Skip to main content
Cover for Because


A Lyric Memoir

Joshua Mensch


List Price: 22.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/25/2020)


A gripping verse memoir that offers a compassionate and wrenching account of the author’s experience of childhood sexual abuse.

Joshua Mensch’s devastating lyric memoir, Because, explores with extraordinary literary power and sophistication the toxic power of adults who prey on the children in their care. Its story begins when Mensch is ten years old and first meets Don, the charming director of a youth wilderness camp and a lifelong friend of his parents. What follows is a harrowing account of sexual and psychological abuse, told from the evolving perspective of a child entering adolescence. Because unfolds through a series of precise, jewel-like scenes that render the shifting and uncertain landscapes of childhood memory with vividness and precision. Its swift, convincing music, propelled by the powerful litany of the word "because," builds a heartbreaking tale of genuine power whose characters are as complex and fully realized as those in a novel. An unflinching take on the vulnerabilities and dangers of childhood, Because succumbs neither to self-pity nor platitudes, but instead finds consolation in the healing power of its own narrative act.

Praise For Because: A Lyric Memoir

[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, author of Blood at the Root and Elegy for a Broken Machine

Unrelentingly obsessive…an achievement of sustained attention and imagination.
— Michael Collier, author of Dark Wild Realm

[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, author of The Poem Is You

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, author of Against Sunset

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393635225, 144pp.

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

About the Author

Joshua Mensch is a poet, visual artist, and a founding editor of the literary journal B O D Y. He grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic.