Portrait and Dream

New and Selected Poems by Bill Berkson

The major work from “a serene master . . . transforming the mundane into the marvelous.” —Publishers Weekly

April 2009
7 x 10 | 352 pages
Paperback Original

ISBN: 978-1-56689-229-2.



Titled after a Jackson Pollock painting at once figural and abstract, this collection spans nearly fifty years of Bill Berkson’s poetry in all its deftness and variety. His poems, full of nuance, intensity, and exuberant wit, spread meaning across the page like quicksilver, creating a body of work suffused with light.


2010 Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) Poetry Book of the Year


“Wonderful. . . . Fifty years of slow-dawning epiphany.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian

“This is a generous selection of work by an important poet of the New York School. Known for his relationship to the art world, Bill Berkson writes a critically astute, witty (‘no rest for liquidity’), and lyrically present poetry. The push of his work is upward (buoyancy and spirit) and outward into the real . . . But the purely poetic, as seen in his wonderful translation of Heine (‘Selfsame source of all love’s flows— / Lily, dove, sun and rose’) is also present, with its binding force and knowing glance.” —Paul Hoover

“I’d like to thank Bill Berkson for: epitomizing objectivity & subjectivity; amusedly living in the cerulean blue, alizarin crimson mixed with titanium white, & burnt sienna world we’ve got; & writing for us.” —Bernadette Mayer

“What remains engaging in all of Berkson’s writing is how each poem and how every essay continues to be so distinctively and affectionately rendered.”—Jacket2

Poetry Foundation, “Poem Talk” discussion of Berkson’s “Signature Song”

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