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Bill Berkson

BILL BERKSON is a poet and art critic living in San Francisco and New York. He is professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught art history, writing, and poetry from 1984 until 2008.

Guest Critic

What You See

Can you say it or write it? Or, formally speaking, in what respect is seeing transferable to speech and/or writing? As Baudelaire would put it, the question grabs us by the throat.

(“Verbatim,” the Brooklyn Rail, February, 2016)

As editor with oversight of the entire production of In Memory of My Feelings (Museum of Modern Art, 1967; bound facsimile reprint, 2005), I offer the following additional information about its making, as well as a few corrections.

Dress Trope

Critics should wear / white jackets

Responses for Irving Sandler (A Later Seizure), November 21

No “should” about it. There are only the people who behave with this term “art criticism” peculiarly in mind. Do as you like, say what you will, and gimme a break.

Dear Thyrza

I guess art’s scariness is part of the delight most of us must eventually succumb to in doing it.


The most beautiful dream is that moment in Purgatorio when first Virgil rejoins the four shades of ancient poets “on the enamelled green,” and after a while they invite Dante in, “so that I was sixth amid so much wisdom”—the gist being there’s room for more.

What is Art?

A prominent art critic walks through a museum exhibition of photographs of homeless people. She notes that the exhibition also features paraphernalia of the homeless—a sleeping bag, cardboard flats, plastic containers.

Entries from Not An Exit

Bill Berkson lives in San Francisco and visits New York often. His Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems appeared from Coffee House Press last year. Not an Exit, with images by Léonie Guyer, will be published in a limited edition by Jungle Garden Press, Faifax, California, in 2010.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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