press Canada, 1983); The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share and Teach Haiku (William J. Higginson and Penny Harter, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1985); The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition (Cor van den Heuvel, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1986); Eigo Haiku (Haiku in English: A Poetic Form Expands) [Japanese], (Hiroaki Sato, The Simul Press, Tokyo, 1987); An Anthology of Haiku by People of the United States and Canada [contest winners/runners-up in JAL ad: The New Yorker 8/1/1988] (Japan Air Lines, NY. 1988); An Original Relation to the Universe: Emersonian Poetics of Immanence and Contemporary American Haiku (Thomas Lynch, University of Oregon dissertation, 1989); The Rise and Fall of Sparrows: A Collection of North American Haiku (Alexis Rotella, Los Hombres Press. 1990); Haiku Crosses the Sea: Foreigners' Views of Haiku [Japanese] (Kazuo Sato, Maruzen Company, Tokyo, 1991); Haiku [Polish] (Czestaw Milosz, Krakow, 1992); Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (ed., Bruce Ross, Charles E. Tuttle, 1993); A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, NY, 1994); Haiku Compass: Directions in the Poetical Map of the United States of America [Japanese/English] (William J. Higginson Haiku International Association, Tokyo 1994); A Haiku Alphabet in Celebration of Summer (ed., LeRoy Gorman, Proof Press, Toronto, 1995); The Red Moon Anthology 1996 (10 editors, Red Moon Press (1997); The Penn State Haiku Survey: Learning From Those Who Write Haiku (1997); Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac [multi-lingual] (William J. Higginson, Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1997); Those Women Writing Haiku (Jane Reichhold, AHA website, 1998); The Haiku Anthology, 3rd edition (Cor van den Heuvel, W. W. Norton, New York, 1999); up against the window: American Haibun & Haiga 1999 (Jim Kacian, Red Moon Press, 1999); A Handful of Sage (The Sage Council in Vancouver B.C. Canada); The Art of Haiku 2000 (Gerald England, New Hope International, England, 2000); Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-wide (George Swede/Randy Brooks, Mosaic Press, Canada, 2000); The Best of the Electronic Poetry Network (Carlos Colon et al Shreve Memorial Library, 2000); A Dozen Tongues 2001: Our Vanishing Wilderness (Jim Kacian et al, Red Moon Press, 2001); American Haibun & Haiga, Vol. 2 (Jim Kacian/Bruce Ross, Red Moon Press, 2001); A Purple So Deep [An anthology of haiku collected by Leatrice Lifshitz (2001); Voice and Echoes: Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology (ed., Carlos Colon, 2001); How to Haiku: A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms (Bruce Ross, Tuttle Publishing, 2002); Zen Poems (Manu Bazzano, MQ Publications Ltd, London, 2002); Haiku: Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids (Patricia Donegan, Tuttle Publications, 2003); Haiku: A Poet's Guide (Lee Gurga, Modern Haiku Press, 2003); Reeds: Contemporary Haiga (Jeanne Emrich, Lone Egret Press, 2003); Erotic Haiku [Japanese/English] (Hiroaki Sato, IBC Publishing, 2004); an/thology of pwoermds (Geof Huth, The Runaway Spoon Press, 2004); "unaloud haiku: labium", Impulse Magazine 16:1 (edited by the late Peter Day, Canada); CD: "Things Japanese in Tennessee," an educational course commissioned by the Japan-America Society of Tennessee (JASTN); Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart (Patricia Donegan, Shambhala: Boston & London, 2008).

