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Bernadette Mayer

Some may find these sections boring, but I feel they are extremely important, and enjoyable if read aloud. What day does not have its trivial prosaic moments? But most of this is soaring with great lines. This is from the first section which is mostly about waking up from dreams : Now that our days Are full of normal parts It seems we have all lived forever so far Eyes open, eyes closed, half-open, one eye open One closed to the coming day, past's insistence, Dream's vivid presence, no one knows why Though you can see all I say with half an eye I always have an eye to fascination, you catch my eye This meditation Not on sleep but on awakening With dreams with everything quickening, you and I Survive this work and rest, not so much lost, We only seem to dream as quickly as we live One for the other to make up time And it's as if Today I had someone else's dreams Everything's the reverse of what it seems Typing this out I noticed how the poem works so much better as a whole, pulling out sections or lines does not do it justice as it reflects upon itself and doubles back on its own themes time and time again to create this wonderful effect.

This poem is also often funny and playful.

"On Midwinter's Day" by Damh the Bard

At least to me. In little ways that make me smile. In ways that don't come through in excerpts. Oh well. The book is said to be a duck. The color wheel reflecting you hiding, the bus, empty green swing for people, smiling tiger nothingness puzzle, empty-eyed monkey mask right there, battered stolen musical egg, look, bright old playgroup radio playing raindrops and so on, there's something about a thermometer you wouldn't understand yet, silly identical grounded queen bees, you put things into things now, you empty cups and trucks on your own articulating oh and no the same, grabbing for the fifteenth-century Dutch woman who looks chiding, that's why I put her up, that polar bear won't go into that nesting cup.

So many more great sections. I can't share them all, or do them justice in little pieces, but here's part of the end of section 5: I know you speak And are as suddenly forgiven, It's the consequence of love's having no cause Then we wonder what we can say I can say I turn formally to love to spend the day, To you to form the night as what I know, An image of love allows what I can't say, Sun's lost in the window and love is below Love is the same and does not keep that name I keep that name and I am not the same A shadow of ice exchanges the color of light, Love's figure to begin the absent night.

View all 5 comments. Oct 29, kaelan rated it really liked it Shelves: for-school , poetry. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bernadette Mayer's syntactically-scrambled sentences, when read a little more closely, have a tendency for exploding outwards in waves of heavy, focused meaning. Perhaps the comparison's a slight stretch, but it's kind of like how you can take almost any part of a Milton epic and subject it to microscopic analysis, uncovering something new and interesting in the process. Nevertheless, it's not all readerly roses.


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For Midwinter Day is long. Long to the tune of pages. And for certain neural-physiological reasons no doubt , it remains a fact that close reading is impossible to sustain over prolonged stretchs of time. Yet unlike Paradise Lost , Mayer's poem is not a whole lot of fun to read when you're taking it in on a purely aesthetic-level. That is, provided you're the kind of person who reads Paradise Lost for aesthetic pleasures. But if you are, you're probably also the kind of person who could get something out of this poem.

Antarctic Stations Celebrate Midwinter's Day

And if I can't find a system to understand something, but it fascinates me, I keep listening to or watching it [or reading it] in order to understand. Often, after a year or so, it becomes one of my favourite works. A solid philosophy. And it's why I plan on someday returning to this strange, tedious and perplexing work of poetry.

Bernadette Mayer

Exactly thirty-six years later, I decided to re read the poem under comparable circumstances. It had been about a year since I first trudged my way through Mayer's long poem, and yet I found that my general impressions hadn't changed much. It still struck me as esoteric, sporadically lyrical, and at times quite trying on the ol' attention span. But I also found that I had a greater appreciation for Mayer's overall project—of creating an epic about domesticity and routine.

And this is perhaps what makes Midwinter Day so simultaneously attractive and alienating: that more than any other literary work I've ever read, it impressed upon me a set of values and worries that weren't my own. For even though I'm a bespectacled young atheist from the 21th century, I fancy that I can on some level relate to the puffed-up masculinity of Homer, the imaginative theology of Milton. But tantrums, grocery bills, daycare—even if I can identify with such things, it still feels somehow wrong to immortalize them in poetry Yet that's precisely the point, isn't it?

As I read through Midwinter Day for the second time, I began to realize that my own approach to literature was founded upon untried assumptions, that it was steeped in ideology. Poetry—I always used to tell people—took you outside of yourself. For me, Midwinter Day did just that, and the result was profoundly unsettling. View 2 comments. Feb 23, Carrie Lorig rated it it was amazing.

Dec 15, Mark Desrosiers rated it did not like it Shelves: poetry. A calm sentence like a story.

Midwinter in Antarctica with Roald Amundsen - Australian National Maritime Museum

I used to know a man who had a dog and I followed their steps in the snow, I got into the habit of walking just as far as they did every day. At the same time I also knew a woman whose husband had seven guns. I used to know a woman who's the woman who married Neil Simon. I like the woman who used to work in the Lenox market, she never wears boots, then she retired I can't go on. I know Mayer's heart was in the right place -- and I'll probably receive a Christmas l A calm sentence like a story.

I know Mayer's heart was in the right place -- and I'll probably receive a Christmas lump of coal for pointing this out -- but this is one long droning proto-yuppie diary entry utterly devoid of mystery, music, strangeness, or ambiguity. Even her dreams apparently a framing device would put a community college couch therapist to sleep.

Almost a parody of what poetry should never become. But again, her heart was in the right place. Which makes me wonder whether great poetry only arises when your heart is in the wrong place Dickinson, Whitman, Hart Crane, Berryman , or if you have no heart at all Frost, Bukowski, Dugan.

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Jul 26, Mitch rated it it was amazing. A classic example of Bernadette Mayer's interest in time and perception. In an attempt to write down every thought she has in a single day, Bernadette ends up getting sidetracked down different alleys of memory and belief, her personal life intrudes on the purity of her mental life, and the two blend together into a sort of philosophical soup.

Similar to Studying Hunger and Memory, this book has a somewhat more lyrical bent. I might add that this work is infinitely more satisfying than any of Ke A classic example of Bernadette Mayer's interest in time and perception. I might add that this work is infinitely more satisfying than any of Kenny G. Did I say that? Dec 10, StrangeBedfellows rated it did not like it.

I suffered through this book when it was assigned in American 20th Century Poetry. This book is a prime example of why I don't care for a American literature, b American poets, c 20th century poets, and d any torturous combination of the three.

enter site Little more than pages and pages of free-writing, Mayer would like to pass this off as some innovative, poetic experiment. I say, not. Jan 27, Kristin rated it really liked it Shelves: poetry. A really poignant, and simultaneously fiery, portrait of a single day. Really wonderful use of pacing. Jul 19, Anselm rated it it was amazing.

Or how I learned to be adored before britpop found a drum machine. Nov 15, Daniel rated it it was amazing. Oct 12, Sarah rated it it was ok. When I heard that it had been written over the course of a day, I thought, fantastic - this is something I'll adore. However I struggled even with opening to the pages. This is a point where I think design is important - the font and cover art haven't been updated in a while on the edition I h "It's the dead of winter, remember Sun setting red on the hill of red trees Cold dusk's blue coulds white skies I count the days I dream.

This is a point where I think design is important - the font and cover art haven't been updated in a while on the edition I have, and perhaps if they were different, I would've found myself more engaged with the epic poem.