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Spotlight on … Bernadette Mayer Studying Hunger (1976)

 

‘Bernadette Mayer is “just like / A person with a device” because she doesn’t have one—not a smartphone, not a computer. At seventy-one years old, she writes on a blue Smith-Corona typewriter, tapping at the keys with a single finger. Yet “Beware of the Killer Dog” embodies the catchall genome of the Internet: it’s slapdash, perceptive, sardonic, confessional, deceptive. The same goes for the collection it comes from, “Works & Days,” published this summer by New Directions. The book, Mayer’s twenty-eighth, jumps between sonnets and springtime journals and lists of plants. Lines as casual as text messages (“OK there’s a dark cloud”) follow lines that read like Continental philosophy (“when we began and ended / So did the world we see”). Some sentences make sense: “I’m reading a book by Margaret Atwood.” Others do not: “snomal slebs socru deeibs sbieed mayrac caryem”—from notes that Mayer took while trying to solve a newspaper word game.

‘Mayer was cross-wired from the start. In 1970, when she was twenty-four, she was the only woman included in “An Anthology of New York Poets,” the volume that popularized the plainspoken New York School of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery. Back then, she was interested less in the rhythms of everyday life than in failures of everyday logic: “Corn from Delft / Is good for elves,” she wrote in one of the anthologized poems. Soon, though, Mayer turned to her own experience, filtering it through conceptual constraints—she composed an epic on motherhood in a single day, a series of lyrics while half-asleep, a dialogue with a house. Her “thing” was not having a “thing,” apart from a roving curiosity.

‘Mayer’s wide sweep, unsentimental and uneven, helps explain both her contemporary appeal and, perhaps, her relative obscurity. Eileen Myles, who in the mid-eighties succeeded Mayer as director of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, in the East Village, has criticized Mayer’s work as chilly. (“She’s probably godless like Voltaire if you know what I mean,” Myles wrote on the Poetry Foundation Web site. “Probably not even that passionate.”) But other poetry can seem artificial by comparison. “What a clear, insistent health there is here,” Robert Creeley, the late master of the minimalist lyric, wrote of Mayer’s poems. “As if the so-called world were seriously the point, which it is, and we could actually live in it, which we do.” …

‘Various contemporaries of Mayer’s, such as Louise Glück and Frank Bidart, are sometimes characterized as “post-confessional” for extending the line of candid psychic inquiry that began with Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. Mayer favors an imaginative kind of repression. Her parents, whom she called “jerk Eisenhower Republicans,” died by the time she was in high school—her father of a stroke, her mother of breast cancer. Among the items listed in her early poem “Failures in Infinitives” are the failures “to forget mother and father enough” and “to remember them some other way / to remember their bigotry accurately.” I asked Mayer why she had not been writing about them lately. “They got phased out, thank goodness!” she said. “I was very happy to see them go.”

‘In the late sixties, Mayer’s penchant for wordplay led Bill Berkson, one of her teachers at the New School, to warn that she was starting to sound too much like Gertrude Stein. “I had never read Stein,” Mayer told me. “So then I did.” Other Stein attributes—logorrhea, and an interest in boredom—soon appeared in Mayer’s work, especially in her breakthrough project, “Memory.” Every day for the month of July, 1971, Mayer took a roll of thirty-six color photographs, which she paired, at a gallery exhibition the next year, with an eight-hour recording of her meditations on them, later condensed into a book (“47THST waiting: I look up eagles soar at signs cars sun on half of modern which half & I was & still am always bored”).’ — Daniel Wenger

 

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Further

Bernadette Mauer @ The Poetry Foundation
HOW TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR WITHOUT SAYING “I”
Thirteen poems by Bernadette Mayer
Bernadette Mayer @ Electronic Poetry Center
Bernadette Mayer’s List of Journal Ideas
Audio: Bernadette Mayer reads @ PennSound
Dream of the («Extra»)Ordinary
Bernadette Mayer’s “Memory” as an “Everyday-Life Project”
The Drama in the Everyday: Bernadette Mayer’s Early Poems
Bernadette Mayer and the Capitalization of Everyday Life
« In Which We Know Bernadette Mayer In The Most Astonishing Bourgeois Way »
Podcast: Commonplace: Conversations with Poets: Bernadette Mayer
Bernadette Mayer @ goodreads
I Didn’t Realize I had Written These: Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets
Bernadette Mayer Papers
ELIZA SWANN ON BERNADETTE MAYER
Why Memory Matters. Notes on Bernadette Mayer’s Work
82 Writing Experiments by Bernadette Mayer
“Love Scattered, Not Concentrated Love”: Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets
THERE ARE SOME WHO DID ANYWAY
Read “Studying Hunger’ for free here

