Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bill Berkson (1939-2016)

                                                          [Bill Berkson (1939-2016)]

With great sadness, we report today the death of our dear friend, poet and art critic
Bill Berkson.  A born-and-bred New Yorker (charter-member of the"New York School") but gloriously bi-coastal (a long-time resident too of  San Francisco, he was professor emeritus and taught writing and art history at the Art Institute there for over 25 years). His art writings can be found in three lucid and essential volumes, The Sweet Singer of Modernism and Other Writings (2004), Sudden Address- Selected Lectures 1981-2006 (2007) and For The Ordinary Artist (2011) (as well as in many so-far-uncollected forums).
His poetry, likewise, spread over a variety of publications, (most notably in Portrait and Dream - New and Selected Poems published by Coffee House Press in 2009, and, more recently, Expect Delays (2014) from the same publisher).

Here's Bill in 2011 on "the function of poetry in society" 

For more recordings (many more recordings) of Bill reading and speaking - see here 

His extensive August, 2005  interview with Robert Glück (inititially commissioned by the Art Institute) may be found here

An Interview with Jarrett Earnest appeared last year in the Brooklyn Rail on the occasion of the publication of  For Bill, ANYTHING - Images and Texts for Bill Berkson

A note appears here (from the Paris Review). More obituary notices and memory and appreciation to follow.

He died in San Francisco this morning. He was seventy-six. 


  1. Bill Berkson's obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle - here -

  2. great post about a great loss, thanks for it

  3. New York Times obituary notice is here -
    & a sweet memory by ex-student Patricia Maloney is here -