So now we're looking at a poem, or we're listening to a poem by Bernadette Mayer. And it was written in November of 1976, and it's called Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Why is it called that, what's the title mean? I mean, what's the reference? Max? >> It's reference to a science fiction movie of the same name. >> From the 1950s, yeah. >> [CROSSTALK] About people's bodies being taken over by aliens, who are sort of reproducing. >> [CROSSTALK] Often thought of as an allegory of anti-Communism or of Communist takeover, and also of conformity, 50s suburban conformity. What might that have anything to do with the situation that the poet describes herself in, Emeries? >> Well, in the movie, the people were taking over to keep the same appearance but they've lost agency. And so, here she might feel in a similar position, recently having become a mother, her time is no longer her own. So, even though she can't, retains this appearance of composure perhaps and togetherness, she no longer has the time to do the things that [CROSSTALK] she needs to do. >> So the time is referred to a lot. Can anybody remember how it's referred to? >> Well, time is kind of a sort of recurring word that is like repeated in sort of many different ways, but the time for dinner is too early or. >> Why is it too early? >> because the kids gotta eat. >> You sort of eat when the kid wants to eat. That happens a little later. Marie was only 11 months old later, you really eat when the kids eat, right. Ridiculous, I've spent many years eating at 5:30 at night. Okay, so the time for dinner is too early. >> So is it- >> The time for sunset is too soon, but that has nothing to do with the baby. Why is that? >> Daylight savings time. >> Yes, this is November. So now, I never could figure this out, and I don't think [CROSSTALK] Bernadette either. >> You turn the clock back. >> Fall back, which means you supposedly get an extra hour. >> Mm-hm. But it doesn't feel like it- >> It doesn't feel like that [CROSSTALK] >> Well, you don't actually get an extra hour. >> You don't, actually. So it's November, and the season is waning. This is fall, this is the shortening of the days. We'll come back to that. And then the time between dinner and Marie's bedtime is too short. >> It's too long. >> It's too long, [LAUGH] right, exactly. >> So, it's just like an interesting, I mean, she. I mean I can't really listen to time being repeated like that without thinking of whatever verse it is in the Ecclesiastes. >> There's a time for this and a time for that, yes. >> A time for something, but this is different because it's the time that the time for. >> So we have two kinds of time here, Kristen, we have the time of the season which is November. They have a big election coming up that would be the incumbent Ford and the insurgent Jimmy Carter. Okay, so they have a presidential election coming up but mostly we have a seasonal time. Okay, there's that time, and that's shortening time. And then we have supposedly this non-seasonal time. If you have a baby and you've got about five years of having to tend completely to that baby, and that's supposedly going to have an end, right. But she seems to confuse seasonal time with this. So what kind of state of mind is she in, would you say? >> I think that she feels kind of like she doesn't have, well, to talk about timing, she doesn't have any time for herself. She feels very encroached upon, and now she's. >> [CROSSTALK] And how does a New York school poet do something with that situation? >> She's listing what her day is like. >> Perfect. I mean, in a way, Bernadette Mayer really comes into her own when she finally realizes that time is constrained. Unlike the Ted Berrigan time, he's got all the time in the world, it seems. And Bernadette Mayer, also a second generation New York poet, marries Lewis Warsh, another poet. They move upstate somewhere, and they have a baby and she seems to be taking care of the baby. So New York School poetry mode, let's say it again, Kristen, is apt for telling this story, really a woman's story, a story about a woman's time, I guess we would say, at one time. Say a little more about why it's good and apt. >> Well, because she doesn't have to fit the story of having a baby into a narrative, the normal narrative of what motherhood is like. This is very, I mean, nontraditional form of, I mean, she's not talking about the joys of new motherhood. She's kind of saying like, the time between dinner and when I can put my kid down is like way too long, and I just want to have her go to bed so I can do my own thing. >> Exactly. And the thing that she does when she can do her own thing is write about the constraints of her time with the baby. And that is the material of her life. Dave, I think you think that the poem turns at some point towards something more positive. I'm not sure I agree, but I'd love to hear this. >> Well, when she talks about having seen the movie The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and then she finds a seed pod which means it's time to die. After that- >> We'd better say that a little more, I mean, I'm not sure how familiar with the film you are, and I'll help you if needed, but. >> It's a reference to part of the film, the film being about when extraterrestrials come and they take over people, and they replace them with- >> Or Communists, in the allegory, yeah. >> And they replace them with bland images, conforming images, of the aliens that look like them. So, she sees that, and in the movie, when people saw the pod, it was time for them to die. They were being reproduced. >> Right, so even though they've been taken over, now they really die, and they become what? >> The bland reproductions of themselves. >> So it's not really death so much as turning into an automaton, which is what she fears in any new parent, man or woman. But particularly a woman, particularly at this time, when the burden of taking care of Marie would probably fall more on her shoulders. So, how does it become positive, sounds like pretty grim situation. >> The way she describes time in the beginning seemed chaotic. Even in the beginning when she described events, they were her anniversary, birthday, they were all sort of disjointed. And she saw them in bits and pieces. When she saw the seed pod and realized it's time to die, it was as if she said wait, I'd better start doing something. And the way she starts listing, it's time now to do this, I have to do this, I have to drink wine, I have to read- >> Time for action. >> I have to read all these non-fiction books and do as much as I can in my circumstance to get back to it. Not worry about these little things, these appointments and these times, but do what I can. >> Interesting. Maybe you're persuading me. At the end of the film, the doctor, I think his first name is Miles, played by Kevin McCarthy, he's the only one left and he runs around screaming. He's a little crazier than