Joe Brainard made his memories yours
The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard (Library of America)
Library of America
$35.00 List Price
Joe Brainard achieved a singular position in the poetry world before his death from AIDS-induced pneumonia in 1994. An artist identified with a rarefied strain of Pop art, he was also a poet affiliated with the so-called New York School, a loose collection of wry Francophiles who could be readily described in the mid-’60s as avant-garde without anyone wincing at the designation. Ensconced in the circumscribed world of highbrow, camp-inflected culture, Brainard penned I Remember—a litany of self-regard whose formal rigor sharpens the kind of intimacies that invite readers to feel like coconspirators. The multibook work escaped New York’s narrow precincts to reach a wide (for modern verse) and enthusiastic readership. Along with Ginsberg’s more famous “Howl,” I Remember is the post-1950 poem people who don’t read poetry might know. That major effort, along with other poems, prose pieces, and drawings done over Brainard’s three-decade career, have been gathered in one volume by the Library of America. Smartly edited by his lifelong friend Ron Padgett, the collection demonstrates that this unlikely success was no fluke.
Brainard arrived in New York in 1960, along with fellow Tulsa teens Padgett and Dick Gallup; another Oklahoma pal, Ted Berrigan, soon joined them. He began writing poems, making art, and meeting the people—Frank O’Hara, Andy Warhol—who would prove influential in both endeavors. Having settled on the Lower East Side, Brainard began producing collages, drawings, and paintings, appropriating images and texts from popular culture and the city’s street life. In a
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