Sunday, March 8th — 2 pm
Bill Berkson & Dale Herd:
a poet and a short story writer
read their work
Two writers with recent books out from Coffee House Press will share the Bird & Beckett stage: Dale Herd reading stories from Empty Pockets and Bill Berkson reading poems from Expect Delays.
Bill Berkson came of age as a writer during the era of the “New York School” painters and poets in the late 1950s/early 1960s, significantly influenced by Kenneth Koch and other key figures. He has been a major figure on the west coast literary scene since at least the early ’70s, and taught literature and writing at the San Francisco Art Institute for decades. He has well over a dozen books published by a range of interesting small presses and larger publishers.
Dale Herd writes stories described as “gritty, unsparing snapshots of just getting by in barrooms and diners on the margins of America.” His first book was published by Donald Allen’s Four Seasons Foundation in the storied days of early 1970s Bolinas, when he and Bill Berkson first became friends. Subsequent collections came out from Mudra in 1976 and Tombouctou Books in 1980. He now lives in Southern California.
Regarding Bill Berkson, Dale writes: “While I know Bill personally, I also know him through his work. And there is a difference. If you know someone personally you’ve learned the simple things about them like how they like their hamburger cooked, their fries fried, their type of drink served and how they like to pay the check. If you know a person through their work you begin to learn a little bit about what drives them as a person. Bill has a mentality that is best understood through the Margaret Anderson (who in 1918 was the first to publish the beginings of James Joyce’s Ulysses in her “The Little Review”) dictum that: “The ultimate reason for life is Art.” Bill has spent his life doing this. He not only recognizes what Art is, but he creates it. At a reading his work passes you by all too quickly. His work is work that gets deeper and deeper the more you read it. Do yourself a favor and take the time to listen, and then read, and reread, Berkson.”
From Dale Herd’s story, “Beauty:”
” . . . I said I’d really like to get in his head for awhile, to see what is really going on with him, to really know what he thinks. I said I’d give anything to know what is going on with him. How old are you, she said, twenty-five? I said I was. She said Yeah, that’s about right. She said Because I’m twenty-eight and there’s no way I’m gonna be trying to find out what’s in some man’s head. If he can’t open his mouth and tell me himself, she said, forget it, who needs it.”
Bill has this to say about his co-reader: “There is no one better at the short short story than Dale Herd. Unmatched for candor, swiftness, scale of incident, his prose delivers a sense of people––characters imaginary or perhaps overheard––telling how it is with them. He writes of love and the lack of it. The immediacy you feel is of the particular moment taken and followed. Fortunately, a goodly sampling of what he’s been up to over the past forty-something years is bound together in the new Empty Pockets. Dale is a writer to converse with, always good to hear.”
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
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