CHESTERTOWN—The poet Charles Bernstein will read from his work Tuesday, October 5, at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College. He has titled the reading “Recalculating: Poetry, Poetics, Performance.”
The prolific Bernstein is the author of 40 books, ranging from large-scale collections of poetry and essays to pamphlets, libretti, translations and collaborations. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania as the Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature.
His most recent full-length book of poetry is All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems, published this year by Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Daisy Fried identified Bernstein as one of the “language poets” who emerged in the 1970s with a focus on the materiality of language. “Their work is often most subversive when both joining and satirizing that weary old, dreary old genre, poetry about poetry,” she wrote. “Early Bernstein can be opaque, annoying those who see difficulty as elitist and who want poetry to be cuddly and educational. But everyone should love the later Bernstein, a writer who is accessible, enormously witty, often joyful — and even more evilly subversive.
“This calculating, improvisatory, essential poet won’t tell you the truth wrapped up in a neat little package,” Fried concluded in her review of All the Whiskey. “He might show it to you when you’re least expecting it.”
Among the more than 20 earlier volumes of poetry by Bernstein are Girly Man (2006), With Strings (2001), Republics of Reality: 1975-1995 (2000), Dark City (1994), Rough Trades (1991), The Nude Formalism (1989), Stigma (1981) and Parsing (1976).
He has authored three books of essays—My Way: Speeches and Poems (1999), A Poetics (1992), and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984 (1986)—and 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).
In addition, Bernstein has collaborated on several other major projects. He is co-founder and co-editor with Al Filreis of PENNsound, editor and co-founder with Loss Pequenño Glazier of The Electronic Poetry Center, coeditor with Hank Lazer of Modern and Contemporary Poetics, a book series from the University of Alabama Press, and host and co-producer or the radio series LINEbreak and Close Listening. The New York City native received his B.A. from Harvard College.
The Rose O'Neill Literary House is located at 407 Washington Avenue on the Washington College campus. The October 5 reading is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee and is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Sophie Kerr lecture series, visit http://english.washcoll.edu.
photo credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld