Charles Bernstein


photo © Ceceilia Gronberg. Stockholm, Weld Gallery, 2011

Charles Bernstein is the author or editor of near 100 books, ranging from full-length collections of poetry and essays to pamphlets, libretti, collaborations and translations of his work.

His most recent books are Topsy-Turvy (April 2021), Near/Miss (2018), Pitch of Poetry (2016), Recalculating (2013) and Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions (2011), all rom the University of Chicago Press and All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (2010) from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Press, 2011).

Bernstein is the recipient of the 2019 Bollingen Prize for American Literature, the premier American poetry prize, for lifetime achievement and for Near/Miss. In 2006, Bernstein was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Bernstein is Donald T. Regan Professor, Emeritus, of English and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania. From 1990 to 2003, he was David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Director of the Poetics Program, which he co-founded, with Robert Creeely, Raymond Federman, Dennis Tedlock, and Susan Howe. In 2002, he was appointed SUNY Distinguished Professor (the university's highest rank).

He is the co-founder and co-editor, with Al Filreis, of PennSound (writing.upenn.edu/pennsund); and editor, and co-founder, with Loss Pequenño Glazier, of The Electronic Poetry Center (writing.upenn.edu/epc). He is coeditor, with Hank Lazer, of Modern and Contemporary Poetics, a book series from the University of Alabama Press. He has been host and co-producer of LINEbreak and Close Listening, two radio poetry series. 

With Bruce Andrews, he edited L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, which was anthologized as The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (Southern Illinois University Press, 1984). The University of New Mexico Press has recently published three related books, edited by Matt Hofer and Michael Golston: The Language Letters: Selected 1970s Correspondence of Bruce Andrews, Ron Silliman, and Charles Bernstein (2019), Legend [Andrews, Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, McCaffery, Silliman] (2020), and L=A=N=G=U=G=E: Facsimile edition (2020).

Bernstein is editor of American Poetry after 1975 (boundary 2 / Duke, 2010), Louis Zukofsky: Selected Poems (Library of America, 2006), Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (Oxford University Press, 1998), The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy (Roof Books, 1990), 99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium, a special issue of boundary 2, The Best American Experimental Writing 2016, with Tracie Morris (Weselyan University Press), among other works.

His 16 full-length works of poetry also include Girly Man (Chicago, 2006), With Strings (Chicago, 2001), and Republics of Reality: 1975-1995 (Sun & Moon Press, 2000). Bernstein has published four books of essays and one essay/poem collection, including: My Way: Speeches and Poems (Chicago, 1999); A Poetics (Harvard University Press, 1992); and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984 (Sun & Moon Press, 1986, 1994; reprinted by Northwestern University Press, 2001).

Other prizes include: The Janus Pannonius Grand Prize for Poetry (2015), The Muenster International Poetry Prize (2015), the Roy Harvey Pearce / Archive for New Poetry Prize of the University of California, San Diego (1999); and, at Penn, The 2018-2019 Beltran Family Award for Innovative Teaching & Mentoring at the Kelly Writers House, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (2009), and the Dean's Award for Innovation in Teaching in 2005. Fellowships include: New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1995 and 1990, University of Auckland Foundation Fellowship (1986), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1985), the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (1980), and the William Lyon McKenzie King Fellowship (at Simon Fraser University) (1973).

Bernstein has written five librettos: Blind Witness News, The Subject: A Psychiatric Opera and The Lenny Paschen Show, with composer Ben Yarmolinsky, and Cafe Buffe, by Dean Drummond. Shadowtime, on the work of Walter Benjamin, was written for composer Brian Ferneyhough and premiered in May 2004 at the Munich Biennale; in 2004 it played at the Fesitival d'Automne in Paris and in 2005 at the Lincoln Center Festival. A CD was issued from NMC in 2006. Shadowtime's libretto was published by Green Integer, 2005). Blind Witness (Factory School, 2008) collects the libretti he wrote for Ben Yarmolinsky.

He has collaborated with Richard Tuttle on a poem/sculpture and an essay/poem on Tuttle’s work, collaborated with Susan Bee on several artists books; collaborated with Amy Sillman on an animated drawing and a series of poems/images, and with Mimi Gross on a book. In 2002, he curated Poetry Plastique, with Jay Sanders, at the Marianne Boesky gallery and coedited the catalog.

He has given over 750 readings and lectures/talks since 1975, throughout the world, including France, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, The Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Spain, Canada, Cuba, China, India, South Korea, The Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, England, Ireland, Sweden, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Poland, Hungary, New Zealand, and the U.S.

From the early 70s to the late 80s, he worked as a writer/editor on healthcare and medical topics, with a break to serve as Associate Director of the CETA Artists Project (the largest postwar American public employment program for artists).

Charles Bernstein was born April 4, 1950 in New York City. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1972. He is married to the painter, Susan Bee, and has two children: Emma (1985-2008) and Felix.

For overview, see
full CV
short CV
note for All the Whisky in Heaven (extended narrative)
Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) entry by Loss Pequeño Glazier
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry, entry by Logan Esdale (2005)
The Literary Enclyopedia, entry by Nerys Williams (2009)

 For more information go to http://writing.upenn.edu/epc/authors/bernstein.

Publico ( Lisbon); June 2006