Expect Delays

Poetry by Bill Berkson

From a New York school  master, wide-ranging poems that eyeball mortality with rare equilibrium, appreciating life’s richness and inevitable griefs.

November 2014
6 x 8 1/4 | 140 Pages
Trade Paperback

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.

ISBN: 978-1-56689-373-2.



Praise for Bill Berkson:

“A serene master of syntactical sleight and transformer of the mundane into the marvelous.” Publishers Weekly

“That was Bill through and through, still curious and receptive after a lifetime of glamorous soldiering through the fields of art and poetry.” City Lights, “Homage to Bill Berkson”

Wide-ranging and experimental, Expect Delays confronts past and present with rare equilibrium, eyeballing mortality while appreciating the richness and surprise, as well as the inevitable griefs, inherent in the time allowed.

Dress Trope

Critics should wear
white jackets like
lab technicians;
curators, zoo
keepers’ caps;
and art historians,
lead aprons
to protect them from
radiant fact.

Bill Berkson is a poet, critic, and professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute.


“Delight and capaciousness are hallmarks of the New York school, in which Berkson (Snippets) has carved a unique place for himself, but few of his contemporaries achieve the distinct blend of tenderness, pathos, and meddling fun that define so many of his poems.” —Publishers Weekly

“Expect Delays” is the latest of many books by poet and S.F. Art Institute professor emeritus Bill Berkson, a critic, journalist, literature lover and longtime forger of links between artists who work with words and artists who work with images.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“There are few poets writing today with the range and talent of Bill Berkson.”—Rain Taxi

“The simple and true conversion of everyday musings into the magnificence of eternal verities.”—The Journal (South Carolina)

“[Expect Delays] combines difficult poetry with straightforward honesty rarely seen in contemporary poetry. Berkson’s strength is his versatility.”—Cultural Weekly

“His work is work that gets deeper and deeper the more you read it. Do yourself a favor and take the time to listen, and then read, and reread, Berkson.”Bird & Beckett Bookstore

“There is something very intimate about much of this book, the acrostics being personal/about people . . . I felt the juxtaposition of the types of poems to be an exciting facet of the book.”—The Conversant

“[Expect Delays] is an instructive mantra for the present time in which thoughtful patience has been supplanted by mediated distraction….The collection works in prose-poetic meditations and elegant aphorisms, weaving in contemporary culture, rounding out its absurdities and complexities with wry qualifications, historical particulars and unexpected reversals.”Hyperallergic

“Insightful and inventive. . . No aspect of life is off limits from the wit and skill of Berkson’s poetry and the world is better off for it.”—AskMen.com

“Like his good friend Frank O’Hara, Bill Berkson writes about friends and family (wife, son, mother on her 100th birthday) and isn’t afraid to drop a few glam names from life in the cities where he lives, in his case San Francisco and New York. In this he resembles Stéphane Mallarmé, who wrote verses on fans (the kind you wave) and notes on fashion, as well as difficult dreamlike poetry. Berkson includes two celesta-toned Mallarmé translations, one of them ‘Brise Marine’: (‘The flesh is sad, alas! And I’ve read all the books’) alongside journalistic patter: ‘Lovers for a time, Lee Wiley and Berigan began appearing / together on Wiley’s fifteen-minute CBS radio spot, / Saturday Night Swing Club, in 1936.’ Expect Delays is an all-too-familiar warning to urban Americans. In this case, the delays are as rewarding as the invigorating voyage.”—John Ashbery

“Bill Berkson affords the pleasures of raucous refinement and epigrammatic élan in lyrics, translations, gleanings, and reflections. Like dissolving into a 40s movie or then again a dream of a conversation about new art and old jazz standards, these poems are sad and wise. ‘Part song, part simple fact,’ Expect Delays is recommended for libraries of every stripe and readers of every disposition: to all those who want their poetry dry and with a twist.”—Charles Bernstein

“Expect Delays is a masterwork created by a poet who has worked his hands writing and teaching poems of all stripes.”Atticus Reviews