Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words: The Collected Early Books of Bernadette Mayer
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Author: Bernadette Mayer
Publisher: Barrytown Limited / Station Hill Press (2015)
Bernadette Mayer is among the most influential American poets of the late 20th century and the present, and much of that influence is based on her early books, previously available only in fragmentary form. As a Brooklyn high school student at the beginning of the 1960s, Mayer began writing with an embodied directness and resource belying her youth. Over the next two decades, this precocious start would culminate in a body of writing extraordinary in its range and impact. Even in a New York milieu given to radical practice—as evidenced in the journal 0 TO 9 that she co-edited in the late '60s—these books in their collective force represent an explosion of poetic forms and investigation as profound and sustained as any in contemporary poetry. The poems—some short, some book-length, written in the city as well as the country—are irreverent and sacred, jocular and aching, gentle and tough, erotic and reflective, rigorously fashioned and off the cuff—a poetic skill, intelligence and generosity scaling the heights.