Books Published: the old tin roof [haiku, senryu & dadaku; & unaloud haiku not yet termed] (self-published, 1976); new bridge [one-line haiku, late 1970s/abandoned [matsu allard, editor]; aware becoming [haiku sequence/visual haiku, c 1977, 1978]; moments/moments [unaloud haiku] (High/Coo Press, 1978); naturenotes [unaloud haiku] (mid-1970s); preying mantis [unaloud haiku, poemcard #11] (High/Coo Press, 1979); femmarks [3 sets of bookmarks] (self-published 1981/82); solstice cards (1981 to present); equal hell, art [haiku, untamed haiku & beyond untamed haiku, booklet and 40 cards including 4 bumper stickers] (self-published, TN 1982); a poem, women [poems and haiku, early 80s/abandoned [hal roth, editor]; tonight i am mountain [one-line haiku sequences, mid-80s/abandoned [Rod Willmot, editor]; pissed off poems and cross words [haiku sequences & 13 sketches for painting series] (self-published, TN, 1986); intimate posters [haiku with images] (self-produced/published 1990,; a crone's haiku highcoup [haiku criticisms via captions to 'famous art' c. 255 images] (self-produced, 1992); from the mountain [book of 20 + years of one-line haiku etc with annotations and visuals] (self-published,, 1992); lined-paper blues [tear outs]; femail boxes and junk male [development of a painting series, text and visuals] (self-produced/published,, 1993); home away from home [development of a painting series, text and visuals] (self-produced/published,, 1993); nature talks back [tear outs, etc.] (self-produced/published,, 1994); visualante [tear outs, etc,] (self-produced/published,, 1994); now you too [dadaku/high coup] (self-produced/published, 1994); when the mountain comes over the moon [tear outs, etc, self-produced early 90s--in process]; how to flounder and fiddle [the making of 2 unaloud haiku] (self-produced); cur*rent [one-line linked with Francine Porad, 7 one-line linked haiku & 3 artworks (Vandina Press, 1998); other rens [book one] (Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain, Francine Porad, one-line linked haiku & color artwork, Vandina Press, 2000); other rens [book two & book three in one volume] (Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain, Francine Porad, one-line linked haiku & artwork, Vandina Press, 2000); trio of wrens [book four] (Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain, Francine Porad, one-line linked haiku & artwork, Vandina Press, 2000); mother nature's heat/a desert snake [one-line linked haiku with Jean Jorgensen, 16 one-line linked haiku, cover color painting by Marlene Mountain, Four Corners Press, 2001); probably 'real' renga sorta [one-line linked haiku with Francine Porad] (Vandina Press, 2002); probably 'real' renga sorta 2[one-line linked haiku with Francine Porad]. In addition to her own work, Marlene's drawings, photography, calligraphy, and development were integral to the design and success of the following, written by John Wills, to whom she was married at that time: back country [haiku by John Wills, photographs by Marlene [Wills] Mountain] (self-published, GA, 1969); river [haiku by John Wills, drawings/design by Marlene [Wills] Mountain] (self-published, GA, 1970; TN, 1976) 21 haiku greeting cards [haiku by John Wills, drawings/design by Marlene [Wills] Mountain] (self-published, TN, 1977).

Selected Work
spring evening
a pup barks
the old cow home
together as we dry there is the listening to rain
pig and I spring rain
wood pile
on the sagging porch
unstacking itself
one fly everywhere the heat
he leans on the gate going staying
the taste of summer water
from the faucet
thrush song a few days before the thrush
old pond a frog rises belly up
above the mountain mountains of the moon

Credits: "free haiku" - Shreve Memorial Library (Shreveport, LA, Electronic Poetry Network, May 13–15, 2005); "spring evening" - Modern Haiku 7:4 (1976); "pig and I" - Frogpond 2:3-4 (1979); van den Heuvel, The Haiku Anthology 2 (1986); van den Heuvel, Cor, “Concision, Perception, Awareness — Haiku,” New York Times Book Review Section (March 29, 1987); Modern Haiku 18:3 (1987); van den Heuvel, The Haiku Anthology 3 (1999); Things Japanese in Tennessee [CD: an educational course commissioned by the Japan-America Society of Tennessee]; Donegan, Patricia, Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart (Shambhala Publications: Boston & London, 2008); "one fly" - Cicada 2:1 (1977); van den Heuvel, The Haiku Anthology 2 (1986); Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-wide (George Swede/Randy Brooks, Mosaic Press, Canada, 2000); van den Heuvel, The Haiku Anthology 3 (1999); Blithe Spirit 10:4 (2000); "alone" - Cicada 1:3 (1977); "old pond" - Mountain, Pissed Off Poems and Cross Words (1986); Modern Haiku 17:3 (1986); "together" - Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-wide (George Swede/Randy Brooks, Mosaic Press, Canada, 2000); "wood pile" – Modern Haiku 7:4 (1976); "he leans" – Amoskeag I (University of Southern New Hampshre, 1984); "thrush song" – Modern Haiku 21:3 (1990); "above the mountain" – Wind Chimes 19 (1986).

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