Memento Mori / Erin Bertram
dancing girl press, 2014
ERIN M. BERTRAM is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Memento Mori, published by Dancing Girl Press in 2014, and a published finalist in the 2013 Diagram Essay Contest for her hybrid text manuscript “The Vanishing of Camille Claudel.” The recipient of a 2013 John Woods Scholarship from Prague Summer Program, she holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Teaching Fellow. She’s led writing workshops for a variety of organizations, including St. Patrick Center, PEN American Center, and the Midwest Writing Center, and has done continuing education work through Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. Currently a Faculty Tutor and co-coordinator of the LGBTQ ally Safe Zone program at Augustana College, this fall she’ll join the Ph.D. in English: Creative Writing program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a Teaching Assistant and Chancellor’s Fellow. Visit at www.erinmbertram.com.
Dear one, nothing is lackluster & we will all die completely.” With the sober truth of remember that you will die, we can, with the right mix of wisdom, attention, and grace, make of our lives Erin Bertram’s quiet “beauty unhinged.” The lyric meditations of this collection read like prayer, each rooted in fierce and open-hearted attention, each full of longing and “words to utter as a stay against the dark.” I want to quote line after line here, page after page, but you need to open the book and start reading. You will feel the breadth of her vision in the particulars of her attention – “something akin to mastery that is not mastery at all.” This is how she articulates the “ability to anticipate the gestures of another – her moves, her wounds, the sounds she makes in the night.” But it’s also exactly what these poems keep doing. The work moves like water and like air. Like our lives do. Like this: "How your weight shifts just so to one leg or the other, & the tired grain of each fastbound plank gives a little every year, & for minutes at a time, the sky seems to open up & stay that way, like a giant paper crane unfolded, slowly, wing by beak by wing."
--Rebecca Wee, professor of English at Augustana College and author of Uncertain Grace
from Memento Mori
To be twinned, that’s the goal, isn’t it—a little cordage-&-slack, a little knock in the knees?
To sleep & wake & dream to the same body by your side, a body grown familiar because desired, &, likewise, desired because—say it—familiar?
But that can’t be the only reason, can it?
An ability to anticipate the gestures of another—her moves, her wounds, the sounds she makes in the night—something akin to mastery that is not mastery at all?