cover of book

by Friederike Mayröcker
translated by Donna Stonecipher
Seagull Books, 2019
Cloth: 978-0-85742-656-7 | eISBN: 978-0-85742-725-0

Exploring longing, lust for life, ageing, mortality, grief, and flowers in her inimitable late style, études is a diary-like sequence of poems by one of the greatest living Austrian poets. Friederike Mayröcker’s almost daily entries give us a unique view into the interplay between desire and her motivation for writing. In Mayröcker’s case, she writes both to keep a vanished world present and to exploit the possibilities of being present for constant experimentation.
The poems in this volume are not only studies of how the mind works, moving from fragment to fragment, but also experiments with techniques of repetition, typography, collage, and quotation. Mayröcker transform the humble page into spaces of radical openness. After all, she says, a poem is that which “opens everything up.” Each poem is date-stamped, and each date acts as a kind of permission for Mayröcker to pour in everything from notes on doctor’s visits to gorgeously structured elegies to obsessively repeating fragments of memory that act upon the whole like bits of recurring melody.
Rarely before has the intimate process of writing been so exquisitely laid bare than in études. Traversing the boundaries of literary forms with Mayröcker’s distinctive style, this important volume strikes an admirable balance between playfulness and serious inquiry.

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