 

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Extras


Bernadette Mayer “Eve of Easter” on Public Access Poetry #50 4/26/1978


Mayer Bernadette and Warsh Lewis Public Access Poetry 4 26 78


Installation of Memory by Bernadette Mayer


Bernadette Mayer & Monk Books Trailer


Bernadette Mayer – Midwinter Day – Book Review

 

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Interview
by Adam Fitzgerald

Adam Fitzgerald: When did you leave Catholic college?

Bernadette Mayer: I had to wait until my uncle died to leave Catholic college. I was at the College of New Rochelle. I got to study Greek. I was assaulted by nuns; previously I had been assaulted by priests, but not nuns until I got there. That was my father’s idea. My uncle’s idea of being my guardian was to keep me in safe places, so he figured Catholic college. There was a concept in the Church at the time of in loco parentis, so the priests and nuns were acting in the place of your parents, so he figured that was the safest place to be. Little did he know. So after he died I was able to go to non-Catholic school. I went for two weeks to Barnard College, and I hated it intensely. For one thing, it took me two hours to get there from my part of Brooklyn-Queens. But then when I got there, there were these girls—I guess I should call them “women”—they would say, “Oh, our favorite person is here: she’s had five abortions!” Even though I didn’t disapprove of abortion, I thought this was weird that it would be something that could be bragged about. So after two weeks I applied to the New School for Social Research. I didn’t know anyone, but I thought it would be fun. I liked that neighborhood, Fifth Avenue and 12th Street.

AF: How long were you there before you met Bill Berkson?

BM: The first year I went there, they didn’t let me take a lot of the classes I wanted to take because they said my schedule was too “eclectic.” But I was able to take a poetry writing class, and I remember having to choose between Kenneth Koch’s and Bill Berkson’s, and I knew of Kenneth—I mean I knew of his writing—but I didn’t know Bill, so I read his. At the time his only book was Saturday Night Poems, and I had no idea what he was talking about, so I thought, Well, I’m gonna take his course.

AF: So by this time you were already writing poetry?

BM: Yeah, but not constantly.

AF: When do you remember getting started?

AF: Well, in high school, when my godparents’ son’s family moved in downstairs and started arguing, that encouraged me to write poetry to drown out the noise. I couldn’t stand listening to them.

AF: Do you have any of your early poems?

BM: Yeah, they’re all published in a book called Red Book in Three Parts.

AF: You were working with Bill Berkson and hit it off? Clearly, you guys developed a friendship and would collaborate on so many different levels. What was he like as a teacher? He was five years older than you.

BM: I liked his age, too, because he wasn’t like that much older that he could lord it over me, male to female. No, I had fun with Bill. I remember once he brought in the complete works of T.S. Eliot and the complete works of Ezra Pound. And I remember he said, “Look how large this pile is and how small this pile is.”

AF: Were you exposed to these poets for the first time?

BM: Pretty much, yeah.

AF: What did you think?

BM: Well, I don’t know. I took a year off when I became pregnant with my friend Ed Bowes. I got an apartment on 11th Street and Third Avenue. I took a year off to read all the long books. The Cantos. The Waste Land. Paradise Lost. Ulysses. Better than school, I’ll just read all these books. I’m sure I was inspired by Bill to read the books by their size.

Milton kind of left me cold. I felt like reading him was like an achievement that you wanted to get to the end.

AF: “No man ever wished it longer.”

BM: Right!

AF: What about Joyce?

BM: Well, of all of those books, I really enjoyed Ulysses the most. To read it just like that—I don’t think many other people have done, where you just read it from beginning to end—is pretty astonishing. You’re all of a sudden living in a different world. So I like that book. I remember I had gotten in trouble in Catholic school for reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And they said, “If you didn’t have such good marks, we’d throw you out.”

AF: Did you identify with Joyce’s rebellion against Catholicism?

BM: No, I never got into that. I mean I could’ve, I’m sure.

AF: I’m thinking of the preacher, and the fire-and-brimstone sermon used to threaten their young, immortal souls. Was that something you felt like you were up against?

BM: I just thought, well, what else was new?

AF: So you didn’t need Joyce to tell you that the religious-minded could be rotten?

BM: Right.

AF: So you took this year off to read the greats and the classics. Did you start writing more during this year?

BM: I don’t think I wrote too much that year, except the following year I was going out with Peter Schjeldahl, and he encouraged me to take amphetamines, and I started writing these really complex poems that you would get lost inside. They were poems about the building of cathedrals, poems that only you would know how to get lost inside. But I hated amphetamines. So I never went there again too many times.

AF: Was there a lot of drug use or abuse around you?

BM: Not that I knew of.

AF: You weren’t interested in that? It was in the air, you had always been interested in “altered states of consciousness” …

BM: No, I guess I wasn’t. I guess I just didn’t have the right connections. If I could have met someone that could have turned me on to heroin at the time, I probably would have done it. But it was really downers that I would have been into.

AF: So you started writing more, and when did it start to “click”? Like: “I think I’m going to do this from now on”?

BM: [Laughs] Well, it never really clicked in that way. I knew Vito Acconci had married my sister. Vito went to Regis High School, so they met on the Catholic scene. I think they actually met at a dance. Whatever happened with them, I couldn’t say. Rosemary doesn’t like to even talk about it anymore because she’s so angry. I don’t blame her. Vito always acted like a superior person to her.

AF: How did 0 to 9 come about?

BM: Vito and I started talking and we realized we wanted to create an environment for our own writing and that none of the magazines that we knew of had it properly down—because we were interested in conceptual art, or whatever they called it at the time, and we wanted Native American art, primitive art, to be meshed with upside-down trees. That’s how 0 to 9 finally happened. We talked about it a long time before it actually happened. If we didn’t know writers, we could dig them up from the past that nobody knew about anymore, like Kleist. There were a lot of writers. Mostly libraries and other people’s book collections, our own book collections—I was already into Native American mythology. I got to know, then, Jerome Rothenberg, and we found a lot of Seneca stuff—stuff that doesn’t get really read or known about.

AF: Was this in the spirit of the modernist magazines, like The Little Review etc.? Were you conscious of trying to create a new coterie, a new sensibility, through these underground, avant-garde publications?

BM: Yes, but at this point in time there were other ways of thinking about art that were allied to the writing of poetry. Poetry didn’t have to be a thing in the middle of a page with a lot of white space around it. It could be anything: over the page, off the page, anything. You know, the idea of perfection in a poem is pretty stupid.

AF: Why’s that?

BM: Because if nothing else is perfect, why should a poem be perfect?

AF: So that ’50s formalism that was in the air didn’t interest you? Lowell, Berryman, and others?

BM: Well, it’s still in the air. No, it didn’t interest me at all.

AF: But you were interested in writers who were formal masters. You memorized Shakespeare sonnets; you read Catullus, who, for all his raw subject matter, was brazenly accomplished in his technique. How do you reconcile the fact that you were interested in these formalist conventions but not repeating [them] in your own work? As you say, being imperfect. There’s the Bernadette Mayer who loves Latin poetry, but there’s also Bernadette Mayer the writer who knows that imperfection is a prerequisite to writing something worthwhile.

BM: What I’m thinking is if you’ve read all that, and studied all that, then onward. Why do it again? Except for fun.

AF: So you had an apartment, you took a year off, you were pregnant. What came along next? When did you meet Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh?

