This essay examines the history of “I remember” poetry, which began with Joe Brainard’s volume I Remember (1970). The form, which consists of simple, declarative sentences beginning with “I remember,” draws in readers with generational nostalgia, for the objects, brands, and consumer objects common to those born in the same time-space. However, Brainard’s original and subsequent texts continuously subvert this nostalgia by juxtaposing it with hyperpersonal, sexual, or troublingly violent memories. This article argues that the form’s reception and translation was fundamentally altered by one of its adopters, Georges Perec, who eradicated themes based in individuated memory, like Brainard’s sexual confession, transforming the genre exclusively into a document of generational and cultural identity. This foundational split—between the sexual-social and the generational—dictated the history of the genre, as it traveled nationally and internationally, and was taken up by authors and artists in the United States, France, Spain, South Africa, and Lebanon. Writers and visual artists like Shane Allison, Denis Hirson, Zeina Abirached, Floc’h, Jesús Marchamalo, Juan Bonilla, and Elías Moro take interesting liberties with the form by adapting it to a different cultural context or fully rewriting its rules. In the end, “I remember” poetry becomes not just a vehicle for documenting an obsolete past but for testifying to war and times of crisis.

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