BERT MEYERS (edited by Dana Levin and Adele Elise Williams)

(Amy Gerstler hold the Unsung Masters book, BERT MEYERS; clockwise, Daniel Meyers; Ari Sherman; Quentin Ring, director of Beyond Baroque; Michele Raphael; Dana Levin, co-editor of the book.)

A little over a week ago, Beyond Baroque presented a celebration of a volume of writing by and about Bert Meyers (1928-1979), edited by Dana Levin and Adele Elise Williams. This book is one of the essential collections of verse and commentary to be published in 2023. Meyers was one of the young poets who studied, at least informally, with blacklisted poet Thomas McGrath in Los Angeles in the 1950s as part of his apprenticeship as a poet. Like the poet Hart Crane, Meyers was a high school drop-out, but he read enough on his own to eventually be appointed a professor at Pitzer College, where he taught young poets such as Garrett Hongo, Amy Gerstler, Dennis Cooper, and Maurya Simon. Several of these poets contribute short essays to this volume, which also reprint several of Meyers’s best-known poems. In Simon’s case, a longer version of her essay can be found on-line, and it’s worth looking up.

The gathering was particularly memorable for the speech given by Meyers’s son, Daniel Meyers, whose resemblance to his father was so strong that it startled me when Daniel rose from his seat in the front row. Daniel spoke of the close bond they shared as father and son and the entire audience could feel how the warmth of that relationship still was present in his life.

As far as I know, Meyers’s poems only appeared in one major anthology in his life, which was titled with a rare sense of humor: JUST WHAT THE COUNTRY NEEDS, ANOTHER POETRY ANTHOLOGY. If you want to understand part of the context for the reception of Meyers’s poetry when he was alive, you should look up the anthology, which contains several other poets whose work has not received enough attention.

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