BM: The next year or two, I came out of my apartment and started hanging out with people in the real world. And I was kind of appalled. I just thought everybody was kind of stupid. But here I was at this age being approached by someone I admired, like Ed Sanders, and he would come up to me, and I was a cute chick, and he would be like, You wanna be the next Slum Goddess of the Lower East Side? And I thought, Where am I? I was horrified. I didn’t want to be in that world of blatant sexism, where sexism was so acceptable among people you would respect. So I moved to the country. That was the solution. I moved to Great Barrington. I rented somebody’s summer house for the winter, so it was cheap, and I lived there for one winter. It was amazing. It was totally great. I lived there by myself, and I had a car. It was just wonderful. I walked every day, following the footsteps of this guy and his dog who would walk down this path in the Beartown State Forest, and as soon as he would turn around, I would turn around. I didn’t see him except once. That’s what I did; that’s how I took my walk every day. I had some money at the time, so I had just enough to stay there for eight months because of my parents’ death. I had inherited, I think, $10,000—a big amount, right? [Laughs] I tried to get a job and stay there, but I had no success because I didn’t have enough connections. I had a boyfriend who kept coming up to Great Barrington in the middle of these huge snowstorms and trying to convince me to come back to New York City, and I would say, “No, no, I’m staying here.” No one could believe [that] at twentysomething years old, I wanted to live there by myself. If I had the money and the stamina, I would have stayed there and become a recluse. That’s all I wanted to do. I was so happy. So eventually I came back to New York City and lived in a loft on Grand and Wooster Streets, which is in the SoHo neighborhood before it was called SoHo. It was kind of depressing, but I did Memory there. So that was fun. I wrote it in 1971.

AF: By that time you had already been put in An Anthology of New York Poets, edited by Ron Padgett and David Shapiro?

BM: Right. The only woman. I thought that was weirdly stupid. I mean, where was Barbara Guest? There weren’t too many other women at the time. Where was she? Why wasn’t she in that anthology?

AF: Did you know her?

BM: I knew of her and read her work. I loved it.

AF: Did you know Ashbery and O’Hara?

BM: I met them at a party that Bill Berkson gave for what he called his “best students.” He had an apartment on 57th Street; he had invited us, and all those other guys had come over. The people I remember most from that party were Lee Harwood and Jim Carroll.

AF: What do you remember most about them?

BM: I remember Jim had a really huge cock, and I remember having great conversations with Lee Harwood. Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery would go out to dinner and joke hilariously about New York City. I was interested, but I never thought I would be in that. I liked their poetry, and I was happy about that aspect of things. Here I was in a room full of poets. I have to tell you about my funny John Ashbery story. I was at a buffet table in New York City, and somebody pinched my ass and it was John. He said: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were a guy.”

AF: What did you say?!

BM: I just laughed. I thought it was great.

AF: Did people feel they already had to follow in their tracks?

BM: I think people felt that way about O’Hara, but I don’t know about Ashbery yet. Unfortunately, Frank died right around the time I met him, so I never really got to talk to him.

AF: How did you find out you were going to be in an anthology with all of these guys?

BM: A letter.

AF: You were only 22, 23. It must have been pretty astounding.

BM: Well, I recently found—this is even more astounding—I found a manuscript I had put together for the Frank O’Hara Award. This must have been right after he died. It’s a great manuscript, where the word for every chapter forms a sentence, and I lost to Joe Ceravolo, who was also a good friend of mine. Isn’t that an honor?

AF: Did you ever print that book?

BM: No. I’ve been trying to, but it hasn’t been figured out yet. Maybe it will happen.

AF: Did being in that anthology change the attention that was brought to your work?

BM: Gee, I don’t know. I mean, my world wasn’t really altered in any way, but it was already very interesting to me because I would hang out with Joe Ceravolo and Rosemary Ceravolo and go over to visit them in New Jersey, and talk with them. I really had fun. You know what would happen? I thought I would go to more great dinner parties, because at the time I had gone to a dinner party at Holly Solomon’s house where she had all gold-plated silverware. And also, then, the same year, I went to a dinner party at Lita Hornick’s house and she said, “Oh, I love to watch the poets eat—they’re always so hungry.” I remember talking to Hannah Weiner at the time, and I remember the ideal way to live was to sleep until it’s time to get up and go to dinner. For a while I could write all night, sleep all day, and get up in time to go to dinner.

AF: Was that the ideal life?

BM: Yeah, I think so.

AF: Were you ever tempted to write a memoir?

