A Marathon Reading of Memory by Bernadette MayerFamiliar Trees, Sunday, July 14, 11 am - 10 pm

Free and open to the public

events, 06/24/24

In July 1971, Bernadette Mayer (1945–2022) embarked on an experiment: each day for one month, she shot a roll of 35mm film and kept a journal, as an investigation into the nature of memory, its surfaces, textures, and material. Her experiment resulted in Memory, a monumental and groundbreaking work by a poet who is widely regarded as one of the most innovative writers of her generation.

In 2020, siglio published Memory, bringing together the full sequence of over 1100 images and almost 100,000 words for the first time in book form, and making space for a work that had been legendary but mostly invisible. It sold out in less than a year, and the second printing, with the assistance of a Literary Emergency Grant* awarded during the pandemic, was issued earlier this year.

On Sunday, July 14, 2024 at Familiar Trees—in the heart of the Berkshires where many of those days in July 1971 were spent and recorded—poets, writers, and artists, from near and far, will read the entirety of Memory, from morning until night, to celebrate this singular work, its inimitable author Bernadette Mayer, and the passionate community she nurtured.

Bernadette Mayer, 1945-2022, authored of over thirty books including the acclaimed Midwinter Day (1982), a book-length poem written during a single day in Lenox, Massachusetts, as well as the The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), and most recently Milkweed Smithereens which—like Works and Days (2016)—was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. Associated with the New York School as well as the Language poets, Mayer was also an influential teacher and editor. In the art world, she is best known for her collaboration with Vito Acconci as editors of the influential mimeographed magazine 0 TO 9.

Participating readers include: Rider Alsop  .  J. Mae Barizo .  Joshua Beckman .  Susan Bee .  Charles Bernstein .  Brenda Coultas .  Russell Day .  Helen Decker .  Ben Doller .  Sandra Doller .  Marcella Durand .  Atticus Fierman .  Suzanne Goldenberg .  Phil Good .  Michael Gottlieb .  Lucy Ives .  Vincent Katz .  Erica Kaufma .  Eric Keenaghan .  Ann Lauterbach .  Annabel Lee .  Jeffrey Lependorf .  Jonathan Lethem .  Erica Dawn Lyle .  Dawn Lundy Martin .  Ellyn Gaydos .  Anna Moschovakis .  Stephen Motika .  John Patrick O’Grady .  Trace Peterson .  Emma Parrish Post .  Evelyn Reilly .  Lucy Sante .  Elissa Schappell .  Karen Schoemer .  Chelsea Spengemann .  Rob Spillman .  Sarah Steadman .  Edwin Torres .  James Walsh .  Marie Warsh .  Max Warsh .  Rebecca Wolff .  Geoff Young .  Amie Zimmerman

Familiar Trees is located at 80 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 01230. The reading begins at 11 am and will end when we finish reading the book, sometime (quite?) late into the evening. Free and open to the public.


Read more about Memory

And read an excerpt (July 15), an extended biography of Mayer by her daughter Marie Warsh, and a short history of Memory, all from the book. Listen to the original 1972 audio recording in the Bernadette Mayer Papers in the Special Collections & Archives at UC-San Diego. Watch Mayer reading for Artforum; and the remarkable daily reading series at Poets House in which contemporary poets read short selections from each day of Memory on the corresponding day in July 2020 online during the shutdown. Read the excellent essays on Mayer’s work at POST45, including an interview with publisher Lisa Pearson about the making of the Siglio edition and the outpouring of elegies and appreciations from so many fellow writers and friends.

*The Literary Emergency Grants were funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and organized by the Academy of American Poets, Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), and the National Book Foundation.


Images: top, detail from July 16; below, detail from July 21; home page, detail, July 18, all from Memory by Bernadette Mayer, Siglio, 2020.

see also

✼ natalie’s upstate weather report:

july 31, 2023 — It has been a wet and gray summer all around. Poet Keith Waldrop passed away a few days ago. Siglio had the immense honor to publish Keith’s luminescent collages—edited by the dearest of Siglio friends, artist-writer Robert Seydel—and the great luck to enter Keith and his soulmate Rosmarie’s rich and multifarious world of poetry, translation, publishing, community. No, not world; rather, galaxy, universe, cosmos. Their collaboration on the insistently vanguard Burning Deck Press chartered the outer reaches, yielding an indispensable map for siglio—and many other small presses.


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