A Lyric Memoir
Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award in Poetry.
A “disturbing, memorably and superbly handled book-length narrative poem” (Stephanie Burt), Because offers a compassionate and wrenching account of the author’s experience of childhood sexual abuse. It tells the story of Don, the charming, enigmatic director of a youth wilderness camp who befriends, and preys on, the young boys in his care. Unfolding through a series of jewel-like scenes, Because renders the shifting landscapes of childhood memory with vividness and precision, building a tale that is powerful, complex, and heartbreaking.
“[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