Memory Won't Save Me: a haibun
by Mimi White
ISBN: 978-0-9828100-4-05.5 x 8.5; 44 pages $12.00
Mimi's interview Review on Haibun Today
When the Japanese poet-monk Basho invented the haibun, the alternating haiku and prose in which he documented his travels, he certainly never imagined what a poet could do with the form in twenty-first century American English. Mimi White’s Memory Won’t Save Me is an ingenious, fascinating appropriation, an account of both physical and emotional travel. The geography is the weeks leading up to the death of a father. Shifting easily between direct observation and layers of memory, she turns what might have been a familiar kind of elegy into a work of great depth and power.
The very title of Mimi White’s haibun, Memory Won’t Save Me, conveys at once the honesty of the work, which expects nothing magical from itself, none of the automatic “healing” that elegiac poetry is sometimes credited with producing. What this gorgeous record of a father’s death does, instead, is elevate a common loss to a most uncommon level of art that renders it both one family’s personal grief and a universal human experience from which, in fact, nothing can save us. The haibun’s interweaving of haiku and prose, in Mimi White’s hands, proves particularly eloquent.
—Rhina P. Espaillat