Memory

Bernadette Mayer. Siglio, $45 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9382-2125-5
This beautiful, large-format book combines over a thousand of Mayer’s photographs (Mayer shot a roll of film every day during the month of July in 1971) with poems and stream-of-consciousness writing. With infrequent end punctuation, the text feels immersive, an intimate journal that includes road trips, questions about God, and movie plots juxtaposed against photos from the quotidian (laundry in the sink, subway platforms, a naked man from behind). Along with references and allusions to literary and artistic names (Emily Dickinson, Jasper Johns, Philip Roth, Gertrude Stein), Mayer gives the sense of a poet recording every thought at every moment, including repetitions, anger, revelations, plans, and the mundane. Images such as “corn yellow taxis taxi down broadway,” “both mother & father resemble police cars,” and “green rain” liven these observations. Mayer refers to herself as “the imp of the perverse,” but she also captures the ineffable, writing “you remember the past backwards & forget.” This substantial volume will engage fans of Mayer and introduce new readers to a particular and remarkable voice. (May)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the book's title.

Reviewed on : 03/12/2020
Release date: 05/19/2020
Genre: Poetry
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