she is at the end, but he seems to be very frenetic about all the things that we have to do to prevent this from happening. It's a nice, hilarious thing to think about Bernadette Mayer being in this situation and Kevin McCarthy trying to convince everybody that she's still sane. The list of books at the end, Max, what is that? It's a list, the poem ends with a list. It's as if my gosh, I'm going to answer the question before I even ask it. Do you mind? >> [LAUGH] Go for it. >> It's self pull. She's in a way, she's all along been doing the New York school thing. But it's only at the end that she really just goes for the list. And she lists the books that either she wants to read or could read, or if Marie were not crying that night, she could read and will read, and she lists it, kind of like O Erin Esther at that point. Anyway, so you tell me about the list. What's significant about the list, anything? >> Well, the list seems like the moment where, I guess I'm sort of in agreement with Dave on this point. The list seems to be the point where she's sort of opening up options, or at least possibilities. That with all this time like constricting around her and all of these things, like all these responsibilities like enclosing on her, she's suddenly like finds herself at the end, saying well, I could always pick up a book, and there's lots of books to be read. And I could always escape somewhere even if only in my mind for a little while from all these duties, if the baby [LAUGH] happens to fall asleep. >> If the baby falls asleep. >> There are avenues. >> So they're nonfiction. Why nonfiction? >> Well, if she's confined, well, that's where it gets trickier. If she's confined to the house, then no, she needs a view of the exterior. >> [LAUGH] >> Rather than interiorizing poetry. I mean, I having been the parent of, I guess all children are small. I was about to say small children, they start out small. I can remember barely having the energy to read anything, and with all due respect to nonfiction, this is of course, builds a better house, a fairer house than prose, I would say. But with some due respect to people like John McFee, the fact is that it's easier to read. Now nonfiction is kind of like not her business, so she can read that, and that's why I sort of don't agree with the happy upturn in the reading. I respect it, but I don't finally agree because I think she's basically trying to do the easy thing. It's an energetic, but fairly easy thing. What about the last item, why is the list in the order that it is? Isn't there a dictionary in the list? >> Yeah. >> It's like a new dictionary that. >> American Heritage. >> Maybe they had gotten as a wedding gift. >> Yeah [LAUGH] just great. Well, maybe a baby gift. Don't you give a dictionary to a baby? >> I guess maybe it would make more sense. >> Yeah, it would make more sense to a baby. [CROSSTALK] >> Yeah, there's some books by John McPhee, yeah. >> Alice B Toklas Cookbook. >> I love that. >> Doesn't she say it again? >> Yeah [CROSSTALK] >> Yes, yes. That's, of course, Gertrude Stein's partner. And this was a very important book in the 50s, much read. And then- >> She's probably not cooking for the baby out of that book. [LAUGH] >> Probably not. Yeah, good idea. I'm sure that baby turned into a Gertrude Stein of her own. [CROSSTALK] So but what about the last item? >> What was it? >> It was a book about the boy who was raised by wolves. >> A book by Harlan Lane, it's called the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a feral child. It's a real story about a feral child who lived his entire childhood naked and alone in the woods before wandering into a French town in the 1790s. And he was much studied by a pseudoscientist who grabbed the boy and learned how people learn. Why would she make that the last item on the list? Ye who've had no children, I ask. >> Maybe she's entering the sci-fi imagination that she can't read about right now so it's sort of just a self indulgent, alternate trajectory for her poor child. >> Okay, can you say a little more? I mean, it's funny in a way for a new mom to be reading a book about a fear of child. Kristen. >> I mean, if she had Marie be raised by wolves, then she'd have all of her time back. >> She'd be able to write. [LAUGH] >> She'd be able to get her writing done. >> I mean, I think it's affectionate, I think it's marvelous, it's completely something a brilliant new mother who's a brilliant poet would say. The idea of reading a book about a child that was raised by wolves is a hilarious fantasy. A final word on this poem, so it really is New York school, it's funny antic, has big ideas about time, motherhood, Dave? >> She also at one point says something that now she's dreaming twice as much than she ever had before, not totally sure where. >> Well, I can say why, if you're sleep deprived because of a child, you go in and out of shallow sleep, and that's where all the dreaming takes place. >> But that also can be a positive thing. At the same time, she's reading non-fiction, she's now exploring other places in her mind, in her dreams. >> Yeah, it's making lemonade from lemons, I guess. Emily, what do you think of this poem? >> I don't know, I was just struck by the last line, the line that I forgot, [LAUGH] that the child raised by wolves. And I guess we can identify with it even though we don't have children, because all of our lives are sort of pressed for time. And there are these fantasies of alternative ways of being alternative ways of doing. It's harder for us to embrace than it is for Ted Berrigan to embrace or for Bernadette Mayer to fantasize about without all these reflexes of guilt. >> I think that because this is such a domestic scene, it's easy for one to fantasize, for the poet to fantasize about being as far from the world as agreeing with it. And I think that in a way, the agreement, to use the Ashburian phrase, the agreement that's implicit in a dystopian film like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is agreement means conformity, it means everybody's the same. And that nightmarish vision that we get in Hard Times is also about suppressing the recognition that you're an individual, even though you've been taught all your life to be an individual. When you have a child, that individuality gets completely pushed under. And so let's leave the world. And I think that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one version of that fantasy, dying off in that sense of into total conformity, lobotomized. And another version is imagining either your child or yourself going off to the woods and disagreeing with the world. So this is a marvelous, just a beautiful evocation of being totally in the world of marriage, elections, dentist appointments, taking care of your children, and still maintaining your aesthetic life, while at the same time, never suppressing the fantasy of being totally different and disagreeing with all those values.