David Berman's drive, character and intelligence took him from a Florida orphanage to Harvard Law School, as well as the poetry workshops of Robert Lowell and Archibald MacLeish. His poems—witty, introspective, and impeccably crafted—always reflect a deep love of language and empathy for other people.
—A.M. Juster, author of Wonder and Wrath
In Progressions of the Mind, David Berman’s first full-length collection, published posthumously, the reader new to his work will discover technical proficiency of the highest order in the writing of formal verse, and also encounter a restless, relentlessly probing, rigorously disciplined intellect devoted to learning, not for learning’s sake so much as for how learning can clarify, justify, and endeavor to make sense of one unique and complex life. Like Wallace Stevens, David Berman lived a secret life of poetry, and wrote prolifically. These poems, selected and arranged by David himself in 2009, provide only a representative sampling of his vast body of work, yet can serve to introduce this extraordinary and gifted writer to those who did not have the good fortune to know him as a colleague, a fellow poet, and a cherished friend.
—Bruce Bennett, author of Just Another Day in Just Our Town
In language clear as the finest diamonds, with a surgeon’s precision and a philosopher’s devotion to honest, complex thought, the late David Berman put together a collection of flawlessly wrought poems both dazzling and sobering. They include accounts of criminal behavior, often in the voice of the perpetrator (Berman was a prominent lawyer); subtle, revealing exchanges with the living and the dead; portraits tender and not so tender; vulnerable, candid self-examination; unexpected views of religion, and wit capable of shocking as it pierces the target.
This record of a thoroughly “examined” life by a highly intelligent man known for his reserve is a book to learn from, and to treasure.
—Rhina P. Espaillat, author of And After All