Poetry by Bill Berkson
November 11, 2014 • 6 x 8.25 • 140 Pages • 978-1-56689-373-2
From a New York schoolmaster, wide-ranging poems that eyeball mortality with rare equilibrium, appreciating life’s richness and inevitable griefs.
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.
About the Author
Bill Berkson is a poet, critic and professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute whose previous collection Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems won the Balcones Prize for Best Poetry Book of 2010 and who was honored by the San Francisco Bay Guardian with the 2008 GOLDIE Award in Literature. He has collaborated with many artists and writers, including Alex Katz, Philip Guston, and Frank O’Hara and his criticism has appeared in ArtNews, Art in America, and elsewhere. Formerly a professor of liberal arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, he was born in New York in 1939, and now divides his time between San Francisco and Manhattan.
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“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
“[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
“There are few poets writing today with the range and talent of Bill Berkson.” —Rain Taxi
“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
“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
“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
“Expect Delays is a masterwork created by a poet who has worked his hands writing and teaching poems of all stripes.” —Atticus Reviews