BM: No. I mean I have: 0 to 19, 20 to 40, 40 to 60. That’s a memoir. 60 to 80 would be fun.

AF: Do you read memoirs?

BM: No, I don’t.

AF: But you are interested in certain writers’ lives. Whose lives?

BM: Emma Goldman. She wrote her autobiography, two volumes, called Living My Life. Pretty great. I was reading all of the anarchist writers and I thought, Wow, Emma Goldman!

AF: Are you interested in dead poets’ biographies?

BM: Yeah, if they’re well written. Do you have some to recommend?

AF: My favorites are Walter Jackson Bate’s books on Keats, Dr. Johnson, and Coleridge. Speaking of which, Keats was surrounded by death from an early age, like you. You’re obsessed with memory and how you can store consciousness and package it and channel it and distort it. At the same time, you’re not interested in autobiography, even though your subject matter will very often absorb daily life. (I’m thinking of your poem Eve of Easter, when you end up transgendering the great dead male white authors and before the poem’s over, they end up children at your feet.)

So that seems to me interesting; in a way, you’re trying to put your mind down on the page, but you’re not necessarily committed to anyone knowing your life. I wonder how importantly those events shaped your life as a writer.

BM: Well, I don’t think they’re that interesting. They’re interesting to know about once.

AF: So the correlation between suffering and art, that’s a myth?

BM: [Laugh] I laugh at those ideas. It seems trivial to make that comparison. It trivializes both the art and the suffering. I mean, really, you have to suffer to make art? Give me a break.

AF: How did you meet Lewis Warsh?

BM: At one of Anne’s parties at St. Mark’s Place after the readings. I just knew Lewis because he was part of that scene; it was a great scene in the East Village. You could stand on the corner and decide to start a magazine and collect all the poems, and someone would have a mimeograph machine, and you could have a magazine that night. It was great to have all the poets within walking distance, I mean so many of them. Mimeograph is print on paper, you put ink on the machine. We bought them. They were easy to get a hold of. They were $200. You could immediately make a magazine anytime you wanted.

AF: You’ve always been interested in making your own magazines.

BM: It’s always fun because there are poems written in the moment that you want to publish immediately.

AF: So you met Lewis at this party; you already knew about him because he was on the scene. When did you guys get close?

BM: Oh, not until much later. I was looking around for a guy who wanted to have babies, which at that point in time was pretty difficult, because no guys wanted to have babies. If they did, they already had them or they just didn’t want any part of them. And I agreed, I understood that. It made absolutely no sense to bring any more people into the world. It made little sense then, even much more now.

AF: When did you know for certain that you wanted to have a family and children?

BM: I was about 25.

AF: Did your female peers want that too, considering that the ’60s were this time of sexual liberation?

BM: Not as many as now. Now it’s very fashionable.

AF: So you and Lewis didn’t become intimate until much later? That was in the ’70s.

BM: Yeah.

AF: Were you in love?

BM: Yeah, how else could I have had babies with somebody? Shit. [Laughs]

AF: Well, that’s reassuring to hear someone say! What was he like as a person?

BM: The thing that impressed me the most about Lewis when I first met him [was that] he could type up a sample, do a mimeograph really fast and efficiently. [Laughs] He was cute; he was a good lover. And he really wanted to have children.

AF: How did you guys decide to get married?

BM: We didn’t. And I want to make this clear: I have never been married. I don’t believe in marriage, and I refuse to get married. Stupid Lewis said to me when I was about eight months pregnant with Marie, who was our first baby, he said, Both my parents are going to have heart attacks if we don’t get married. He knew how to push my buttons. I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone’s death. So I succumbed to a marriage ceremony … knowing all the while he was still married, but he did too, but he didn’t think it mattered. So that was okay with me; I didn’t think it mattered either.

AF: So you were never legally married?

BM: No, thankfully.

AF: Marriage is something you’ve been against your whole life?

BM: I just think it’s a stupid tradition. I mean, if you want to declare your love for someone in public, there are many ways to do it besides getting married.

AF: You weren’t interested in any financial or legal advantages of getting married?

BM: Shockingly, there are no advantages to being married. The taxes are in fact higher. The only advantage is to get your mate health insurance or to become a citizen.

