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Bill Berkson in Conversation

Poet Bill Berkson converses with Charles Bernstein on unprincipled poetry, vulgar beauty, the poetics of surface, the emergence of the New American Poetry, the trap of being too serious, and the possibilities of the unexpected.

Bill Berkson was born in New York in 1939 and moved to Bolinas and San Francisco in 1970. He is a poet, critic, curator, and, as he likes to say, art historian without portfolio emeritus for many years at San Francisco Art Institute. He has written for Art in America, Artcritical, and Artforum, Aperture. His recent books include: Snippets; For the Ordinary Artist -- a collection of his art writings and Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems. Coffee House Press recently published a new collection of his poems, Expect Delays.

Recorded on February 10, 2014 at the University of Pennsylvania.


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Conversations and readings with poets and artists, produced in cooperation with PennSound and hosted by Charles Bernstein, the American poet, theorist, editor, and literary scholar. Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. He is a foundational member and leading practitioner of Language poetry. Bernstein was educated at the Bronx High School of Science and at Harvard University, where he studied philosophy with Stanley Cavell and wrote his final thesis on Gertrude Stein and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

In the mid-1970s Bernstein became active in the experimental poetry scenes in New York and San Francisco, not only as a poet, but also as an editor, publisher, and theorist. With visual artist and wife Susan Bee, Bernstein published several now well-known poets whose work is associated with Language writing.