Portrait and Dream

Poetry by Bill Berkson

April 1, 2009 • 7 x 10 • 352 pages • 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.

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.


“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

Portrait and Dream is a rich collection, spanning fifty years of work. The only way to do it justice is to read and re-read it. It’s a fine book.” Galatea Resurrects

“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