W.W. Norton & Company
Hardcover, May 15, 2018
128 pages

Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award in Poetry.

Because is a narrative long poem that explores, with vividness and precision, the shifting and uncertain landscapes of childhood memory. Propelled by the powerful litany of the word “because,” Mensch’s poem builds a heartbreaking tale that is at once generous, empathetic, and unsparing. Unfolding through a series of precise, jewel-like scenes, Because bears witness to the author’s experience of an abuse that continued for many years. Unflinching and clear-eyed, Because explores the vulnerabilities and dangers of childhood in a way that succumbs neither to self-pity nor platitudes, but instead finds consolation in the healing power of its own narrative act.

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“[Because] is a rare and remarkable text. Although it deals unswervingly with abuse, violations of trust and the deeply damaging effect of both of these, it is also literary, powerful and consoling … A deeply achieved record of human truth, earned at cost and beautifully expressed.” Eavan Boland

“This book tore me apart: it is riveting, beautiful, and quietly devastating. Mensch is a gifted and unflinching poet, and he has one hell of a story to tell.” Patrick Phillips

“Unrelentingly obsessive … an achievement of sustained attention and imagination.” Michael Collier

“[A] disturbing, memorably and superbly handled book-length narrative poem … [Mensch] has an ear, he’s thoughtful, he’s subtle where subtle makes sense.” Stephanie Burt

“This deeply personal and profound poem may be the work of memory but its force is built from within our moment ― a force enhanced through a structure of anaphora and a percussive length of line that insists on being heard.” Stanley Plumly

“[Because] is a memoir in flawless verse, and a masterpiece … a triumph. Let it be a bestseller for years to come. Let it be part of the permanent literary canon.” The Rumpus

“[A] harrowing and affecting work that examines sexual and psychological abuse from the eyes of a child on the cusp of adolescence. By way of vivid and precise poetic narratives — driven by the word “because” — the book is a testament to vulnerability, heartbreak and healing.”  CBC Books

“[A] bold and unflinching debut collection … [Because] demands to be read in this #metoo movement, in the wake of the Catholic church scandal, and now when children speak truth to power about violence to adults. This narrative damns and saves. It must be read.” North American Review

“An almost unimaginably harrowing memoir in poems. … Mature teens may be enthralled as well as appalled by Mensch’s ordeal when middle school was the worst his peers had to cope with.” Booklist

“A coming-of-age plus comeuppance, the story has a natural momentum, yet is enhanced by a unique presentation, as things unfold via two-and three-page bursts of what has to be termed poetry …” The Brooklyn Rail

“[Because] is a courageous attempt at the very difficult form of the narrative in verse, and the challenge is redoubled by the painful subject matter. … Mensch’s first volume should find an audience in recovery circles as well as among poetry readers.” Library Journal