Meet a NYFA Artist: Anselm Berrigan

Meet a NYFA Artist: Anselm Berrigan

NYFA speaks with 2007 Poetry Fellow Anselm Berrigan

NYFA: Hi Anselm, Please tell us what are you working on or what’s coming up for you.

AB: I’m currently working on learning how to write all over again, which is what happens whenever I start up again having finished any poems of any length. A longish poem has just been published as chapbook of 45 pages by Cy Press in Cincinnati, and another smaller book is in the works. These will be collected in a book to be published by City Lights late next year, or so I’m told.

NYFAL: Who or what is your biggest influence or inspiration right now?

AB: My eleven-month old daughter, just ahead of the poets Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Lewis Warsh, just ahead of fear and humor.

NYFA: How do you start on a project?

AB; By driving myself batty until a form I can work with emerges.

NYFA: Tell us your most memorable art experience growing up.

AB: Going to the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

NYFA: Where is your favorite place on earth?

AB: Crete.

NYFA: What is the perfect lunch?

AB: A sandwich from Sunny’s Deli on 6th and B and a bottle of seltzer.

NYFA: Please recommend something to us, a good book, music, a recipe, another artist…

AB: I recently finished the book Descent Into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid. Rashid authored Taliban, among other books, and is Pakistani journalist who has covered the region for over forty years. It’s a deep, deep account of the last eight years in that region and extremely well written. I doubt there’s a better source of information (with a real eye to the immediate future, as in now) available to a reader in English.

NYFA: What role has the Fellowship played in your life?

AB: The Fellowship allowed me to make the transition out of a full-time arts administration job into a work life with more flexibility and therefore more time to write and be at home with my daughter.

Anselm Berrigan was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1972. He attended SUNY-Buffalo. He completed his MFA program at Brooklyn College where he met and studied under poet Allen Ginsberg. He became the artistic director at The Saint Mark-s Poetry Project in New York in 2003. He was artistic director there until 2007. He is the author of Integrity & Dramatic Life, Zero Star Hotel, and Some Notes on my Programming from Edge Books. He is currently working as the co-chair of the writing program at Bard College MFA program and is a professor at Wesleyan University.

For more information on Anselm Berrigan, visit his website.

Amy Aronoff
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