Bernadette Mayer Obituary, Bernadette Mayer has passed away unexpectedly
- by Alex Danvers
Bernadette Mayer Obituary, Death – Bernadette Mayer, a prominent figure in the avant-garde writing community and a member of the New York School of poets, was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has spent the majority of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include titles such as Midwinter Day (1982 and 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), Poetry State Forest (2008), and Works and Days (2016), the latter of which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Mayer, who is renowned for her creative use of language, first garnered critical recognition for her display Memory, which combined photography and narration in a single installation. A.D. Coleman, a reviewer for the Village Voice, called Mayer’s compilation of images and words “a one-of-a-kind and profoundly intriguing document.” Mayer documented the month of July 1971 by shooting one roll of film per day. Many readers have compared Mayer’s work to that of Dadaist writers, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce due to the fact that her poetry frequently breaks with traditional poetic standards by playing with form and stream-of-consciousness. Midwinter Day is a book-length poem that was written during the course of a single day in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Poet Fanny Howe made the following observation about the poem in the American Poetry Review: “In a language made up of idiom and lyricism, Mayer cancels the boundaries between prose and poetry,… Her search for patterns woven out of small actions confirms the notion that seeing what is is a radical human gesture.” Mayer composed the prose poems that make up The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters while she was in the third trimester of her third pregnancy. In other works, such as Proper Name and Other Stories, she combines prose with poetry (1996). Susan Landers, writing for the Lambda Book Report, praised Mayer for her “Steinesque syntactical play, her meta-narrative operations à la Barth or Borges, and a language poet’s concern in language” in her review of that collection.
In her review for the Poetry Project Newsletter, Ange Mlinko characterizes the structure of Two Haloed Mourners (1998) as follows: “The book starts out dense, vagrant, progressing on a combination of instinctive writing and deliberate structural repetitions.” It picks up speed, shifts gears from poetry to prose and back again, and tries its hand at a sestina, which is a poem in which the opening words and the ending words both appear again… Then something blows up in the middle of the book, as though all of this formal experimentation was the rumbling and smoldering of Mount Saint Helens erupting over the circumstances of Bernadette Mayer’s move back to the Lower East Side from New Hampshire. “Where what was menace in the air of rural America is met head-on in the New York of Reagan and Wall Street.”
Bernadette Mayer’s previous positions include those of editor and educator. Together with the artist Vito Acconci, she was the editor of the journal 0 to 9, and together with the poet Lewis Warsh, she founded United Artists publishing. Mayer and Warsh were responsible for the publication of a number of significant authors during their tenure at United Artists Press. Some of these authors include Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, James Schuyler, and Alice Notley. Mayer has previously held teaching positions at New School for Social Research and The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, both of which are located in New York City. She was awarded a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation in the year 2015.
Bernadette Mayer Obituary, Death – Bernadette Mayer, a prominent figure in the avant-garde writing community and a member of the New York School of poets, was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has spent the majority of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include titles such as Midwinter Day (1982 and…