Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard

 ... I remember thinking I could sing (had a good voice) until somehow in school I discovered I didn't.

... I remember the St. Marks movie theater (45c until six).  The red popcorn machine.  And lots of old men.

... I remember Gina Lollobrigida's very tiny waist in Trapeze.

... I remember daydreams of going blind and how sorry everyone would feel for me.

... I remember thinking those sandals and short skirts rather impractical for war.
                                                                                                             from I Remember

I had no idea this collection came out last month.  I happened to see a copy on a table in the Strand yesterday, and I had to have it.  The collection includes the work Brainard (1942-94) is best known for,  I Remember, along with journal entries, essays, poems and art.  Brainard, Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch are perhaps my three favorite New York School writers.  Their writing is so natural and direct, and it never feels pose-y or pretentiously poetic.  It's high energy stuff, & just so beautifully alert to being in the world. It's smart, and funny, and tender. 
I've had a copy of I Remember for years, but the other work is mostly new to me, and was hard to find before now.  It's great to read.  On a related note, on May 7th., The Kitchen will be showing a film about Brainard, directed by Matt Wolf.

... Composed of a sequence of brief recollections, the poem’s standardized format admits an incredible variety of images and feelings: "I remember Greyhound buses at night...I remember candy cigarettes like chalk...I remember leaning up against walls in queer bars...”
Filmmaker Matt Wolf returns to this iconic poem in his film I Remember: A Film About Joe Brainard. His archival montage combines audio recordings of Brainard reading from the poem, as well as an interview with his lifelong friend and collaborator, the poet Ron Padgett. The result is an inventive biography of Joe Brainard, and an elliptical dialog about friendship, nostalgia, and the strange wonders of memory.

Buy the book.  Go to the film.  Do it!  And for further information about the writer, visit the official website .

1 comment:

Marty Wombacher said...

I'll definitely check the book out and will try to make the film, thanks for posting this!