On Modern American Art: Selected Essays

By Robert Rosenblum | Go to book overview

REMEMBERING JOE BRAINARD 1997

I remember I Remember. Joe Brainard first published it in 1970, and way back then, as now, I usually put aside, unread, most volumes of poetry or arty writing that happened to come my way.

But this one startled me to complete and loving attention. First there was the cover, with the archaic kiddie photo of the author announcing what was to come, and then, there was the achingly honest and sweet litany of childhood memories that we all could share. Speaking from one heart to another, Joe Brainard brought up on the tender screen of nostalgia all those delicious things that nobody before him seemed to think were worth recording. What a quiet epiphany it was to discover that somebody among us chose to remember "salt on watermelon" or "not looking at crippled people" or "wondering what the bus driver is thinking about" or "how unsexy swimming naked in gym class was." I never forgot the impact of this first-person catechism of ordinary devotions to ordinary experiences that some-

167. Joe Brainard, Whippoorwill, 1974

-285-

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