In Memoriam: Bill Berkson

News Section

July 1st, 2016

I know that many people share my profound sadness that Bill is gone—the tributes written by his dearest friends, his former students, fellow poets and critics have been both moving and illuminating. I just want to say how grateful I am to have known Bill, to have been the beneficiary of his great generosity, kindness, candor and acumen. I knew that I could always ask him for an honest assessment, to point me in new directions. He was both a friend and someone I could count on to help push Siglio into unexpected territory. In fact, years before I even conceived of Siglio, I attended Bill’s extraordinary lecture on Joe Brainard in Boulder, Colorado. The Brainard retrospective (curated by Bill’s wife Connie Lewallen) was a revelation, and Bill’s lecture left me swooning. That was Siglio’s ground floor and Bill was there, though neither of us knew that, or each other, at the time. He and Connie also introduced to me to Franck André Jamme and the Rajasthani tantric paintings which we immediately agreed would be an amazing book, but again, none of us had an idea what that book would become. Perhaps that’s what I most cherished about my time with Bill—a conversation about the things we cared about deeply always veering off on the most interesting tangents, making the surprising connection, opening the possibilities. He was always looking, and it was a gift to have been able to look along with him.

—Lisa Pearson

Photo above by Richard Kraft.