Bernadette Mayer’s Memory & A Chorus of 31 Voices
In the age of COVID, with weeks and months spent in isolation or looking at screens, without the commute to work, without visits to see one’s friends or family, time begins to take on a slippery elasticity. Days slip quickly by. We wonder what we have done or what our old life once felt like.
Given this, it may be that there’s never been a better moment to experience Bernadette Mayer’s Memory, a 1971 multimedia project in which she produced over 1,100 photographs and 200 pages of text. The photos were installed at the Holly Solomon gallery in 1972 with an audio track of Mayer reading from the text. This year, for the first time, the photos have been brought together with Mayer’s writing in a book published by Siglio Press. In conjunction with Siglio, Poets House has presented Language is a Temptation; we invited 31 poets to read from the work each day during the month of July, including Mayer herself who reads from the July 31 entry of the text.
This work is a thrilling, early example of the rigor and experiment that has continued to infuse Mayer’s practices as a poet and made her such an influential figure to a diverse spectrum of writers and artists.
In the age of the digital archive, the days of July, 1971 can live on alongside all the days going forward from July 2020. We encourage you to buy the gorgeous Siglio edition of Memory and listen along to this chorus of voices, who speak from the present of 2020 to the memory of 1971. You can find Language is a Temptation as part of the digital initiatives on the Poets House website.