Description | Praise | Images
for Poems | Critical Responses
image by Susan
Bee (Fleurs du Mal, 2003, detail)
Notes & Extensions | Sound
Files | Author
On-line poems from Girly Man
EPC Author Page
of Chicago Press
now in paper
Images for Poems
"Slap Me Five, Cleo, Mark's History"
Boston Review: David Greenberg, “When That Becomes This” partly on "War Stories" (July/August 2011) & response (March 2012)
Tapper (March 2007)
Buffalo News: R.D.
You're With Us and Against Us: Charles Bernstein's Girly Man,
9-11, and the Brechtian Figure of the Reader" (2008)
and Poetry: Jefferson Hanson
Kaufman, "Rattling the Chains of American Poetry : Charles
Bernstein’s unique blend of polemic, parody and just plain
Harvard Review: Kathleen Rooney (Spring 2007)
Jacket 33: Dan Thomas-Glass (July 2007)
Kansas City Star: Robert
Hicks review (12/31/06)
Klassekampen (Norway): Martin
Glaz Serup (4/7/2007) (Norweigan)
Allen Mozak on Girly Man For the Birds, Dec. 2009)
The Line Break:
Tom Holmes on 12x12
New Review: Douglas Messerli, "The
Possibility of Rectitude" -- on Let's Just Say (2005)
Thomas Devaney (2/18/07)
Project Newsletter: Chuck Stebelton (April-June, 2007)
Magazine: Ange Mlinko & David Yezzi (May 2007)
Post IV: Maurice Devitt, "Girly Man: poetry as reality TV" (Irish Center for Poetry Studies, c. 2012
Quarterly Conversation by John Herbert Cunningham (Feb.
Quartermain on World on Fire
Ton van 't Hof, (in
Schultz on "Some of These Daze" in "'World Trade
Center': Wrting after 9/11," the coda to A Poetics of
Impasse in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (Tuscaloosa:
University of Alabama Press, 2005).
Silliman on World on Fire; and also on two
poems from Let's Just Say: Silliman
on "In Particular" and Silliman
on "Thank You for Saying Thank You" (2003-4); Silliman
on Girly Man (2006)
Corinne Robins (#34 Winter/Spring 2007)
Watkin's Blog (March
Thomas Fink (Feb. 2007)
Robert Pinsky's "Poet's Choice" (1/28/07)
Notes & Extensions
:full screen version
June Paik image
of poem in a dialog with Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, published
: Richard Tuttle image with text
of "Loopy" (poem # 14)
"Some of These Days"
publications & Granary Books collaboration with Mimi Gross
"Slap Me Five, Cleo, Mark's History"
of Bernard Duvivier's "Cleopatra"
: The Millionaire
World on Fire
Bee cover for original Nomados edition
music for "World on Fire" (1941 song)
Discussion of poems on "Cross-Cultural Poetics" (3/15/04): text
of interview, published in Jacket
: Discussion of "In a Restless World Like This Is" on Poem Talk
For each pair of sentences, circle the letter, a or b, that best
expresses your viewpoint.
Man’s meanings are largely organized by luck or chance.
b. Charles Bernstein’s intentions determine what these
Man is indifferent to human needs.
b. Girly Man has some purpose, even if obscure.
Poetry like this brings the greatest happiness.
b. Poetry like this is illusory and its pleasures, transient.
Overall, Charles Bernstein has been harmful to American culture.
b. Overall, Charles Bernstein has been beneficial to American
written endorsement of Girly Man should be removed for
inspection and verification.)
9/11, postmodernism and irony were declared dead. Charles Bernstein
here proves them alive and well in poems elegiac, defiant, and
resilient to the point of approaching song. Heir to the democratic
and poetic sensibilities of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg,
Bernstein has always crafted verse that responds to its historical
moment, but no previous collection of his poems so specifically
addresses the events of its time as Girly Man, which features
works written on the evening of September 11, 2001, and in response
to the war in Iraq. Here, Bernstein speaks out, combining self-deprecating
humor with incisive philosophical and political thinking.
Composed of works of very different forms and moods—etchings from moments of acute
crisis, comic excursions, formal excavations, confrontations with the cultural illogics of contemporary political
consciousness—the poems work as an ensemble, each part contributing something
necessary to an unrealizable and unrepresentable whole. Indeed, representation—and
related claims to truth and moral certainty—is
an active concern throughout the book. The poems of Girly Man may
be oblique, satiric, or elusive, but their sense is emphatic.
Indeed, Bernstein’s poetry performs its ideas so that they
can be experienced as well as understood.
A passionate defense of contingency, resistance, and multiplicity, Girly Man is
a provocative and aesthetically challenging collection of radical
verse from one of America’s most controversial poets.
