Studying Hunger Journals (2011)

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From the back cover: In 1972, Bernadette Mayer began this project as an aid to psychological counseling, writing in parallel journals so that, as she wrote in one (in bed, on subways, at parties, etc), her psychiatrist read the other. Using colored pens to “color code emotions”, she recorded dreams, events, memories, and reflections in a language at once free ranging and precise- a work that creates its own poetics. She sought a “workable code, or shorthand, for the transcription of every event, every emotion, every transition” of her own mind, and to “perform this process of translation” on herself, in the interest of evolving an innovative, inquiring language. Studying Hunger Journals registers this intention within a body of poetry John Ashbery has called “magnificent.”