By David Berman
David Berman’s posthumous collection Progressions of the Mind abounds in sagacity, empathy, and wit. Often in sonnet form, this former lawyer's meditations on humanity may be poignant or humorous, but they are always entertaining. He deftly interrogates commonplace notions of morality, religious beliefs, and human frailties and resilience. Readers of this collection will understand why Berman was such a respected and beloved figure among the Powow River Poets.
David Berman's drive, character and intelligence took him from a Florida orphanage to Harvard Law School, as well as the poetry workshops of Robert Lowell and Archibald MacLeish. His poems—witty, introspective, and impeccably crafted—always reflect a deep love of language and empathy for other people.
—A.M. Juster, author of Wonder and Wrath
In Progressions of the Mind, David Berman’s first full-length collection, published posthumously, the reader new to his work will discover technical proficiency of the highest order in the writing of formal verse, and also encounter a restless, relentlessly probing, rigorously disciplined intellect devoted to learning, not for learning’s sake so much as for how learning can clarify, justify, and endeavor to make sense of one unique and complex life. Like Wallace Stevens, David Berman lived a secret life of poetry, and wrote prolifically. These poems, selected and arranged by David himself in 2009, provide only a representative sampling of his vast body of work, yet can serve to introduce this extraordinary and gifted writer to those who did not have the good fortune to know him as a colleague, a fellow poet, and a cherished friend.
—Bruce Bennett, author of Just Another Day in Just Our Town
In language clear as the finest diamonds, with a surgeon’s precision and a philosopher’s devotion to honest, complex thought, the late David Berman put together a collection of flawlessly wrought poems both dazzling and sobering. They include accounts of criminal behavior, often in the voice of the perpetrator (Berman was a prominent lawyer); subtle, revealing exchanges with the living and the dead; portraits tender and not so tender; vulnerable, candid self-examination; unexpected views of religion, and wit capable of shocking as it pierces the target.
This record of a thoroughly “examined” life by a highly intelligent man known for his reserve is a book to learn from, and to treasure.
—Rhina P. Espaillat, author of And After All
David Berman (1934–2017) was born on September 11, 1934, in New York City and raised in Hollywood, Florida. Licensed as an attorney in 1963, Berman clerked for Justice Jacob Spiegel of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and from 1964 to 1967 served as Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts under Edward Brooke. From 1967 until his death, he had a private practice in the Boston area with an emphasis on business litigation.
Berman also had a parallel career as a poet. While working in Boston in the late 1950s, he took Robert Lowell’s poetry seminar at Boston University. As a law student at Harvard, he was permitted to take Archibald MacLeish’s poetry course, which he called the “high point” of his week, and where he met and befriended the poet Bruce Bennett. While at Harvard, he was frequently published in the Harvard Advocate. Over the years, Berman published a number of poems in literary journals such as the Formalist, Piedmont Literary Review, Sparrow, Orbis, Iambs and Trochees, and Pivot. He also published three chapbooks: Future Imperfect (State Street Press, 1982), Slippage (Robert L. Barth, 1996), and David Berman: Greatest Hits 1965–2002 (Pudding House, 2002).
Berman was a longtime member of the Powow River Poets of Newburyport, Massachusetts. In addition, he was a member of the Harvard Club, a trustee of the Cantata Singers, and Vice Échanson and Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Honoraire of the Boston chapter of La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. He passed away on June 22, 2017, after battling cancer for several months.
Copyright © 2022, Many Words Press
Web design & hosting by ApplauZ Online