When we thought we had Bernstein pegged or that his work had possibly reached its limits, he emerges
in Girly Man as a poet at the top of his form, capable still of the greatest modernist & postmodernist
swervings, & for whom no form of expression is now entirely foreign. As with other poets
of his rank (& that rank is very high), he has the ability to make categories dissolve & for
himself, as poet, to become happily unclassifiable. From the comic to the archromantic, the
avant-garde to the avant-pop, the formally constructed to the deceptively lawless, the personally
political to the impersonally poetical, the poems in Girly Man are an example of what poetry
can be in the hands of a supercharged & superrestless poet. Charles Bernstein is now more clearly
what he has always been – a major poet for our time – & then some.
— Jerome Rothenberg
volatility, wordplay, near rhyme possibilities, frolic arguments,
standup skepticism, loopy affirmation, accurate wit, restless
ethical inquiry: I can’t think of a better way for a reader to experience Charles Bernstein’s
fierce commitment to poetry as a necessary calling than to read
this, his latest and perhaps most accessible collection. In this
restless world we live in, Bernstein is one of our most radical
and resilient voices.
Bernstein’s poems in Girly Man are frequently series
of pairs, jingles of a ‘public discourse’ that purports
to represent us and by which Bernstein misrepresents us,
the pairs being apparently contrary to each other and from which
we are to choose as if without middle ground: “simultaneous double narrative/the space between’s the other
narrative/as if they’re opposite.” In the space between, outside representation but
in the ‘presence’ of it, we are provoked to laugh. Bernstein alters our language to open a double
range that’s public and mind at once and inseparable, that is “Poetry
is patterned thought in search of unpatterned mind.” Girly Man is doing it.
Charles Bernstein may be our
most inspired formalist. He dares to look at all the things that
poetry historically is not in order to fashion what it might
become. In his brilliant new collection, Bernstein continues
his genuinely unreasonable assault on the gentle reading public.
Long live the girly man!
demonstrates why many critics hold Charles
Bernstein to be among the most important poets writing in America.
This book is infused by Bernstein’s signature poetics—a
fusion of form and content, poetic language and argument, entertainment
and philosophy, the personal and the social. Above all, Girly Man exhibits
attention to language and ways of speaking from which many of
his recurrent themes emerge. Girly Man’s
strength is the strength of Bernstein’s overall poetic
project: his ability to critique institutions and life, often
making everyday speech strange in order to make its underlying
— Steve Tomasula
Sound Files of poems
Cue Art Foundation Launch/Reading (audio and video), Jan. 16 2007
Bricklayer's Arms," studio recording in New
York (2004) & BPC (2004)
Ballad of the Girly Man": excerpt
on the Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC (2005); complete poem, recorded
in Chicago (2004)
; in Brooklyn (2004);
& BPC (first reading, 2004)
Canti Antichi" (studio, 2007)
Oil," with Emma Bee Bernstein, Morrow Studio (2004;
with Emma (2004)
Get Me Wrong" (studio, 2007)
Studio recording (2004) and Oslo (2009)
You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now," BPC
Studio recording (2004), also recorded in Chicago (2004) & in Brooklyn (2004) &
of a Clear Hand", BPC (2004)
in Chicago (2004) & at BPC (2004)
Me Five, Cleo, Mark's History," recorded at Harvard
You for Saying Thank You," Columbia University, 2001 & Weekend
America (Boston, 2002). Video:
Ireland, 2005 (poem intercut with interview on Shadowtime)
Stories," with Emma Bee Bernstein,
Morrow Studio (2004); video of
Buffalo reading (2003)
Warble of the Ammonia-Bellied Barkeep": Brooklyn (2004) & BPC (2004)
Poetics Interview on Girly Man, including reading, April
15. 2007 (32 20:): MP3
Milford Show reading and discussion
of Girly Man on BlogTalk.Com: MP3 (1hr10m)
on Fire and Let's Just Say recorded at the University
of Pennsylvania (2003)
"Likeness," "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now," "Secrets of a Clear Hand," " Self-Help," "The Warble of the Amonia-Bellied Barkeep," "The
Bricklayer's Arms," "The Ballad of the Girly Man"
Poetry Club, 10/2/04
Particular," "Thank You for Saying Thank You," "Castor
Oil," "The Bricklayer's Arms," "The Ballad
of the Girly Man," and World on Fire
recorded at Mills
of Chicago (2006)
of the poems in Girly Man have appeared on-line; these
initial publications are linked here.
Charles Bernstein author page EPC
Bernstein Web Log
University of Chicago Press
web design: Caudio Amberian
John Reynolds, "Pretty Ugly" (2004)
from Let's Just