just sitting around here GRUESOMELY now
It is summer in this book, even if nature often does not hold to summer. The flowers either have tiny buds or have long since withered. It is summer in the book, asserts Mayröcker’s work, because the summer light is switched on: sometimes blazingly bright, sometimes darkened with thunderclouds. At the same time, there is a magical light in this writing. In these stream-of-conscious prose poem meditations, Mayröcker formulates a poetics of simultaneity of all that is not: ‘not the scenes I remember, rather, it is the sensations accompanying those scenes.’
Strictly composed in form and language while luxuriantly proliferated in daydreams and nightmares, just sitting around here GRUESOMELY now is a significant volume in the radical late work of the great Viennese poet.
‘Friederike Mayrocker enjoys a growing reputation as a writer whose art insistently crosses the boundaries between literary forms. Her prose is lyrical, and draws on the work of a wide range of modernist writers, from Gertrude Stein to Virginia Woolf. Beckett and Thomas Bernhard have also influenced her style of bombarding the reader with a mixture of realistic and fantastic images. The device forces the reader to participate in the mental drama which supplants narrative in her work.’—Times Literary Supplement
‘The perfection of the life or the perfection of the work: these are the options Yeats set before his fellow poets. It was, he knew, an impossible choice. A life perfected one day disappears, unrecorded. A work can survive but only if one sacrifices one’s life to perfecting it. It is a circle that cannot be squared. Few writers have had the audacity to even attempt it. One of them, the Austrian experimental poet Friederike Mayröcker, is currently in the seventh decade of a career devoted to erasing the distinction between life and work.’—Ryan Ruby, Poetry Foundation. Read this excellent essay on Mayröcker’s body of work here.
‘Two of the most frequently used words when attempting to describe [the reading] experience seem to be “hallucinatory” and “magical”. These are not adjectives that come easily to modern and post-modern critics but they are accurate descriptions of the almost physical effect brought about by immersing oneself in the waterfall-like bombardment of [Mayröcker’s] poetry. The range of her poems, and the baroque nature of her imagery, is dizzying: we are taken, often within the space of a line or two, from surrealist fantasy to detailed naturalistic observation, from a reminder to see the oculist to heartfelt elegy.’—Jeremy Over, New Books in German
‘Mayröcker’s work is a kind of continuous torrent of freely associative, passionate language in the service of private obsessions.’—Peter Sirr, Poetry Ireland Review
‘Tumult, ferocity, ﬂow, exaltation, immersion: Friederike Mayröcker, among the world’s greatest living writers, reinterprets literary vocation as total theater. Swimming through the language-tide, she cuts syntax into new folds and undulations. Responding to her gestural commands, words form constellations, clusters, diaristic strings of inference.’—Wayne Koestenbaum
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