A true New York Poet, Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn and spend most of her life in New York City. She received her BA from the New School of Social Research and published her first collection of poems, Moving in 1964.
Although she is associated to the New York School due to her use of daily occasions and her attraction to traditional form, especially the sonnet, her work also shows a particular interest in experimental forms and writing procedures. Her 1994 collection of prose-poems The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters e.g. is a “series of letters never sent, written to unidentified friends, acquaintances, political figures, and poets over a nine-month period and ending with the birth of a baby” (Mayer). Her critically acclaimed Memory (1975) combines photography and narration in a writing process made up of texts and 36 images for each day of July 1971.
Mayer has published over 20 collections of poetry. She has taught at the New School for Social Research and The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City and now lives and works in East Nassau, New York.
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Are we free? Are we autonomous?
Are these the same questions? you ask
on the back of an old dog-eared shopping list
next to sausage apples milk and grapes
the last line you left off with a dash
as for the answer in a prose conversation
like Will you come home soon, dear?
– I don’t know. I have to see.
it stuck between the cushions of the sofa.
I fished it out when I sat there the other day
trying to write something like a sonnet
while you were reading in the other room.
I want to kiss you for questions more than answers
when our lips part you will say: What was that for?