Poets in Review: Bernadette Mayer

By Jordan Davis

Got to St Marks after carrying the groceries home (new address: 246 Mott St Apt 24 NYC 10012) to find my wife and Bennett Simpson had saved me a seat in the 120+ crowd, Ed Friedman dimming the lights to encourage the bird flying around the parish hall to calm down and exit, Dug Rothschild climbing the window bay and covering the bird with his coat, catching him, opening the window releasing and applause. Oh causality! Dug sat back down with three feathers and there was Bernadette Mayer sitting in the front of the room at a table. Lisa Jarnot came forward and gave a lovely introduction in which she explained that before she read Bernadette everybody said you have to read Bernadette you have to meet her she'll change your life, and then she did meet her, and Bernadette's poems had changed her (Lisa's) poems, and Bernadette had changed Lisa's life, and it was a lovely introduction. Bernadette read new poems in a calm clear voice and she read some greatest hits ("Corn", "The Complete Introductory Lectures on Poetry") and she read some old fugitive poems from United Artists magazine and from her self-published book _Mutual Aid_, and she read some more new poems and she finished with some poems from her forthcoming collection _Another Smashed Pinecone_, due from United Artists early 1998. It was a terrific reading, and everybody was there. There was an intermission during which I ran around handing everyone present cards for the first Poetry City reading of the season, next Thursday at 6:30, which is half an hour earlier than usual, Anne Porter and David Shapiro. Anne Porter in case you don't know her work was a National Book Award nominee a couple years back for her book _An Altogether Different Language_, which collected her poems from the last 60 years. She is a favorite poet of Bernadette Mayer and countless other great readers. David Shapiro is the author of thousands of beautiful poems, he teaches at Cooper Union and at William Patterson College, and he is a tremendously thoughtful critic of the arts and one of the main secret catalysts of the renewed love for poetry in the world. He is an open secret. I hope that everybody who reads this message will find it in their budgets and their busy hours to come to this free reading October 16 at Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 5 Union Square West, New York NY. Call me at 1-888-BOOKS-TW if you need directions. Then the intermission concluded and Eleni Sikelianos introduced Barbara Guest, and Barbara Guest read her poems, including pieces from "Quill Solitary Apparition" and from her selected poems. She concluded with works from "Rocks on a Platter", a forthcoming book about poetry. The audience was very pleased with the evening. The following people you may know may be consulted on this assertion: Leonard Schwartz, Anselm Berrigan, Peggy DeCoursey, Bruce Andrews, Eileen Myles, James Sherry, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge (I think it was her), Steve Malmude, Drew Gardner, Judith Goldman, Barbara Henning, Cynthia Nelson, Cliff Fyman, Rob Fitterman, Stephen Rodefer, oh there were many people there. Jordan Davis