Bay Area poets and artists gather to pay homage to poet, art writer, and teacher Bill Berkson, reading his work, sharing stories and farewells. This event is FREE.
Participants: David Abel, George Albon, Micah Ballard, Dena Beard, Ishan Clemenco, Marie Dern, Amanda Eicher, Stephen Emerson, Norman Fischer, Linda Geary, Tinker Greene, Phillip Greenlief, Mark Johnson, Kevin Killian, Claudia La Rocco, Genine Lentine, Pamela Martin, Gay Outlaw, Renny Pritikin, Stephen Ratcliffe, Lawrence Rinder, Kit Robinson, Steven Seidenberg, Suzanne Stein, Margaret Tedesco, Sotère Torregian, Amy Trachtenberg, Alli Warren, Michael Wolfe, John Zurier
Bill Berkson (August 30, 1939, New York–June 16, 2016, San Francisco), was a poet, art critic, teacher, and sometime curator, who became active in the art and literary worlds in his early twenties. He was professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, where, between 1984 and 2008, he taught art history, art writing and poetry; Berkson also served as interim dean in 1992 and directed the Letters and Science and public lectures programs. He studied at Trinity School, The Lawrenceville School, Brown University, Columbia University, The New School for Social Research, and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
He was the author of some twenty books and pamphlets of poetry, including Gloria, a portfolio of poems with etchings by Alex Katz (Arion Press, 2005); Our Friends Will Pass Among You Silently (The Owl Press, 2007); Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2009); and Expect Delays (Coffee House, 2014). His poems also appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Other recent books are What’s Your Idea of a Good Time: Letters & Interviews 1977-1985 with Bernadette Mayer (Tuumba Press, 2006); BILL with drawings by Colter Jacobsen (Gallery 16 Editions, 2008); Ted Berrigan with George Schneeman (Cuneiform Press, 2009); Not an Exit with Léonie Guyer (Jungle Garden Books, 2011).; and Repeat After Me with watercolors by John Zurier (Gallery Paule Anglim, 2011). In 2016, Ugly Duckling Presse published Invisibile Oligarchs, a reproduction of a notebook from Berkson's travels through Russia in 2006.
During the 1960s Berkson was an editorial associate at Art News, a regular contributor to Arts, guest editor at the Museum of Modern Art, an associate producer of a program on art for public television, and taught literature and writing workshops at the New School and Yale University. After moving to Northern California in 1970, he began editing and publishing a series of poetry books and magazines under the Big Sky imprint.
As a curator he organized or co-curated such exhibitions as Ronald Bladen: Early and Late (SFMoMA), Albert York (Mills College), Why Painting I & II (Susan Cummins Gallery), Homage to George Herriman (Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery), and Facing Eden: 100 years of Northern California Landscape Art (M.H. de Young Museum), and two exhibitions of George Schneeman’s Italian landscape paintings, at the CUE Foundation, New York, in 2003 and at the Italian Cultural Center, San Francisco, in 2011.
A collection of his art criticism, The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writings, appeared from Qua Books in 2004, and Sudden Address: Selected Lectures 1981-2006 from Cuneiform Press in 2007. A volume of his art writings, lectures and interviews, For The Ordinary Artist, appeared in 2011 from BlazeVOX Books, as did Parties du corps, a selection of his poetry in French translation, edited by Olivier Brossard, from Joca Seria, Nantes.
Adapted from the bio at poetryfoundation.org
Photo: Bill Berkson, by Moses Berkson.