A career-spanning bouquet of poems by the peerless and inimitable Bernadette Mayer
Milkweed Smithereens gathers lively, wickedly smart, intimate, and indelible Bernadette Mayer poems: the volume ranges from brand-new nature poems, pastiches, sequences, epigrams, and excerpts from her Covid Diary and Second World of Nature to early poems and sonnets found in the attic or rooted out in the UC San Diego archive. The world of nature and the pandemic loom large, as in her “The Lobelias of Fear”:
…but how will we, still alive, socialize
in the winter? wrapped in bear skins
we’ll sit around pot-bellied stoves eating
the lobelias of fear left over from desperation,
last summer’s woodland sunflowers and bee balm remind us of black
cherries eaten in a hurry
while the yard grows in the moonlight
shrinking like a salary …
Praise for Milkweed Smithereens
Mayer writes the kind of nonsense that makes sense, and sense that is nonsense: I can’t think of a better catering device in these topsy-turvy times.
— Daniel Wenger - The New Yorker
A poet of extraordinary inventiveness, erotic energy and challenge, and ironic intelligence.
— Michael Palmer
A consummate poet: would that all genius were as generous.
— Robert Creeley
Bernadette Mayer is one of the most original writers of her generation… All her work is full of brilliant observation, humorous and sometimes astounding conclusions, and amazing juxtapositions inspired by linguistic associations, patterns of movement, chance, mathematics, whim, and imagination.
— Michael Lally - The Washington Post