ArchivesSite MapSubmitOur GangContact UsHot Sites
1983-2015
tearing the rag off the bush again
Portrait and Dream: Selected Poems by Bill Berkson PDF E-mail
An uptown, downtown poet or is it a downtown uptown poet. Then too, as Edwin Denby said of dancers "They should be pretty"
as part of the environment, there is a look to these poems over the years that's consistent. Also could live in an elite basket but
doesn't and like O'Hara who accepted life in the caldron around him, Amazo New York City, he finds the personal way to allude
to and include the universal.

Coffee House Press, 2008

"Taste is a sharpened eye for the beautiful, the interesting, and the unusual-coupled with the talent to apply all of these
  to one's life."

                        Eleanor Lambert
 
Bill Berkson, the poet connected to the painter, the logical descendant of Frank O' Hara ( In Memory of My Feelings, O'Hara
and the painters, edited by Berkson). A way of being, really, in the capital of the world, New York, the free world at that,
post World War II. Status post the physical manifestation of e=mass times the speed of light squared. Perhaps more creature
comfort in landscapes, say the Hudson River School, just up river than Rauschenberg, Rivers, DeKooning, Pollack but then
again not from the standpoint of what you can't see and what you don't know when the ultimate powers of the universe
were released on earth in 1945 and 50 years earlier Horsedrawn......and the temporary beast stalked the Rhine but ultimately
would have been defeated by the cybernetics of the open mind. Thought, life as you find it and might make it as a way of being
in art in life...............despite being deconstructed by Tom Wolfe as arbitrary constructs and value...........the open mind with
sight to see. Artists, among their other functions teach us to see.
 
So how does poetry fit in here. Words or two around the eye.....eyes. Vocabulary to warm the hearth......to connect the dots...
for a way of life........Fashion too may be an artificial construct but taste as in the description of it above can be individualized,
the sine qua non of the New York School of Poets.
 
In Bill Berkson's new book there is continuity of voice for over forty years. Vocabulary and juxtapositions of culture(All Kinds of
Culture) unexpected precisions in language, sharp turns from various knowledge........concern for the human condition
though not exactly political but interpreted through the prism of "taste" but not pedestrian.....though knowledgeable of the pedestrian.
An uptown, downtown poet or is it a downtown uptown poet. Then too, as Edwin Denby said of dancers "They should be pretty"
as part of the environment, there is a look to these poems over the years that's consistent. Also could live in an elite basket but
doesn't and like O'Hara who accepted life in the caldron around him, Amazo New York City, he finds the personal way to allude
to and include the universal.
 
His lineage as in his poem Broom Genealogy is quite interesting and thoroughly American.......rigor and taste are not hereditary
but are more influenced by enviroment. French Scotch Irish Dutch.......A Choctaw a Jew, a huckster or two. A maternal grandfather
who was an advance man for Ringling Brothers, Barnun , and Bailey Circus. His father who started in journalism on the southside of
Chicago......Capone, Nitty, Leopold and Loeb.....later head the International News Service(I encountered the elder Berkson reading
William Shirer's memoir of the 3rd Reich.......he and Shirer sitting in Paris in the 30's were trying to arrange an interview with Goebbels)
publisher of the Journal American in NYC, a now defunct newspaper but said this "Get it first, but first get it right." Then of course, his
mother, patriotic grand dame and discoverer, revealer of fashion and talent in an elite world who probably never forgot where she came from
(small town Indiana) Eleanor Lamber the author of said Taste quote above.
 
Billy Berkson, the only poet to have made The International Best Dressed List.....hung out at times with poets who had a hard time wearing
matching socks.
 
Slowed but not bowed by LSMFT (Lucky Strike Makes Fine Tobacco) he comes out with a book that is a life statement post lung transplant
with all the humiliations of modern medicine, art intact, art sustaining...........Out on the frontier.........They call that True Grit.
 
 
< Prev   Next >