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About this poet

Charles Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. He received his B.A. from Harvard College. Among his more than twenty books of poetry are Girly Man (University of Chicago Press , 2006), With Strings (2001), Republics of Reality: 1975-1995 (2000), Dark City (1994), Rough Trades (1991), The Nude Formalism (1989), Stigma (1981), Legend (with Bruce Andrews, Steve McCaffery, Ron Silliman, Ray DiPalma, 1980), and Parsing (1976).

He is also the author of three books of essays, My Way: Speeches and Poems (1999), A Poetics (1992), and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984 (1986). He has edited many anthologies of poetry and poetics including Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (1998) and The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (1984, with Bruce Andrews).

Among his translations from the French are Red, Green, and Black (1990, by Olivier Cadiot) and The Maternal Drape (1984, by Claude Royed-Journoud). In the 1970s, Bernstein co-founded the influential journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. He has also written the librettos for a number of operas with composers such as Ben Yarmolinsky, Brian Ferneyhough, and Dean Drummond.

 

Bernstein serves as the Executive Editor, and co-founder, of The Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY-Buffalo. His honors and awards include the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently, he is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.


Multimedia

From the Image Archive

Poem

Charles Bernstein, 1960

here. Forget.
There are simply tones
cloudy, breezy
birds & so on.
Sit down with it.
It's time now.
There is no more natural sight.
Anyway transform everything
silence, trees
commitment, hope
this thing inside you
flow, this movement of eyes
set of words
all turns, all grains.
At night, shift
comets, "twirling planets,
suns, bits of illuminated pumice"
pointing out, in harsh tones
cancers & careers.
"Newer Limoges please."
Pick some value
mood, idea, type or smell of paper
iridescent, lackluster
&, "borne in peach vessels,"
just think
"flutter & cling"
with even heavier sweep
unassuaged
which are the things
of a form, etc
that inhere.
Fair adjustment
becomes space between
crusts of people
strange, rending:
as sound of some importance
diffuses
"as dark red circles"
digress, reverberate
connect, unhook.
Your clothes, for example
face, style
radiate mediocrity
coyly, slipping
& in how many minutes
body & consciousness
deflect, "flame on flare"
missed purpose.
Your eyes
glaze
thought stumbles, blinded
speck upon speck
ruffling edges.
"But do not be delighted yet."
The distance positively entrances.
Take out pad & pen
crystal cups, velvet ashtray
with the gentility of easy movement
evasive, unaccountable
& puffing signs
detach, unhinge
beyond weeds, chill
with enthusiastic smile
& new shoes
"by a crude rotation"
hang
a bulk of person
"ascending," "embodied."

From Shade, published in 1978 by Sun & Moon Press. Used by permission of the author.

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. He received

by this poet

poem

           for Norman Fischer

A commercial with no pitch.
A beach without sand.
A lover without a love.
A surface without an exterior.
A touch without a hand.
A protest without a cause.
A well without a bottom.
A sting without a bite.
A scream without a mouth.

poem
Not for all the whiskey in heaven
Not for all the flies in Vermont
Not for all the tears in the basement
Not for a million trips to Mars

Not if you paid me in diamonds
Not if you paid me in pearls
Not if you gave me your pinky ring
Not if you gave me your curls

Not for all the fire in hell
Not for all the blue
poem

 

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