AF: How long were you two together?

BM: We stayed together for 10 years. We managed to have all our kids in the country, which is nice. I think of those years as very happy. I could have gone on having babies forever, if anyone had let me. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop.

 

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Book

Bernadette Mayer Studying Hunger
Station Hill Press

‘In 1972 Bernadette Mayer began this project as an aid to psychological counseling, writing in parallel journals so that, as she wrote in one (in bed, on subways, at parties, etc.), her psychiatrist read the other. Using colored pens to color-code emotions, she recorded dreams, events, memories, and reflections in a language at once free-ranging and precise-a work that creates its own poetics. She sought a workable code, or shorthand, for the transcription of every event, every motion, every transition of her own mind and to perform this process of translation on herself in the interest of evolving an innovative, inquiring language. Studying Hunger Journals registers this intention within a body of poetry John Ashbery has called magnificent.’ — Station Hill Press

 

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Excerpt

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** H, Hi. Yes, it looks like I have a new apartment, but, based on my past bad luck, I am saving my relief until after I go in and sign the contract tomorrow morning. If it’s real, I’ll have to start the hell of packing up pretty quick and then probably move sometime next week. Markopoulos would be an interesting choice for your thesis, I agree. Suggestions … I’ll think. The problem is that there are so many very interesting filmmakers, I guess. Where to stop? ** Ferdinand, Hi, Ferdinand! I hope you’re doing okay. That snapshot sounds like great art almost. Oh, shit, about losing your hand luggage. You mean forever? ‘Bye bye Blondie’: I’ll find and watch that. Thanks a lot! Oh, god, yes, about losing things in transit. The worst, and it’s still panful to remember, was that I was in NYC catching a bus to JFK airport with Eileen Myles in the early-ish 80s because we were going to Detroit to do a reading together, and I accidentally left one of my travel bags on the curb at the bus stop, and it contained the only extant version of a novel that I had been working on for a year and a half. That just about killed me at the time, although, hopefully, it was a shitty novel, or so I dream. Nice to see you, sir. ** S., S! I’m still in excited astonishment to see/talk with you again. So, are you living in Berlin? Did I correctly catch that inference? How’s stuff? ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. I just moments ago saw that thing you posted on FB about Lion Cafe and remembered that when Zac and I were last in Tokyo, we wanted to go there and hunted the streets for it for a long time but never found it for some reason. Sharits us wonderful, I agree. Interesting your dad was into 22. I’d never heard about the thing for that number until I did the post, but then a number of people I know turned out to be 22 people. ** Steevee, Hi. Yeah, Rich was fun and interesting and valuable, but she definitely built thick walls around the areas and films she liked. That attack on Nestor Almendros’ documentary as you characterize it is literally kind of insane. Excellent about finding the probable cinematographer. Does she have a particular look/style to her work, or is she more a skilled, flexible sort of DP? I’ve read about ‘Raw’. I fear it’s already been through the theaters here. I’ll try to see it, for sure. Thanks a bunch for the thoughts and the alert. ** David Ehrenstein, I’m with you on the Nestor Almendros film. Well, I only know what’s been put out there about Sharits’ life, so I’ll take your word for the veracity of the pimp story given that you were there. Certainly an interesting wrinkle. ** Kyler, Hi, Kyler. Oh, yeah, it does make sense that you would like the post. Interesting, thanks for the 22 adds. I should do a sequel. There’s a really terrific book called ‘The Age of Oil’ by Duncan Smith that’s a numerology-based series of essays on all sorts of things from Levi jeans to movies, rock songs, etc. It’s way, way out of print and very expensive now, but, if you ever come across it for cheap, I recommend picking it up. Rebel/genius? Me? Well, if you and the numbers say so, ha ha. Cool. ** Dom Lyne, Hi, Dom! Lovely to see you, my friend! My friend/LA roommate Joel is very into the number 23. That’s interesting. I’m kind of a believer in fate and destiny, and I’m always really interested, when I feel/know something is happening that feels pre-destined, to look for clear signs of why, for the hidden design that made that fateful moment happen. So, yeah. I’m good. Things are getting kind of crazy busy preparing for the shooting of Zac’s and my new film, but obviously it’s an exciting busyness for all the necessary related stress. I think the reading went well. It felt like it did. And I definitely don’t often feel that way about my readings. I read poem, mostly poems I wrote in the 70s and 80s. Strange choice, and it was emotionally interesting to reenter the person I was when I wrote them, but it seemed like a good choice. The crowd was good. It was packed, that was nice. I’m happy things still go really well with Seb. He seemed really great. I hear you about the break from writing. Makes sense. I’m on a bit of a break from writing fiction right now. I want to go away from it and then find my way back in and see what that does. Oh, shit, about your publisher going belly up, but, yeah, it sounds like that’ll ultimately work out for the best. I’m glad you’re writing and happy with your work, obviously. That’s very good news. Right, my stuff does get mentioned in ‘Totally Fucked Up’. That’s a cool thing. And that’s one of my favorite Araki films to boot. Hugs and love back to you, Dom. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I come across 23 people a fair amount. I read up on the whys and hows of that number’s importance at one point, but I can’t reember the details. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. I don’t think I have a special number. I do like 5. The George Miles Cycle is 5 books. And I have this thing about writing 5 post-Cycle text novels — meaning 1 more to go — and then stopping. So maybe 5. Well, very interesting and thank you for the talk about Tsieh. I definutely want to go back to his work now and get into it in a fresh and thorough way. When I do, I will remember to share whatever that does to me. My pleasure about the email. And, yeah, by tomorrow afternoon I should be able to confidently say I have a new apartment, or I sure hope so. Looks like it. Thanks a lot! ** Jeff Coleman, Jeff! Hi, man! Awesome what you stumbled on. That was beautiful. That feeling of portentousness is a great one. Well, except when it involves dread. The popularity of 23 is interesting. Is it really the big kahuna or numbers? Or is it just numerology’s version of Beyonce or something. I wonder. Great to see you, buddy! ** Right. Today I’m focusing on Bernadette Mayer’s ‘Studying Hunger’, which I obviously like a lot. And I want to mention, if you didn’t see it up there, that while the book can bought as a physical object, it can also be found/read for free at the great experimental writing/book archve site Eclipse. You can straight to it using the bottom link in the ‘Further’ section. Enjoy your days. See you tomorrow.

