Isabella Mori, "Not So Pretty Haiku"

Mori achieves an affecting memoir of what COVID wrought.

Isabella Mori, "Not So Pretty Haiku"

Isabella Mori, Not So Pretty Haiku

Isabella Mori, Not So Pretty Haiku. Chilliwack, BC: Tigerpetal Press, 2022.

Currently available at Tigerpetal Press.

Mori achieves an affecting memoir of what COVID wrought. We are told the idea for the book "was born in the early days of COVID." At that time, the author spent a lot of time outside, wondering about the contrast between natural beauty and worldwide devastation. Not So Pretty Haiku startles at its opening, pushing us to consider how any good could emerge from ugliness and loss. Take, for example, the very first poem offered:

window ledge
a tender shoot
grows from the mold

The placement of "mold" as the last word creates a shock. The "tender shoot," the regularity of sound ("ledge"/"tender," "window"/"grows") is interrupted by an idea we would rather not contemplate. Mold in the fridge, on the walls, and yes, on the window ledge all bring feelings of guilt. How did we let things fall into disrepair? Are we properly conscious of anything? What exactly grows from our neglect? You won't find an overt discussion of politics in this little book, but it is impossible not to see COVID as a disaster made worse by extremists and conspiracy theorists. You might say that what grows from mold is derangement.

Still, the image of growth from mold speaks to more than the disaster itself. It suggests an aftermath, a time when recovery may be possible. True recovery, however, probably requires confrontation with loss. The losses of the COVID years are varied and brutal. Consider this one line poem:

pond scum her husband's lung cancer

Many suffering from cancer got COVID from the combination of compromised immune systems and compromised hospitals. Pond scum is quite apt. The sliminess of sickness seems inescapable.

The worst years of COVID trapped us in our anxieties and addictions. The inability of many to cope coincided with pressures few, if any, could handle. I see in Mori's depiction of ivy as a parasite an image of abnormality finding license:

ivy eating away
at the cherry tree...
a drunk's raucous laughter

Not So Pretty Haiku contains a number of photographs of flowers taken at Paulik Park, a "heritage garden" just outside Vancouver. This in itself is a remarkable gesture. The old masters, as we well know, pushed themselves to write about bees buzzing and violets like jewels while turmoil consumed society, if not court. We nowadays look to the flowers to remember, understand, and memorialize. Growth without neglect.

Articles of Interest, 6/17/2023

Hey everyone—I'm a bit busy. I'm up to application 124 in this latest job search. Everyone tells me "this is how it is" and it's hard for me not to groan. I can't help but feel that things need to change radically for this to be a remotely liveable world. I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone go through this process, even though many have done so and are doing so.

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There will be more posts on Heidegger soon. I'm writing on Heidegger and Antigone for an upcoming conference, and I'd love to finish remarks on the first part of Introduction to Metaphysics as an accompanying project.

A few things I've read lately that you will find of interest: