Bernstein to give reading at OWU


Hailed by critics as a “calculating, improvisatory, essential poet” and as “the foremost poet-critic of our time,” Charles Bernstein will read from his acclaimed works March 25 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

During his visit, Bernstein also will receive an honorary Ohio Wesleyan Doctor of Literature degree – the university’s highest honor – and participate in a book signing. The events will begin at 4 p.m. March 25 in Gray Chapel inside University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.

“One of the cornerstones of a successful liberal arts curriculum is the ability to adapt to and welcome changes in society and culture,” said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “The poetry and professional life of writer, esteemed critic, and retired professor Charles Bernstein perfectly mirror this philosophy, making him an ideal recipient of an OWU honorary degree.”

Bernstein is a founding member and practitioner of the Language style of poetry and a well-known advocate for the value of poetry both in academia and society at large. His work blends common language from literature, politics, advertising, and other sectors in order to, as he says, “engage the materials of the culture, derange them as they have deranged me, sound them out, as they sound me out.”

He is the retired Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and, from 1978 to 1981, he served as an editor of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, publishing the work of avant-garde poets and critics.

Ohio Wesleyan professor and poet David Caplan nominated Bernstein for the OWU honorary degree.

“For several decades, Charles Bernstein has been a major force in American poetry,” said Caplan, Ph.D., the Charles M. Weis Professor in English. “He writes wide-ranging poems, both playful and searching, and urging readers to remain open to the new and the challenging.”

Bernstein is the author of 14 poetry collections, five essay collections, and two libretti. He has edited more than a dozen books and journals, and his frequently anthologized work has appeared in over 500 magazines and periodicals.

Prior to his position at Penn, Bernstein spent 14 years at the University at Buffalo, earning both the titles of David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters and SUNY Distinguished Professor, the institution’s highest rank. At Buffalo, he co-founded and directed the Poetics Program and the Electronic Poetry Center, and at Penn, he co-founded and co-edited the PENsound digital recorded poetry archive.

Bernstein is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize from the University of California San Diego, the Dean’s Award for Innovative Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. In 2015, he won both the Münster Prize for International Poetry and the Janus Pannonius Grand Prize for Poetry, and in 2019, received the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry for lifetime achievement and his critically acclaimed book, “Near/Miss.”

For more information about Bernstein and his work, see his Poetry Foundation page at Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of English at


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