Works & Days (2016)


Part daily journal, Works & Days is lush with chipmunks and blue herons, floods, local politics, careful inquisition. The collection, which takes its title from Hesiod’s ancient epic, is primarily concerned with a change of seasons. In her playful and attentive verse, Mayer captures wildlife and wildflowers, the shifts and signs of a coming springtime.

Published by New Directions, the text received a National Book Critics Circle Award nomination. Michael Miller, for NBCC, writes: “powered by Mayer’s unique reflections on the mythologies of social and linguistic order, Works & Days possesses a rare combination of artfulness, critical acumen, and personality. The end result is a book that is at once formally inventive and disturbingly of our times.” Mayer's work was reviewed in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribuneto overwhelming praise. 

In the words of the poet herself: “my name is Bernadette Mayer, sometimes / I am at the head of my class.”

[Mayer’s] language — sometimes childlike, but with a learned vocabulary — models a freedom that many poets have sought but few have made so smart or so odd.
— Stephen Burt, NYTimes