There are several Joe Brainards you may or may not know. There’s Brainard the internationally-showing collage artist and painter, and there’s also the Joe Brainard who was a downtown NY scene fixture in the poetry world in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Joe Brainard you probably know, though, is the author of the “cult classic” I Remember, first published in full form in 1975. Written with wit, candor and no pretension to self-importance, the book is a procedural memoir, every single brief entry in the book starting with the title phrase. Rather than offering the drama or grandiosity of an amazing life, Brainard instead provides you with a non-chronological wealth of sly specificity:
I remember after people are gone thinking of things I should have said but didn’t.
I remember how much rock and roll music can hurt: It can be so free and sexy when you are not.
I remember Royla Cochran. She lived in an attic and made long skinny people out of wax. She was married to a poet with only one arm until he died. He died, she said, from a pain in the arm that wasn’t there.
March 30th, 2012 / 12:00 pm