essential poet

Daisy Fried's review of Charles Bernstein's selected poems (All the Whiskey in Heaven) will be published in this weekend's New York Times Book Review. It's extremely positive. Millions will see it, maybe many thousands will read it. It might sell a few copies, a prospect that makes me glad. The photo at left is of the poet, reading just last night at the party we threw for him in honor of the publication of the book and his 60th birthday.

Here are some passages from Fried's review:

"[T]his calculating, improvisatory, essential poet won’t tell you the truth wrapped up in a neat little package. He might show it to you when you’re least expecting it."

"Bernstein is identified with the Language poets, who emerged in the 1970s. Interested in the materiality of language, they are politically left, theoretically grounded and deeply suspicious of the lyric “I” that speaks from the heart in traditional poems without examining its own existence in a sociopolitical power structure. Their work is often most subversive when both joining and satirizing that weary old, dreary old genre, poetry about poetry. 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."