A Celebration of the Life and Work of Bernadette Mayer at the Kelly Writers House

Oct, 25 2023 | 6:00 PM

A Celebration of the Life and Work of Bernadette Mayer at the Kelly Writers House

Kelly Writers House

Address: 3805 Locust Walk
City: Philadelphia
State: PA
Zip: 19104

Please join us Wednesday, October 25 for a very special evening celebrating the life and work of poet and artist Bernadette Mayer (May 12, 1945 – November 22, 2022). Mayer's revolutionary writing changed the landscape of contemporary poetry dramatically. Known as a second-generation New York School poet, her contributions to the art include her more than thirty books of poetry and prose, her reinvention of poetic forms such as sonnets, letters, and journals, and the creation of several time-based durational writing projects. She is also known for her radical generosity as a teacher and community organizer. Mayer's writing experiments have been inspirational for generations of writers encouraging a focus on process, collaboration and the daily. It's impossible to express all of the ways Bernadette Mayer's work is necessary and enlivening — so please join us to hear from our wonderful speakers including long-time friends, family, and students close to Mayer's work. Our speakers for this event — Lee Ann Brown, Brenda Coultas, Philip Good, Julia Levitan, Emily Rush, Max Warsh, and Marie Warsh — will be sharing remembrances, and reading from and discussing Mayer's work, influence, and legacy.

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Julia Bloch’s most recent book of poetry is The Sacramento of Desire from Sidebrow Books; her scholarly book on race, gender, lyric, and the long poem, is forthcoming in 2024 from University of Iowa Press. She has been awarded a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award from the San Francisco Foundation, and a Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program.

Lee Ann Brown was born in Saitama, Japan and raised in Charlotte, NC. Her work is known for a range of playful, innovative use of poetic form including song and improvisation. She has published seven collections of poetry, beginning with Polyverse (Sun & Moon Press, 1999), with the most recent being the 1080 press edition of Oh You Nameless and Unnamed Ridges a collaboration with Bernadette Mayer. Brown teaches poetry at St. John’s University and has been recognized with a Lord Nose Award for Innovative Publishing, a Kathy Acker Award and a Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship from the University of Cambridge. In her 20s she founded Tender Buttons Press, an independent publishing house for experimental feminist poetry beginning with Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets, and now also curates poetry happenings at Torn Page, a home salon in Chelsea, NYC.

In the mid-90s, Brenda Coultas moved to New York City to work on the staff of the Poetry Project. Her poetry can be found in Bomb and Brooklyn Rail and the anthology Readings in Contemporary Poetry published by the DIA Art Foundation Press. Previous books include two from Coffee House Press: A Handmade Museum, The Marvelous Bones of Time and two from Wesleyan University press: The Tatters, and The Writing of an Hour, an ars poetica, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2022.

Philip Good, the partner of Bernadette Mayer for decades, wrote a collaboration with Mayer entitled Subatomic Moss published by Vehicle Editions in 2021. He is also the author of Poets in A Box published by Reality Beach in 2018. He lives in upstate New York near what he calls the Poetry State Forest. His poems can be found in Poetry, Hurricane Review published by Pensacola State College, Infiltration, An Anthology of Innovative Poetry from the Hudson River Valley, and Helix Syntax, the 41st Summer Writing Program Magazine, Naropa University. 

Julie Levitan, M.A., is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, where she explores the intersection of language and mental health through research, clinical work, and advocacy. She earned a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in North Carolina with her cat, Skinky.

Emily Rush is a resident of Philadelphia, PA. They spend their days as a preschool teacher and their nights as a poet/artist/thinker of thoughts. They are most likely happy to be here!

Marie Warsh is a historian, writer, and the co-director of the Estate of Rosemary Mayer. She helped to organize numerous exhibitions of Mayer’s work and has edited several books, including Excerpts from the 1971 Journal of Rosemary Mayer (2016 & 2020), Temporary Monuments: Work by Rosemary Mayer, 1977-1982 with Max Warsh (2018), and The Letters of Bernadette and Rosemary Mayer with Gillian Sneed (2022). From 2005-2022, she worked for the Central Park Conservancy where she was involved in various aspects of the history, preservation, and interpretation of Central Park. She has also written widely on the history of parks, playgrounds, and other landscapes and is the author of Central Park’s Adventure-Style Playgrounds: Renewal of a Midcentury Legacy (2019). She has an MA in Landscape Studies from the Bard Graduate Center and a BA in Art History from Smith College.

Max Warsh is an artist and curator who lives and works in New York City. He received his MFA in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004, and his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2002. He is Director of the Yeh Art Gallery at St. John’s University in Queens, New York; and is also Co-director of the Estate of Rosemary Mayer and advisor to the Shirley Gorelick Foundation. His artwork has been included in exhibitions at the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Eduardo Sívori Museum in Buenos Aires, AR and the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Ireland; and galleries such as CPM, Baltimore; The Pit, Los Angeles; Longhouse Projects, New York; New Capital, Chicago; Shoot the Lobster, New York and others.