Petrosino on Berryman
“I don’t know how to talk about Berryman after Berryman. It’s like trying to trace the sonic imprint of hip-hop after Run-DMC revolutionized all the beats. How do you describe the dimensions of a heartbeat? Where’s the end of one thing, and the beginning of the next? Open to any page of The Dream Songs and you’ll find much of the irreverence, wordplay, and formal variety that today’s poets currently display in service of the long-form poem. In this seminal work, Berryman doesn’t weave a tight crown of traditional sonnets, nor does he recapitulate the long, loose lines of Song of Myself. His imagination is a blade cutting a unique path through his material. He develops and applies his own odd, tri-stanzaic form to each installment of The Dream Songs. He twists syntax, makes up words, and takes overt pleasure in mixing lowbrow diction with high lyric concerns. The Dream Songs is a world in its own right, and the personality of Berryman’s randy doppelgänger, Henry, is what makes that world go round.” – Kiki Petrosino on John Berryman’s His Toy, His Dream, His Rest.