This special edition of the Rattlecast takes us to a meeting of the Powow River Poets, where they remember their friend and Powow member David Berman. Two of David's poems appeared posthumously in Rattle #62, and a poem written for him by Bruce Bennett appeared in the summer issue of the magazine. Bruce recently published a limited edition chapbook about David, called "First Reader."
Powow members Rhina Espaillat, Bruce Bennett, Alfred Nicoli, AM Juster join the livestream from Newburyport, Massachusetts.
For more on the Powow River Poets, visit their website:
David Berman (1934-2017) was born on September 11, 1934, in New York City and raised in Hollywood, Florida. Berman was licensed as an attorney the same year and clerked at the Supreme Judicial Court for Justice Spiegel. From 1964 to 1967 he was an assistant attorney general 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, Berman was published in the Harvard Advocate and became "almost a fixture of its pages." 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. His favorite poems were eventually collected into a third chapbook, David Berman's Greatest Hits 1965-2002, published by Pudding House Publications.
Berman was a member of the Harvard Club and the Powow River Poets, a trustee of the Cantata Singers, and Vice Echanson and Vice Concelier Gastronomique Honoraire of the Boston chapter of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. He passed away on June 22, 2017, after battling cancer for several months.
Rattle is a publication of the Rattle Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the practice of poetry, and is not affiliated with any other organization.