Biography of Charles Bernstein
Charles Bernstein (born April 4, 1950) is an American poet, essayist, editor, and literary scholar. Bernstein holds the Donald T. Regan Chair in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is one of the most prominent members of the Language poets (or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets). In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005, Bernstein was awarded the Dean's Award for Innovation in Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. Educated at Harvard College, he has been visiting Professor of Poetry, Poetics, and Creative Writing at Columbia University, the University at Buffalo, Brown University, and Princeton University. A volume of Bernstein's selected poetry from the past thirty years, All the Whiskey in Heaven, was published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. In the same year that FSG released his major collection, Chax Press released "Umbra," a collection of Bernstein's latest translations of poems from multiple languages. The Salt Companion to Charles Bernstein was published in 2012 Salt Publishing. Bernstein served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Poetry, Poetics, and Theory at Princeton University in the Fall Term of 2011. In May of the same year, The University of Chicago Press released Bernstein's collection of essays, Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions.
Bernstein was born in New York City to a Jewish family and attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduating in 1968. Bernstein then matriculated at Harvard College, where he majored in philosophy and studied the work of J.L. Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein under Stanley Cavell, a seminal figure in ordinary language philosophy. Cavell would oversee Bernstein's thesis, a study that pursued the aesthetic and poetic possibilities of the amalgamation of analytical philosophy and avant-garde literature. After graduating from Harvard in 1972, his first book, Asylums, was published in 1975. Together with Bruce Andrews he edited the magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, which ran to 13 issues between 1978 and 1981. This is routinely considered to be the starting point of Language Poetry and was the most significant outlet for both the progressive poetry and progressive poetic theory taking place in New York City and Berkeley. He has said about the creation of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, "We tried to trace a history of radical poetics, taking up the model presented in Jerome Rothenberg’s Revolution of the Word, and later by Rothenberg and Pierre Joris in Poems for the Millennium and Marjorie Perloff in The Futurist Moment. When you go back 30 years, you see that poetics that now are widely accepted as foundational for contemporary poetry were harshly rejected then." Bernstein and Andrews published selected pieces from these 13 issues in The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. During this period, Bernstein also published three more books of his own poetry, Parsing (1976), Shade (1978) and Poetic Justice (1979), while earning a living as a freelance medical writer.
Charles Bernstein Poems
All the Whiskey in Heaven
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
Two Stones with One Bird
Re- demption comes &
thinking i think i think
What are aesthetic values and why do there appear to be lesser & fewer of them? Quick: define the difference between arpeggio & Armani. The baby
A Test of Poetry
What do you mean by rashes of ash? Is industry systematic work, assiduous activity, or ownership of factories? Is ripple agitate lightly? Are we tossed in tune when we write poems? And
Home team suffers string of losses.—Time to change loyalties. Quadruple bypass.—Hold the bacon on that next cheeseburger.
Sad Boy's Sad Boy
I ruin my hats and all the mat slides glad I hop my girls and all is skip again I jump I run you up inside my truck
Directions: For each pair of sentences, circle the letter, a or b, that best expresses your viewpoint. Make a selection from each pair. Do not omit any items.
The rich men, they know about suffering That comes from natural things, the fate that Rich men say they can't control, the swell of The tides, the erosion of polar caps
Me and My Pharaoh . . .
[facsimile] He awoke, fully charged. You can
In a Restless World Like This Is
Not long ago, or maybe I dreamt it Or made it up, or have suddenly lost Track of its train in the hocus pocus
Dear Mr. Fanelli,
I saw your picture in the 79th street station. You said you'd be interested
Thank You for Saying Thank You
This is a totally accessible poem. There is nothing
High Tide at Race Point
A commercial with no pitch. A beach without sand. A lover without a love.
Why I Am Not a Buddhist
Reality cons me as it spur(n)s me. This is the road to eternal Consanguinity, eloping with Hope and leaving me to pick
The rich men, they know about suffering
That comes from natural things, the fate that
Rich men say they can't control, the swell of
The tides, the erosion of polar caps
And the eruption of a terrible
Greed among those who cease to be content
With what they lack when faced with wealth they are
Too ignorant to understand. Such wealth
Is the price of progress. The fishmonger