13 Comments

  1. What a treat today! Again, I know of the name “Bernadette Mayer,” but never read her. She sounds fascinating and for sure I’m going to track down her books. Thanks for another swinging great blog!

    Lion Cafe is difficult to find because it’s right in the middle of the Red Light District in Shibuya. You would think such a classy place like the Lion Cafe would be in the Ginza (the Beverly Hills of Tokyo) but no, right in the area where dirty things are done. And a lot of street food in that area as well. It is such an odd and wonderful place. If and when you go back to Tokyo, I’ll send you detailed directions how to get there. I know everything by sight in Tokyo – so doing that is even difficult. But I think I can do it.

  2. Like many, I’ve read Mayer’s ‘Midwinter Day’ and loved it. The flow of language interweaving observation, sentiment and thoughts felt beautiful. This book is new to me, but it looks like a vital piece to read immediately. Thank you for the post. (I know the packing is stressful. I’m sure your friends in Paris will help you with that, but hope you can have days off from the blog if you’d need it. )

  3. Mayer’s work looks very worth tracking down. Thanks also for the Paul Sharits day, am a huge fan, so that was a blessing.

  4. Rich could be very good at writing about films she loved, and judging from her epilogue about ’90s cinema and what recent writing of hers I’ve seen, she’s loosened up quite a bit, but her definition of politically acceptable cinema in the ’70s and ’80s was painfully narrow.

    I actually haven’t seen any of the cinematographer’s work yet. She was recommended to me by a mutual friend. I need to E-mail her today, sending her my script and requesting links to her work on YouTube or Vimeo.

  5. BTW, congratulations on the apartment! I’m really happy for you and hope there are no last-minute snafus.

  6. Hello Dennis!
    How are you? I’m seeing tentative talk of a new apartment for you! Wonderful. I’ll keep my fingers crossed until you’ve signed that lease, just in case. That’ll be a relief, I’m sure. Hope you’ve been good. I’m getting the sense that you’re about to enter one of your crazy busy spells, would that be right?
    I’m sorry that I’ve not been saying hi. I’ve been down in the dumps and I’m never very sociable when that’s going on. I’ve missed talking with you, but I have been here every day checking out what’s up. I loved that artist you featured last week, whose name I can’t recall, and Post Actors was just heavenly. I saw some chat in the comments about the possibility of Carrie Fisher being CGId into the next Star Wars and I don’t know if anyone mentioned, but she already got CGId into Rogue One. I was reminded of Tupac’s appearance at Coachella a few years ago too.
    After I post this I’m going to go have a wee browse through the pdf of today’s book, so thank you for that.
    I feel like there’s something that I meant to tell you and I can’t remember what it is. Hmmm, it’ll come back.
    So, tell me about you? What’s new? What’s up?
    Hope you have a lovely Thursday!
    Squidratic love,
    Jamie

  7. Hey Dennis

    I like Bernadette Mayer. Thanks for this link.

    Delighted and relieved to read that you have an apartment, finally! I hope the moving goes smoothly. How many shelves of books are going to have to be lugged? I just handed in my month’s notice to the squalid attic hole I’ve been living in here, and should be back home at the end of next month.

    Best

    Joe

  8. Can’t believe I’ve never heard of Bernadette Myer until today.

    But then that’s why I come here.

    Good luck with the new apartment!

  9. @ DC, don’t suppose you saw any of the Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain Champions League game tonight? What incredible drama, wow. And all PSG had to do was not concede 3 goals in the last 7 minutes and they would’ve gone through. Must be a fair few disconsolate fans trudging the Parisian streets right now.

  10. Hey Dennis – I’ve only read bits of Bernadette Meyer’s work here and there and enjoyed it. This particular book is new to me and looks really interesting. Are there other volumes of hers that you particularly recommend?

    And are you familiar with the poet Lee Ann Brown, by any chance?

    Pardon the eavesdropping on your convo with Ferdinand, but that’s a crazy and terrible story about losing that novel you’d worked on for so long. Was this before the George Miles cycle? Did you ever feel compelled to recreate it or parts of it?

  11. Dennis, Congrats on the apartment. But cautious congrats. It’s kind of like how pregnant women usually wait until they’re out of the woods miscarriage-wise before they tell everyone they’re pregnant. That’s how you should be with apartments.

    Hmm, I wonder if the buildings in NYC could withstand an earthquake, if they’re built to. They’re obviously built with winds in mind. I guess there’s only one way to find out…it’s coming, you know…it’s coming.

    Yeah, our earthquake hit in Mineral, VA, shook the whole DC Metropolitan area. They pretty much shut everything down for a day or so to make sure all the buildings and crap were sound. I was unemployed at the time and sleeping in the afternoon. Fucker almost knocked me out the bed. I woke up sliding off.

    And now…I’m going to bed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  12. Hi Dennis!

    Thank you, as always, for the post. I wasn’t familiar at all with Bernadette Mayer–that interview is wonderful, as is the excerpt. And congratulations on the new apartment! I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit (the winter blues hit full force this year) so I feel like I missed the drama around why you’re looking in the first place, but I’m happy to see you found a place!

    The plus side of the doldrums is that they always make me feel restless. I’ve made it to quite a few art shows in the last couple of weeks, and this weekend I’m headed up to the Dia in Beacon, NY. Have you been? I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on Mark Leckey. I just caught his show at PS1 and thought it was fantastic.

    Lots of love,
    Bear

  13. awe now im blushing. its nice to talk with you again too. just visiting berlin. i kind of like everything about it so far, except the driving. stuffs good as fuck really tons of drugs, underground house music parties, lots of teen boys in my bed, having some slight mental issues thinking of having analysis, obsessed with ghost stories, mostly listening to GBV, my mac broke serious writer mode when i return, hope to start blogging and a solid goal of publishing my first book this year

    i feel very strong about the greatness of Cattle, the light is soft and clear, the actors expertly selected, and the writing like a new voice. congrats again to you and Zac

    as Bresson used to say 👻😉❤️🔫

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