"Staggering, swaggering, intoxicating": John Berryman achieved a poetry where (in the words of editor Kevin Young) "protagonists search for a lover or friend, ancestor or listener, with a recklessness that only Whitman allowed himself. . . . Berryman becomes Everyman attempting, falling short of, and often achieving greatness."
Young's selection, the first new selection of Berryman's poems in over 30 years, encompasses the formal accomplishments of his early work, epitomized in the masterful Homage to Mistress Bradstreet; the explosive and mesmerizing diction of Dream Songs, and his wrenching religious poems.
At once traditional and radical, Berryman was a master of technique who remade language with gusto. No poet of his time wrote more distinctively or inventively, or with more relentless intensity. With its formal exuberance and its uncompromising, often heartbreaking expressiveness, his poetry continues to surprise and challenge.