William Craig “Bill” Berkson was born on August 30, 1939, and died on June 16, 2016.
He was an American poet, critic, teacher and sometime curator.
Berkson was active in the art and literary worlds beginning in his early twenties.
Bill studied poetry at The New School for Social Research with Kenneth Koch.
Berkson attended Columbia University and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
He began writing poetry at Lawrenceville, motivated there by such teachers as John Silver and the eminent Emily Dickinson scholar Thomas H. Johnson, he went on to study short story writing with John Hawkes and prosody with S. Foster Damon at Brown.
His full commitment to poetry was prompted under the tutelage of Kenneth Koch in spring, 1959 at the New School for Social Research.
With the help of Koch, he was introduced to the poetry and arts community loosely termed the New York School, which in turn led to close friendships with Frank O’Hara and such senior artists as Philip Guston and Alex Katz, as well as with poets and artists of his own generation such as Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard, George Schneeman, Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Jim Carroll and others.
When he Columbia in 1960, he began work as an editorial associate at ARTnews and continued there for the next three years.
In the remainder of the 1960s, Bill was a regular contributor to both ARTnews and Arts, guest editor at the Museum of Modern Art, an associate producer of a program on art for public television, and taught literature and writing workshops at the New School for Social Research and Yale University.
Following moving to Northern California in 1970, started editing and publishing a series of poetry books and magazines under the Big Sky imprint and taught regularly in the California Poets in the Schools program.
During 1975, he married the artist Lynn O’Hare; their son Moses Edwin Clay Berkson was born in Bolinas, California, on January 23, 1976. He also has a daughter, Siobhan O’Hare Mora Lopez (b. 1969), and three grandchildren, Henry Berkson and Estella and Lourdes Mora Lopez.
His California years of friendship includes included those with Joanne Kyger, Duncan McNaughton, and Philip Whalen.
Bill was the author of some twenty collections and pamphlets of poetry—including most recently Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems and Expect Delays, both from Coffee House Press.
Berkson poems have also appeared in many magazines and anthologies and have been translated into French, Russian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czechoslovakian, Romanian, Italian, German and Spanish.
At the Les Parties du Corps, a selection of his poetry translated into French, appeared from Joca Seria, Nantes, in 2011.
His other recent books are What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?: Letters & Interviews 1977-1985 with Bernadette Mayer; BILL with drawings by Colter Jacobsen; Ted Berrigan with George Schneeman; Not an Exit with Léonie Guyer and Repeat After Me with John Zurier.
Bill Berkson passed away at 76 yrs old.